A Saturday of Jeep Explorin’

It was a Saturday in mid-November and the weather forecast had just been updated to something approximating a good Jeepin’ day.  It was suppose to have been raining but the weather front had moved further north and was giving us a break in the raining weekends we had been having lately.  A few of us had planned on checking out some trails I had spotted the week before and we were looking forward to a chance to get out of town.

Our first trail proved to be a dead end.  It started out looking pretty good, running the ridges in some foot hills of the mountains we were near.  Near the end of the trail was an old mine site with a few large piles of overburden.  This was an old mining trail that lead back to the mine. I wonder if anyone hit “pay dirt?  It would not surprise me that more effort was put into the road than the mine.

We doubled back on our trail until we came to a fork we had passed earlier.  It looked interesting so we opted for the fork we had not come in on.  We ran the ridges for a little bit and then finally dropped down into a wash.  I could tell this was more to Dion’s liking because where there are washes, there are rock obstacles to climb over.

It was not long before we found a rock outcropping along the wash.  Mike and I opted to go around it but Dion decided to sneak up on it and see if it could be crawled.  Unfortunately, the tree branch was in the way and prevented him from getting over it.  

A little further down the wash, Dion found a rock sitting there just waiting to be tackled.  He carefully slipped his YJ up onto the boulder and eased the front tire over.  The rocker guard barely grazed the rock….just the right fit indeed.  After the rear tire cleared, we were back in our Jeeps, itching to see where this was would lead.  I was watching our progress on my Garmin GPS and could see that we were running almost parallel to the wash that contained 3-Line Rock.  We continued to work our way along the wash.  Just after rounding a bend, I stopped Lady and called on the CB for Mike and Dion to come up to the front.  Sure enough, there it was a small rock ledge the spanned the wash.  It was not as big as 3-Line Rock, but it would do for now.

I was first down what was to become 2-Line Rock.  I am taking the line on the left side of the wash.  The top section has a V notch to run down, and Dion does his usual good job of spotting me through it.

Once off of the V, the door high rocks on the passenger side are to be avoided at all costs.  They are too high for the rocker guards to be of any help once the driver’s side tires climb over the rocks and the Jeep pitches over to the passenger side.  I made it through OK with good clearance on the passenger side and I didn’t even have to run the rocker guards over those rocks.

A Saturday of Jeep Explorin’

Mike was next over the rocks.  He got his transfer case skid hung up on one of the rocks.  With all the rain we had, there was a lot of sand washed in along the bottom of the rock which made for lousy traction.  On top of that, Mike is running open diffs front and rear.  We got him off in short order and then it was Dion’s turn.  Dion took the only other line which put him on the opposite side of the rocks.  It was a gamble as to whether the big hole would cause him problems or not. About half way through, his front tire would be forced into a good sized hole….no other way through.  Sure enough, once his big MT/Rs hit that soft sand, the Lockright dug him half way down to China!  Mike and I came to the rescue bearing rocks to help firm up the soft sand.  After a couple of well placed rocks, Dion was off of the rocks too.  After we were all clear of the obstacle, we named it and I marked it’s location on the GPS.  As luck would have it, the wash we were in flowed into the wash that 3-Line Rock lives in.  We hung a right and navigated up the wash.  After we all made it over 3-Line Rock, we stopped for lunch and talked about the trail and what would be next on our agenda.

After finishing lunch, we headed back to the Haul Road and headed north.  We were going to the water fall that we had discovered a few weeks ago.  Joe Rubby, a good Jeepin’ buddy, had given me a track log that just happened to have a bypass that would get us around to the upper side of the water fall.  We arrived at the water fall in about 10 minutes.  We parked our Jeeps in the wash and walked up to the falls.  Much to our surprise, it actually had some water running down it.  It had rained the previous day and obviously the wash was not totally dry yet.  

Daylight was burning so we headed back to the Jeeps.  We found the old trail that lead out of the wash.  I checked it with the GPS and sure enough, we were right on track with the GPS data that Joe had given me.  (You gotta love those GPS receivers.  It lets you spend more time Jeepin’ and a lot less time trying to figure out if you are lost or not.)

The trail was badly eroded but still passable.  At one point, I stopped and walked up the trail with Dion and Mike so we would have complete agreement that we were going to press on.  We got major air under the front tire as we worked our way up the terrain.  We continued to climb for several hundred yards until we made it to a ridge line.  Here the trail joined with another marked one (LP12), and we turned right to follow the GPS track.  We continued to climb, quickly gaining altitude to 3100′.  We stopped at the peak and checked out our surroundings.  From this point, you could see a long way back towards Phoenix.

We continued on and turned right again.  We were heading back to the wash we had left.  The picture above was taken as we worked our way down to the wash.  We had a couple of steep drops….steep enough that I was beginning to wonder about our ability to get back up, should the need arise.  I had 125′ of winch cable on the front of Lady and was quite certain we could do it with that, if need be.

We had a couple more good downhills and finally dropped into the wash again.  There was a trail adjacent to the wash that was marked LP12 but it was very badly eroded down the center.  Dion tried to climb up on it but the walls kept caving in.  I walked up the wash a bit and decided it was not going to be done, at least not today.  I marked the spot on my GPS and we decided to head back out, retracing our path back to the wash below the waterfall.

I was leading the group, followed by Mike and then Dion.  I made it up what we decided was the toughest climb on the trail.  Mike made it about two-thirds of the way up and then his open diffs started to spin tires.  Mike carefully tried it several times and was finally able to find a line just a bit off to one side that afforded him the traction he needed.  Once he got going, he kept up his momentum and climbed to the top.  He was grinning from ear to ear when he caught up to me.  

We finally arrived back at the first section of the trail that was so badly eroded.  We new going down it would be both fun and easier than it was climbing up.

This is the limit of Lady’s front end flex.  I checked the bump stop on the driver’s side front and it pushed hard against the lower spring perch.  Hey, for a 2″ lift, it is doing pretty darn good.  In this picture, it actually teetered about 2″ front to back.  If I had gone forward another couple of inches, I would have lifted my back tire about 2″ or so.

Mike and Sally show of their Y2K TJ.  Mike said he had given it a name….and I think it was “PigPen”.  Gee….I don’t think it looks that dirty!

Dion’s YJ is always good for a tire lift or two on the trail.  He told me “Why go 4 wheelin’ when you can do it on three?”  

We all made it down this washed out section and back to the water fall.  Boy….what a trail we ran just to get around the waterfall.  I spoke with Joe Ruby the following day to see if he had any more info about the trail we turned back on.  He said that had we continued on, we would not have been able to actually finish the trail.  The feds have put an iron gate across the trail.  A spur of the trail we were on leads up to some kind of radio site and in order for us to get out to the graded road, we would have to go through the gate.  I did find out that there is an old trail section that branches off of the main trail and continue on to the road.  I checked the topos and sure enough, it shows up.  Joe said he walked it a year or two ago and it needs some maintenance before it is ran again.  I’m going to see if my regular Jeepin’ buddies feel like putting a little effort into the trail and opening it back up.  Knowing them, I think they will!