Trailchasers 2007 New Years Run in Clayton
The holidays have come and they have gone and I hope everyone’s holidays were as spiritual as mine were. This was the second New Years run that I have been on and I think it was just as fun as my first. Last year, we had three consecutive days of rain before our run; this year, it was flat out cold. According to the thermometer outside the camper, it was 24 degrees, which was cold enough to freeze our water line going to the camper.
We started off Saturday morning meeting at The Bull Dog Cafe; this is a Trailchasers’ tradition, in case some of our readers have never been to Clayton with our club. After breakfast, we all meet at the Indian Mounds south of Clayton for our safety check by Don Huddleston, who was trail leader for the moderate run for that day.
Don decided to split the group up due to its size; 11 vehicles in all, I think. He asked me to led the other group; I hesitated, but then said yes. I don’t know the Clayton-area trails very well, but I had mapped them on my GPS on past runs. In all we had five rigs in our group.
I took the lead with my son Brandon and my brother, David Weiser. Nathan and Marilyn Shearon followed me in their Jeep Cherokee. Christine Foster, with passengers Terri Thatcher, Karla Loessin and Dallas Anderson, Don Fitzpatrick's nephew were in Christine’s Toyota. Don and Connor Fitzpatrick were in a blue Chevrolet truck. Brian Fitzpatrick and friend Zac were in a white truck.
Brian is home on leave from the Air Force; he is stationed in Japan. He had recently bought "Whitey," a big white GMC pick up from former member Gary Bolser. Gary had wheeled the truck for years, before selling it to Brian.
We stared our trail run on lower part of the Power Line; this in normally not too difficult of a stretch. I had mention how cold the morning was earlier, so you can just imagine the frost on the rocks. It was pretty slippery going for that first stretch. As we were moving up the trail, I noticed the entrance to the woods, which was the next stretch of the trail. The funny thing about this was that none of it was on my GPS, so I had to scan through my trail runs from the past and put one of the old routes on my map (MISTAKE)!
The first three rigs were smaller, so we had no problem on the trail through the woods. Don’s and Brian’s rigs were full size trucks, so it took a little finesse to guide them around the trees. Lucky for Brian, his dad has experience at this, so he was able too save his son’s truck from too much body damage. After we all made it out of the woods, we were ready for a break and then the next section of the trail.
I started the group down the trail towards the creek. As I crossed the long steep slab of rock, I thought to myself how last year everyone slid into the embankment hitting it with their right front tires. Mike and Saundra Jones lost a bead at that spot last year. No sooner than I got to the bottom and crossed the creek I got a message from Christine that Brian had lost a bead. I will give you one guess where it happened…BINGO.
It took Brian a few minutes too change his tire and we were on our way. I told the group to stay to the right side of the trail because the left was impossible to go up without a winch party. I also told Christine that I would wait for her half way up on the same spot she has had problems with in the past. I started up and found the trail pretty muddy but I made it ok. Nathan went next and he also made it with no problem.
Christine was next with her rig. I know her rig is a very capable trail rig but I also know it is a little top heavy. She started up fine and then her Toyota started sliding in the mud. Her backside kicked to the left and ended up in the spot I warned everyone about. It looked like she was about to roll her Toyota on its left side. Her right front tire was at least five feet in the air.
Nathan and my son ran down to Christine’s Toyota. I dug out my tree saver and waited for Brandon to pull up the winch cable. As soon as her line was secure, I yelled out “we need a picture.” By the time I took a picture, her Toyota was already winched down a little bit. And of course, the first thing Christine said after she was past that spot and up the trail was, “did anyone get a picture?”
We finish Power Line and was on our way to Rock Creek. The way we were going was not on my GPS, so we backtracked and found the right road. Our group ended up meeting up with Donald Huddleston’s group coming from Rock Creek. By the way, my hat is off for that group because they went backwards on that trail, which is not a easy way to go.
Don told me how to get to Rock Creek from where we were at; I had seen the route on my GPS, so I knew I would not have any problems finding it. We left Don’s group and started towards Rock Creek. I ended up taking the group past the entrance to Rock Creek and on a scenic tour. Remember the MISTAKE I mention earlier? It would seem the route I pulled from my files was the one that someone else was the trail leader on and got us lost and I just followed it. No harm done; we just circled back and found the entrance to Rock Creek.
We had no problems until the very last portion of Rock Creek. Brian had lost another bead, but between him and his dad they tackled the problem. Nathan and I waited at the bottom of Three Stage for Christine, Don and Brian to come out of Rock Creek.
We all gathered at the bottom of Three Stage to make a decision if we would tackle it at 4:30. We all agreed if we had any problems and it was getting late that we would stop and take the bypass out.
I went up the first part of Three Stage and could not make it over the first bump. This puzzled me at first, but being pressed for time, I ended up going up the bypass on the right. Nathan was next and he made it with no problem. Christine, Don and Brian went up the bypass on the left side. We all had no problems making it up to the beginning of the second stage.
I started the group up the trail but by the time I got to the slick slab that some people call the Three Sisters, I ran into traction problems. At this time I told my brother and my son to get out of the Jeep; I wanted to try something. As soon as they was clear of the jeep, I started up the slab without any problems. I never had three people in my jeep climbing Three Stage before. I guess the extra weight was too much for my tires to get traction.
Christine, Don and Brian were almost to the top of the second stage when I decided to move on. Nathan and I were about 75 yards into the last stage when Christen called on the CB and said that Don had broken down. It would seem Don had broke a clutch linkage on the second stage. Nathan and I waited for a few minutes on the trail. It was getting dark so I called back to Christine and told her I would finish the trail then circle around on the bypass to help them. I said I would rather do this than trying backing down the trail in the dark.
Nathan and I drove down Valentines Trail to the first bypass, the one we use to come off Three Stage. I called Nathan and said lets take the next bypass so we can come up behind them to help. Little did I know there is only one bypass off that Valentines Trail and the next turn off was on the road a mile away from the bottom of Three Stage.
I told Christine what happened and that I would wait for them. I gave her directions on how to get back. Nathan and I waited at the bottom of the bypass for them for a while. Then Nathan told me he had to go back to his camper to fill it with water. I told him I understood and that I would wait for them. I ended up meeting them half way town the mountain to make sure there was no other new turn offs that I did not know about.
We all went our separate way after reaching the Indian Mounds camp. Even though we were late coming off the last trail, we still made it to our annual New Years dinner. I can honestly say this was not a boring trip. Of course, the worst Trailchasers run I had ever been on was still a fun one.