4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!
I would not be telling the whole story if I did not go back a ways and talk about my Grandfather. Charles Lincoln was a tall man that I inherited many things from. I am almost certain that my body-type and height came from him as I am almost exactly the same height, several inches taller than either of my parents. He was one of those pragmatic, shrewd old New England Yankees, with more than a small dose of French-Canadian thrown in for those times when simply being a New Englander wasn't enough. He raised came from and raised a large family, seven children of his own. My mother is his oldest daughter and his youngest daughter is only a year older than me. And I think raising two kids is a big job...
There are many things about him that I could relate that even strangers would probably enjoy reading, but related to my interest and the outdoors and Jeeps particularly, I recall one thing related to this trip. Grandpa had a wood-lot that has been in the family for many generations. Each fall he would trek out there with saws and other gear, and "weed" the land of anything sick, damaged, fallen, or interfering with young growth. Of course, he would also meet the balance of his winter wood-burning needs by cutting healthy trees that could be removed with the tools at hand. Some old growth remains to this day and provides the landmarks that hearken back to my first trips out to the lot.
In those days, we borrowed our neighbor's old Ford tractor. Safety freaks would die to see me as a young child of seven standing on the rear axle housing, holding on to the rear wheel shroud, riding down the road with my father to and from wood gathering trips. I can remember watching the big back tire and the ground going by in a blur, shivering in the cool evening air after a long afternoon of sweating with the work of cutting wood. The smell of the saws, tractor and fresh-cut wood... We usually did this in the late summer and early fall when the weather was mild and often dry, and in time to allow us to get the wood transported, split and stowed for winter. My father burned wood from about 1961 to 1964 and then installed an oil furnace. Several years later, in the 1980's he bought a wood-burning boiler and had it installed in tandem with the oil furnace and burns wood to this day. Grandpa died several years ago but one of his gifts was the wood lot and a respect for the outdoors and its natural resources that is still with me to this day.
Since it had been some time since I had been up to the wood lot, I thought I might like to go there and see how it hand changed, and whether or not there were any challenges for me and my Jeep. My friends Carl and Jim were willing travel buds and soon we had arranged a date and time for our trip.
We met at about 3:30 P.M., got gas and snacks at a nearby gas station, then headed for the lot. It took us a few minutes and few false starts to find the correct entrance but soon enough we were in the woods. As my family had given some folks permission to do some limited maintenance, we soon found signs of the kind of work that my grandfather used to do. Freshly cut trees, sawdust piles, and the paths of where the trees had been hauled to the main trail within the lot.
The ride up the hill was interesting but didn't put anything in front of us that we could not handle. Once we got above the area where the wood was being cut, we got onto the old trail that I remember as a kid. I wound up the hill following a natural depression. There was plenty of fun for us as we made our way. Finally, about half-way up the hill, the trail was blocked by several fallen trees. Back in my grandfather's day, these would have been dealt with in the season that they fell. But this time they had lain there for several years - good to know that our friends would get to them finally and clear the trail to the top of the hill.
We climbed the side of the depression and followed an ATV track along the side of the hill and back down to the trail. This climb gave us a chance to appreciate our vehicles. Since my recollection of the lot didn't include any rough terrain or rugged challenges, we opted not to air down or disconnect. Climbing out of the depression demonstrated that disconnecting and airing down does indeed make a difference. Jim had to make a couple swipes at it, but went up and out without too much trouble. I had the same experience, fully appreciating the "air" that one of my front tires got because of my still-connected sway bar. The limited slip rear and the aggressive tires got me over it in good shape but I disconnected my sway bar as soon as I stopped.
Carl tried it and found, like we did, that a wet day in the woods can make an otherwise easy obstacle a real challenge. With his soon-to-be replaced GS/A tires and connected sway bars, Carl made several attempts to go up the hill. Check out the determined look on his face in the large photo above! He ended up going further down the hill and coming up a less steep spot.
Then we followed an ATV track along and up the hill a ways. Soon we encountered a fallen log. It was one of several we crossed that day. This one was a fair challenge since the bark was gone and it was just big enough to make it hard to climb up on. No-one made it over in one pass. Carl had a hard time with it but finally did get past it. Not far up the trail we came to one that was too large and too high off the ground to cross.
I thought I might like to try using my winch to move it but since it was wedged on both sides by large healthy trees, it was clear that I would not move it by pulling it straight toward us. So Carl and Jim broke out saws while I started rigging the winch to break the log once it had been sawed part-way through. We made a couple attempts to use the winch to break the log. It was unsuccessful. Even cut part way through, the best I could manage was to drag the Jeep up the hill... So Jim and Carl sawed on it some more and having put the winch gear away, I gave it a yank with a tow strap and got it out of our way. A little further up, the trail makes some impossible twists through the trees. We turned around and came back, stopped briefly while Carl entertained us on a log...
