Fire Road 42, usually called FR42, is located in the Tonto National Forest. A group of 7 Jeeps and one Toyota pickup (argh!) ran this on Saturday of the Labor Day Weekend. The temp stayed in 90酒 for the trip. It was my first “day” trip for several months. I had been doing all night runs pretty much since Memorial Day when Donna and I spent the holiday at the Cinders.
My good friend Larry did us the honors of being trail leader. The majority of us had never been on the trail. A couple had but it had been too many years ago to remember those minor navigational details. So, Larry lead the group and for the most of the time, I took the tail gunner position. Larry was also great at taking the pictures that he has let me post here. He got a new Sony digital a few weeks back and is making good use of it. Many thanks to Larry for the great pics he took!
The trail wanders around and through the area west of the Verde River and Bartlett Lake. The trail runs in many different washes that provide drainage into the river. It occasionally skirts the ridge tops between the washes also. Much of the trail is decomposed granite. It had recently rained during the week so we were lucky and did not have to put up with the dust factor. That was a nice little blessing considering we had 8 vehicles. The last half of a group that size usually eats a lot of dust.
Here is Lady stopped part way up a climb out of a wash. The Verde can be seen in the background. Steve and Jimmy wandered down to talk about something or the other. Check out the flex on that front axle….driver’s front stuffed up into the fender well while the passenger front droops way down to get traction. There were many spots on the trail where the non-TJ vehicles would lift tires while we TJ owners kept all four firmly on the ground.
Here is a picture of the Toyota making room for Jimmy’s 1955 Willys. I am standing on Lady’s front tire so as to get a better view of the tippy & twisty spot coming up. This was Brian’s 2nd trail ride (Toyota driver) and he told Jimmy to go ahead so Jimmy could spot for Brian on the way up. There is nothing wrong with asking for spotter help. Jimmy does a good job at it, as I was to find out later in the day. He was having a bit of problem overheating on the Willys. It ended up being a thermostat that was stuck shut. He removed it later in the day and all seemed much better.
Here is Mike and Sally coming down a tricky down hill section. You can see the bottom side of the next Jeep (I think it is Steve’s YJ) waiting at the top of the hill. (yes, this hill is much steeper than the picture shows) The recent rains had really had a good time sculpting these parts of the trail. I forgot to mention that shortly after starting on the trail, we met up with a couple of pickup trucks. They informed us that the trail was washed out and they had been forced to turn around and come back out. Gosh, it must be rough owning a vehicle like that and wanting to go trail riding but not being able to! Mike’s TJ here is not stock. He has a lift, no lockers, and 31″ tires. He drove this trail with no problems at all. We weren’t sure where the trail was washed out. It all kind of looked like this, which to a Jeeper is just heaven!
Here is Dion’s YJ with his newly installed Lock-Rite front locker making its way to the top of the hill. Dion’s YJ is unique in that his is the only Jeep running the new Goodyear MT/R tires. We have all been keeping an eye on his tires. To say the least, we are all quite impressed with there performance. The sidewalls have withstood quite a bit of rock climbing abuse and are doing much better than my BFG MTs. Steve has also replaced numerous BFG MTs during this past summer. Time will tell how well the MT/Rs wear as far as mileage goes, but odds are high that this might very well be my next tire.
Fire Road 42
We spent about 4 hour running the trail. We were not in a big hurry and the weather was giving us a pleasant morning for off-roading. The trail takes you within a couple hundred yards of the Verde River at one point. We stopped and the “younger kids” went down to the river to take a look see. It was flowing pretty good. I don’t think I would have wanted to have made a crossing at that location.
So, who says you can’t off-road a Grand Cherokee. Here is Bob, one of the more recent additions to our friendly off-road group. Bob shares a common interest with me, that being ham radio. One day I will remember his call sign. Since everyone else in the group are non-ham types, we all run CB radios. One of these days, I will get them converted over to FRS and the quality of FM radio! Bob just put a new D44 in his Cherokee and a Lock-Rite locker. This was his first trip out with it since finishing it up earlier last week. Rumor has it that he was pretty happy with the improved traction. There were plenty of places for him to test it out on this trail.
Here is Lady again, playing on the last hill of the day. This hill was NOT on the main trail, which you can see the trail in the background. These optional hills are what we come to enjoy. Lady worked at getting to the top of this one. As you can see, there is not enough droop in the front axle to keep the driver side tire on the ground. I’m taking her down to the shop in a couple of days to have the front axle checked out. I might be having a problem with the Detroit TrueTrac front diff. Jimmy and Steve commented that it was not keeping both tires turning as I was doing this hill (hence the struggle I had getting to the top).
Although not very well shown in this shot, I was coming up a very steep hill and got off the desired line. My right rear tire dropped into a pretty deep hole which caused the front end to lift several feet into the air. Dion hopped onto the front bumper while Steve pushed down on the front corner. It was quite an air show for the rest of the folks up on top of the hill. Jimmy finally got me spotted onto the correct line and Lady made it to the top.
Here is Steve in his YJ coming up out of a wash. You can see where the bank behind him has crumbled away. A lot of water had moved parts of this wash around. As the trails crossed some of these areas, they would often times crush beneath the weight of the vehicle, making for a potentially dangerous situation. The drivers needed to be alert at all times less they find themselves with a wheel dropping down into nothing on an off-camber situation.