Robert Jones and his grandson Bobby showed up a tad late for the annual 07:00 AM Saturday morning breakfast at the Bull Dog Café. Their tardiness compliments of ME! I had to slow down on the drive to Clayton while following Robert due to the heavy rains. But we arrived, all in one piece, and managed to meet up with most of the other folks for a good breakfast before heading out to the trails.
After breakfast, we regrouped into those going to the Moderate Run and those planning to do the Hard Core Run.
MODERATE RUN – To Frielings
- Robert (Papa) and Bobby (Grandson) Jones – White OkieZuk
- Three generations of the Flatt family: Herb – Suzuki, Alex and Gerri – Suzuki, and Drew (son) – Toyota
- Tom and Jan Malone - Red Toyota Pickup with XO cage
- Adam (Day one Trail Boss) and Monica Roberts – Black Jeep TJ
- Brad and Andrea (Adam’s sister and brother-in-law) - Yellow Toy pickup
- Donald Wieser – Blue Jeep TJ (David, Donald’s brother would join us Sunday)
- Christine Foster – Brown Toyota 4-runner
- Rick (Dad) and David (Son) Mosley, and Cody (Nephew)– Jeep “Salvage Yard Refugee”
- Garrett Linger – Jeep
- Mike and Saundra Jones – Red Jeep CJ
- Natalie (Daughter) and Frank (Dad) Daless – Red Jeep TJ - Kentucky Krawler
HARD CORE RUN – to Green Acres
- Phil and Sharon Bargman – Toyota
- Gene Wilson – Jeep
- Bud Harris - Jeep
- Dale and Tanja Williams – Jeep Buggy
After filling our bellies and topping off our gas tanks we followed Rick, David and Cody up to the trailhead for Frielings. Rick took his tow rig and trailer right up the trail head, wanting to have both available just in case someone encountered breakage and would need a trailer ride back to town. Thanks for the forethought, Rick. That four-wheel drive monster truck of yours sure made easy work of the muddy trip up and back down.
To say Saturday was a little wet would be an understatement whose point was driven home at the trailhead where most folks aired down, disconnected sway bars and readied winch controllers. It sure was muddy!
We listened in as Adam (Moderate Trail Leader for the day) discussed trail conditions and likely best routes for the day with Robert, Rick and others. The plan was to keep to the more sandy, well-drained trails and away from the red clay as much as possible. This day could be turned into a winch fest real fast if not careful. This planning worked out well, as well as could be expected in the rain, which only added to the significant runoff from the rain throughout the night.
Did I mention there was MUD deserving of all capital letters … Ready, willing and able to lubricate every tire, every obstacle and every person? …Yet I think I can say to a person, we all had a blast.
Brad, Tom, Robert, and Rick (with Cody in the shotgun seat) would join us for most of the moderate run but on occasion would break off to do some more difficult obstacles. I believe they did a run down Jo Jo’s Yo Yo and a run up TSOB. I would have liked to see that given the wet conditions. Unfortunately around midday Robert would have some breakage when the rear differential yoke give out on a rock. He’d get his OkieZuk trailer'd up and ride shotgun for the rest of the day. Robert managed to get that yoke welded up Saturday night.
Adam was the Trail Boss heading up the column on the Frielings trails and Donald Wieser performed the tail-gunner responsibilities. Together they formed a great team, making sure everyone got over or around any obstacles safely and for the most part in one piece. A particular tip of the hat is due to Donald who no doubt had the most difficult of trail challenges. Most of the obstacles became pretty torn up and rutted out by the time all the other vehicles had gone through. Donald made getting through these look easy, using a lot of “skinny pedal”. Come to think of it, there wasn’t much crawling at all on Saturday. The “Skinny pedal” and lots of “bumping up” over obstacles was the order of the day.
Christine Foster and David Mosley took turns driving Christine’s very capable 4Runner. We all watched them in disbelief as the laws of physics were thrown out the window.
I think it was Sir Isaac who said, “When you put 33-inch tires in 35-inch holes things come to a halt”! (Well shoot me. He said something like that. I’m sure of it!) But that wasn’t the case with Christine’s 4runner. It took the rig, the drivers, the steering, and a bit more than usual of applied “Force of Skinny Pedal” to compensate for all that mud!
Bottom line - it was their driving!
Just prior to this hill climb, Christine had to reseat a bead. The mud and the sideways slides did a number on many tire beads all day long.
Speaking of driving, you know you’re in good driving hands when you can go wheeling with a friend and fall asleep in the shotgun seat! That’s just what Bobby did in Drew’s Toyota!
My understanding is this was Drew's first trip out in his beige Toyota pickup, recently locked front and rear but still running stock gearing! You’d never know it. He did a great job of getting his rig up and over anything he pointed it at. And with proof too! Bobby was sound asleep for much of that time in the shotgun seat!!
We had a few trail repairs to take care of as the day went on:
Mike Jones in his squared away CJ managed to cut a sidewall more than enough to warrant a spare change. Mike’s Jeep was on a significant downward decline when this happened. In order to make this change as safely as possible Brad strapped up his yellow Toy to Mike’s Jeep and applied some tension. We blocked the tires up and Mike’s Jeep and others broke out the hi-lift. In a few minutes we were on our way again.
There was one hill climb just prior to breaking for lunch that was particularly challenging. Several of us elected to hook our winches to the tree saver that was set up rather than risk breakage.
As it turned out, Herb snapped an axle on his Suzuki on this climb and that warranted a trail repair.
Yet even after Herb’s breakage, there was our fearless “Speed is your friend” tail gunner, Donald, showing us his style in surmounting that slippery slope!
At the very top of this climb, near the fire road where we would break for lunch, there were two nicely placed boulders. We had an opportunity to watch Alex and Gerri climb this for us. Given any other conditions but wet, this would have been piece of cake for that Zuki to step over, but the mud made it more interesting.
Did he make it?
Yup! As did Rick!
The Moderate Run folks broke for lunch and to compare notes, war stories and general conversation on the fire road.
The afternoon was spent on a trail nameless to me, yet full of fun and excitement as I rode shotgun in my daughter’s Jeep for most of the day. Here are a few pictures of the afternoon run.
Tom and Jan headed down the slippery slope into the water pool runoff below.
The one time I was allowed to drive, I ended up taking half the group on a double circle due to my lack of attention to the vehicle in front of me. Learn from my embarrassing moment.
ALWAYS know who you are following, and keep them in sight! A trail ride column is like one “big worm”! If you don’t stay alert, like me, you can find yourself in the middle of the “worm” cut off from the front of the “worm”, seeing the “behind of the worm” (That would be you Donald) which I then followed and led the entire rear half of the worm in one big circle! Twice!
Fortunately for me everyone had a great sense of humor over this, but now you can understand why I wasn’t allowed to drive any more on Saturday! LOL
All told, at the end of the day the carnage from Saturday’s Moderate Run was reasonable, one differential yoke broken, one broken axle, one slashed sidewall, three or four tire beads either off or packed with enough mud and stones to cause leakage, one loose control arm bolt and a bad ground wire on an ARB compressor. Nothing that was going to prevent any of us from wheeling on Sunday, but before Sunday would come there was that Pot Luck Supper. (Did someone say food?)