Summer Campout/Adopt a Trail

First, the event was a real fun! Thanks to all organizers for flawless execution. I arrived to the ED4 camp on Thu around 5:30pm. (The directions were very clear.) I was greeted by Dave who suggested me several camping options. I chose a campsite close to the main campfire. After setting my tent and having a quick snack, Dave came over to tell me about tomorrow's plans. He thought that trails probably had already been opened by rangers or other 4wheelers, and we will be done by 11am and will be able to run some trails, like Slick Rock in the afternoon. In the hindsight it was over-optimistic which probably reflects Dave's nature ;-) Then I joined the group of Jason, Jim, Mike P, Ole, and Tom to talk about tomorrow etc. Jason demonstrated some amazing articulation of his Jeep and his skill on the huge rock near our camp.

In the evening we gathered by the campfire with our drinks and had a lively conversation. I went to sleep at 10pm.

On Fri 8:30am we had forest rangers visiting our camp. They explained about the changing rules of trail use, handed us preliminary trail and forest road maps and posed for the group pictures. Then we divided into two groups: one led by Dave went to Mattley Ridge Loop trail, and our group of 5 rigs led by Jason & Mike - Jim, Tom & Daniel, Greg & Josh, and I went to Corral Hollow trail. Before leaving the camp Jason's Jeep experienced power steering problem. His hydraulically assisted steering was installed just before this campout and got some air in the system. The air evacuation caused us about 20min delay. We started from the eastern end of the trail; I disconnected, aired down to 20psi. In the beginning the trail was freshly cleared, probably by forest rangers or other groups. However, later on our way we encountered and cleared about 4 fallen trees. But the biggest obstacle and fun was crossing the snow drifts. We needed to use tow strap from the moment we encountered the first large snow drift. Jason was going first and was sailing through most of the snow drifts, but on one of them he got stuck sliding to the side of the drift and ramming his rear tire against the tree stump and his roll cage against the tree. I witnessed some technical finesse how Jason operating two winches from front (his) and rear (Tom's) got out of trouble without damaging anything. Tom and Daniel were the second "victims" following the same line as Jason (first unloading his dog Dusy) and getting into the same predicament. They got out of this situation the same way as Jason. The rest of our team took a bypass without any trouble but also with much less fun. Other snow drifts presented less problems or had bypasses. We were done around 1pm (I think). The team decided to go to Mattley Ridge Loop to check how another group was doing and offer our help if needed. We got on the top of the hill when Jim's engine stalled. Luckily it was just running out of gas. Jim was astounded when he discovered that his Jerry can was also empty. He had to borrow some gas from Tom and was back on track... but in a minute Tom's engine stalled running out of gas! Tom used his remaining gas in a can, and we continued.

We failed to make a contact with Dave but we saw that the trail was not cleared all the way through. We came back to the camp and had some drinks waiting for another group. Ellen just arrived and joined us. When another group finally arrived they were very tired. They removed 11(?) fallen trees and shoveled snow drifts, so that even Mini Cooper could pass. However, the did not finish all the way trough and they did not even start another loop in that trail. There was work to be finished on Saturday.

Dinner organized by Dave and contributed by everybody was great: tasty food, fine desserts, and fun people to talk to. We all gathered around the campfire and had really good time. I sat next to Greg, Dave and Loro, and we talked about 4wheeling and CAL4WD. I called it a night at 10am. Tomorrow we had to start at 7:30am.

On Saturday we departed to Mattley Ridge Loop trail around 8am. On the trail we divided into two groups. I joined the one led by Jason & Mike. Others in our group were Greg & Josh and Mike & Brittany. We had really exiting trail run through the loop that has not been touched the day before: tight, steep and off-camber in places, running in dense woods and traversing nice meadows. We removed 5 fallen trees and were done around noon. We headed back to camp. Jason, Mike and Jim were packing up and leaving, while Gary, Greg, Josh, Mike and I were planning to go to Slick Rock train once Dave's group returns. When they came back it was already too late for Greg and Josh but we (Gary and Marlene, Mike & Reynosa, and I) were joined by Chris & Patty and Dave & Loro with her dog Alpine.

We were concerned that the stream crossing the trail may be too deep for stock height of Chris and Patty's Jeep but decided to give it a try. There were numerous other groups on Slick Rock trail. I must say that the trail changed a bit since I last visited it a couple of years ago: more eroded in places, the was no bypass for the Slick rock itself, and there's only one way down among scattered rocks. I followed Dave & Loro over steep ledge at the bottom of the Slick rock and made some metal contact. The stream was not deep at all - it receded since Mike visited it a couple of weeks back. However, the steps at the end of the trail changes since my last visit. I was unable to make it all the way up the normal rout and took an easier rout over the rock on the left. Only Dave and Mike in longer wheelbase rigs made it straight up. Amazingly, Chris and Patty made the whole trail in their near stock JK unlimited 4d without damaging anything. Great work!

After Slick Rock trail we all went back to the camp. I packed and left around 5pm.

Overall, I greatly enjoyed this trip, and it helped me to get to know closer people from the club. Looking forward to the next adventure!