Gallagher Head Lake Aug 2020

Gallagher Head Lake run – by the numbers….

8:30 AM Saturday – the time to meet.

I-90 – the route east.

9 – rigs on the trail – (and by subset -)
1 – YJ – latest moniker “Cowbell Dave” (fresh from a roll to the side on the Naches!)
1 – TJ – Moose, Mary, and Hunter
1 – LJ – Tammy and Dave
1 – 2dr JK – John – Rock Doc
5 – 4 dr JK – Rudy; Bruce and Debbie; Cindy and Jack; Cosmin and Alison; and Moose and Mary’s neighbor Matt with girls Abby and Anya

63 – basic MPH (thinking of Curt – who usually gives the straight 6 – 4.0 liters a hard time – because they prefer to chill along and that’s just how he rolls poking a little good natured fun…… Curt was home dreaming new engine dreams for the ‘7 – but that’s his story to tell…)

6, maybe 7 – the number of rigs and occupants that have never been to GHL before! (It’s inexplicable!)

The facts to flesh out the numbers (I’ll try to get a new word into use here – we’ll call them “THE DEETS!” short for details – because Lord knows – we’re all too busy to be bothered with 2 syllables if one will suffice.)

So – THE DEETS! Our grandson Hunter being just a little shy of 7 – is still pretty compliant and pleasant early riser with an early morning outing with his Gigi (Mary) and Papa (Moose) – at least when he knows that his prime directive – is to go to a lake where he might catch a frog! Hunter has no end of dinosaurs and crocodiles and lizards and amphibians and snakes all over the back yard – but they are all plastic or rubber of some sort – and are alive mostly in his imagination. Not a bad habit to acquire – but the thought of having a live encounter was filling him was some POWERFUL anticipation!

This time around – real wheeling. Dipsy – our little hyper green stock Renegade stayed home – and (trying out a new name for Mary’s Jeep) – the “Notorious BOM” got prepped and loaded for its maiden voyage – after this year’s round of improvements slated to debut on trails in Colorado!

The Notorious BOM you say? (I did.) Mary has oft times said her Jeep needs a name. And of course – it is Mary’s baby since it was new (now 20 years), and it is a “she” but it’s never had a name. And it and Mary and I have been in ever closer proximity since that first trip to Moab in 2004 – which was my first major trip in Moosenstein (my 1972 Jeepster Commando) after its build. Okay – a little history lesson if you’ll indulge me. I started wheeling in the club somewhere around 1997 with a 1976 J-10 – which quickly became obvious it was too big and pretty to wheel. So – then was a 1976 almost stock CJ-5 – which got built – and came to be known as “The Mangy Moose.” (As did I.) Then – 2002 and a pretty convincing roll down a mountainside at Liberty – where only the expensive stuff was worth keeping (axles, engine, trans, wheels tires) these body parts of which were transplanted into the body and frame of – a 1972 Jeepster Commando! And – (ta-da!!!) he became known as – Moosenstein. (Y’know – like Frankenstein?) Then Mary and I became more than friends, then we kissed one night at a Shore Patrol – and then it became obvious we were going to become quite attached to each other (possibly at the wrists and ankles) – and the rest – is history of some sort.

Which brings us to present day – where I’ve ruminated more than a few times we should just call her Jeep “The Bride of Moosenstein.” And Mary is Notorious – with a capital “N”. So there it is – the “Notorious BOM.” (Let’s see if it sticks….)

Yes – we’d had vacation plans to head out to CO to spend a week plus travel with the Brady’s and the Mile High Jeep Club from Colorado for like their 54th annual week of wheeling type event. As with many other things – COVID changed a lot – and in the spirit of treating their guests well – the MHJC cancelled the event in May. So – N-BOM had last year proven to have had a problem with under hood heat – and possibly an overheating automatic transmission. The solution? Hood louvers (a very nifty Poison Spyder kit) a deep tranny pan from Skyjacker (3 more quarts of fluid) and a fan assisted transmission cooler in a kit for TJ’s from Derale. Under the heading TLDR – I won’t detail the installation here (it did not go according to plan – now THERE’S a surprise!) but the end result was stunning and just what I had in mind. NBOM had struggled with this very same run on a hot day last summer. This year – it was as cool as the proverbial cat-scaring cucumber! Worked like a charm – and the Jeep was VERY happy. Me too. The new tranny fluid filter (replacing one with about 80,000 miles on it) probably couldn’t hurt either.

So – we corralled everyone – except Cosmin – in the parking lot at 8:30 AM – and headed out by 8:45 – when fortunately – Cosmin (and his lovely bride Alison) DID fall into line. They’d been waiting for everyone in the part of the parking lot I’ve never grouped up in before – but I was glad we all found each other before we hit the slab east.

My neighbor Matt has had a bone stock 4 door JK for a few years – and I’ve been trying to get him out on the trail. He camps in it some and is a good old boy from both Kentucky and Louisiana – but hadn’t really thought to do much to “unstock” the JK. Finally – thinking of Gallagher Head Lake – being an interesting but not too challenging or body damaging trail – I invited him. He and his girls camped in the area Friday – and met up with us Saturday morning at air-down time – top and doors left at home. He certainly has the correct spirit about things!

