Given a choice of a romantic dinner at Skippers on two for one fish and chips night or spending the day at JTC (Jeepcast Trophy Challenge) Wendy chose to spend the day with me at JTC for our anniversary. All kidding aside it is the spending time together that is important and I canâ€™t think of anything I would rather do than spend time with family. What an awesome day we had even if it was not a traditional anniversary.
On the competitor side Ed and Shanâ€™s teams headed over on Friday and spent the night. Chris Brown, a volunteer, also elected to head over the night before the competition. Shawn and I, not being as smart, decided to day trip. Shawn showed up at my house at 3:30 sharp and we hit the road. I will say I like Seattle traffic at this time of morning. Aside from kind of a odd turn the GPS took us on, the drive over was uneventful. I just wish Shawn would have been able to see the pass. This was his first time over 410. We pulled into Gold Creek Station just as the sun was coming up. We were a little early but it gave us some time to wake up. The volunteer meeting was good and we pickup our swag, t-shirts and other goodies they had for each volunteer. Each team had their own challenge. Chris and Shawn had a tire changing challenge while Wendy and I had challenge D which was a off road course at Moon Rocks. We headed out of Gold Creek Station. Our group was mostly in the Moon Rocks area except Chris and Shawn whoâ€™s challenge was on the way to ours so they tagged along with us most of the way. Most of the drive up was on FS roads with a short drive on a off road trail. It was on this trail where I heard a clank. More on that later. The guys in Challenge C and C2 were also posted at Moon Rocks helped Wendy and I with getting to know our course. They would be just out of site but near by if we needed anything.
Our challenge was one rig would need to drive down the hill and then back up a ravine. Once the first Jeep was through the next one would head down the hill and back up the ravine. In this case the second rig would need to climb a wall out of the ravine. They could also use the first Jeep as a winch point. Each team could come through the course twice. Once for points and the second for a bonus. It was a blast watching each team work out how to complete the challenge. Some teams worked through it much better than others. Edâ€™s team showed obvious wheeling skills. Their lines were smart and well driven. Ed made short work of the wall and was winched over the top. This was not their first day on the trail and it showed. Shanâ€™s teams first time through was a little less polished but they more than made up for it in the bonus round. The second time through the first rig picked some of the best lines all day and was ready to winch Shan should he need it. As it turned out Shan would be the only person that was able to drive the wall. After getting setup he gunned it and walked right up in a cloud of blue smoke. I am not sure the technical details of the blue smoke but it has something to do with the steepness of the climb and oil pooling in the back of the engine.
We broke down our camp and drove over to challenge C and C2. Just as we were leaving I went to turn left and nothing. I looked out the drivers side window and tried to turn. The wheel still pointed straight as an arrow. I had no warning that anything was wrong. The jeep drove completely normal that morning. The track bar bracket had almost completely broken off. Everyone in the area swarmed in to action. Including Edâ€™s team and one of the Jeepcast hosts Gary Tomlinson. Not only could we have welded with my stick and battery setup but we had a grinder and two Ready Welders which made for relatively short work of getting the bracket back on. Considering the extent of the damage it was trail fixed relatively quickly. About half way through the repair we sent a few rigs down the hill with the results so that they could be tallied up. Now repaired we loaded back up and headed down the hill. For some reason we took a much more difficult way back down than we had come up. The lead jeeps had lost me but I still had 4 behind. We made it back to Highway 410 and started airing back up. I had several offers to trailer our jeep back to my house even though several of the guys did not live anywhere near me. While airing back up we checked the welds. They still all looked good. I thought about driving home from there but that would mean I would miss the party. We decided to head back to Gold Creek station and the after party. The wheel was off center and the sway bar disconnected made it feel top heavy but it was drivable.
Jake, the owner of Gold Creek station was cooking up some great burgers. Wendy and I sat down with Chris and Shawn. We hung out as the live Jeepcast show started. It was a blast hearing how the rest of competition went. Everyone seemed to have a blast. Gary and Gary talked to each volunteer team that ran the different challenges. The awards were handed out followed by a insanely good raffle. After the show we decided to hit the road.
We headed west over 410. Shawn was right with us in case we had any issues. The wheel was not straight, I had an error light on the dash and we had to drive slow but we were fine. As we headed up 410 we could see a lightning storm in the distance. I love lightning so I was a little excited. As it turned out we almost completely missed the storm. The good news was the JTC was a complete blast and I look forward to it next year.
On reflection having a break down like we had could have turned into a real disaster.Â But with the overwhelming support from our community it turned in to a minor annoyance.Â It is good to have friends.Â Better yet ones who can fix stuff.
JTC Challenge D course team