Oktoberfest 2011: Deer Valley trail run report

I have been waiting for this event as Deer Valley is one of my favorite 4X4 trails. In the past I ran this trail only one-way: North to South (from Blue Lakes to Hwy 4). My son Lukas could not make it because of mid-term tests but my wife Jessie took his place. It took us 3 hours to get from Fremont to Bear Valley, and we were amazed how summer was turning into winter as we gained elevation. We arrived to Bear Valley Base Camp lodge around 4pm on Friday. We met Connie in the frozen parking lot; she also just arrived. After unloading, checking in and eating late lunch we drove to Mosquito Lake to see the condition of Hwy 4 past Bear Valley. It was wet in places but not frozen. When we came back to the lodge, Jason was showing the movie from Slick Rock run they did that day. We had some snacks, beer and wine, and retired early to our room. The beds were amazingly comfortable, and we woke up for trail meeting originally scheduled for 8am. However, trail boss Jason decided to postpone the meeting and the run by 1 hour to avoid black ice on Hwy 4. My Jeep was all frozen, so that I left the engine running while we were having a breakfast.

14 rigs departed from the parking lot at 9:10am. Sun was shining, and the condition of Hwy 4 was good at this time. We were joined by 2 more rigs in the staging area. We aired down to 15psi, disconnected, attached bull-bar-mounted video camera and waited for the start. Kelly and Tom were spotting the Gatekeeper – thanks for great job! The trail looks and feels completely different when covered with 10” of snow. Good that it was not dusty and was softer, but keeping the right line and placing tires on the rocks was more difficult because they were slippery. I was driving behind Chris (JK). The first obstacle after the Gatekeeper which required a spotter was the tight place between the tree and rocks on the right, and rocks on the left. Tom spotted me, and after several attempts I made it. The next obstacle was the fallen tree. Rigs in front of us made a very gnarly bypass but it was slowing us down. CJ suggested that I winch that log away. It was stuck between two other trees, and had to be broken by winching the far end of the log. My winch sweated, but the log was broken and removed. I thought I had this moment on my front mounted camera, but, unfortunately, I discovered after the run that some pieces of the movie were corrupt (still not sure if it was the fault of the camera or flash memory) including the winching episode.

The first water crossing was shallow but the second one was deep (we made it even deeper taking the left line!). My camera died at the end of the second water crossing (got some water) but recovered quickly afterwards. The meadow after the second water crossing was covered with fresh snow. Beautiful in summer, it was also beautiful under virgin snow cover. Felt like January. We had our lunch there. After the lunch Jason and CJ had every rig in our group lined up, and we took group pictures. Nice – 16 rigs on snow in October! Before turning back I aired down some more to 10psi expecting that the return trip will be more difficult. However, it was actually easier – we made it back to the trailhead in 2 hours. No damage to the Jeep on the trail, although I landed on my pumpkin at the end of the Gatekeeper when I already though that I am past it.

Back in the lodge the smell of food was making me and Jessie hungry. Beer did not help with hunger, so we much a little and waited. But the dinner was worth waiting. Thanks to the chefs for excellent Oktoberfest meals and beer! I had too many wursten (but Jessie though I had too much beer ;-) After dinner we watched movies and pictures from the Deer Valley and Slick Rock runs.

Overall, this Oktoberfest was a great success! Thanks God, we had snow, and thanks to organizers for cozy lodging, great trail guidance and excellent dinner!

This is a link to my video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoniIq8u4Mg