Jeep Jamboree 4/25/03 Event Day 1


4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD! - Click here for details!

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!



The pre-runs were completed, with the last one done the day before this, the first day of the main event.  We encountered few problems, other than some minor fallen dead wood that required clean-up.  But even though the trails were in good condition overall, there were a few problem spots and the threat of rain promised to make all the trails more difficult than they'd be on a dry day.

I got up at 6:00 am.  I had organized all my gear the night before knowing that I would awaken with little energy to get organized and still get to breakfast on time.  I went to the Rescue Squad facility for breakfast.  I was one of the first to arrive.  

Arriving for BreakfastBreakfast ParkingBreakfast Parking

Soon after, everyone else started showing up.  Breakfast was classic - eggs, bacon, sausage, and ham, with biscuits,  gravy and grits.  I went for the coffee first and then had something to eat, mixing with the trail guides and guests.

As instructed, I finished up and got over to the muster field to prepare to receive our group and ready the vehicles for the trail.  The morning was overcast and the weather report promised about 1/2 inch of rain.  So we had our day cut out for us.  It was just about certain that we'd be using straps and winches.


Welcome to Jeep Jamboree!Welcome to Jeep Jamboree!

Participants began to trickle in and soon we had a very long line of vehicles for our group.  

Group 4Line-up

I worked my way down the line, running down the check list of items trail guides needed to verify:

  • does the driver know how to engage 4-Wheel drive?
  • assist with airing down and disconnecting as appropriate
  • stagger vehicles with winches
  • check for proper installation of tow hooks and compatible spare tire
  • make sure each passenger has a seat belt

Our group shaped up well.  Susan and Brandt had installed a tow hook on the front of their Jeep after an inspection during registration the night before revealed the need.

Airing Down

Some, like Matt, Jeff, and Mike already had some experience and were busy getting ready for the trail without need for assistance.  Some people were new to trail riding and received assistance in line with their experience.

Airing DownAiring DownAiring Down
WatchingAiring down and disconnectingAiring down and disconnecting
Airing down and disconnecting
Checking out the RigTrail preparations
Airing Down
Airing DownAiring Down

We helped a couple people disconnect sway bars for improved traction, and made air pressure recommendations for airing down.  On a dry day, I might have been less concerned about airing down for these trails, but with the rain looming, and so many stock tires, it was important that we give each driver as much of an advantage over the elements as possible.


Steve from Extreme had set up his trailer with lots of good stuff for sale.  I got a chance to talk with him for a few minutes in between everything else that was going on.

Dwain Schrader from the Jeep Jamboree organization joined me for the ride.  It was nice to have a co-pilot that was over 5 years old!  I hope my idle chatter didn't drive him crazy!

The drivers meeting was held.  Chris and the Jeep Jamboree organizers gave instructions to the participants so they'd know the rules of the road, developing weather conditions, provisions for emergencies, and other general information.

Drivers MeetingDrivers MeetingDrivers Meeting


Our group was to start on Trail 2.  This trail first crosses a stream, with a steep climb out the other side, then after bypassing an optional hill climb (closed for the event), winds its way up the mountain to Findlay Ridge, where it snakes along the entire length of the ridge.  Mike crossed first and pulled up to allow space for the rest of the group.

Marge was one of the first to cross.  When she got to the other side, she was unable to climb the hill.  It was discovered that her 4-wheel drive mechanism was not activating, so her Jeep was winched up out of the way.  We later learned that a vacuum hose was disconnected.  Chris and crew reattached it and left her Jeep waiting for her at our trail exit later in the day.

Marge jumped in with one of the other drivers and the rest of the group made their way across the creek.  When all and reached the other side, we continued up the trail.  Along the way, a few obstacles present themselves.

Trail 2 EntranceTrail 2 EntranceTrail 2 Entrance

The first obstacle of note is a climb over some loose rocks with bad ruts, and some large boulders blocking the way.  For a stock vehicle, this section is very difficult.  Even built vehicles can have problems with this section, and indeed, we did strap a few vehicles past the rough spot.

