4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!
I decided to attend the annual New Years Day run even though recent reports of the trails "improvements" did not leave me very excited about the opportunities for wheeling "on the edge", so to speak. I packed the usual stuff, brought the kids with me, and embarked early on a wet and cold morning for the meeting place at Wendy's in Manassas.
I arrived at the appointed hour and sent Tomi to give Mr. Mike the waiver sheets. Meanwhile, we got some breakfast inside a very crowded Wendy's. The crew there were totally unprepared for us and made each pat of butter to order. The wait was interminable and the non-natives were restless. The boys both wanted pancakes and got them in due time. I shuffled them off the Jeep to eat their breakfast.
Another group had formed up to visit German River. Keith led this group (the C.O.R.E. club). I am sure they found their trek a little more interesting than we would find ours. That is not to say that I did not enjoy the trip, but German River is a wee bit more interesting, if no more challenging, than Peter's Mill.
We putted along at a nice leisurely pace thanks to the gearing in Jackie's recently modified Zuk. It was nice to take our time and get to the trail without any big hurry. Since Peter's Mill is pretty close, it went pretty quick anyway.
The trail head was miserable. It was cold. It was raining. And very few people bothered to air down and disconnect. I tried out my newly adjusted Oasis Trailhead automatic tire deflators and found them to be pretty close to correct. My sway bar was reasonably cooperative and soon I was ready for non-existent moderate wheeling...
Soon, we reached the spot where Ken rolled last year. And just past that the lone remaining obstacle, and the sole reason for my trip (other than tradition...): "The Rock".
This obstacle is probably one of the more tame ones by extremist standards but still commands respect, perched as it is on the hip of the ridge. Even the bypass is narrow and has claimed casualties of its own. So I was looking forward to finally conquering this outcrop.
We sat in "traffic" while others made their runs. Soon, we reached the rock and got out to watch Hugh go up and over with no drama.
One of the things about riding tail-gunner like I did on this trip is that you don't get to see anything. I suppose that is not entirely fair - with the rain and the mud, I chose not to get out and walk the few hundred yards to where the action was because it meant managing the kids, and it just didn't seem like much fun given the conditions. And last to arrive at the obstacle, the challenge had lost it's appeal to the crowd. People have used up their film and everyone is heading back to their rigs. So it was that we reached the rock. A few hardcore voyeurs were left, including Jon and Jackie who gave good spotting tips and encouragement.
Jon advised that I not take the line that Hugh took because of concern that I might flop. So I backed off and took the same line that Jackie had taken and made a very dramatic climb up and onto the rock. It was a pretty uneventful climb in that there were no goofs, but don't tell Teddy that - he was looking out the back window, which was leaning off the edge of the rock, looking off the edge of the trail, down off the hill into the woods below. He was not happy - "I wanna get out Papi!" Well, we were a little late covering that option so he had to ride it out. After we got on top of the rock, he cooled off, but he definitely got the front row seat on that obstacle... No pictures, other than the ones I took showing the end result...
But I did it. The tires performed flawlessly. The disconnects made all the difference. Airing down was absolutely the way to go. And the lockers may have made it possible for me to do it without a single slip of the tread!
From here, we drove the rest of the trail to the clearing where we stopped for a quick lunch break.
After that, everyone was happy to saddle up and move out. The departure from the Trails end for most was equally quick owing to few people airing up and connecting.
On the other hand, I got to experience the full package, as I reconnected in the mud, and aired up in the cold rain, while trying to watch Teddy, who was happily climbing the big hill... It's times like these that I do not miss what would have been waiting for me if I still drove my CJ-2A! (cold with no heat, breezy floors, frosted inside windows, nice cold vinyl seats...)
What else? Car Wash! Even in the rain there was still plenty of cleaning that would be worthwhile. I made the usual stop at the car wash on Route 28 in Manassas. From there it was a quick hop home. Next year, we MUST find a new trail! Unless it snows big-time Peter's Mill would be a snooze!
Jon Fotos' Write-up:Since I started wheeling Peters Mill a year and a half ago I can't say I've noticed much change. I've been told it's been paved, and they did eliminate a tiny stream crossing, but it's always been a bumpy dirt road with one big rock to me. Add an inch of rain, and your wife's bone-stock TJ with strict instructions not to break it, and it becomes a bit more interesting.
A large bunch of us started assembling at Wendy's before 8:00 AM. I was chatting with some folks for about ten minutes before I discovered they were with another group (I believe CORE) getting together to run German River. The OCC group straggled in over the next 45 minutes, a good bunch of old hands, some long-lost faces, and some brand-spanking newbies. The drive to Peters Mill was uneventful made partly by the fact that Jackie's latest T-case mods to her Zuk limit her top speed to about 55 MPH. We hooked up with some more people at the Sheetz (free coffee on New Year's day) and then made our way to the staging area.
There was some debate about the need to air down and disconnect. I decided to do neither mainly because I was feeling lazy and figured I could get away with it. (Besides, I was on 28' tires and needed all the clearance I could get.) Quite a few others came to the same conclusion.
The trail was very muddy but also quite easy. Just about everyone made a go of the rock obstacle and just about everybody who tried made it just fine. Dale gave us a nice show when he seemed to almost roll his FJ before throttling out of peril. Naturally, this is the one picture I missed, partly because I was preoccupied with leaping out of the way.
We broke briefly for lunch at the clearing and then made our way towards the parking lot. This part of the trail is even smoother than the first part, and one person wondered aloud when they were going to make it two lanes and put a stripe down the middle.
At the parking lot some played a little on the rocks (just planting a tire here and there) while the rest aired up, reconnected, or chased after their children. Tony Bitzan showed up around the time we were getting ready to leave followed shortly by his father, Fran, in his scratch-free Tahoe. It turned out they had waited for us at a different Sheetz. Oops.
Overall, it was a very pleasant way to start the new year. Many thanks are due to Mike Ball for organizing and leading the group. And it was nice to see such a good turnout on a day when turning off the alarm and rolling over (your body, not your truck) was a very viable option. ;)
Here are my photos. And yes, it really was that dark, rainy, and foggy:
Wife's 00tj ' 100% stock
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