2000 - Trail Building
When we congregated at the VFW on Saturday, March 18th, only some of us knew ahead of time that we would start the day at Floyd and Bonnie Wombles' place. There was work to be done for the landowners before we could work/play on the trails!
When we arrived their entire front yard quickly became filled with Jeeps. Because the weather was cool and wet it took no time at all for everyone to pitch in and keep warm by staying active. We cleared a good number of large, old trees, cut them up into smaller pieces and stacked them for firewood. There were enough of us where an 'assembly line' evolved and our team of workers quickly developed a rhythm. Huge trees were toppled and sectioned. Limbs were dragged to a central location and cut into firewood size pieces. As they were cut we carried the logs to a line of workers who passed them along to the 'stackers'.
One of the trees fell right into the Wombles' pond. Of course, some of the younger men found it necessary to clear the pond of the resulting debris by paddling around in a canoe and retrieving the floating wood. We were waiting and watching, cameras poised, certain that they were going to turn over, but they surprised us and came out dry and the pond looked pretty good! Further out, in the field, we deposited the smaller brush. It was here that the younger children made their contributions. One small toddler never tired of carrying twigs to deposit on the pile.
All this was accomplished in a little over two hours and just before
we left Floyd and Bonnie were standing on the porch, pleased with the
progress that had been made and very grateful for our help. As we split
into smaller groups before heading for lunch and different trails, we
shared a feeling of satisfaction, knowing that we, indeed, had made a
We attended the March 4th weekend along with about 30 or 40 other club members. Tim split us up to work on nine different trails, however some were too wet to drive and had to be cleared on foot. We headed toward Mossy Mountain and found it fairly dry. Rongway was anxious to test his new V8 so we came down Susie's Knob and when Woodpecker suggested we turn around and go back up it seemed like a fine idea. But it seems our new engine had too much power and it twisted the drive shaft clean off! We continued the rest of the trail in 2-wheel drive and on foot. We encountered a huge downed tree that looked like it would be fun to drive over, but we realized that it would high center even the tallest dog so we cut it and winched it out of the way. Doc and Randy envisioned a couple of new sections of trail. (Their imaginations are incredible!) We could barely walk the area they planned to climb. Then, when we cleared a rock hill along the creek, Doc was the only one fool enough to test it. His Jeep literally crawled sideways! He had to climb, twist off-camber, and articulate vertically. I should mention that he still had to winch up to the top! OK. At that point the rest of the group drove around to the other side. Our guides had to keep in mind the rating of the trail.
After lunch, Randy and Doc dreamed up another steep loop. Again, we walked it and cleared it before attempting to drive up but after the terrain spun loose they decided it would be safer to reverse the trail and drive down this section. Doc and Woodpecker volunteered to make the loop several times. Then Trent talked me into riding with Doc down the hill (more like a cliff). Thank goodness Doc has these nifty seat belt harnesses! Picture this: I was strapped against the seat with my arms crossed and knuckles grasping the harness, and my feet were dangling off the floorboards because of the departure angle we were at. I thought about one of those theme park rides like the Batman or the Bobs! Not to worry though. Doc slowly eased us down with his 102/1 gear ratio. After that, we finished the trail with Dave taking the 'Plunge of Stupidity'. Both guides agreed that the winter must have filled it in substantially because it wasn't as 'stupid' as it used to be.
The board members held their meeting later that night at the VFW and Sunday morning about 25 of us came back again for the awareness class. By the way, I highly recommend the class. If you're a novice, there's lots of useful information. If you're a seasoned 4-wheeler, there's lots of useful information. It's an opportunity to share your mistakes, and explain how you figured out how to correct them. You can also defend yourself, 'cause we probably talked about your mistakes! And as a bonus, both Saturday and Sunday morning, the men of the VFW served us breakfast. It was great.
Several new members have come to the trail-building weekends and enjoyed
them. I encourage everyone to join in, and to write something about his
or her experiences. Please remember to include pictures with your stories.
You can just envision how the new trail will look (not).
Upon arrival at the farm, we broke for lunch before tackling the numerous beaver dams that plague our stretch of 6 Mile Creek. We spent 2 hours breaking the dams by driving over them, strapping out the big logs, and digging them up with shovels and rakes. The highlight of the afternoon was Durrell's initiation into the Polar Bear Club when he slipped off a log and fell into the frigid waters. The look on his face was priceless. Unfortunately everyone left their video cameras at home so all we have are some still shots to remember the event.
We gave up the hard work for some playtime around 3pm and headed on down the creek to the south trail. Fleegers were suffering from an intermittent starter problem so we pull-started them to get them running. Everyone was cruising along when we asked if there were any takers for Winch Hill. The sole response from Gadget was something along the lines of 'we'll follow where you lead.' Taking this as a hint, we headed for the slippery ledge. Things were going smoothly for us until Frank's engine accidentally shut off just before reaching Winch Hill. (Ooops. I wonder how that happened?) The following scenario was worth an episode of the three stooges: Tough Nuts pulled Gadget as far up the hill as he could with a tow strap then jumped out to help John Davis and Ken Alden manually push him back down trying to gain enough momentum to start his engine again. This comedy was attempted a couple times with no success before J.J. strongly suggested just pulling them out backwards. (Keep in mind that the trail is very tight and narrow with little room to maneuver.) About this time Frank got bored and started clicking his ignition key on and off and voila! the engine cranked over. With his rig now running, Frank decided to forego winch hill and headed back to the bypass. This brought Missouri Eagle up for a crack at it. John hammered down and got more air than anyone I've ever seen without flipping over - after I got my heart started again, we all cheered as John made it up and over the obstacle. Ken was next with his purple '86 CJ-7. He went right for the toughest line and got three of his tires over the ledge before we all heard the familiar crack of both front u-joints and his axle snapping. Too bad for Ken the obstacle lived up to its name and we had to winch him up. We figured with one Jeep busted and another limping along we'd better quit for the day so we headed on out of the woods and back to the barn. The bonfire was already roaring when we got back and we enjoyed a relaxing evening around the fire pit with friends.
Durrell and I would like to say a personal thank you to everyone who
came out this weekend to help clean up around Floyd and Bonnie's place.
Additionally, thanks to everyone who helped out at our place with the
beaver dams. A little 'landowner appreciation' goes a long way in this
club. Let's keep up the good work!