Jeep Jamboree 3/2/02 Pre-Run

Carriage House Line-Up

Waypoints | Items Used

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

4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!



I was a little late getting in on this trip. Announcements had been floated telling about the Jeep Jamboree clean-up runs and trail guide pre-runs at Oak Ridge in Virginia. I ignored them thinking it conflicted with my schedule. And besides, pffft, Jeep Jamboree?!? Well at the beginning of the week before the first pre-run I realized two things: 1.) I wanted to go wheeling that weekend, and 2.) I wanted to go someplace new. Then I noticed the last reminder about the Jeep Jamboree pre-runs. So I shot off a message to the coordinator and was told that I had a slim to none chance of making the final cut as a trail guide but that all VFWDA members were welcome to come on the pre-runs. So I decided that I would go out there and contacted some of the usual suspects from the club who would be driving down early on Saturday morning.


I was able to contact Mark L. and Jon F., as well as Mike B. They were all planning on attending but only Mark and Jon planned to drive down that morning. I quick check of Yahoo! Maps revealed a four-hour drive… Ouch! I figured that was a worst-case scenario but even with a three-hour trip, that meant getting on the road by 5 o’clock AM in order to be at the meeting point at 8. I decided to err on the side of reason and planned a 4 AM departure time. Jon and Mark were both planning on arriving at the same time as me, and we made arrangements to meet. I planned to meet Jon (coming from Arlington) at the Wendy’s on Rt 66 in Manassas at 4:45 and Mark on Rt,’s 29 and 230 in Madison at about 6:15.

It looked like it might not line up for all of us hooking up at the same time. My guess was that with Jon and I having the same travel time to Wendy’s and both leaving at the same time from home, we’d meet without too much trouble. And sure enough, when I got into radio range of the intersection of Rt. 495 and Rt. 66, I gave a couple shouts for Jon and he was right there! Perfect. There was a window of opportunity for that to happen of about 2 minutes and we hit it just right. We didn’t even stop – he caught up to me on Rt. 66 and we took a little tour west of the Route 29 exit, and hit down Rt. 17 to 29 when we realized our goof.

We made great time and arrived at the spot where Mark was planning to meet me, and sure enough he was there – a little earlier than he promised, but no matter. Jon and I took on fuel and we headed out for the meeting place in Lovington, VA.


There at the entrance of the Oak Ridge estate, is a large field. It was full of Jeeps, with a couple of stray 4WD vehicles.

Muster Area
Mark LongMuster Area
CJ-8 ScramblerMuster Area ArrivalMuster Area
Muster AreaMuster AreaMuster Area
Muster AreaMuster AreaMuster Area

Muster AreaMuster AreaMuster AreaMuster AreaMuster AreaMuster AreaMuster Area
Some Clubs and Association Stickers

It was interesting to note the variety of vehicles and the level of build. They ranged from "stockers" to some pretty trail-ready rigs. After considerable milling about we were all instructed to get in our Jeeps and turn our CB’s to channel 4 for a broadcast from Chris and Carla (the coordinators). We received an overview of what lie ahead for us during the day. We were to start with a quick trip to the mansion and carriage house, followed by our trail assignments and general instructions.

When everyone was ready, we hit the road down to the mansion. There, we parked around the drive and got more instructions on the radio, milled about for a few minutes while Chris and Carla made their rounds to get everyone’s info.


Then we went over to the carriage house where we got our trail assignments and a quick look at the dining hall.

- Line-up at the Carriage House- Line-up at the Carriage House

Carriage House Line-UpCarriage House Line-UpCarriage House Line-UpCarriage House Line-UpCarriage House Line-Up

I got assigned to "Bob’s Creek" – a pair of trails that constitute one of the rides available to Jeep Jamboree attendees. If I am not mistaken, it consists of parts of Trails 7 and 3. The other folks with me were:

  • Mark L.
  • Steve J.
  • Ken S.
  • "Zen"
  • James A.
  • Jason N
  • Sean (video)

Sean from Sights and Sound was shooting video. "Zen" was not signed up for the trail guide slots but came for the trail rides. Ken had someone riding shotgun as did James or Jason (or both). We got acquainted and went to our Jeeps to get lined up for the ride.

The whole shebang went back to the muster area and lined up by trails. We went to channel 5 for our trail. It might make more sense to run on whatever channel your trail is numbered but that’s just me.

