Jeep Jamboree 4/26/03 Event Day 2

CJ-5 Hill

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Waypoints

Prologue

It was another early start.  I got up a shade before 6:00 am, tossed my stuff in the Jeep and headed for breakfast.  I managed to beat the hot water shortage all weekend by showering in the evening.  But that just made it harder to wake up.  All my other batteries were fully charged so I was ready for a day of wheeling.

Breakfast Parking
Breakfast ParkingNice TJ

I was surprised to find that I was the first to arrive for breakfast.  It was just past 6:30am so I expected to see others there before me.  The Women's Auxiliary was busy setting out the food, so I grabbed some coffee and went about the job of waking up.  One of the women was outside getting something from her nice maroon Cherokee so I suggested she consider coming along next year.  She said that some of her relatives had expressed an interest but that she and her husband were too old.  It's hard to imagine being to old to go wheeling, but I guess my day will come.

Breakfast was the same as the day before, but no less welcome.  I got some and made short work of it.  Then I drove over to the assembly field.  

Lone WolfChris Boucher

Again, I was the first to arrive, though Chris appeared shortly after. 

CJ-3B
CJ-3BCJ-3BCJ-3BCJ-3B

I spend a few minutes photographing the CJ-3B that was keeping silent guard over the field.  It brought to mind my early days of wheeling in my CJ-2A - similar in many respects.  I could not imagine driving it these days.  As much as I am fond of vintage vehicles, I have grown accustomed to the refinements that the TJ offers.

Muster

Lone Jeep

Soon others began to arrive and the field slowly filled up as the day before.  I had a chance to admire the first really well prepared Liberty that I have seen.

LibertyLiberty

The driver had clearly spent some time hunting down the components and it had been put together very well.  The vehicle appears transformed from the change in bumpers, wheels, ride height, and rack.  The rack was of particular interest to me since it is made by the same manufacturer of mine but has some refinements that I would like to have.   I have since written to the manufacturer in the hope of seeing these features and others incorporated into a rack for Wranglers.

Line-up

I made my rounds and helped people get ready for the trail.  Most folks had started on their own and did not need assistance.  After a time, enough people were present that a drivers meeting could be held.

Drivers Meeting

We went over the same concepts as the day before, and added in the considerations borne of the rain overnight, and the worsened condition of the trail.  When we finished the meeting we noted that a couple of people who had run with us the day before had opted to abandon the rest of the weekend.  So our group was down a couple vehicles.

Trail

On our way to the trail, we went past a large field full of Civil War re-enactors, and passed a couple in period costume, riding horses along the side of the road.

Civil War Re-enacters

Our first destination was CJ5 Hill.  Ever since I heard of this obstacle last year I have both dreaded and anxiously anticipated driving it.  Today, because of the trail conditions, weather, and the capabilities of the group, we ran it downhill.  This was still challenging enough as we soon saw.

Mike gave us some advice and then demonstrated how to drive down the rocks and across the stream.  

CJ-5 HillCJ-5 HillMike at CJ-5 HillCJ-5 Hill crossingCJ-5 Hill crossing

CJ-5 Hill
CJ-5 Hill
CJ-5 Hill
CJ-5 Hill
CJ-5 HillCJ-5 Hill
CJ-5 HillCJ-5 HillCJ-5 Hill

It went much better for him than I expected and soon each member of our group took their turn crossing.  

CJ-5 HillCJ-5 HillCJ-5 Hill
CJ-5 Hill
CJ-5 Hill
CJ-5 Hill

CJ-5 HillCJ-5 Hill
CJ-5 Hill

CJ-5 Hill

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CJ-5 Hill
CJ-5 HillCJ-5 Hill

CJ-5 Hill
CJ-5 Hill
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CJ-5 Hill

CJ-5 HillCJ-5 HillCJ-5 Hill

CJ-5 HillCJ-5 HillCJ-5 Hill

CJ-5 HillCJ-5 Hill

CJ-5 HillCJ-5 HillCJ-5 Hill

Mike

CJ-5 Hill
CJ-5 Hill

CJ-5 Hill

CJ-5 Hill
CJ-5 Hill

Gallery at CJ-5 Hill

CJ-5 HillCJ-5 HillCJ-5 HillCJ-5 HillCJ-5 Hill

CJ-5 Hill
CJ-5 Hill

CJ-5 Hill
CJ-5 Hill
CJ-5 Hill

There were lots of bumps and grinds, and a few foiled attempts to clear the muddy exit on the other side of the stream, but eventually everyone had crossed with more or less intact vehicles and heart rates.  I sorely wanted to turn around and try to drive up CJ5 Hill but kept that desire to myself, to act out another day.  See a video of a Grand doing the crossing here (click).

The trail was largely an easy dirt road, but the rain had made it very muddy.  And running water over time had cut a deep groove that split the road in two.  