We drove along the ATV track back down to the main trail and then followed it back out to the area where the cutting activity was located. We turned in to one of the fairly permanent side trails and followed it through the fresh-cut wood and to the base of a very large hill. Going up the hill was a trail that I do not remember. It was well traveled though not rutted or rough. Since it was raining this day, it was wet and soft. It pretty much goes straight up the hill with a slight waver in one spot to avoid some trees. Goaded on by the great traction of my tires, and the assurance of recovery using my winch (if needed), I went up, determined to crawl as far up as possible. I went about 1/3 to 1/2 the way up the hill and bogged down when I chose to head more straight up hill. It was at about this point that the incline got steeper, so I suppose that in order to make the hill on a day like today, I really should have blasted it at least a little.
No matter, here I was between two trees, with a decent area behind and below me to start backwards down the hill. But in order to get on the trail (and avoid a large fallen log) I would need to get myself over to the left a few feet. This is not easily done when you are clinging to the side of a wet, slippery hill. Gravity has a way of demanding that you go straight down the hill. It also likes to have the heavy part of your vehicle pointing downhill... So Carl and Jim, having seen my nutsy attempt, came walking up to help with spotting and encouragement. Still determined to climb the hill, and interested to see what the traction limits of the tires is, I made a few attempts to go up the hill. This had mixed results. On a couple attempts, I just sat stationary and listened to my tires churn. A couple times I was able to get going again but no further than my highest point initially. And my front end would lose traction and begin to point itself to one side, requiring that I correct with the steering to keep from being turned sideways on this very steep hill. I must say that the tires were terrific. Each time the Jeep wanted to start getting sideways, I was able to apply some gas and turn uphill with instant and very decisive results -the Jeep would turn back uphill. On one final attempt to go uphill, I was actually crawling crab-like sideways across the hill, with the nose pointed straight up hill! It must have been interesting to watch. Jim commented that he saw the benefit of the limited slip rear end. I know that people like to criticize the TRAC-LOK, but until I break or wear it out, I would much rather have it than be "open".
Once I gave up trying to get up the hill, Carl and Jim spotted me through turning around on a less steep section of hill, and acted like ballast on my uphill side so I could turn around. I went back down the hill and took a quick break to let the adrenaline flush out of my system.
Once again we drove back to the main trail and a little further down took a turn onto another permanent trail branch. This one follows the stream for quite some time and eventually leads to where two streams branch off up separate ridges. We first explored one a short distance but stopped when it got too narrow to pass. We doubled back and followed the other branch.
This one ran along the other stream and up the side of the hill. This was the best wheeling so far. But it was starting to get dark so we looked up sunset time on the GPS and figured that we should use half of the time remaining until sunset to explore this trail, and start on our way out when we run out of time, hoping to reach the road with some light left. The trail presents some interesting challenges that once again demonstrated the value of being disconnected. Somewhere along the way I had disconnected. Carl and Jim had not. Soon enough, after a couple more logs across the road, and a gully that he had to work through, Carl encountered a rocky section that he could not get past. It was wet and also somewhat of a gully; he just could not keep all the wheels on the ground. All that combined with trying to climb, he just couldn't make it. We turned around and back-tracked a bit, where Carl left his Jeep and hopped in with me. But not before I lightly tapped my spare tire and put a bitty crease in my tailgate.
Up the hill we went but soon enough I came to a log that Jim flexed over. My first attempt was unsuccessful. With time running out and the trail continuing on, we decided to turn around. That was an interesting exercise for me, and I ended up pretty much dancing all over the log that had just inspired our decision to leave. I shall return! Jim made some comment at that point about we "Jump in with him and continue up the trail..." I had that coming... It was interesting to see the difference between stock Jeeps, mildly built ones, and true beasts like Jim's. His other comment about "Size Matters" went by without comment!
We worked our way back down and out, but not before I gave a demonstration of trying to climb over a log that was just a little bit too big. On the way in I had gone over it way up at the narrow end and had not had any trouble. On the way out I tried to go back the same way but for some reason I just slid along the length of the log, with my right -front tire over and my axle housing just skidding along. When I later cleaned the Jeep I found good sized chunks of wood in the nut that holds my tie-rod end to the drag-link. It is a good thing I didn't use brute force to get over that log or I probably would have bent my steering links...
All in all, it was a great day to be in the woods, and nice to see how time had changed things. We shall have to get back in there again soon and see what the rest of the trails lead to!
Once we hit pavement, I stopped for money, to reconnect, and then we hit the road to get something to eat. We went to a B-B-Q place and had a great meal. Jim showed us where he gets his supply of Wet-Naps for cleaning his hands after working with his sway bar, and we sat and relived the day. It doesn't get any better than that. Later that night, when I was laying in bed running it back in my mind, I realized that I had not strapped the shovel back on to the rack after going into one of my boxes. I went out and sure enough, the shovel was just laying on the rack with the shock cords loose in the breeze. I had driven almost 30 miles at 65 m.p.h. and it had not moved an inch... I don't think I can repeat that mistake.
GPS Waypoint Coordinates
I have chosen
not to provide waypoints or map data for this location
since it is private property and not open to the general public.
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Last Updated 02/09/2008 10:04:01 AM -0500