Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Wheeling 101 - Raw Deal - Part 1

Last weekend (Jan 14) Kathy and I went out to the Wheeling 101 class hosted by the Virtual Jeep Club. This is an event that the club puts on each year to introduce new Jeepers to the basics of rock crawling and off-roading in general. Since we are still very new to all this it was a no brainer.

Our group was lead by Nena Barlow of Barlow Jeep School and Joe Daro of Absolute Offroad. Bother very capable and knowledgeable instructors. The trail the we ran was Raw Deal at Table Mesa, AZ. This is basically a short trail in a wash. Not a sandy wash but a rocky, concrete like wash. It has several interesting obstacles but nothing to crazy (I saw that now).

Just getting onto the trail required that we go over this short concrete ledge. At this point I was getting a little worried as I had never even tried anything like this. It looked HUGE from behind the wheel. Looking at the pictures later I feel silly, especially after we got to the first real obstacle.

This was a waterfall ledge about three feet high. We all got out and walked around it and talked it over for about half an hour. Then the instructors did some demos of different lines and the issues that might come up. Then it was out turn. With something like 14 jeeps we all got to see several do the obstacle. This turned out to be good because by the time it was my turn I felt good about doing this. I had a little bumper drag but made it over fine.

Here are a couple more Jeeps on the same obstacle. Both of these Jeeps have higher lifts than mine but I have taller tires. It all seems to have balance out.

Just a little farther down stream we come to obstacle two. This little water fall was about a foot high and we went right through it. After the first one this one did not deserve discussion. Kathy got to ride over this one so she had fun spotting and snapping a few pictures.

After the second ledge we drove down a short rocky section of the trail. This was a little trickier than it looks as these rocks pretty good sized.

After the trail enters another wash we get this part below. This is not sandy at all. The ground is hard as concrete and filled with undulations and dips of all sorts. This picture does not really show how tough this really is.

Farther up the second wash we get to what I call obstacle three. This is a wavy, rutted part of the stream bed. At this part each wheel is doing something a little different and it takes concentration and patience to do it right.

At the end of this irregular section is a small climb. The picture below does not show it well but your passenger wheels have a clean straight climb to the top but the driver side has a double bump to navigate.

After clearing that bump we get to obstacle five. This is a big crack or crevasse. In the picture below I am taking a look at the obstacle as Nena waits. I was little worried as one of the earlier Jeeps cut a tire here.

Once I was ready Nena showed me the line I was going to take.

After the crack we turned around and headed back up the way we had come. Below is the first water fall but going up this time. After all the stuff we had done to this point I was still not sure about being able to do this. This thing looks really tough going up. I had learned so much I was surprised at how intimidating this was.

It turns out it was the cleanest I had cleared an obstacle all day. The Jeep went right up slow and steady.

It was an amazing, long, exciting, exhausting day and Kathy and I learned an incredible amount. Nena and Joe are great instructors and really know what they are doing. Their calm confidence made it easy to just do it. Check back for part two with videos of the cool obstacles.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Harquahala Mountain

Last Saturday we decided, on the spur of the moment, to go on a Jeep run. We needed something relatively close and easy as Kathy had to work that night. We decided to do the Harquahala Mountain trail. It seems that the trail books rate this as a moderate trail but the clubs rate it easy. I would have to say it seemed pretty easy to me.

The trail is southwest of Wickenberg, AZ near the town of Aguila. The trail was not too hard to find and there is a small staging area with a vault toilet and some info. There are a couple of picnic tables as well.

There is also this impressive sign.

The Jeep was nice and clean before we started. It had just been washed the day before but a clean Jeep looks strange.

The road is very well maintained for the majority of the trip.

As you get near the top the road gets steeper and the rocks are a little looser. None of this really posed an issue.

Here is the Jeep at the top. Not too dusty, not as much as I was expecting. There is some radio equipment and solar panels in the background.

There is also an old observatory at the top. There is not much of it left to look at and even the information kiosks are empty. It was built in 1920 and only used for 5 years and that is about all I know. I imagine that trail would have been a little tougher in a Model T.

Monday, January 09, 2012

Rim Road/General Crook Trail Loop

On Veterans Day 2011 the family and I decided to go on a Jeep run along the Rim Road/General Crook Trail north of Payson. This trail is a nice loop through the Coconino National Forest. About 3/4 of the loop is unpaved forest roads.

On the way we stopped at the Montezuma Castle National Monument outside of Camp Verde. I had visited the monument as a child but neither Kathy nor the girls had been there. Since it was Veterans day admission was free!

There was still some nice Fall colors.

After the monument was continued the drive to the scenic loop. Along the way we began to nice snow along the road. This had me worried as I was not expecting large amounts of snow. Once we got the start of the trail the road was pretty solidly snowed in.

Fortunately, there had already been several vehicles down the road so conditions were not too bad. This would be the first time driving in the Jeep in the snow and it did great.

Sorry it took so long to get this one posted. I almost forgot about it.