Hi all, Here is my trip report…

My first offroading trip since moving to California was the Esprit de Four Stuckathon organized by Jim our fearless trail boss. The location was Hollister Hills offroad park just south or San Jose… I can’t believe there is a state park allotted just to offroading – California rocks!

Our mission, believe it or not, was to get stuck – not just stuck but really stuck. Unlike the trails I’m familiar with back in Ontario Canada, there isn’t a lot of mud or pre Cambrian bead rock. What there is here however, is a lot of dry and loose dirt – read sand and dust – and rocks. Sure the rocks look small in pictures but in person nothing in my experience matches them – except for maybe very very short sections of the Outhouse trail near Minden.

After a year of settling into California, I can now start fitting Jeeping back into my life. I was finally able to meet up with an awesome club - Esprit de Four also known as ED4. Dreams of riding the Rubicon trail are finally coming closer to reality. For me, this Stuckathon was the perfect opportunity to try my chops at typical California trail conditions without the fear of catastrophic failure – or worse the dreaded Cow Bell award. As Ellen and CJ can attest to, both in separate instances, I would have definitely been in the running for the award. Thanks for getting me out of my messes!!

My first and most documented stuck was a few minutes into the day after I followed Ellen through a “tame” rock garden. I have several excuses for the stuck but I’m not gonna bore anyone with them. The benefits of the stuck are fold:

1) One, it showed me why people of the Jeep Forum told me they didn’t want me on any Rubicon trip with them – 31s, no lockers, and no California wheeling experience makes for an interesting mix. Not following an experienced California driver’s line also helps increase the chance of a good stuck.

2) Two, the stuck showed us how well Jim’s Stuckathon toolkit works on a “smaller” less equipped Jeep. Every bit of Jim’s kit came in handy getting me unstuck. Ellen describes the benefit of the various bit in her write-up so I won’t go into detail. However, I’d like to add that I did see a use for the floor mat. Since I’m open front and rear, my first stuck was quite interesting to watch. I had two wheels off the ground – one in the front and one in the back. There wasn’t much weight on the bridging board in the front – in fact there was about a one inch gap between the board and the wheel. I slipped the floor mat in the gap and watched the floor mat provide just enough grip as I climbed back out of the stuck. In a sense, the floor mat acted like a parking brake might in the rear - it limited the slip. That said, most of the credit can be given to Ellen and all the work she did on the passenger side to get me unstuck.

My second stuck was more of an extreme off camber situation. I slipped into a runoff ditch and my driver side came inches away from holding up the weight of my jeep. Everyone was starting to break for lunch. I was trying to figure how to get out of the ditch without ending up on my driver side when CJ saw me. He confirmed my main extraction option and I started backing out slowly while turning the wheel into the left bank of the ditch. Again, another incident that came really close to being Cow Bell worthy.

This was an awesome intro to the club and to wheeling in Cali. Thanks for organizing the event Jim! And thanks to everyone for a great day in Hollister!

Thanks, Pete