All and all I would have to say that it was a fun day (maniacal laugh here) and I would not have missed it for just about anything. I was able to make it to Elbe a little after 9 Saturday to find that a few of the Tamers had spent the night but by the time that we headed out for the trail a couple more Tamers and candidates were present.
Here is a list of all that were able to attend and I apologize now for the names that I missed:
- GaryTJ and Lori
- Mark (Dirtball) and Lori
- John and Gina
- Penny, Tom B, Tomâ€™s Dad
- XJ Mike with his Dad and Brother
- Ilene with her Man (sorry did not get the name)
- Tom (Moose) with Teri riding shotgun
- Scrambler Mike with Tristan
- Frank with his son
- Russell (candidate, my brother) with our Dad Curt
- Brad and his friend (candidate)
- Rudi and Melissa with kids
We rolled out of camp about 10am and headed for the (Tamer Sponsored) Sunrise Trail. The first obstacle on the trail was about 200 yards in where a mud hole had recently developed. There were a couple of rigs in front of us stuck in the hole so we had to wait for them to get through but once that happened we each took a turn. There were a couple of people that had problems, but with a little tug here and there we all made it through eventually and continued on. With 11 rigs on the trail we were a little spread out, so it was not surprising that I was on the Main Line trail when the call from Moose went out letting us know that the earth had unexpectedly shifted causing the Commando to fall off one of the Sunrise Trail bridges. After a few minutes Penny was able to let everyone know via the radio that they would be able to get the rig back on the right path and we should continue on up the Main Line trail.
Gary (trail boss) stopped at the entrance to the Busy Wild so that we could all get back together before heading onto the trail. It was at this point that Frank and my brother Russ decided to head back down to camp. Frank was not sure about the trail and Russ suspected that he had a broken CV due to shock load when climbing a hill on the mainline. I think that they both made a smart decision given my experience that day on the trail.
After everyone had caught up we went ahead and started in on the Busy Wild where the first hole on the trail showed us what to expect. Brad was about the third person through and the trial charged him a bead on the left rear wheel of his Toyota before it would allow him to continue. There was an attempt to reseat the bead but in the end the spare was put to use. The first hole kept trying to stop each rig as it passed, but there were no more problems, just the challenge.
Everyone made it through so we continued on to the next section of which there were a few mud holes and small little side hills with trees that that threatened to claim windshield frames or in my case the soft top. I have to tell you that if it were not for the rain the night before the little side hills and trees would not have been a problem, but with everything as wet as it was you could not help but to slide towards the trees. I do not think that anyone made it through the section without rubbing a top or in some cases there windshield frame on a tree or two. I know I did not for I bent the soft top frame on one tree. The person that paid the toll this time however was Moose. When repositioning the rig to make it across a side hill the windshield frame caught a tree and bent a good 6 inches sending cracks across the windshield from side to side.
Moose was not the only person that used the handy manâ€™s secret weapon (duct tape) to good effect this day; he used it to hold the windshield from going to pieces. XJ Mike used it to make fenders and a roof for his tubed XJ. Apparently his Dad and Brother were getting a little wet and muddy because Mike had not found the time to skin the fender flares and roof. With all the work that he has done on the rig and the rush to get it fixed after the ring and pinion busted Memorial Day weekend I am not surprised.
We all continued on down the trail passing through some tight and twisting sections, using the rear tires of the rig to pivot around trees through the numerous mud holes. I have to admit that I was stuck more than once or twice, but at least my winch worked each time I needed it. Not like Memorial Day when it decided to conk out in the middle of a side hill covered with snow. One particularly good spot what when I managed to get a stump caught between my front axle and skid plate pining me to the spot. It took a while but with the help of Pennyâ€™s winch and Scrambler Mike use of my high lift we eventually got the Jeep moving again.
Scrambler Mike then pointed out the stump to XJ Mike telling him to watch out for it so XJ mike proceeded to put his right tire high up on a tree which eventually caused the front end to come down hard on the same stump in question taking the tire off the bead. Scrambler Mike did tell him to watch out for the stump. XJ Mike then learned how to set a bead on the trail while Gary, Mikes Dad and Brother, Terry, Moose, Mark and I all stood around giving copious amounts of instruction. Despite our advice he was able to get the bead to seat again and get moving.
Now we came to the ugly part of the trail where it goes into the swampy section. There were three rigs in there already working on getting through a very nasty line. It looked like they were making progress but it was going to take a while to get out of that mess. The Tamers used an alternate line to go around them and I was doing OK through the section until I hit a log buried in the mud and proceeded to try pushing it until I could not move forward any more. Scrambler Mike came to the rescue and helped me move the log out of the way and after that I had no further issues with the section. In fact I think that everyone made it through OK without having to winch.
At the other side of the swamp Scrambler Mike and Ilene navigated around everyone and headed for the exit as they needed to head for home. The rest of the Tamers grouped up again and proceeded on at the speed of Moose, well maybe a little faster, up the trail and on out onto the Main Line trail again where we all stopped to re-group. The Loriâ€™s then took Garyâ€™s rig and headed back to camp on the road while Gary jumped in with Mark and everyone continued on down the Main Line trail back in the direction of camp. It was pretty uneventful until I got stuck in a mud hole and all reason left me. XJ Mike helped me hook my winch up to a tree so that I could pull myself out of the hole but unknown to me as I pulled myself forward with the winch my right rear tire was stuck on a log and leveraging the right rear corner of the Jeep up in the air. Now this would not have been a problem except for when the Jeep was being pushed up the root ball of an upended tree caught on my top and preceded to rip it off the Jeep. What then ensued was a trail side repair session to make the top function for my drive home later. Thank you Tom B for the idea, using the windshield channel to hold the front of the top down worked very well. Along with the windshield channel the use of duct tape, and bailing wire, the ride home was very comfortable meaning that we did not get rained on. (smile)
All told I think if was a fun day despite the bent front spring, bent/torn body mount, broken fender flares, bent wheel, and altered soft top. I will do it again, just with a little less skinny peddle!!!!!
Thanks Tom B. for taking all the pictures.