Finally, a dry weekend for a club run at Clayton…and what a run it was! After the usual Bull Dog show-up and chatter, twelve rigs headed for the Clayton Inn for safety inspect and staging. When we got to Ed’s and finished the signing-in and paying process (a system that could use a total overhaul, in my opinion), Don Huddleston suggested that we split into 2 groups of 6 rigs each so we could cover more trails…a good call.
Since I was making this run with a broken leg (fibula, for you medical types), Rick and Christine decided that I was obviously out of my mind and could easily be talked into writing the newsletter article…guess they were right. So, if I get anything a little wrong or leave someone out, just remember, there was pain and pain pills involved in this entire process. I put off my appointment with the bone mechanic until after this run…and man, it was sure worth it! Read on…
In group one: (I’ll mention group two later), Don Huddleston was our very capable trail leader. A comment on trail leadership is important here. Knowing the capabilities of the rigs and drivers in the group and communicating with the group about up-coming obstacles, lines, and pitfalls are Don’s strong points. As a trail leader he is excellent. Darrell Rowe led group two and his trail leadership is equally as impressive.
Our group: Don Huddleston with Dallas riding along, Mike & Saundra Jones, Tom & Jan Malone, Pat & Ronnie Scott (sorry, Ronnie, Pat was driving, she gets top billing), Christine with Rick Mosely and Don Fitzpatrick riding along, and Brian and Charline Prewitt with their 3 boys Cole, Zak, and Keith. Oh, Pat’s dog was there too.
We left Ed’s gate with Christine as tail-gunner and proceeded toward lower rock creek via the power line although our capable trail leader took some kind of weird shortcut that split the group in half until we found each other at the fire road crossing. We did some good little climbs and a few hard spots until Pat decided to cut a 5” slash in her right rear tire around 10:30…hi-lift, spare, strap, help…back on the trail at 10:55. On the way from upper power line to the start of rock creek, I managed to not straddle a couple of rocks and Tom had to strap me. We ran the slabs on the way down that gave everyone so much trouble on the New Year’s run…this time they were dry, so it was actually fun.
We enjoyed a lunch break on top of upper power line.
On to Rock Creek…Don led to a spot where he radioed that there was an undercut spot that would swallow a 36”, so four of us took a by-pass. Tom & Jan couldn’t resist…he made it look easy (it wasn’t), Christine, Rick, and Don did it next with no real problem. I guess it was just one of those Toyota things. Continuing on our way, Pat and I decided to have a rock moving contest…seems as if we both got hung a couple of times and instead of backing up, we tumbled and dug up huge rocks that completely changed the trail for those behind us…you’re welcome.
Some great wheeling was done by all on our way to the bottom of Three Stage, crossing the creek from the west, we met up with group two. They had finished climbing and everyone was watching Donald “Cowboy” Weiser stuff rags into his axle housing where his axle shaft should have been…the first of three mishaps this misguided Jeeper experienced on Saturday. We also witnessed Cooter and his Bronco plugging the spare he put on at Little Sahara (new tires in your future?). I wish we’d got there to see group 2 climb…especially Jamie, who’s still finding out what a capable Jeep he has, and Marty with his newly modified Zuk, and David Brumley testing his Unlimited’s new mods. Wish we’d seen Darrell too…but he makes it look too easy sometimes…good driver.
I believe some super videos were taken by Donald’s brother, David. Before the two groups parted company, our group decided to play awhile. Our trail leader, Don provided a scary show by standing straight up at the first ledge, bouncing, twisting, and ending up almost side ways, where you don’t want to be side ways. He decided to pass on a second try. Tom was next, bounced good, hammered it, went to the top. Brian and his geared and lightened Scout went next and crawled to the top with relative ease. The rest of us decided to take the by-pass…being last in line to go up the by-pass, and having been told that my wife, Saundra, said, in no uncertain terms, that she would not ride up 3 Stage, and me having told Darrell and Jamie that I was going to do it anyway…I took a quick left turn up the slab, bounced the ledge, and hammered to the top (my 1st time too). I’m sorry, I cannot write the words that were said, by my wife, in my Jeep, after we got to the top. Whew!!!
There were a couple of spots on the rest of the way up the stages that required a little strap help (probably due to extra dog weight), and several of us caught some pretty good air on the harder parts, but the climb was lots of fun and well done by everyone.
Just a side note: Surely Christine didn’t receive any driving tips or “do this” “do that” type of help from her passengers, Rick and Don. When asked, she told me she just said “shut up and enjoy the ride”.