MikeHard Spot on Findley RidgeHard Spot on Findley Ridge
Hard Spot on Findley RidgeHard Spot on Findley RidgeHard Spot on Findley Ridge

Once we got everyone over the rocks, we continued along the way.  We stopped for a break and I noticed an interesting personal touch on a yellow TJ.  The owner had removed the dash bezel and had it painted to match the outside.  It reminds him of his CJ.  I really liked it, and lament that my black TJ pretty much denies me the option of doing the same thing since it would hardly be noticeable, being black already.

BreakBreakDash treatmentYellow TJ

We moved on and soon came to the optional rock garden.  Some people chose to bypass it while a few decided to give it a try.  Megan took the controls of Mike's YJ and showed us how it's done.

Watching MeganRock Garden on Findley RidgeRock Garden on Findley Ridge
Rock Garden on Findley Ridge

Rock Garden on Findley Ridge
Rock Garden on Findley RidgeI did it!

The rest of the drivers who opted in, took their turns driving through.  The rock garden involves driving a slightly off-camber route then turning around to approach a narrow passage between a large tree and a large boulder.  The vehicle must have one tire placed just so, in order to get past the tree and boulder.  Then, after a little more driving over small boulders, the vehicle must straddle and drop off a boulder the size of a VW Bug!

Rock GardenSpotting through Rock GardenRock Garden
Rock Garden

Rock GardenRock GardenMade it!Rock Garden

Rock GardenMatt tries

Matt gave it a run but had trouble planting his tire on the rocks.  With each attempt, he moved the large boulder a little bit further away from the tree.  By the time he decided to go around, the opening was wide enough for a little Jeep like mine to sneak through with ease.  And so I did...

By now it had been raining off and on again for almost two hours.  We decided to bypass the off-camber loop (aw shucks!) and CJ5 Hill, since it was thought that too many vehicles in the group would encounter problems that would hold us up, risking a late return for dinner.  Instead, we descended from the ridge and took a break, then made our way to the excavated crossing.  


We received instructions to make the crossing and climb the hill that immediately follows.  This kept us busy for the rest of the afternoon.


I don't think anyone had trouble with the crossing itself.  The descent into the creek is long and smooth, if not a bit steep.  The climb out on the other side was a little bit more difficult for folks with stock tires, but everyone made it up to the "landing" on their own.  From there, a hard right turn and a steep climb up a muddy, rutted hill.  Most of the stock vehicles ended up getting strapped or winched up.

Hill after crossingHill after crossing

From here, we followed the trail back to pavement without incident.  Marge found her Jeep waiting for her, with 4-Wheel drive alive and well.   We regrouped at the staging area to air up and reconnect sway bars.  Then we drove to Wintergreen for dinner and tall tales time!

Dinner at Wintergreen


The drive to Wintergreen was a pleasant one, and seeing the long column of Jeeps, was almost moving.  Dinner was nice.  I was pretty dirty from getting vehicles aired up and reconnected so I put on my second T-shirt and made a cursory attempt to clean myself up.  But most people had come more or less directly from the trail so I didn't get too worried about my shabby appearance.

The drive down off the mountain was perhaps more harrowing than anything the trail threw at us.  I had my hands full, driving in a pea-soup fog down the mountain.  Mike Ball hit a deer that got a way.  I got back to the motel in one piece, and as far as I know, so did everyone else.

I once again got my gear sorted and readied for the next day, and swapped hotel rooms so Jonathan and his wife could have a room of their own.  At this point he still had not gotten his Jeep back together from the problems on the pre-run, so he was riding shotgun and doing spotting and stuff.  I was a bit more fortunate, and glad to help him have a little comfort overnight.

After making some notes about the days events, reviewing the images, and saving my GPS track, putting various batteries to recharge for tomorrow, I called it a day and crashed.  But not before I took a couple pictures of the Jeeps in the parking lot.

Village Inn
Village Inn


Continue to Event Day 2

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