Nothing really to talk about heading out – did get behind a small stock Subie and Toy little SUV’s on the gravel road – who probably had 35 lbs of air in the tires, and would not go faster than a crawl, and would not pull over to let us by. Hard to imagine they didn’t get the hint with my headlights squarely filling in their rear-view from about 5 feet away. Reminded me of a sticker my cousin used to have on his 1963 CJ when I was a kid – it was a little green sticker on the tailgate (like a pickup drop tailgate with chains) that said, “I may be slow – but I’m ahead of you!” Soon enough however – we crossed Fortune Creek and made the right turn onto the 4W301 trail – so as to make the annoyance disappear.

Weather was perfect – and once off the gravel road – ran into NO traffic all the way to the lake! Even the lake was not too heavily occupied. There was a camp setup on the far end and a group at the first turnout – but the middle campsite was empty – and we all pulled in there to grab some lunch, yak, tell tales and fill Matt with some big tire envy….

I have to tell you – the gooney grin on Hunter’s face was priceless as he beelined it out of the Jeep for the lake. Mary had only 1 fleeting opportunity to have him get his long pants off (we didn’t want him all wet for a possible cold trip home in a topless Jeep.) Also – Matt’s girls, Abby and Anya (almost 12 and 10) are NO shrinking violets – and they also headed for the lake and dropped in without missing a beat. Hunter really was almost all elbows and butt as he was hunkered over wading through the shallows – when all of a sudden he comes tearing back saying , “GIGI, PAPA – I CAUGHT A FROG!”


I did point out to Hunter that the lake was a LOVELY place for Squirt to continue his life – but it seemed like there was going to be a trip in Squirt’s future. Along with 4 of his tadpole friends as well all made it to a Tupperware container – with air holes – and placed out of the sun. Repeatedly – Hunter made it to the lake to see what else there was to see (or catch). We cast the occasional grandparently eye his direction to make sure he was still on the correct side of the water – and/or not stuck up to his waist in mud. The girls were trying to go surfing on a log they found in the lake – and the mud did claim a sacrifice of one of Anya’s shoes – never to be found again – at least this day.

By 2 PM – seemed like a good time to head back. Our 2 heathen dogs were home alone probably already thinking about dinner. Hunter had Squirt and tadpoles in his lap in the Tupperware – and off we went with Tamer’s in a line behind. 3 side-by-sides sidled out just ahead of us – and as I expected – we never did catch up with them.

The trip down held some more traffic than the trip up. We came upon a single JK (yep – don’t go out alone?) with a topper tent on it (saw a lot of those in the woods) – and apparently another 35+ lbs of air in the tires. They were going PAINFULLY SLOWLY over the rocks – their tires so hard – there was NO wrap of rubber around any rock. Finally – they pulled aside to let the big dogs roll through – only to have some guy in a shiny new Toy coming uphill doing some version of “I’m here all alone by myself and probably shouldn’t be here ‘cause I don’t really know what I’m doing but this sure looked like how they do this on the commercials” driving technique. You know – white knuckles on the wheel and eyes wide and wildly open – and also out alone. He pulled straight uphill almost into us instead of finding a wide place to pull off. A few of us got past him – somewhere back in the line – sounded like he just kept going instead of waiting – and then couldn’t get past Tamers and a tree. I believe I heard we finally got someone out to guide him around so we could just keep on going. Someone warned on the radio, “That Toy just finally turned around and is coming back.” My response was, “Well – as long as he’s behind us….”

The afternoon had gotten a bit warm, we were only halfway down but at least off the steepest part of the trail and Hunter was ready for the bouncing to stop. He was heard to mournfully mumble, “This is torture….” I think the critters were probably in agreement – and might have been experiencing the same type of James Bond moment – as the bouncing in the Jeep would probably be comparable to having your amphibians shaken, not stirred….

Finally – to the gravel – and then the pavement – and – time to air up. At that point – Hunter showed a rather limp Squirt to Mary and quietly asked, “Gigi – is he – dead?” Poor Squirt – apparently his highest and best purpose in this life was to remind a little boy that sometimes things don’t turn out quite the way you had planned. Squirt joined that big circle of life – but hopefully in another froggy life he’ll find his way back to GHL and start another time to swim some other year. (You all will be glad to know – 3 of the 4 tadpole s ARE in our back yard in a terrarium, wriggling around and quite active – and we are hoping to have a few more frogs come from them before long.)

Not much else to say or do – but to appreciate all attendees who came along to experience this wonderful lake for the first time and enjoy a fair amount of good weather (and dust), a little fun wheeling, a little good times, and a LOT of sanity restoring getting out of the house.

Thanks to everyone who came on along. Oh – PS – my neighbor Matt texted me this morning. The bug has bit – he’s asking about a lift and tires. His girls are now concerned that their Jeep isn’t cool enough to hang with the big dogs. I’m sure it will be well hung soon enough before too long!

Thanks for reading –

And keep on wheelin’!