Just because your not paranoid,doesn't mean their not out to get you. I had thought that the LIOR list might have become compromised since we had planned our run to the new Area 227 trail and the weather forecast was lousy for the weekend that we planned on going,coindecence,I think not..... I think it was one of those black helicopters seeding the clouds to try and deter us from going. Well they don't know who their up against do they. With only minor sprinkles at the meeting spot to deal with, we made our vehicle line up for the days run. We grouped the rigs so that the more set up rigs with winches were intermixed with the non winch vehicles. This seemed to work out well on the last run so we stuck with it. Our leader for the trip was Evan Silverman,fresh off of his winning the Bonehead award from the last trip. Doing tailgunning duties was Jay Reed. I got to get up near the front today as I was taking pictures for 4x44U.
As this was our first run at the new trail that we worked on only 2 weeks prior,we didn't really know what to expect as far as the difficulty level. With the snow and rain that the spot had I figured on wet slippery rocks. The ground was rather soft and with the mix of old leaves the traction's dept. was less than ideal. We made our way to the new Area 227,past the mud hole and we turned off onto the new trail. The first obstacle is "The Check Point" Depending on how you try to enter the trail it makes it a hard first obstacle. It is basically a 90 turn off of the trail trail and a short uphill of soft soil to deal with. At the crest of this short hill we through in some boulders for good measure. Well Evan tried it a few times and couldn't get up,so he headed on out the escape route. I was up next and tried it a couple of times also. I made even less progress as the lockers just wanted to make the nose go in a straight line in that soft stuff. I too went out the escape shoot. The first to make it up was Ed O'Brian in his TJ. He overshot the turn and then backed up and off the backside of the trail so he had more room to get a running start and more of a straight line at the hill climb. With a bit of momentum he shot on up and across the rocks. This of course got people thinking,how about those TJ's. The other TJ in the club,owned by Steve Vechione,also made it up. Same basic technique also,a bit of hp got the TJ up the hill. Now it was Mark Silvermans turn in his YJ. He tried a couple of different lines but couldn't make it up. Bob Blair tried it next. He had a different approach,he backed down the trail and tried to get his Scout II lined up the same way the TJ's did but his attempts were for naught. Jay was the last to try and that is when we noticed that his drivers side hub wasn't working. Luckily Mark Roseman had a spare and as the rest of the group of 19 moved forward on towards our next series of obstacles,Jay made the hub switch.
After a bit of winding through some downed trees and stumps,the trail gets back on track with what is now know as the "Runway" It is a series of rock obstacles to navigate along a slightly off camber section of trail. This can be as hard or as easy as you like since we left room to get vehicles around,but even with this,the Range Rover along fro the trail ride suffered minor sheet metal damage as he slid off of a side hill and back into one of the rock piles. If he was upset he didn't show it. It was through this section that his rig also suffered the loss of one of the bolts that holds the front fairing up to the bumper. A bit of work with a bungy cord had that fixed in no time though. We seemed to be making good progress and then headed towards our next obstacle. "Abduction"
This is a nice little hill climb that has some rocks on one side of it and a bit of a hole in the middle part of it just before the crest of the climb. There is also a tree along the right hand side that if you don't make the climb and get kicked towards that side of the hill,you'll have a good chance of shaking hands with the tree. As I was towards the front of the line I didn't get to see alot of the rigs make it up. From what I heard the Toyota boys had the most trouble here, most notable was Jay in his Toyota. Seems he needed a bit of go juice to get the toy on up the hill. With Evan putting his bear claws on the toy to keep the rig off the tree,Jay made it up the hill. The only causality on the hill was Mark Roseman's tire and wheel. I'm not sure what he hit but,it was hard enough to crack the wheel and slice a tire. After we got everyone through this section we decided to break for lunch before we tackled the last two hard obstacles.
