From all accounts of everyone present if you did not make the father’s day run then you missed a great run. Being that the usual haunt was not going to work this year the Tamers decided to head over to Liberty for the weekend run. Cassidy and I left Friday morning and 4:45am to make sure we were early enough to secure a camp site for the Tamers that were going to spend the weekend. We arrived at 6:45am to find that there was just one site left which we promptly setup camp in and then went to breakfast at the little cafĂ© down the highway a few miles. Once fed it was off to get a load of wood for that evening and then a cruise around the forest service roads looking for geocaches.
Knowing that people were supposed to start showing up around noon we headed back about that time to find that Bruce and Debbie arrived and were relaxing in the sometimes sun with periods of sprinkles just to keep you guessing. After waiting for 30 minutes we decided that while it would be relaxing to take a nap and chill it would be better to go run some trails. So it was that we headed out and ran the lower 4W319 and then 4W321 back to camp. Getting back and hour or so later we found that Casey, Gary, John, Gina, Tom, Penny, Bella, Riley, Anthony and Tiffany had all gotten there about the same time. People started setting up camp but it was not all done until we were joined by Chad, Jaden, Colton, Kaelee, Steve, Jamie, Art, Mary, Daren, Shawn, and Cory. It was a full campsite for sure.
As people finished getting things setup and settled in they made dinner and the campfire was started shortly thereafter from the pile of wood about half as big as the picnic table. We sat around eating smores and popcorn swapping stories enjoying each other’s company until a little after midnight when people decided sleep would be needed before the run in the morning.
It rained just enough overnight to make sure that the dust was kept to a minimum for most of the day which was perfect for the run. The plan was to head out on the trail around 9am and we were close enough at 9:30 heading out of camp and joined by Ed, Katie, Ron, and Teri. First trail was the 4W319 which was a little wet but not enough to cause major issues â€¦ at least if you kept it in 4wd. For some reason Casey’s Yota popped out of 4wd and she with Gary had a wild ride down the steep hill that was not far from the beginning of the trail. It could have turned out way worse and I am very thankful that it did not. Kudos to Casey for keeping the cool, Gary for warning people in front, and John for knowing where the skinny pedal was. After the excitement I think that Gary took over so that Casey could give her nerves a chance to relax and we kept exploring the trails with all 12 rigs intact still â€¦ mostly.
We ran out the rest of the lower 4W319 with no issues and headed towards the lookout. There was a large group already enjoying the view so we bypassed the lookout proper with the intention of coming back later in the day. We turned off onto the 4W329 and ran that half way to the 4W328 then where we ran over to the 4W318. I had a little issue on the 4W328 when the unused track bar mount on my front end pushed the brake hardline up which hooked the drain valve on the coalescing filter for my air system releasing all of the air pressure turning off my lockers. Rather than tearing things up trying to drive open-open through the obstacle I pulled cable to get out of the mess. I was not the only one to pull cable but there were only two of us that did. We motored on down the trail to finish out the 4W328 and turned south on the 4W318 when off to the left I saw 7 bull elk trotting through the trees. They were all in velvet still but there was one big one in there that I bet will be at least a 6 point this fall when his horns are done growing. Sometimes there is an advantage to being the run leading out front.
I have yet to mention it yet â€¦ everywhere you looked there were wild flowers blooming and the entire day we were surrounded on the trail by red, yellow, blue, white, and purple flowers. Everything was so green due to all of the rain that had fallen recently and the forest floor was awash in color. You might remember this area was also hit hard by the Hwy 10 fire a couple of years ago. There are a lot of burned trees as evidence of that still but I was also seeing a lot of seedlings popping up from the forest floor about 6 to 10 inches tall growing in every free space they could find. It is amazing how a forest can recover from a fire like that and I am looking forward to seeing it continue to recover in the years to come.
After the elk sighting we continued along on the 4W318 for a little way until we ran into 4W329 again turning off on it to finish out that trail to a FS road. Turning north we ran the road down to a junction with the 4W337 which we ran all the way to the 4W319 and then back to the lookout for lunch, pictures, and cell service if you really had too. Once lunch was completed we continued on the 4W319 but before making it to the blacktop Gary and Casey decided to go back to camp because of a funny noise coming from the rear end of the Yota which was probably the result of Casey’s Wild Drive down the hill earlier. Tom and Penny decided to head back also because the alternator on the Jeep was not charging. So it was that once we reached the blacktop road I provided them with instructions on how to get back to camp via the FS roads instead of the trails. Now we were down to 10 rigs for the rest of the day.
