4X4 ICON 2000 - 2008 The DVD!
I had made plans to Paragon on this weekend. I got a little overbooked and found that something had to give. I would not be going to Paragon as planned. I was disappointed since I had just installed my new axles, gears and lockers. After spending most of the weekend doing stuff at the house, I was able to wiggle a few hours to go out and play. I called Carl and we headed up to the wood lot to test out our "stuff". Carl had just finished adding lift, tires and lockers to his Jeep and was also eager to see what it could do.
The weather was incredible. I had painted and installed my hard top the day before and was somewhat disappointed that I had done so since it was so warm and sunny. But you have to commit sometime, so I just left it on. I met Carl at his house and we made the short drive to the property. Along the way we stopped to air down and disconnect. I had not greased my disconnects for some time and had given them a quick shot in the driveway before we left to go. That was to save me a lot of trouble. Carl too had not greased his for quite a while and like me, paid the price.
With the kids helping, we got disconnected and aired down pretty quick. Carl stayed with Wooly, who was sleeping, while Ted and I went in to get some drinks. Ted got his usual Sprite, I got my usual Diet Coke, and I grabbed Wooly's usual Fruit Punch for when he woke up. Then we hit the road for the trail.
I guess it's nothing new for those who already have lockers, but I have been working to getting used to the new road manners of my Jeep. With the Detroit NoSlip in the back and the Detroit TrueTrac up front, it makes for some interesting driving. Overall, I am getting used to the rear locker and find that it isn't all that big of a deal. The clicks and pops are not very bothersome, although Teddy wanted an explanation. And the TrueTrac up front is invisible (on pavement).
Of course Carl is loving life because he installed the ARB's front and rear. He has no road handling issues, and mentions it from time to time just to keep me happy. I am quietly looking forward to seeing what the 4.56's do for my off-road crawling capabilities...
Soon enough we reach the property. I knew Carl wanted to try out his lockers and gears as much as I did so I took him down to a little stream crossing that has boulders guarding the exit on the other side. I went down and left my foot off the gas and tried crawling out in 1st (4-LO of course). The Jeep went right up the other side but stopped when the back wheel got to boulder that was taller than the center point on my rear hubs. It was just too vertical to be climbed as I had attempted. I backed off and tried a few other similar approaches, all with the same results. Finally I took it a little bit more to the left and crawled right up with no drama, no wheel-spin, and minimal stress to the Jeep. Hey! This is going to be nice...
Next Carl took his turn and did pretty much the same thing as me, finding that he too could not get over the boulder without being rough on the Jeep. He took the line to the left and walked up like nothing.
I decided to head up into a section that has not been visited for some time. The trail is not grown in, but the width is not very good. I got quite a few scratches on the relatively soft (newly painted) paint on my hard top. Oh well... It didn't scratch through the paint, just the surface. I think I can live with it. Eventually the trail narrows down to the point where we cannot continue. A clearing gives us a good place to turn around and take a quick break.
We dragged our paint jobs back to the road and drove down to the other section. Here, we drove out the main road a few hundred yards. I was thinking we'd try the hill climb. There are two of them. One is pretty much a route for people with ATV's or a death wish. We turned around and came back to the hill climb that I have attempted before. Carl took an opportunity to pose on some rocks.
On my first try, on a previous trip, I did not get up this hill. On my second trip, still not reported here, I was able to blast up to the top, with Bill S. and Jim C. behind me. This time, I wanted to try climbing it by crawling at idle. So I put it in first, 4-LO (DUH...) and started up. I got most of the way but had to pass between some trees where some wet exposed roots and a couple of flat stones (also wet) caused me to lose traction. Now in similar situations in the past, on hills as steep as this, (and admittedly, with lesser tires, gears and drivetrain), found myself sliding backwards with no braking effect and bad results when finally I hit something that reshaped my rear bumper at the bottom of the hill.
This time I was fortunate to be able to stop when I lost traction and keep the Jeep from going backwards out of control. Score: TrXuS tires 1, wet leaves, roots and mud, 0. But, positioned straight downhill from me was a nice big tree that would be on my path of descent if I tried to back down. I had no reasonable expectation that I could steer around it under these conditions and knew that an attempt to do so would lead to the potential destruction of my hard top, rear window, tail gate, and spare tire holder. I didn't want to chance it. So it was time to pull some cable...
I never knew what having a winch would mean to me. I guess I had some thought that I would be using it to scale big rock-faces and other things like that. Maybe fishing myself out of hopelessly deep mud bogs? I never really thought of it as a safety device, or as a way of belaying off the side of a hill. But here I was, doing just that. I rigged the cable so I could crab sideways on the hill, then lower myself back beyond the tree I wanted to avoid. You really can't get much idea of how steep this hill is from the pictures, except maybe the one showing me dragging the cable up the hill, or the view of the Jeep from the side that shows the vertical line of the trees.
It took several cycles of the winch, using a double line pull, to achieve this. But eventually, I was positioned several feet to the left of where I had lost traction. I re-rigged to a different and closer tree, then lowered myself down below the tree. After that I just packed up my gear, my kids, and backed down off the hill. The kids were parked a safe distance away during the rigging and winching. But they were quipping little pearls of wisdom to me as I went about my work with the winch. They had just finished another two-day marathon of watching the Unstuck! video and had refreshed their very sharp memories about the correct and safe use of winches... Don't underestimate your kids!
I suppose we could have made it up the hill by storm, but we were running out of daylight and truth be told, I didn't want to tempt fate twice in the same day. Instead, we went up into the woods to a trail that we have visited before. I had at least one chance to try out my lockers and found them to be superb devices that completely transform the vehicle. The gears also proved their worth - I can idle up a hill that is about 30 degrees and not touch the gas! Gotta love it!
We got out of the woods about 5 minutes before sunset. A quick ride down to the gas station and we were reconnected and aired up. Carl continued to pay for not greasing his disconnects, and I got lucky with what little grease mine had. I aired up two tires, let the air tank get filled again while I reconnected, then aired up the other two tires. Carl got some help from my weight on his front bumper and then got aired up and underway.
We had a great day. No equipment failure. No injury. Some quality time in the woods on one of the nicest days of the year. The company of kids and friends. It was all good!
GPS Waypoint Coordinates
I have chosen
not to provide waypoints or map data for this location
since it is private property and not open to the general public.
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Last Updated 02/09/2008 09:55:59 AM -0500