Club Run to Reiter Oct 2019

At the Timber Tamer’s Club Meeting 2 days prior, we asked about the club trail run for this month. Since several members of our club already had plans to attend Steve Y’s birthday party Saturday evening, it just made sense to have our trail run at Reiter—since it’s only 10 minutes from Steve and Jamie’s home!

First was the question of who was planning to go on the trail run, and about 8 hands went up. Second was the question of who was going to lead the trail run. Predictably, all 8 hands went down. So, reluctantly I agreed to lead the trail run, particularly since I wanted to go and I suggested Reiter—and I was the only club officer planning for a trail run this month.

Saturday dawned a bright, warm and sunny day. But wait a minute—this is October in the PNW! So in reality, the sky was overcast, the temperature was in the upper 40s, and the sunshine was all liquid. Perfect autumn day to wheel!

We arrived to the Reiter parking lot at about 9:00 AM, and we all started airing down. There were seven of us there, including Cheryl and Ryan in their now very well-built black 4-door JKU, then also Chris L and Heidi in Chris’ amazing Samurai buggy. We also had the pleasure of 4 candidate vehicles, including Dean, Jeremy, and Dave. (I didn’t retain everyone’s names, so please forgive me if I missed or bungled yours!) The rigs included a mildly lifted CJ7, an LJ, and a brand new JLUR with only about 1500 miles on it! As we started on the first of our trails, Chris G in his bright yellow Cherokee joined us as well.

At the requisite drivers’ meeting, we went over everything we needed to know, specifically safety issues of 100% seat-belt use and safe winching practices. We also discussed that only one rig didn’t have a winch, and only one rig didn’t have a CB—but everyone had at least one locker, so that was a HUGE plus, given that this is Reiter! For a number of reasons, including that half of the vehicles were only mildly built, most of the candidates had only mild wheeling experience, and especially since Cheryl and I have essentially brand-new gears in our front axles, we chose to stick to the easier Green trails for the day. However, this is Reiter, so even the Green trails pose challenges!

We started on the brand-new Purple trail on the east side of the main parking area. First, we drove to the secondary parking lot and started the trail there. This trail proved to be a great place to start! There are plenty of good obstacles and challenges, but all the really tough ones have bypasses (which I took so I could be easy on my new gears), although there are a lot of tight turns that require 2-3 point turns even for the short-wheelbase rigs! Just as we started on this trail, Chris G CB’d us and then joined us. Because there are so many turns and obstacles that can be bypassed on this trail (and lots of loops), it’s a trail that will take more trips there and a lot of time to explore all it’s possibilities. I think you can make this trail as easy or as hard as you want to. Regardless, it’s a pretty darned good warm-up for the rest of Reiter, and everyone did really well going through this. No money for Casey. Yet…

As we exited the trail along the main road (just above the main parking lot), we chose to turn in on the G-11 trail at the upper end of the main parking lot. As with most of the green trails on the west side of the main parking lot, the obstacles started right out of the box! However, everyone did a really well with this, too. At the first intersection, we turned up Axel Alley. (Yeah, I know the car part is spelled “axle”, but the Carsonite sign said “Axel”.) This was a lot more interesting—and we thought it was a better choice than attempting “Beam Me Up Scotty”, which isn’t really a green trail at all. Axel Alley proved much more interesting—going uphill with one rocky obstacle after another. The two biggest challenges were near the end, where first there was a huge log on the far side of a big rock pile that was pretty slippery, and caught more than one skid plate, including for the JLUR, that tried mightily, but couldn’t quite get over it. First, we tried a snatch strap to the Jeep in front of him, but couldn’t get enough of a pull to make that work without just spinning tires. Ultimately, since the JKUR didn’t’ have a winch, the Jeep in front of him turned around to winch him. A hundred yards or so past that was the rock pile that took us more time than anything else for the day. There were two options for driving over it, right and left—but neither was easy! Although Casey made a little club income on the slippery log, it was really this rock pile that paid her for the trip! Really, the only two vehicles that made it over this without winching were Chris L’s Samurai (nothing seems to stop him) and, surprisingly, the JKUR!

Sadly, on the early part of Axel Alley, Chris G’s yellow Cherokee suffered a freak break: his passenger front tire dropped into a crack between two rocks, and flattened the tire. Once he got out and changed the tire, he found that the rocks had actually broken off a 4-5” section of the inner bead of the wheel! The tire itself is OK (which is good), but that pretty much trashed the wheel.

After Axel Alley, we took the far end of Easy Peasy to Candy Corn, where we…had lunch. And looked at Candy Corn. Yeah, no way were we even going to do more than just look at it. First of all, it was still raining (as it did all. day. long.), but also none of us had 4-wheel-steer buggies or the courage to attempt it. Besides, we kind of thought it would be impossible to climb when it’s covered with wet moss…

After lunch, a few of the folks decided to call it a day, especially since it was still gray—and still raining. Four of us decided from the main parking lot to head west from there and took off on the Driveway Trail, where the CJ7 ended up getting pretty badly stuck. The bottom of the driver front spring perch caught on a stump, with the bottoms of the U-bolts starting to dig into the stump. We tried jacking the Jeep up to put things under the front tire—and were successful with that. However, the rear tires had dug into the soil enough that they were buried almost to the axle tubes. Chris L tried pulling backwards on him with a tow strap, but the CJ’s bumper didn’t like that too well, and Chris’ Samurai ended-up only spinning its tires on the soil. So, we ended-up using Chris’ winch to pull on the spring shackle (not the best choice, but more solid than the bumper), and got the CJ off the stump. Success! !

We finished driving the Driveway, and then came back out the Easy Peasy again, with no further excitement. However, I discovered that I’d left my bag with my HiLift accessories back on the Driveway where we’d pulled the CJ off the stump. So, Dave and I decided to go back and do the Driveway again (since we had time), found my bag, and after getting to the big intersection again, we drove the Driveway in reverse (always fun to do that, and a different trail than the other way), came back out and aired up. In that interim time, Chris L had put his Samurai back on its trailer. The rest of us aired back up and headed out—to Steve Y’s birthday party! (But that’s another story…)

One great bonus of being at Reiter that I hadn’t realized until the day was done, is that virtually all the trails are a gravel surface, not dirt/mud. That means that with the rain we had, there was virtually no mud or dirt to clean off my Jeep when I got home. That alone was amazing, and was a great finish to another great day of wheeling!!

John Vandergrift TT#308