Wheeling for Hope

Wheelin’ for Hope is an annual event hosted by the Woodland Wildfires for the Relay for Life of Nelson County, hosted at Oak Ridge Estate, who use the event as a fundraiser for cancer research. Since the event began they have raised over $120k for cancer research.

The event is held at Oak Ridge Estate, in Nelson County, and is one of only 2 events a year that can grant you access to their over 40 miles of off-road trails. The event is limited to 200 vehicles and sells out faster and faster each year.

This year was exciting for me at least because it was the first time since 2017 that other members of CORE had decided to join along and had managed to snag tickets. From CORE the following lucky folks got to attend the event this year:

  • Andrew Taylor – Nissan Xterra
  • Jendra Rambharos – Jeep Wrangler Unlimited
  • Kathy and Rick King – Toyota FJ Cruiser
  • Steve Polacek – Jeep Grand Cherokee WJ

We all arrived Friday evening, with Steve showing up the latest, and setup camp in the Family Camping area on the east side of the track. I like that we’re now camping at the racetrack which has much more room than the field we used to camp at.

Saturday morning we all got up and got lined up in group 4. Our guides this year were Chris and Derrick and they got us all through without issue. In fact, I think of all the years I’ve attended this event, this year our group had the least drama and almost no recoveries! I was also happy to re-connect with Phillip Bartley who we’d met the year before and see his recently re-upgraded Toyota Tundra in action again.

Saturday we spent weaving through tight trail after tight trail. We hit highlights like Z-ditch (which I apparently lifted a tire about 3 ft in the air on) and the famous CJ-5 hill! We all made it through everything without any recoveries needed, most impressive!

In one rock garden Jendra managed to wedge a small tree between his bumper and fender and then cracked the fender in the process of backing off. Steve trying to avoid that situation got lightly stuck on a rock (read small boulder) which he threw into the trail as he passed, leaving it for Rick to then run over and get a little stuck on. Who needs enemies with friends like this!

We made it back to camp with plenty of time to relax before heading over to the big dinner and raffle. As always the food was great. Kathy and Rick won one of the biggest prizes, a Warn VR Evo winch! After dinner we hung around the campfire, a treat since you have to have a raised fire ring and take the ashes, but Kathy and Rick had brought their Solo stove which worked great in this situation!

Sunday morning we got up and ready without much excitement. Steve managed to pack up his camp gear before leaving camp. Jendra and I took a few minutes to neatly wind my winch cable in under some tension so it would be ready to use for anything the day had to throw at us. We got into the same group.

Highlights of the day included a few water crossings, Skinny Rock, and just how shockingly dry everything was. Normally we lightly complain about the slick mud but this year the silt was so dry that it created a new kind of low traction!

We did have one exciting recovery for our group with Rick at the wheel taking their FJ Cruiser slightly off trail, sliding off of a large rock. It required a few minutes and two winches, but we eventually got them back on the trail without further drama!

Overall we all had a great time! Thanks again to all the volunteers that make Wheeling for Hope a wonderful event and a successful fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. Thanks to the guides especially for getting us in and out and having a great time along the way. I’m already looking forward to next years event!

Photo Album: 04/23/22 Wheeling for Hope

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Trail Report written by Andrew Taylor. Pictures contributed by Andrew Taylor, Jendra Rambharos, Kathy King, Steve Polacek, Raneé Bartley, and Phillip Bartley. GIFs provided by Jendra Rambharos.

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