The day had a little something for everyone. Mud. Rocks. Hill climbs. Water crossings. Muddy rocks in water crossings and on hill climbs.
The weather cooperated. We had talked about possibly going the week before and Lynn (at Rausch) reported some snow still on the northern facing slopes. By waiting, we missed the snow but found the runoff. We had a nice-sized turnout with 10 vehicles in all.
“Henry took the first strap of the day by hanging up on a stump but he really was just the first in a train.”
- Keith Holman in BlaZeR2 – CORE member
- Chad Perry in TJ – CORE member
- Paul Woscek in SFA S10 Crew – CORE member
- Bob Weaver in lifted Rubicon – CORE Vice president
- Pat Grant in BlaZeR2
- Henry Stein and son, Justin, in BlaZeR2
- Dan Williams and Lisa in Rubicon
- Dave Fowler in TJ
- Dee _____ and ________ in lifted Bronco
- JC _______ in CJ
We also had several guests on this ride
A couple of stops to gather our group managed to find us at the gate for Rausch Creek a bit after 9:00. There was another group getting ready to hit the trails and apparently at least one more already out. JC joined us there as a delay in leaving home had him just missing us both at Urbana and at the McDonalds. We made some introductions, some aired down and a short drivers’ meeting had us headed down past the campsite to the A access road. The whole day, the coldest place we stopped was there at the parking lot and the gate. The wind whipped and went right through you as you are up and in the clear with nothing to break it. The group leaving before us seemed to be stopped on Lower 3 so we went on past there to the green trail K and then to run L3 backwards from the way we normally do.
We stopped to consider the mudhole obstacle (Drain Plug) which had chunks of ice where someone had broken through but decided that wasn’t in the plans this day. As we came into view of the office again, most chose to go down and on the little branch that cuts the corner. Dan even chose to go down and come back up and run around the turn as well. As you’ll see in the pictures, the bright sunshine gave light to some terrific pictures. While we at the top were rounding the corner, it seems there was some more excitement at the bottom of the hill when the parking brake on the CJ didn’t function as it had been designed and allowed it to roll along without the driver. The Jeep under the tarp behind the office managed to keep it from taking out other things but did leave a bit of reportable damage to both Jeeps. No one was injured but it sure wasn’t in the list of things we wanted to do that day but it didn’t put a damper on us either. After some conversations and exchanging insurance and contact info, we were back to the trails.
Once again, we went to the A road (the other group was still setting in the same place. Never did figure what was up with that.) and up to run trail 1. Trail 1 is a path through the woods with a few rocks and a branch loop with a hefty rock garden marked with the Black Diamond. When riding with a Rausch-supplied guide before, he had indicated a minimum of locked 35s to go that way. I think that was stated as a minimum. After walking through it, Chad went first and made pretty good progress up until he stopped when that Grabber Green-painted diff got grabbed.. There is one spot right next to the tree where you have both axles down in holes and one tire on each axle trying to go vertically (assuming your differentials haven’t blocked all forward motion) all at the same time. A valiant effort from Chad finally led to pulling the cable far enough to move about 2 feet where he was able to drive the rest of the way out. Make sure you notice in the pictures that Dan found front row seating on a tree branch for the action there.
Paul had watched and decided there has to be a better way and veered left into the portion of the rock garden with slightly smaller rocks. The “easier” way still required a spotter and a couple of back and reposition maneuvers but he found his way out. Both drivers and their rigs made for a nice show for those of us who taken the bypass.
Trail 1 brings you out on the pole line road, just before the only marked mudpit on the east side of the park. The deep hole there is labeled as being 5 feet deep and we chose to believe the sign. Next on the agenda was a move over to the west side of the park and lunch beside the power line. While we ate, we discussed what to do in the afternoon and Dan suggested a trail he had ridden on a previous trip which we determined to be Trail 12.
We started down the one way J road which is certainly green in level with the possible exception of the drop down off camber crossup as you first enter the trail. The blue-rated 12 starts out innocently enough with promises of mud, a stream crossing and a some rocks. As it turns out, mud took a toll on some of the group. Henry took the first strap of the day by hanging up on a stump but he really was just the first in a train. I think I was next when the muddy ruts I had been straddling sucked me in. Pat had just finished pulling forward again after Henry’s stump episode when he was called on move around the ruts and pull me. Several others also bypassed or drove through but Dan got sucked in as well. Of those in the ruts, 31 inch tires were just no match for the hump in the middle.
Then we crossed the stream and had a nice little hill with meltoff running down it and the occasional rock, stump, remains of someone else’s attempts to pull through in the mix to make it more interesting. I think all managed to coax their way up that one. There was a nod in the direction of our sometimes good friend, Mr. Mo Mentum. At the crest of the hill, the trail wandered right and over another couple of rock/stump/stuff obstacles that slowed us down a bit. Somewhere along here is where JC’s clutch started putting out enough smoke that we obviously needed some cooldown time. Dave took his turn at the end of the strap when his shock mount decided it was real comfortable on top of this stump.
We continued on across J to the short cut to H loop. Chad’s Jeep decided to develop its own attachments. Or maybe I should say his exhaust system decided to divorce his Jeep for a better gig with a stump. While waiting on some trail repairs, we decided that some of us were ready to call it a day as it was already after 3:00 and it would be a long drive home. I did get a chuckle as one vehicle was leaving because they needed to get home to the dog and another group was headed out as the dogs were along for the ride and had had enough. Gotta love them four-legged ones.
Trail repairs complete, the remaining group decided to head on down H to take a look at the Rock Creek obstacle and see if we could reasonably get one more trail in. Our one more trail was 14 which is always muddy and has some tight switches with strategically significant underwater hazards to keep interest up. A couple more straps got pulled but we eventually came back around to 11 and started working our way towards the exit and the office to sign out. We spent a bit of time there in the cold wind (see above) and aired up, reconnected and started south. We hit Arby’s for dinner and then took off our largely separate ways.
Once again, any day on trail beats a good day in the office. Fine time, fine fun, fine people. So what did YOU do this weekend?
Trail report written by Keith Holman. Pictures courtesy of Keith Holman, Paul Woscek, Bob Weaver, Henry Stein, and Dan Williams.