Sunday morning we all met up in the parking lot of the Clayton Country Inn after breakfast and gassing up our rigs.
We were going to drive the short distance to Ed for registration and the filling out of liability and safety forms. Adding to our group this day was a new couple from OKC. Chris and Jennifer in a sweet looking Black Jeep TJ that just recently had a set of ARB Lockers and Rubicon axles installed.
Donald’s brother David also joined us in the shotgun seat of Donald’s rig.
We staged up at the entrance to Ed’s place with a new Trail Leader for the Moderate Run, Rick and Cody!
This was going to be an interesting day! Once squared away with Ed we all headed through the gate and proceeded to line up for the hard-core and moderate runs.
The Moderate Run rigs took off toward the lower power line trail. It didn’t take but two minutes for our first “stuck” of the day!
While crawling over the only dry rock seen in the last 24 hours, it kicked in on Natalie and managed to get wedged behind her front axle, forward of her transfer skid plate. You know the rock; the one that you can safely say hasn’t been moved in the last 4 million years! Yea that one! Well…it has now been moved!
Mike took care of this for us in a cinch, a small tug, and a hardy “you’re welcome”, and we were on our way again.
Once up the lower power line we approached the start of “Slick Rock”. Yes, this one is appropriately named, not like the stuff out in Moab. This was slick, wet, off camber, down hill and absolutely guaranteed to slide your rig right into that big red clay bank on the right.
Rick and Cody were the first down (It was their job, Trail Leader remember?), followed by Christine and David who managed the off camber perfectly and slid nice and square into that muddy sidewall.
Chris and Jennifer went down next and looked as if they had the perfect line on that off camber, mud covered slick rock when all of a sudden the front end slid right and the passenger side tire dug sharply into the red clay. It took a bit of driving on Chris’ part to work out of that situation, as this was the moment his ARB system decided it was going to fail. After a few minutes of maneuvering Chris managed to get enough out of those two tires with traction to work free and walk safely down the remainder of this obstacle.
The rest of the crew managed to walk/slide down “slick rock” relatively unscathed to a flat area on the near side of a creek at the bottom.
Here’s Brad and Andrea negotiating the Slick Rock obstacle.
At the creek landing we had a great view to watch Rick and then Christine take their lines up the hill climb on the far side of the creek. It was that I first suspected, that at times, Rick could be “Moderate Trail Identification Challenged!” LOL
Christine managed that 4runner all the way up to the top of the climb until she simply ran out of tire height. 33-inches appeared to be just a tad too short for the mud covered stair steps near the top. Rick positioned his rig at the top of the ledge to winch assist the rest of us as needed.
About this time Mike Jones noticed his right front tire was low on air. While attempting to air it up he discovered the valve stem was torn. The day before, Mike had lost a tire to a cut sidewall. This was going to require a trail repair to replace the valve stem.
After a few minutes Tom Malone produced a spare valve stem out of his toolbox and we were off to the races.
I’ll tell you what; if you are going to wheel in the mud and choose to rip a valve stem off this is the place to do it. It was flat and safe and offered a clear stream to wash the mud off the tire and wheel before breaking the bead. Fantastic!
It took about 30 minutes of team effort to accomplish this mission. In the end we had to deploy Natalie to stand in the rim as we pulled the tire bead up so that Mike could use his new Power Tank to seat that bead.
Someone made comment to Mike on how impressed they were with the Power Tank seating the bead so easily. Mike replied something along the lines of “For years I never had a Power Tank, until Santa delivered it this year. I also never had tire problems before. See what problems you get when you have the tools to fix them!” Well said!
Once the trail repair was completed we made our way up to the top where the others were waiting and we toke our lunch break.
Tom and Jan picked the perfect line to the right on “Uphill Gorge” and that was the line the rest of us would be follow.
But first, before lunch, as it had been for both days, Donald our tail gunner did the last climb, negotiating those tricky mud covered stair steps.
After lunch Rick took us down the fire road to “rock creek”. Prior to getting there we pulled off the trail to give the right of way to the hard-core group coming up. We then went on our first water crossing of the day (Not counting really big mud puddles!)
Prior to getting to the stream, Mike and Saundra gave us a bit more excitement by going about as off camber as one can go without laying it on its side. It was a slide in the mud that put Mike in this position. He was able to very gingery drive out of it.
I don’t know the name of this water crossing but was told it isn’t normally a water crossing, but rather a dry creek bed most of the year. There was little problem negotiating this water and then climbing up the far bank to be at the base of Three Stage.
Tom and Jan Malone had to leave us at this time, and a few minutes later Adam elected to leave with Tom due to an oil pressure reading that was fluctuating all over the place.
Then there was Three Stage, known around the country, and there it was, and there on it was “Donald and David” giving it a valiant try, putting on one heck of a show.
If you look closely you can see Donald has those front tires three feet off the ground! But the first obstacle on Three Stage just wasn’t going to happen on Sunday. It was just too wet! Try try try, it just wasn’t going to happen for Donald nor for Rick whose Jeep sounded like an angry train trying to apply all that power to the ground in spite of the tire slippage. (And to think, he wasn’t even tooting that air horn! Yet!)
Donald did back on down and took the bypass to the top and gave us a nice show of crawling down that wet rock in style.
After playing around at the start of Three Stage, Rick and Christine discussed how we might go down the fire road using the riverbed as our trail. Rick went first, thankfully. As it turned out the water pooled up too deeply in one direction and we had to turn around. No problem, we’d try the other way. Once again, too deep. We climbed back up the ledge at the base of Three Stage and Rick decided to take us up the by-pass for the first obstacle so we could climb the first stage of Three Stage.
Once again, only now confirming, Rick IS “Moderate Trail Identification Challenged”, but boy was that fun, both up and down!!!
After coming down the first stage of Three Stage, we attempted to run the fire road around the area but found them closed in both directions due to downed trees on one end and logging activities on the other.
It was getting late in the day and Rick took a vote as to what we wanted to do. He volunteered to take us to the Purple Headed Monster but as a group we declined. In truth so late in the day, with a 3 hour drive back to OKC in the plan, I was feeling cautious, hearing that voice in the back of my head screaming at me, “No, No, No, you don’t want to break now!”
Rick humored me and led us out on some interesting trails until we arrived at the exit gate where we had came in. What a great ride! We’d do it again in a heartbeat.
We had to leave for home once we left the trail, and didn’t get the opportunity to participate on Monday’s trail ride.
I think Christine will be adding her thoughts on Monday’s events.
I would like to thank everyone for the wonderful opportunity to wheel with you. I had a blast on the trail but even more so, I greatly enjoyed meeting each of you and developing a friendship. I thank you all for what you have done to mentor Natalie in this wonderful hobby of ours, especially Rick and Christine and Robert! You folks are great and I am indebted to you.
If you should find yourself with the opportunity to come to Lexington, Kentucky with or without your rig, Please Please Please get in touch with me. It would be my pleasure to repay your friendship and kindness with my own, on our trails and obstacles of Central Kentucky.
Have a great day folks, I plan to.