The trip started off at the planned meeting point of Parkridge Center. I got confirmation finally from all those attempting to make the trip and others had to bow out. We had a total of 5 trucks on the trip.
“He looked at the trail and he was amazed at what we were driving over and just how easily we moved over ice, mud, slick rocks and whatever was in front of us.”
Four of the trucks left the parking lot at 8:30 and proceeded down I-66 to Route 340, Exit 6 to pick up Troy and his son in their Toyota pickup at the mobil. We gassed up there and headed on. From there we headed down 340 and over to Rt 675 and the worked out way over to trailhead. We ran into some rain along the way but none of the freezing kind that had been predicted by the weathermen. Again proving it is far from an exact science.
Trip Attendees were:
- Miles Oliver and Steve O’Brien – ‘The Great Pumpkin’ ’92 Suzuki Samurai
- Keith Holman – ’91 S-10
- Aaron Hall and ‘Mike’ – ’00 Xterra
- Mike Keane – ’92 S-10
- Troy Lambert and son – ’90 Toyota Pickup
Not one Jeep in sight.. I’ve NEVER had a trip where we didn’t get at least one.. We pulled into the ATV parking lot and some of us aired down, got locked in and started across the street and up the trail.
As we started up the trail we could see that there had been a light dusting of snow and some frozen precipitation all over the area. It made for a few trail slips and a few stoppings along the trail to offer some guidance for those who are gaining their OHV driving experience. We had a few slipups with Aaron and the Xterra on the first large rock face and having to find his line to get himself up. He missed the first shot and backed down and with a little help found his line and made it up. Not without a little slippage of both tire and clutch.
Having Steve in my truck who has never been off highway it was an exciting experience to him. He looked at the trail and he was amazed at what we were driving over and just how easily we moved over ice, mud, slick rocks and whatever was in front of us. We all remember what our first wheeling experience was like, whether it be in front of a steering wheel or a passenger. He was full of questions and I tried my best to answer, drive and keep us all together.
We tooled down the trail with some of the more rutted sections offering some challenges to the Toyota Pickup with its large overhang in the rear but these were easily overcome and we moved onto ‘the step’.
When I first came upon the step I decided to bypass it because Steve was in the truck and the slickness of the rock face. After some encouragement of Keith and ‘RatBoy’ I decided to back the truck up the trail and give it a shot. I made sure that Steve was up for it and we started up the steps face.
The Step is a different challenge for the shorter wheelbase vehicles. Mine being just about the shortest that approaches it except for an ATV. I started into the step by heading down the trail and turning almost a full left into the face. I got about 75% up the step and as was told to me the rear end would slide down and get me completely sideways to the trail. I climbed it but came off at a bad angle and could not get the wheels to the right as I needed to when I got to the top. I had tires directly against the side ledge and had to back down.
With the help of spotters I backed down over the steepest part of the ledge, Not without raising tires in the air and having Mike want to try and grab my bumper for fear that I was going to go back too far with the possibility of doing and ‘endo’. I dont know if I would or not but It did feel uneasy backing up. I did glance at the clinometer and it was FULLY PEGGED on the incline/decline side. I had been at those angles before and had to remember what the truck was capable of. When my back tires got to the bottom of the trail and positioned myself and backed up the trail to give it one more shot.
The next attemp’t didn’t get me too far to the right into the steep part of the ledge and this time I was able to turn wheels to the right and climb the rock face at the top and get myself through the step. I got wheels up in the air again when I turned right. There was a ‘photo op’ there and Im sure someone snapped a picture or two during my little ‘side show’ on the step.
Aaron decided to forgo the step and got out to see what he could learn about taking on the step in a future endeavour.
Mike gave the step a try in his truck but quickly found that the slickness of the rockface and his ‘streetable’ tires were not the best combination. After a few attempts and pushing right side frame on the rocks he decided it would be there on another trip.
Troy and the Toyota took their way around the step and then Keith took up the rear. Without most of us knowing it we were expecting to get back on the trail when Keith just headed down the trail, turned left and before we knew it he was sitting up on top of the step.. We didnt see it but Im sure there was an ear to ear smile within his truck.
I had made cracks earlier about Keith not having in his dental work with that ‘gap toothed grin’. Keith made remarks over the CB that the trails must be giving him a break, ‘THINKING HE WAS ONE OF THE LOCALS!!!’.
Once past the step we headed on, encountering a truck or two on the trail, we passed them by as it was Bear Hunting Season and they were up there with their hound dogs. About 2/3 into the trail we encountered two hound dogs just trotting up the trail. We stopped our forward motion to ensure their safety and once they were past us we moved on. I drove down further and came across a bunch of hunters outside their trucks and I stopped to ask them if they had counted all their dogs. We said we found two of them headed up the trail and we stopped to make sure we didnt hit them. They said that they had all their dogs but thanked us and we went on our way. They said they would do another count and if they came up short they would go after them. We seemed more concerned for the dogs then they did.
So we moved on and headed down the trail without incident and made it back to pavement around 1:00. I noticed in that I had a slight slip in my power steering belt and decided to tighten it on the way home. We aried up, split up and headed home.
Well, on the way home I lost all power steering, I stopped and found that I broke the high pressure hose and lost all fluid on Rt 66. I removed the belt and made it back home. Hopefully the pump didn’t burn up when I lost all that fluid but we will know once I get a new high pressure hose back on. What is a trail ride without Miles breaking something!!.
All in all it was a nice day, the weather cooperated better that we thought and actually enhanced the trailriding making it more of a challenge.
Steve was worn out and slept the whole way home. It was nice to be able to get his mind off his troubles for a while. He goes back in for more Chemo on Monday. He says he wants to go again when its warmer and we can take the top and doors off.
Thanks to all who attended for making it a good run.
Trail report written by Miles Oliver