Continuing on we got to the next section of the 4W319 which is closed before June 15th. Lucky for us it was the 17th and just to be safe we checked the FS website listed on the sign for the trail. We did not find anything in the closure section of the site and so away we went up the trail. A couple of people had issues with the stair step and took the cable for safety but everyone got up without too much issue. About half way into this section of the trail Ron kissed a log with his passenger front pretty hard bending the tie rod a little and then not long after we discovered that his steering line hose for the pressure side had been rubbing on the alternator pully developing a hole. Little bit of duct tape then a top off of the reservoir and we were on our way again. The trail was finished and even though we had issues there were no requests to call it a day so we ran the FS road to the bottom of the 4W315 and headed on that trail up the hill back towards Lion Rock. The trail is a little tight and twisty in some spots but that was just fine with everyone as it makes it fun. I know we are little weird.
At the end of the 4W315 on the Table Mountain Road again we decided that because it was about 4:30pm and there were a couple of rigs with issues the smart thing to do was head back towards camp. So down the single lane blacktop FS road we went turning off on the Million Dollar Road (ask me the story sometime) and then back down the lookout hill to Deer Gulch and Camp.
So it was at the end of the day that I took a look at the firewood pile and said to myself that it would just not do. Tom and I hopped in the Jeep with a saw and went back up the road where I saw a few small trees that had just fallen over which were dead and dry. Tom and I got to work and it was not too long before we had the back of the Jeep full with wood over the top of the roll cage (I rolled to safari top to the front). With the saw sitting on top of the wood we drove carefully back to camp. It is funny to watch the expression on the camp neighbors faces when we drive in with a pile of wood over and through the roll cage of the Jeep.
With the wood pile stocked Tom wanted to take one last run up to the lookout so he could show his dad (Art) the view. Steve jumped in with me in my rig, Art jumped in with Tom his rig, and Tiffany jumped in with Anthony. So it was that the last run of the day was experienced at Rudi speed up to the look out and back. There was a lot of laughter, there were a lot of bad words said, and it was a lot of fun.
After getting back to camp Anthony and Tiffany loaded Ron’s rig on the Kodiak so that they could get it home that night since Ron ran out of steering fluid and a spare hose could not be figured out for the drive home. They stayed and ate dinner waiting for the evening traffic to die down and then headed out of camp with the setting sun. Into the west even. Everyone else settled in for the night and we did our best to settle in and try to burn all of the firewood and boy did we try. No one was cold and we had a big ring of people around the fire. Many marshmallows were consumed, some as smores and some plain. There were kids hopped up on sugar running all over the place then 10 minutes later they were all in bed crashing from a long day as the sugar rush left them with no energy. The adults sat up until around midnight telling stories and talking about other places and things like you usually do when sitting around a fire with friends.
Sunday dawned and most everyone took off before 10 for home wanting to avoid traffic. Turns out they were the smart ones. Tom and Penny wanted to get one last jaunt in to take some pictures and just look around a bit so Melissa and I stayed as well as John and Gina. When Toms rig protested another run with a water pump leak he and Penny jumped in John and Gina’s JKU and we were off. We went the around about way driving on dirt roads and got to the requested picture spot in good time. After standing around and talking for a bit while we watched and encouraged Bailey the puppy to go berserk running around through the tall grass it was decided we should get moving. So down the road cruising around for just a while longer before getting back to camp so that we could finish packing and head towards home.
Everyone left about 1pm but it was not soon enough to avoid the horrible traffic. Tom and Penny stopped for lunch at Twin Pines while Melissa, Cassidy, and I kept moving towards home. I knew that traffic would be ugly until Easton and it was, but I did not expect it to be ugly all the way to the other side of the pass. Someone at the DOT in their infinite wisdom decided that travelers only needed two west bound lanes on the west side of the pass and this caused a 35 mile stop and go backup adding about an hour to the travel time over the pass. This is supposed to last until Aug 30th. Fine â€¦. lesson learned â€¦ leaving early to come home the rest of the summer when camping on the east side this year. From what I heard there was a big story on a local news channel about it also. Maybe the DOT will take a hint and adjust things so that the work can get done still with at least 3 lanes westbound.
Despite the ride home lasting a lot longer than wished I had a great time wheeling, camping, and visiting with friends. From all accounts that I received from all of the people around me they did too. Hope to see you on the next one.
– You can fit enough firewood in the back of a YJ for a single nights campfire but only if you stack through the roll cage.
– Getting to the camp site early does not guarantee a good camp site. Only that you are tired from waking up early.
– Geocaching can be fun in the rain if you have a good heater in the Jeep.
– When you are the run leader you get to see all of the Elk.
– It is a lot of fun to go camping with the Tamers.
– Driving home from a weekend camping with the Tamers can suck more that one way. Especially if you wait until the afternoon to head home expecting the traffic to be just the normal version of suck.