Tin Can Alley – Night Run

This is the trip report for the Saturday, July 8, 2000 night run on Tin Can Alley. This trail lies west of Lake Pleasant in and around the old P4W BLM lease land. I call it Tin Can Alley because it was introduced to me last year by a good friend who also called it Tin Can Alley (duh). Actually, there is a spot along the trail (it was too dark last night to see it) where the old miners apparently dumped a lot of their trash, bottles, cans, etc.

Disclaimer: Any comments made towards a person’s driving ability or trail worthiness of said person’s ride is made with the best of intentions and a smile on my face. If I had wanted to insult you or your Jeep, I would certainly have done it on the trail last night, in person, so I could have seen your reaction!  photo

Jeeps started arriving as early as 5:30 PM at the air down point just off of SR74. We wanted to leave promptly at 6:00 PM (actually we left at 6:02, which might darn well be a record). Greetings were made and faces were associated with e-mail signature lines. After a short driver’s meeting, we headed down the Haul Road to the trail, about 4 or 5 miles away. There were 9 SWB Jeeps and 1 Cherokee (there always has to be that 10% in any crowd!).

I hope I have the following driver/passenger list correct….I am really bad with names. Let’s see, there was Steve, Larry, Scott/Matt, Dion/Mrs. Dion, Chris J/Mrs. J and kids, Mike/Mrs. Mike, Drew/3 Jeep chicks (some people!), Mike/Robin, Patrick, and myself.

After dropping down into a wash and locking the gate behind us (many thanks to Mike, the tailgunner and duty gate closer), we slipped into 4WD and proceeded on. Our first surprise was when we came upon a pair of wild burros.  I caught one of them with the camera (fastest digital in the West!).  Do you see it in the photo below?

Within a few minutes, we came upon the first rock obstacle. Now if you have some lift and/or big tires (with tread….Dion), this little rock pile does not pose a problem. However, a number of our team were running stock Jeeps and so there was a few attempts made before all cleared the rocks. No one needed a strap and we proved that 4 able bodied by-standers CAN push a hi-centered Jeep into freedom!

Next came “the squeeze”.  As my parents never dropped me on my head as an infant, I was able to determine that my TJ and “the squeeze” were not made for each other. 

As such, I opted to take the up and around bypass while Steve squeezed through. I knew he would make it, as he had done so on the last Sunday’s pre-run. Patrick also decided to give it a try. After a couple of attempts, he to made it through, but not without a new crease (aka, badge of courage) in the right rear quarter panel. The rest of the drivers took the bypass (also the result of caring parents no doubt!). It should be noted here that tires aired up to a high pressure with little tread will have a problem on this part of the trail too!

We continued down the wash a ways and then climbed out to higher ground. The trail continued to gain altitude as we started running the ridges in the foothills. As dusk was setting in upon us, we had a beautiful view of Lake Pleasent and the twinkling lights of the Phoenix valley way off in the distance. We stopped here to take a rest break and while I tried to figure out how Drew got all those Jeep chicks in his ride.

After everyone got done doing what ever it is that everyone does when doing a rest break (don’t go there!), we headed to the top of the ridge and found a nice tight switchback that requires a well executed 3 point turn on a good day. I’m still not sure what or who had the highest turn count, but I don’t think anyone hit double digits while trying.

Well into the foothills by now, we discovered the whoop-de-doo section of the trail. Short/steep climbs and descents were the name of the game. A few of the stockers encountered traction problems here and the strap came out on one occasion. Naturally, the peer pressure that resulted from this action acted as the motivating catalyst for the rest of the night….NO ONE WANTED THAT YELLOW DEMON HOOKED TO THEM!

Every now and then the trail gained good character, thanks to mother nature’s drainage problems and the steep climbs over the whoop-de-doos. We stopped several more times with a Jeep waiting at the top, the yellow “strap of humility” in hand, to make sure that the next vehicle would successfully make the climb.

About .4 miles from the Haul Road (you gotta love those GPS units), Larry announced on the CB that we had a break down. Patrick’s front shackle had let go leaving his leaf spring with nothing to play on! The original plan was a quick “trail weld”, but somehow, logic rose over insanity. Plan B was quickly formed (Steve was really itching to do some welding with two batteries and my jumper cables) and resulted in chaining the shackle in place with a precisely measured piece of log chain and a not so precise bolt that was bouncing around in the tub of someone’s Jeep (I still don’t know who found the bolt, but a big thanks to you!).

After the first and only presentation of “Trail Repair 101” was concluded, we finished the trek to the Haul Road and regrouped. It was about 11:30 PM or so and several of the folks headed back towards home. I had promised those who wanted to stay that we could do an optional hill on the way back to civilization.

With about half of the group safely on their way home, the remaining insomniacs tossed caution to the wind and headed out to find Wishbone Hill. I had Wishbone marked on my GPS, but I didn’t have the route to it. We managed, without even a wrong turn (OK, so even a blind squirrel can find a nut once in a while), to climb and claw our way to the top of the hill (did I mention we still had a stocker with us….Scott, you are such a persistent guy!).

