4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!
It had been a while since I had gotten off-road. I was getting itchy. Regular duties took priority and soon Christmas had come. We managed to get all that holiday stuff done, including replacement of the lights that someone stole from the front of the house... We celebrated the holiday - the kids got lots of Jeep toys and life was good. Then Tomi mentioned that he wanted to go "4-Wheeling". That was all it took for me. I got in touch with Bill, who had expressed an interest in going on Saturday after Christmas, and soon we were set to go.
We met as usual at the Sheetz, and after catching up on things, aired down and disconnected. This gave me a chance to try out the new toy that my wife got me for Christmas - Oasis Trailhead automatic tire deflators. I hadn't had a chance to precisely calibrate them to my desired tire pressure so was not surprised when they let my tires go down to 10 psi. I found that the air compressor at the gas station was not working properly so I just turned on the OBA and aired back up to my regular pressure.
My disconnects were a little stiff from non-use, so that took me a minute of fumbling. All-in-all, it was probably my slowest trail prep in a long time. But Bill was plainly in no hurry, and said so. This reminded me that indeed, we were not on a schedule, and there was no need to rush. After that the pace was pretty comfortable.
We headed out for the trail. It came up on my more quickly that I expected, but I was moving slow enough that I had no trouble turning in. There was a pick-up truck parked at the trail entrance, and plenty of tracks headed into the trail. Most of them were ATV tracks, and only they continued a few yards past sight of the parking area.
We made our way up the hill towards the area where tree cutting is going on. There were no tracks in the snow (only a couple inches deep, and frozen to a nice crunchy crust). We took our time and rode up to the split in the trail. Heading left, we soon reached the end of the main trail. From here only a narrow path frequented by ATV's wound along the old trail into the woods up the ridge. The climb up from the main trail to the path looked like it might be tough, but in fact I was able to pop right up without much trouble. I had to be careful getting myself threaded onto the path through the narrow space between the trees, but I managed. Bill came up without any drama and led the way up the path.
Soon we came to a fallen tree. We considered options. Bill gave it a tug with the winch but it would not break, so I sawed off the two main branches that were blocking the path. While BIll was setting up to do the winching, he asked Ted (5 years old) for winch advise, knowing that Ted and Tom have been watching a winching video. Here is what Bill wrote to me after reading the first draft of this write up:
"Dude, you failed to mention ... that your son instructed ME on the proper use of the winch. And let me remind you that he started with "I can not operate the winch", but he agreed to coach me. And he did so remarkably well. Blaring out at just the right moment "D RING!". I think it worthy of mentioning."
As I have said before, "from the mouths of babes..." That boy is going to see right through me - probably already does...
While we did this, Ted and Tom played in the snow, minding my advice not to get too close to the edge of the path where it drops 8 feet down into the old trail. At one point, Tom got his hands covered with snow and called for help. I outfitted him with mittens. Later that day he was playing outside without mittens again and this time was not fazed. We'll make a New Englander out of him yet!
We swapped places a few yards in, and continued a short distance to where the path dips back down into the old trail. At this point you must drop down onto the old trail, a little off camber. It's not as bad as it feels, but with the snow, I was expecting it to be a little more tricky than usual. But to my surprise, it was no different and I was soon down on the old trail moving towards the spot where I had a cleared a large fallen tree earlier this year.
Beyond that, the old trail is eroded and cut in a "V". With my roof rack, I try to avoid getting tipped if I can help it. Passing by the fallen tree, I get about 30-degrees off camber, which is about as far tipped as I care to be. So when I take this "V", I straddle it carefully making sure that my Jeep is about level, with perhaps a slight tilt away from the narrow side. I made it through this section without any trouble and then climbed back off the old trail onto the path and over the two small fallen trees. Bill followed and chose the off-camber route past the "V".
Once back on the path, we threaded through the trees to the spot where a small fallen tree makes going a little tough. I could not get through the trees and decided to call it a day after tapping one of the trees with my bumper.
I made a 30 point turn and got myself facing back the other way. There wasn't much further we could go before running out of trail anyway. Bill backed down all the way to the fallen tree - not something I would have wanted to do...
We doubled back and down to the trail branch, then headed off on the left branch up along the stream-edge. We soon came to the tree that has fallen but is supported across the trail by a tree on the other side. Each time we come, it is a little lower than the last. On this trip, I had to flip my antenna down and pass under it to the right to get past. I suspect that the next time we come out, we will need to finish what gravity started. Bill had no trouble getting under and we continued.
Soon we came to a fallen tree blocking the trail. I put a good cut in it, Bill wailed on it with his machete for a while, then I put a strap on it and snapped it so we could move it out of the way.
After that, it was a pretty uneventful ride in the woods. As we worked on the last fallen tree, two mountain bikers came along. We continued to the endmost leg of the loop and then came back down the other side of the stream.
When we got to the tree spanning the trail again, it took me a minute to get set up and fit under. Soon we made it to the road and from there, bad to Sheetz to put things back in road trim.
We aired up, connected, took on fuel and said our good byes. The boys and I went to McDonalds for a fat feast, then hit the road for home. It was a great day in the woods - not too cold, lots of sun, good people, and fun!
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Last Updated 02/09/2008 09:48:22 AM -0500