Once on top, Pat discovered a right rear control arm dragging the ground. Ronnie got the tools out and removed the broken piece. It was decided that Pat would call it a day. Rick and Don decided it would be best to ease her Jeep back down with a strap on the rear to keep her from braking too much and strapping from the front to lessen the need for power…trying to keep the rear axle in place. We made it down and Christine followed Pat to town for repairs (I believe Slim welded it up). Pat had driven her rig to Clayton so she was able to drive home (without a spare, though).
It was 4:45 p.m. but the rest of us wanted to hit Purple Headed Monster before calling it a day. The Monster lived up to it’s name. Don made the climb…not easy, a lot of air-time, I went next, hung up between two trees, high centered, tore off a light, took a winch. Tom was next, same rock that hung me but Tom solved that by knocking down one of the trees, and powering over the rest. Brian went next, bounced, crawled, hung a time or two, but made it. A good time was had by all.
Our day was done…the two group idea was super, We covered a whole lot of trails (I’m not familiar enough with the trails to name them all) that we wouldn’t have had time to do with 12 rigs.
Saturday night Don, Marty, Chris & Brad went to Yanush for some night wheeling. No report on that, but they said it was fun.
After Breakfast, it was up to Yanush with a group of 9 rigs: Mike & Saundra, Don Huddleston, Chris & Brad, Marty & Marna, Tom & Jan, Brian & Charline & kids, Jamie, Darrell, Christine & Rick. With Don leading, the plan was a quick run up Magazine, turning off the highway at the first road, running the hill, and coming back out the iron gate to the highway. It didn’t quite work that way. 1st hill was hard but everyone had fun. Big wash out going down the other side but Don made it and radioed for everyone to stay real high on the bluff bank as there was a 5’ drop on the right. I couldn’t stay high enough, front tires went 4’ in the air, right rear about to fall in the hole, no traction on the left rear tire, we froze right there! Tom put a strap on me to keep it from going over, winch did the rest (Saundra was almost over the 3 Stage thing, too – man, she gets loud sometimes!). That same washed out spot put Brian in a bad way, his family abandoned ship, winches and straps got him through. Jamie was introduced to the “about to roll” club also. Everyone else seemed to know how it was done and everyone caught up to the bottom of the main climb on Magazine.
Chris and his Zuk clawed their way up with style. Marty got half way, broke his rear drive shaft (looked like a pretzel). After Marty took the damaged shaft off, it was determined that Darrell would take Marty back the way we came, strapping when necessary. Jamie and Christine followed. We learned that on the way back (we could hear the trouble they were having) they all had to strap or winch across that washed out place that gave so much trouble in the beginning…and Christine had some tire trouble on top of that. Five of us went on, taking the by-pass, instead of the hill where Marty broke…the by-pass was just as hard…at the top everyone took a lot of air, Don stood straight up on his rear bumper, Tom showed how Toyotas can do impressive wheelies. Half way up, Brian broke an axle and bent his drag link such that it had to be taken off and straightened…1st try, it bent again…2nd try using two winches it straightened enough to get the tire straight enough to winch a couple of times to more level ground. 2½ hour trail repair…a lot of help and some inventive repair tricks did the job well enough to get to the highway with just a little strap help and 3 wheel drive. Good job by everyone on the hill.
Side note: while watching the repairs, Brian’s son Zak spotted a snake under the rock we were sitting on. I got down to look, and sure enough, there was a 13” timber rattler. I caught the snake to show Brian’s boys (they thought it was cool). Jan, Saundra, and the boy’s mother, Charline did NOT think it was cool. I cut the rattler’s head off and showed them the fangs and gave them some other info about different snakes. I took a great deal of time cautioning them on not handling snakes unless you know how. It was amazing for them to see how the snake’s complicated intrinsic nervous system allows it to repeatedly strike my hand even when it’s head is severed from it’s body. Keep in mind as we wheel…watch where you step, and more importantly, watch where you put your hands (picking up rocks, sticks, climbing holds, etc.) The vast majority of snake bites are on the hands and unprotected feet and ankles.
Overall, I believe it was a great weekend for Trailchasers. The weather was fine and the scenery was great…unfortunately, some had a bit of carnage…but, this sport of ours tends to pay us back, in it’s own way, for being foolish enough to take a vehicle to places that weren’t necessarily designed for vehicles to be taken.
Kinta, April 21, 2007….Can’t hardly wait! See you all there…
- Story by: Mike Jones
- Photos by: Jan Malone
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