TrailZen ponders the gang

Anyway, once we were all ready to go, Ken led us down the road to the first entrance. It must be mentioned at this point that the entire area is part of the estate and all the land is private. All the trail entrances are gated with cable and locks, preventing unauthorized entry. All the land is posted just in case the gates don’t send a clear enough message. In some of the photos you will see these signs. We were authorized to be on these trails and did not go anywhere but the assigned routes.

Ken Smith

The first trail was just a little loop that went in a dirt road, up a little erosion, then cut down into the woods where a nice little hill climb waited for us. As it had not yet started raining, it was no trouble to climb the hill and thread through the trees. This was fun but quite short compared to what I am used to doing. Once we returned to the main trail, we went further in and up another hill to the top of a ridge. We drove along over rocks and some fallen trees and made a U-turn near the top and doubled back the way we came. It was a little off-camber but nothing like what I encountered on State Line, so I was able to relax and enjoy the ride knowing that I wasn’t in much danger of having trouble.

Somewhere along the way, Ken told us about a mud hole that was "impossible" and a little bit about those who had tried to make it through. Since I am not much for mud to begin with, I was glad to hear that there was a bypass.

We came back out the way we went in. All along the way, Sean was moving up and down the column, shooting from all angles and catching what little bit of challenging spots there happened to be. It was not long before we got back to the road. From there we went back the way we came and branched off to run the second half of our assigned route.

We reached the trail entrance. We skirted the edge of a large field and dropped into the woods when we had gone back a ways from the road. After winding down the trail a ways, we came to Bob’s Creek. The bank was pretty high.

Mark Long descends into creek
Descending into Creek

The road runs parallel to the creek and drops you into the creek at right angles. It is well traveled and smooth – higher but easier than Old Long Run crossings. Notwithstanding, you can’t see down the bank into the creek when you turn in so it is a little difficult to know where you are headed until your nose drops down into the creek. Again, nothing new, and I am enjoying myself.

Just out of the creek is a corduroy road of sorts – railroad ties laid side-by-side to provide passage through a section that stays soft. Near the end of that, a pair of ruts branches to the right and leads to a huge mud hole that has a vertical wall standing between you and solid ground. And sure enough, there was a drier route that thread through some small trees to the left.

Everybody ahead of "Zen" took the bypass. I was behind him, and Steve behind me. I got out to watch as Zen took the muddy ruts instead of the bypass.

Zen makes a run

He made a first storming run at it and blunted against the wall at the end. Undaunted, he backed up and made another run at it. Thwarted again.

Zen makes a runZen makes a run

He made two or three more swipes at it without any better success. On his last run, his engine was missing and the exhaust pipe was generating some steam from the water in the mud hole.

Zen makes a run

And then he stalled. Cranking. Nothing. Cranking. Nothing but a weak hit, not enough to start. Finally, Steve winched him most of the way out of the mud. Zen and his co-pilot started working on their Jeep.

Zen attempting repairs

Right about this time, the promised rain started to fall. Up until this point it had just been a little chilly and overcast. The rain was light but the trail was getting pretty wet.

Zen attempting repairs

So while Zen worked on his Jeep, I decided to go ahead and take the bypass (didn’t want to steal his thunder…) and park behind the rest of the group. The bypass was, shall we say, interesting. You have to thread your way through some little trees. It is pretty tight and rutted. It looks like someone has been stuck here when there is more water. You have to finesse it so that you slip around and through the trees without hitting them with your roof or flares. And on the exit is a deep hole that wants your left front tire. My first attempt left me clawing for traction in the hole. Ken spotted me and I was able to get over to the left and pull through.

Ken SmithKen Smith

We talked about the trail, the Jeep Jamboree event, and wheeling in general while we ate and watched Zen work in his Jeep. He was not having much luck. It just wouldn’t fire up. After about an hour with rain coming down the whole time, Carla and Chris came through on the radio asking how we were doing. Well… They agreed to take over waiting on Zen and we got back in the business of running the trail.

The trail runs parallel to the other side of the creek and makes a 90-degree turn up a steep hill. The bottom of the hill is coated in bare clay. With the rain, it is slippery. But everyone ahead of me disappears up the hill without any trouble. One guy even comes back down and goes up again.