Parked at the crest of Wishbone, I plugged in the hand held spot light to probe the dark and deep abyss that lie just inches in front of my TJ. Mike (now promoted from tail gunner and duty gate closer to THE tail gunner) explained the two possible paths down the face of Wishbone and along with the bypass…..bypass???…..gosh, that is almost as bad as that yellow demon!

Those with lockers (Mike, Steve, and myself) pushed off the top, one at a time, and made the descent into the darkness. Well….we did have headlights, etc., so it wasn’t maybe quite that bad. Once safely at the bottom, we turned around to do battle with the overburden and rock ledges that makes you love the word DETROIT! Once we were all safely at the top, we headed out to the Haul Road to wrap up the evening….oops….morning. It was 12:30 AM.

We headed for the highway and stopped to air up. After filling tires and getting the discos back into street mode, we said our good-byes and headed for home. I made my garage at 2:00 PM and called it a day.

Night Run

Here are a few shots from the 9/9/2000 night run. We had a total of 7 Jeeps along this time, all SWBs. Roger and his friends, John, Bob, and Keith joined up with us. Dion and Paola were there, along with Larry and Jeff. I finally got Ross and Deb (and their little son Brian) to come along. Ross has been working hard on his CJ-7 all summer long and it is finally at the stage where he can drive it on the trails. You’ll see some pics of it below.

The run lasted a bit over 6 hours. During this time, we lost a few people as we would come back to the Haul Road and they would opt to call it a night and head for home. It was a lot of fun, and I think we have Deb hooked on the whoop-de-doo section of the trial. She really seemed to like the roller coaster ride!

Here are some shots of a few of the participants as they navigate their way through the trail.

Here is Dion picking is way through some rocks in the wash not to far from the start of the trail. Those Goodyear MT/Rs continue to do a great job. I ‘ve been keeping an eye on them and they don’t seem to be chunking very much and the sidewalls are holding up as well.

Roger picks his was through the same rocks that Dion was in. Hey, check out that roll bar. Roger got his done at O-R Fab too, same place I got mine from.

Here is Ross with his recently modified CJ-7. Let me see if I can remember most of the details. 38.5″ Super Swampers, D44 front, D60 rear, 4.88 gears, ARBs in both ends, custom steering, suspension, and axle work. Yeah…those are the high points.

This is Ross on the squeeze rock that Steve went through on the previous page. I am standing on the opposite side of when I took this photo. As you can see, Ross has decided to go over the squeeze instead of through it.

Ross made it up onto the rocks and is picking a line (what line?) off of this jumbled pile of boulders. I snapped several pics as he worked his way through this obstacle and he never once touched the under side of his vehicle on a rock. This brute of a Jeep gives Lady a complex! (Hey buddy, I said that with a smile on my face!)

September 24, 2000   Tin Can Alley

It was a couple of days before the weekend and I quickly sent out some e-mail to see if anyone was up for a run on Sunday.  Some of my regular Jeepin’ buddies were either out of town, broke down (Dion), or planned on watching their favorite football team take a beating on TV.

I got hold of Uncle Mike and he confirmed that he and his CJ-5 would be coming with his friend, Tim, who recently built up his Y2K TJ.  We also had Jim join us for the first time in his recently upgraded YJ.  Larry, a regular all during our summer night runs, rounded out the group with his TJ.  It was great running with some new folks and I hope Tim and Jim can make many more runs with us.

Since I have written about Tin Can Alley in the previous pages, I tried to get a few shots of different places on the trail that I had not gotten before.  Since we started the run at 3:00 PM (thanks to cooler weather), we were able to see parts of the trail in day light.  WOW!  What a neat concept. 

I saw quite a bit of the local wild life inhabitants during this run.  We flushed several coveys of quail and saw two coyotes.  A great big long eared jack rabbit took off down the trail leaving but a couple of puffs of dust floating in the breeze. 

We came across this tortoise by the side of the trail. He was nice enough to pose for a couple of pictures. He looked to be in good shape. Just in case you were wondering, we peaked under his shell to see what he had. Although some were surprised, I was expecting to see Detroit Lockers, front and rear. Yes sir, no ARBs in this fellow!

After the drive train inspection, we asked him if he could give us an action shot. Luckily he rose to the occasion and slipped it into 4LO. Although we did not calculate it, his crawl ratio must have way, way down there. Pretty good rock crawler, no doubt. Between the really low gearing and those CLAWS, I think he could mount an assault on just about anything we could throw at him.

As we worked our way past the tortoise and further in to the whoop-de-doo section of the trail, I was able to catch all of us in the shot. Catching one of these at night when everyone has their rock lights on makes for a nice photo also.

Mike was running tail gunner for us….a thankless and usually dusty job. So, I am going to double what I’ve been paying him and will promise to post more pictures of him in the future. I caught Mike in his CJ-5 climbing up out of the wash. All of us groaned when we got to this point as the sun was just a bit above the horizon and was directly in our eyes as we came up the bank. Now I know why it was so much easier when it was dark out!