Straddling the ditch
Straddling the ditch

It was difficult to stay out of the groove and the Grand Cherokee eventually reached a point where it could not continue.  I backed up and gave the strap to guide him up past the cut and back onto smooth ground.

Trail

Mike knew of my distaste of the "Off Camber Loop".  I had driven it on the Annual Trail run in October and strongly disliked it.  The only part that I liked was the steep hill before the loop.  On the first pre-run, I endured the heckling of the rest of the would-be trail guides by pulling out of line and letting everyone else make the loop while I patiently waited for their return.

My reasoning for not wanting to run the Off-Camber Loop has its roots in the outfitting of my Jeep.  I have a heavy overhead rack loaded with a Hi-Lift jack and a bunch of other heavy stuff.  Combined with full steel doors, my Jeep may be a little more top-heavy than most.  My first trip around the loop had put my gauge at about 30-degrees lean to the left.  This left me on the low side of the vehicle, a very uncomfortable place to be sitting.

Anyway, I knew approximately where we were, but thought that because of the trail conditions, we would not be running the Off-Camber Loop.  Mike referred to it as a "hill climb followed by a slightly off-camber downhill."  I should have known but I didn't catch it.

Hill on off-camber loop

We got to the bottom of the hill climb.  It was muddy, with puddle at the bottom.  The first couple people trying to climb it made a couple attempts and made it with some coaching about the loud pedal from Mike.  My turn came and I considered the hill.  I have traction devices (lockers) and aggressive tires, so I was thinking that I probably didn't need to put the pedal to the metal to make the hill.  But I figured it would be better to follow the suggestions Mike gave, and set a good example for the rest of the group.  So I put it in 3rd, and punched it.

I got a lot more traction than the other people who had gone before.  See the video here (click).  I was going quite fast when I hit an uneven spot in the trail and I veritably launched toward the other side of the trail, where I almost went over the edge into obscurity.  I got out of it a little bit, regained control (and composure) and finished my climb without event.  It was then that I realized where I was.... the "Off-Camber Loop"...

Hill on off-camber loopHill on off-camber loopHill on off-camber loopHill on off-camber loop

Here is a video of someone else coming up the hill after I finished (click).

The remaining people climbed the hill and then Mike started on the loop.  I got out of my Jeep to take a quick break and when I returned found that I could not secure my seat belt.  I tried backing up to reposition my Jeep but it was still too "tilted" to release the seatbelt.  So I had to descend into the loop without my seatbelt.  That did not make me happy.

When I reached the bottom, it leveled off enough that I could get my seatbelt back on.  Small comfort as there still remained a long stretch of off-camber trail to negotiate.

Off-Camber
Off-Camber Loop

I drove through it and was very happy to be back on level trail.  Once again we stopped to regroup.

Break

The Grand was experiencing a slow leak from one of the front tires so the driver and crew took a moment to put some air in the tire.  When everyone had finished catching up, we moved on.

Soon we got back to the section of trail where the groove splits the road.  Right along here, the Grand popped a bead and was still losing air on the other front tire.

Popped a Bead
Popped a Bead

Popped a Bead
Mike
checking for anchor point

Earlier when we were pondering tire pressures, I had recommended 18 psi.  In retrospect, I think that may have been too low for the Grand, running 17" rims and 235-60 x 17 street tires.  Soon they had removed the tire and put the spare on.  Then we drove up a ways to stop for lunch and to fix the tire problems.

TrailLunchLunch and tire work
reseating bead and airing up
Lunch spotLunch spotGrand

This was one of those times that demonstrates the level of readiness of organized groups.  We had the skills, knowledge, and tools necessary to break down the tire, clean out the bead, remount the tire, and air it up.  They did both tires on the Grand, restoring him to 100%, with a spare available should something come up later.

Once the tire work was done, and everyone was finished eating, we hit the trail and headed back to pavement.  Eventually, we reached the creek crossing at Trail 2, this time running it the other way, with pavement on the other side of the creek.   One by one we crossed.  This time we had a huge gallery as another trail group had just arrived to cross the stream and enter the trail.

TrailCrossing back overCrossing back over
Crossing back over
Crossing back over

Gallery watching crossingCrossing back over

Crossing back overCrossing back overCrossing back over
Two Trail GroupsCrossing back overCrossing back overCrossing back over

Crossing back over
Crossing back over
Crossing back overCrossing back over

Crossing back over

Crossing back overCrossing back over

Crossing back overCrossing back over

Crossing back overCrossing back overCrossing back over
Crossing back over

Crossing back over

Time to go!CarlaCarla

Interesting logoInteresting plate

Paul

With everyone safely across, we took a short spin through the Trail 6 loop.  At first I was excited because I thought we'd do the little "Z" that drops you into a gully that you need to climb back out.  But that also would have put us on the off-camber hill that aims you right for a tree at the bottom of the hill.  I had mixed feelings when we passed the entrance to the "Z" and took the abbreviated loop.  It was fun, and I was happy not to have to contend with the slippery hill.  This little loop didn't take very long and soon we were back on the road headed for Trail 9.

