My cell phone rang Wednesday evening.  Troy wanted to know if I wanted to join him and some friends for some rock crawling on Saturday morning.  He said they were running Die Hard and that he had invited a bunch of wheelers.  Having not ran the trail and being a slightly crazy state of mind, I agreed to go.  5:00 AM at the air down spot…..geez….that meant I had to be up a little before 3:00 AM (what was I thinking?). 

I got to the air down spot a little before 5:00 AM.  The sun wasn’t up yet but you could see it was trying.  Troy rolled up with his buggy on the trailer.  Soon followed Chad (with his rear steer buggy on the trailer).  Bob rolled in with his TJ (D60s and 38″ tires) as did Brandon (D60s and 38″ tires).  Brad rolled in with his TJ on 37″ tires (Ford 8.8 and D44) riding on a trailer.  Doc showed up with his nicely built Bronco which ended up having alternator problems soon into the trail so he turned around and went home.

And there I sat….no trailer and 35″ tires.  Hmmm…..maybe I was at the wrong air down spot?  Well, I had no intention of throwing the towel in at this point.  Die Hard it was! 

Die Hard has three major obstacles (that was what Troy said) but there’s a bunch of stuff between those obstacles, including the mine field that runs from the last waterfall all the way to the end of the trail.  Sitting at the beginning of the trail, I didn’t know that….and if I had….well….who knows.

We worked our way to the first obstacle.  While not paying close enough attention, I found the first diff hanger on the trail and decided there that I had better focus on the trail and leave the camera and movies to those times when I was not moving.  DOH!

At the first obstacle (I was about 5th in line), I opted to skip this one (the only one that has a go around).  I watched Troy work it with his buggy and it almost got him.  Doc’s Bronco got wedged in it and we had to winch him out.  Chad ran it both directions in his rear-steer buggy (sweet watching him do it).

Here is Brandon on the first obstacle.  Troy is spotting.  The bad part about it is that you need to track a line with your driver’s rear tire that is about 4′ up the wall…..and its hard to keep it there.  If you slip that tire……

……this is what happens.  You drop the driver’s side down into the obstacle.  Now you have to understand that the body on Brandon’s TJ was folded, stapled, bent, twisted, and mutilated a LONG time ago.  So he really doesn’t have much to lose in the body panel department.  (notice he doesn’t even have a windshield any more)  Props to Brandon for maintaining his cool after he dropped in. 



This one took a bit of time to get everyone through.  The trick was to keep the vehicle far enough to the driver’s side so as to avoid a big hole with the passenger rear tire.  Of course, getting into that line was the hard part….you enter this by climbing through some rocks and exiting with a hard left turn….doing a couple of three point turns at the base of this is not the easiest thing when you don’t have ram assist steering (so I found out).  Bob is up on top watching (he had gone through) and Troy is down below giving me verbal abuse (oops, I mean direction). 


This was the first SOB trail I had ran since putting in my auto tranny.  There were sections of it that were simply no fun at all….but it would have been worse, much worse, if I still had a manual tranny.  The control offered by the auto tranny, 4:1 t-case, and hydroboost brakes was awesome.  It was all needed here for sure as I worked my way through this obstacle.  I am not even sure what you call this one.

Die Hard


Waiting to work my way up to the next obstacle.  Brad is in the TJ ahead of me.  Bob is leaning against the rock discussing something with Brad.  Troy’s buggy destroyed a rear diff some time back on the trail.  He was taking a crazy line on a waterfall and the Detroit let go.  You can see his winch line coming off my TJ.  He used me as a winch point when he couldn’t get over the rocks.  (Why do they have to winch off of the smallest Jeep?)


Another obstacle on the trail.  Bob is sitting on a rock…..right about where his feet are is where I’ll track the passenger side of my TJ.  Brad, the TJ in front of me, just sliced a sidewall and they are pulling the spare off of the tire carrier to swap onto the rear axle.


The exit from the above obstacle.  Yes, it gets a little tippy coming off of it.  Troy was telling me that someone went off of the passenger side of that obstacle and really messed up there ride.  It is a fair drop onto the rocks below. 

Die Hard

Troy lost his rear locker on a waterfall….those insane lines come with a price.  We are near the end of the trail when this photo was taken.  Push, pull, tug, or tow…..we were all coming off of the trail together.


I had my driver’s front tire on a big rock….trying to get around a rock at my rear passenger corner.  Then….BAM….out of nowhere, this rock lets go and slides down into the front of the TJ.  It is right up against the front axle….just fitting under my front bumper.  Peeled the steering box brace off of the steering box (but the box was OK).  The TBT steering survived just fine….flexed some to stay out of harms way and came back into position once I backed away from the rock slide. 


Yet another rock squeeze to climb over/through.  The rocker guards really got a work out, as did the side sliders on the taller rocks.  I left my doors in Troy’s truck but I don’t recall a situation where they may have been hit.  Regardless, it was a good decision to leave them behind as I was in and out of the vehicle a lot….probably would have worn out the hinge pins. 


Gotta always have one of these photos in the run.  Brandon and I had came through an obstacle using two different lines and so ended up on either side of this rock.  He was parked on it when I came up and popped a tire up on it.  He thought I was going to push him off as he had throttle through a previous obstacle when Bob said “Stu is on the line….just aim for him a go!”.  When he did, I turned around and ran to get out of the way.  We all got a chuckle out of it. 

Well, that is about it.  One heck of a run….one heck of a trail.  I won’t be back for a while….35″ tires and D30/D44 axles aren’t really the right combination for it.  There were too many times I was waiting for a hub, u-joint, or axle shaft to blow as I made climbs that I probably shouldn’t have.  A big thanks to Warn, Spicer, and especially Alloy USA.   It was your parts that kept my axles turning the tires….and I’ve no doubt that the auto tranny’s ability to smoothly apply and release the power kept those parts happy and me on the line up the waterfall.

Die Hard….not sure if that applies to the trail or the vehicles that run it.  Either way, we all made it out and headed into New River for some burgers and cokes.  It was a good day and I enjoyed the heck out of sharing it with my friends.

Good trails and remember to TREADLightly!

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