I took a walk up the hill. If it was dry out, it would be a no-brainer. With the rain, it became somewhat more challenging, with some potential for trouble. Ken tells me that I am going to have trouble getting up. Great. I walked around the top and familiarized myself with the optional obstacles. I decided that most of them were not for me, including a little shelf rock way off to the right, about halfway up the hill (the second time you come up). I’m figuring that if I make the main hill I am not going to tempt fate by playing on rocks halfway up.

So I don’t expect too much trouble until I try to make the turn and head up. I drift a little to the right and make the turn but start losing traction about 20 feet up the hill. I put on the brake to shift into reverse and the Jeep just starts sliding backwards. Nothing was going to stop it. No time to get into reverse and try to get control back. So I watch where I am going and get a nice little Ka-Bonk! at the bottom of the hill. Damn!

I got out and reluctantly went to look at the back of my Jeep. Sure enough, a large, solid stump has stopped me from going further down hill. In the process of saving me, it distorted my bumper and crushed the bumper support where it bolts to the frame. There is no other damage, which was good news. So I turned my attention back to trying to get up the hill. I must get through this trail. I don’t want to be left hanging around with Zen…

I made a couple more swipes at the hill. I was able to keep from sliding backwards again, and each time got a little bit better line. One of the guys asked me if I had aired down. At first I just thought "Well DUH!" because I had. But then I thought "Wait a minute – Roscoe is always telling me I should go down to 15 psi but I usually only go down to 22psi…" So I aired down one tire on the back to 15. By that time Steve was offering to pull some cable down to me from the top of the hill so I figured it was now or never.

Without airing down the other three tires, I backed off, put it in 2nd (yes I have it in 4-LO), and hit the loud pedal. I slid my way through the corner at the bottom, managed to get myself to the less-slippery-looking left side and clawed my way to the top, where you turn 180 degrees and point yourself straight back down the hill. Thunderous applause at my success. I felt like such a newbie. Damn tires. Everyone but me was running pretty aggressive treads. Even though my tires are better than the stock ones that come with the TJ, they look pretty wimpy compared to the rest of my group. And I think it made my trip up this hill a lot more tortured. I think I see tires in my future…

After putting the Jeep into 1st (4-LO), I crawled down the hill without touching the brake. Fortunately the trail was not as slippery here and I was able to navigate the bottom of the hill without slipping. From here there are options. Once option to the left is a large bald slippery rock. I have no interest in trying this. If it was dry I might consider it but today was anything but dry and the hill climb would keep me in adrenaline for a few more minutes by itself.

A little to the right of that is a bypass that skirts the rock shelf and leads directly to a rocky final ascent, sort of an obstacle in it’s own right. And to the right of that is the trail branch that leads over the rock shelf. Now for whatever reason, despite my decision to skip the obstacles, I found myself on the far right trail branch heading straight for the rock shelf. With my slipping and sliding still fresh in my mind, I decided that I might as well try the obstacle because if I stop to back off, things are going to get interesting anyway… To my surprise, I went over the shelf rock without any trouble.

One thing I will say about these Pirelli’s is that they are good on wet rock. And no doubt my recent lift helped me clear the front bumper and chassis going over the rock. I got past that and was approaching the rocky exit up the middle when, because he had slid off into some rocks, Ken advised me to take the bypass. That was challenge enough as it required me to make a 110-degree turn while off-camber, head back down the hill again, then right back up to the top. I was able to do it without any trouble.

I am starting to think that I need to air down deeper in these conditions. I didn’t see much difference between the bottom of the hill I had trouble with and the rest of the spots on the hill later. It was all the same kind of ground.

After I parked, I walked down to the large rock where Steve was doing his best to climb it. He made several attempts with all kinds of sights and sounds – smoke, steam, crisp snaps… Crisp snaps? Hey Steve, wait a second… Ken checked out and found nothing obviously broken. 

Steve from XtremeSteve from Xtreme
Steve from Xtreme
Steve from XtremeSteve from Xtreme
Steve from Xtreme
Steve from Xtreme

So Steve tried again then went around to yet another obstacle.

This one is extreme. It is a face of random boulders, I think the outcrop is about 6 to 10 feet high, and there is no "good" line of approach. It looks like you might be able to nudge front wheels up, let them kind of slide over to the right. You will hopefully notch above the lower boulders, and get a wheel up to the next tier where you have to slot between more boulders so you can get your diff past. 