The night before, I had listened to Ken Smith talking about his experience with Trail 9 (he got across the second crossing but no one else made it, someone broke something, etc.  By this time, it had not rained in several hours and we thought Trail 9 was worth an attempt.  We had enough time if we had to do any winching or strapping, so there we went.

Trail 9Trail 9
Trail 9

Trail 9
Trail 9Trail 9

We found the trail to be passable all the way past the second crossing.  There, a long hill gave Mike some trouble, but he managed to claw his way up.  But he decided that the effort to drag most of the vehicles up would be long and unproductive.  He had us reverse direction with Jason leading while he circled around to meet us on the other side of the second crossing.

Then Jason came over the radio to say that he could not get back over the stream crossing!  I was surprised because I had not noticed anything difficult on the way in.  My powers of observation did not include a look in the rear view mirror or I would have seen a severely rutted set of tracks - one side passable but the other side nearly vertical and about 6 or 7 feet high.  It was going to be a tough crossing and winching and straps would be a big part of it.

Several people tried to make it after Jason winched himself up and got set up for recovery operations.  Not too many people made it.  Matt took my advice for a line and went by me so fast that I got no pictures of his successful run.  The rest of the group took their time and got the strap or a winch cable for their efforts.

Oh Oh!Oh Oh!

Oh Oh!

Oh Oh!Watching crossing on Trail 9Oh Oh!Oh Oh!Oh Oh!

About to crossAcrossAcrossOh man!
Mike and Mike's Jeep

Oh Oh!Oh Oh!Oh Oh!

Oh Oh!Oh Oh!

Oh Oh!

My Turn!Oh Oh!Oh Oh!Oh Oh!Oh Oh!

Mike rigging Paul's Jeep

Oh Oh!

Oh Oh!

When my turn came, I decided to attempt to climb up on the right side of the approach.  I worked my way over to the left so I could turn in sharply to the right when I got to the other side of the creek.  At first it seemed like it would work and I crawled up out of the stream onto the bank.   But at the critical moment where I needed to clear my center section, I lost traction just enough to slip back and off the bank.  Darn!  I tried again to get it, but wasn't moving fast enough and ended up backed down into the deep rut with my rear bumper on the ground and no traction to climb.  I was done and the cable was hooked to my tow hook.

Once we had gotten the group across, we backtracked out.  Along the way, the Grand lost another bead.  Mike and Jason stopped to help while Megan and I accompanied the group back to the staging area.  The Grand was back soon after we arrived.

Dash DetailsPost TrailPost Trail

I spent time getting people aired up and connected.  I tried to square away my gear as best I could, and resigned myself to another dinner wearing grungy clothing.  Evidence of various events involving carnage were at hand.  One guy had a twisted drive shaft, and many tales of woe were being told.  But there was no personal injury so I consider it a good day!

CarnagePost Trail

People slowly got their vehicles back in road trim and headed out for dinner at the Wintergreen Resort.

Post TrailPost Trail

This time people knew their way so there was no long column of Jeeps.  I followed Mike and Jason.

To Dinner
To DinnerTo DinnerTo DinnerTo DinnerTo DinnerTo Dinner
To Dinner
To DinnerTo DinnerTo Dinner

Epilogue

Dinner was just as good as the previous night, and soon the inevitable door prize drawing commenced.  Meanwhile, Ken Smith was making his rounds, giving away Willys Jeep models to the kids.  After the guests had all been accounted for, I got one for each of the boys.  Tomi has since "distressed" his to look like a well-used trail rig.  Teddy has relegated his to trail queen status!

At DinnerAt DinnerOh Man!Goodies Table

I contemplated driving the three hours home after dinner.  The drive down the mountain was much easier than the night before.  I got to the motel and was still thinking of leaving when Mike offered me a beer.  I checked my room, decided a good nights sleep before the drive sounded good, so went back and relieved Mike of one beer.  We talked for a while and then I hit the sack.

Mall Cruiser

In the morning, I retained my "first to the breakfast place" status, had a quick breakfast, said "Good Bye" to all the early risers, and hit the road for home.  I arrived about Noon, and despite the beautiful weather, opted to take a nap so I would be recharged when my family returned from their trip to New York City.

This event was well organized, carefully planned, managed to perfection, and above all, was loads of fun.  Even though the trails have a reputation for being "easy", this weekend, the combination of weather, vehicles, and most importantly, the people themselves, made for a memorable weekend!

 

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