Pieraldi Trip Report Blue Lakes Run
We drove up on Friday night to meet the club at the Tamarack Lodge. http://www.tamarackpinesinn.com/. A very nice place for sure. We got in late and turned in for bed. We being Claudia, Lauren and I. The next morning we got up for breakfast, dressed and went for breakfast. We were late to as we took Mike at his word that there would be 30 minutes of slack time in the agenda. It was a perfect day, temperature was perfect, if a little chilly, and clear as a bell. After breakfast, and while at the lodge, we did our safety checks and were off.
The drive to the trail head was quite a way from the lodge. But a good drive to warm up the car. We gathered at the trail head to air down. The group was broken into modified and stock vehicles. I was in the back as the only stock vehicle. More on that later. Jason warmed up the crowed and John asked us to group up for the introduction. He told us the first part was the hardest, and then it worked it’s way along to the lunch spot. This would be past the second water crossing. With that, we all jumped into action.
I walked ahead to survey the trail entry. A gully on the right with a off camber on the left. Nice start…. Jim H. moved third in line. He moved well over the line clean and banged a rear bumper on the exit. Hard enough to click a light cover off the back. Recovered for his use later…. Others passed over with little trouble. Then came my turn. Jason, as always, set me on the trail with ease. I got over and in with little trouble. Little did I know this was not the hardest part after all.
On the trial, there are many changes to test a 4″-5″ lift. Something I later found out is a great asset. The trail was great. Sharp turns, but nice road bed with good rock to practice on. As we climbed the hill, the lifted rigs made easy going. I was Bang, Bump, Slip, Steer, Bang, Bump and position along. Not to mention my copilot asking why I did not put in the lift. This is when I realized I could not follow but had to choose my own lines. Then it was Scrape, Slide, Scrape and Bump a little.
Other tricks in the trail were some cool rock gardens that had by-passes where I would not dare try. This only accounted for three sections. Great stair steps, narrow passes and nice views. All of which I will enjoy much much more with a lift kit and the experience of doing the trail on a second run. The trail is a real good training course for a stock rig. You have to pick every, and I mean every line with care. But if you do, the reward is a slow, but steady run that you can be very proud of. We had to stop once to fix a busted fuel line on a Bronco. But it was nothing for Darrel to fix. While it took extra long for me and my pals to make it to lunch, we had fun picking our way to the lead group.
On the way back it was more of the same. Alas, as we were “the rear” of the pack, Ellen busted a position pin on her rear axle. This caused us to review the situation. Ellen had asked me if her parking brake cable look stretched. I said yes, more to the point, I should not be able to see if from where I was standing. That is when we stepped back and looked at the wheel, some 2″ rear of good. All that said, we, Mike, John, Carlos and I were ready to dig in and help road fix Ellen. It was then we decided to call for help and Erik was quick to reply and return to aid us. Carlos and I had our kids so we left to finish the trail. In the end Ellen was safely returned to the Lodge thanks to the club.
Carlos and I went it alone for the last part of the trail. He in a Cherokee and I in the Rubicon. Now, that really left me to fight over every line. I could not follow him if I tried. When I did, near the end, I ran head long into a tree root, right on the skid plate. Stuck like a rock! Well, Carlos and family were ready to jump right in. We tugged dug, filled, and pushed in every way. No luck. So out with the High-lift jack. A little bit more and help from my lovely copilot and we were off again. Kids playing in the forest all the while. Well, that was fine until I tried to get moving again and had the jeep at 36 deg trying to avoid the roots and make a off camber turn. OH FOR THAT LIFT KIT! But I made the gentle rocking turn and was off again.
At the end of the trail, back were we started, Carlos and I looked on at the final rock climb. He looked at me, smiled and said, “just over that, and we are home free”. We laughed noting that we were both tired and having fun, but this last bit was a trial. I took the role of guide and Carlos followed my lead like a pro. One shot and he was over the top, down the face home free. Then it was my turn to do the same. He and guided me over the top and down again with ease. It looked so easy now that we had done the whole trail, this almost seemed easy.
In the end, Jason and team went back up to see if they could trailer in Ellen. To her credit, they made it back under their own power. A good dinner, some drink and we all called it a day. Well most of us.
As for the post report on my rig. NO damage. Drove home with only minor scrape marks on the control arms, WHICH will be replaced in a long arm kit. The gas tank skid plate has some more modest little scratch marks, but I still could put in a full tank of gas, so no harm done there. It was so much fun “learning” the “real way” of 4×4 as Jason would say. But now I am more than every ready to do the Lift so I can put those hard earned skills to use while enjoying the view some.
Thanks to the whole crew for a fun and great trip. My family loved it and we will be back next year.