It was at the next obstacle,"The Hanger" that I sustained body damage two weeks ago,so I was trying not to repeat myself today. After Evan made it on through I decided to not try the same line as the Jeeps. There is a couple of trees that you have to scoot through after making a turn up through the rock pile that we created. If you fall off the rocks then your underside isn't going to be too happy. This is what I did two weeks ago and almost pretzel my drive shaft. So I wasn't to keen on doing that again. I went to the middle of the rock pile and crawled on over and didn't attempt to try and squeeze Mr.Ed on through the two trees like the jeeps were doing. After seeing a jeep just basically have enough room to get through this obstacle,I knew I made the right decision. With this rock formation,you can squeeze a rig to the left of the rocks and and on by. It is a tight bypass because of a tree on the left,but with a little spotting we got all the rigs that didn't attempt the right hand side on through without incident. From what I remember only Evan,Willie and Mark Silverman where able to snake it through the trees. Steve in his TJ gave it a good try but kept slipping off of the rocks and had to go to the left. Bob Blair also gave it a good try but basically got hung up in the same spot as he did 2 weeks prior. This is a good obstacle but as the rocks are still moving around so the lines are constantly changing.
Our next and final obstacle is "The Launching Pad" This is a short loop around hill climb that has a number of possible ledges to attempt. In fact to just get into position to attempt the ledges there are 2 possible routes. One puts you further towards the right of the obstacles and makes you do a short uphill turn. At this turn there is a small rock and the ground is made up of loose soil,leaves. Lets just say its tractionally challenged at this point. If you get past this point you then have a choice of "Pads" The one to the furthest right has yet to be attempted and has the toughest looking rock ledges of the bunch. The middle pad is not easy by any means. For short wheel base rigs you are fighting two separate rock faces at the same time so it is tough. The pad to the far left is the easiest of the three. Evan tried to use the far right loop but couldn't get past the turn,he just kept slipping and sliding in the soil. He then backed it up and used the other approach and then did the middle climb. After a number of tries he got it on through. I was up next and decided to try the same approach and it took me a few shots to get the tires up on the double rock ledges. I was on top of the rocks but not all the way up and I had to use the brake and the gas at the same time to creep it on up. All the while without smacking my passengers side on the tree that is there to make it interesting. I forget the exact order of the other rigs through but Ed O'Brian made it up in his TJ,and he also made it through the far right hand approach. Seeing this made Evan jealous enough that he later had to try this side again,but to no avail. Steve in the other TJ also made it through as did Willie in his YJ. The most notable attempts where Bob in the ScoutII. After seeing his truck doors play ping pong with the trees and not sustain and damage,it makes me wonder what sort of miracle material those Scout doors are made of. Bob might be hiding some "sleeper" facts about his truck from the club. I'll try and press him about this at the next meeting. He tried this middle pad but couldn't get up. He did make the far left though after moving on over.
The next up was Vinnie in his XJ. Now he had just the opposite effect happen with his truck. It seems like his XJ was being magnetically pulled towards this one tree on the right hand side. He kept trying to stay away from it but the tree finally won,well sort of. It lost some of its bark but the XJ lost a passengers side window and a bit of a dent at the roof line. After all that he finally had to go to the left to make it up I believe. The last one to try was Jay in his Toyota PU. He too had a bit of magnetic attraction to the same tree as Vinnie. He only lost a side mirror and a small dent in the door. He did make it on up the center section after a few tries,so he wasn't too worried about the damage.
After getting everyone back in line we wound our way out of this leg of the trail and back towards the mud pit. Since it was getting late we decided to not go on the other two legs of the trail and to just let people play in the mud that wanted to. Well of course the Scott& Attlila in the"Furniture Wagon" had to show what those 38" swampers could do. He pretty much walked on through the long way. Even though it was Willie in his YJ whom first made it through,after a number of tries back and forth. On a side note he did suffer later for this as he clogged his radiator up with all the muddy silt from this hole. Even the stock rigs got a chance to go cross ways through the mud pit and after everyone had their fill we started to trickle on down the mountain and some members headed for home and some of us headed to the steak house. All in all this trail is now as Wayne form Waynes World would say,"Worthy". I think it will only get better especially when we get a chance to explore the other two legs and see how they can be improved. Until next month this is Wilbur for Mr.Ed saying happy trails to you.