Steve from XtremeSteve from Xtreme

Steve made a few good tries but he could not get a good grip on the wet rocks. And in the process he tweaked some sheet metal. So he backed off and went up the rest of the hill.

That would be the major thrashing on our trail ride. The rest was easy stuff.

Following trailKen Smith

We drove the trail out to a gate, turned left and rode along down through some logging, and back along the woods near where we had come in. One little hill looked interesting but even with the rain was no problem at all. 

Ken Smith

By the time we got back to the road, everyone had a smile on their face, and more than a little mud here and there.


We drove back to the carriage house where some of the other groups had returned ahead of us. Chris and Carla debriefed us and told us what to expect for the next pre-run and Jeep Jamboree. We were given the opportunity to stay and run more trails but with the long ride ahead and the bad weather, I opted to make my exit, accepting my bumper as the only carnage for me. The other thing I discovered when I went to air-up was that the quick connect below my spare tire was jammed from the bumper being bent so I could not air up the back tires.

Mark and I traveled together, with a stop at the car wash. We washed Jeeps and aired up. A couple guys from other trails were there and we talked a little. Then we jumped back on Rt. 29 and head for home. Along the way, Mark invited me to stop by his place. It turned out more beautiful than the pictures show. After some coffee and cookies I drove the rest of the way home.

It was a great trip, a nice chance to do some new trails, and I think it stretched my capabilities to new bounds. I think I am still re-learning stuff I knew back when I had my Willys. I hope it doesn’t take too much longer for me to get it all back!

I called my friend Carl and was able to convince him to sell me his factory original rear bumper, and installed it the next day. Good as new!


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Oak Ridge is Private Property.  Trespassing is vigorously enforced and prosecuted.

At the request of the Jeep Jamboree local coordinators and site owners, GPS coordinates are not being posted for this trail report.

GPS Track Legend Part 1 | GPS Track Legend Part 2


Items Used on this Trip

I have added this section to keep track of items carried along routinely are that are used on the trip, and any special significance to this use, if appropriate.  This may help to emphasis the importance (or lack thereof) of these things.  In most cases, the inclusion on this list suggests that the item was "essential" to the trip.  In some cases, this merely indicates a matter of greater convenience or personal preference; in other cases, the trip would have been difficult, impossible, or nightmarish without the item.  The trip report will certainly reflect the severity of need for each item.

There are two classes of items - those attached to the Jeep more or less permanently that did not come with the Jeep;  and those "readiness items" that I carry "just in case".   I will only mention those items that were actually used and made a difference.   I will also list items that I carry that may have been used by others (they too carry these items and may have used their own instance of this item - the point being that someone had this available).

In this way it might be possible over the course of several trips to determine what the incidence of use of these items, and from that to suggest what items are most important to add to a mod list first.

This list is not comprehensive - it is a summary of what was used on this trip.  I carry considerably more items in the event of more difficult circumstances.

Air Chuck & gauge Air Down/Up Fittings in container
Quick Disconnects Disconnect sway bar New
Camera & film photos Pentax
GPS locating trail head and obstacles known in advance, coordinates shared with other members of group Dash Mount
Maps survey of the area prior to trip Navigational Aids
CB, Weather Radio & Antenna road and trail communication CB
Engine Skid ramp to transfer case skid on one obstacle Engine Skid Plate
Steering Box Skid protection at various rough spots steering box skid plate
Gas tank skid protection at various rough spots gas tank skid plate
Springs clearance and load balancing Old Man EMU Springs
Winch snatched Zen out of mud hole (Steve from Xtreme) Zen attempting repairs
Tow Hook (front) snatched Zen out of mud hole MoPar Front Tow Hooks
air tank, hose and compressor air up tires Viair 2.5 Gallon, 150lb Air Tank and hardware
rack carry tools, Hi-Lift, water, protect roof Garvin Wilderness Rack
leather gloves remove disconnects  
Jacket rain protection, warm up from wind chill Paul amd Tomi
Sun glasses glare and bright sun protection
hat rain and wind protection
snacks and food eating
pencil and paper record waypoint notes for later  
credit card, cash gas, dinner and snacks  



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