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2009 Safari
The Safari Report By Charlie

Depending on which “old timer” you talked to, this was either the muddiest or the second muddiest event on record for the Two Rivers Jeep Club.  So people should have been unhappy, right?  Well, Jeepers, or maybe I should say off-roaders, don’t think that way.  In fact, I didn’t hear a single complaint either day! 

I guided on Hopewell Views the first day and had Doug, Jennifer, and Maddie Watret to back me up as tail gunners. We had eleven Jeeps that made the trek to the trailhead, mostly via some back roads that paralleled Six Mile Creek.  My “shotgun” was a reporter for the Pike County Express, armed only with a camera and a good attitude.  We took a few minutes to air down and get recovery gear out, and discovered that most of the people I was guiding were people that I had been out with before.  As is usual, we had the drivers meeting on the Hopewell Indian mound that gives the trail its name.  It started to drizzle, so we headed out through the horse pens on the access road.  We didn’t exactly slide down the first hill, but it was touchy!  After the three point turn to get into the creek, it was a slimy mess to get out up a clay bank  

After strapping a few, it was on to the next obstacle- a long moderately steep slope that would be too slick for those with all terrain or street tires.  Even being locked on both ends was no help when there were other factors lacking.  A Jeep with a winch was stationed at the top of the hill for assisting the winchless and Doug manned that point while I was being ­­­boss, er, giving great advice on how best to make the hill. Heck, most of them made it!  Remember, Doug was at the top?  And, being somewhat decrepit, I needed a rid e- so I climbed in with Jennifer and Maddie.  Jennifer didn’t really want to make the run up the hill, but with my expert coaching, she did it with style!  (Jennifer- please note that I didn’t say anything about that small tree that jumped out in front of you…)

We ran the rest of the trail “backwards”, hoping to avoid problems in climbing out of the creek trail.  We went up to where the future extension of the trail will go on the newly accessed property, then turned around and headed back through the trail on the West side of  the property.  We did more winching for some of our crew, and broke for lunch and B.S. as soon as we cleared the timber.  When we jumped back in the trail, we headed to the creek trail and ended up with some more strapping where a bend in the creek had allowed a mud hole to form.   It was rock bottomed, but getting to it was the trick.  The rest of the trail was pretty uneventful. We had quite a bit of time, but not enough to run the McCartney trail.  By popular vote (me and my big mouth…), we decided to take the “scenic route” back to town.  We drove the back roads again, and crossed Six Mile Creek into the Seven Crossing road.  In spite of all the rain, the Seven Crossing road was carrying very little water.  We then ran down the Cold Creek road and turned up the lane going by Hamer and Jenny’s Ridge Rambler and on into Pittsfield.

I thought I’d take it easy and go out with Hamer and Jenny Saturday.  Yeah, Right!!  Uh, they needed a tail gunner.  1.5 inches of rain overnight!  We went around the pipeline and did wonderfully well for – oh maybe half an hour.  That hill was slick, wasn’t it?  I never got to it; they cut an easy out that half of us took and most winched.  While waiting on the trail for the shenanigans up ahead, we winched another Jeep back on the trail that slid off when he tried to move up.  It looked like we didn’t know what we were doing with cable attached to both ends and both being powered in at the same time. With the wheels turning on the “off” Jeep, we were able to get him back on the trail and off of the BIG stump he was resting against. Then I powered mine out and he was pulled to semi solid footing.  (I don’t think that was covered in the Recovery class.)  When everybody was clear, I drove out the “easy out”, disappointing those ready to winch me through. Hey, it was dinnertime! 

After lunch, we ran the “Cloverleaf Loop” backwards. That put a ditch crossing right near the start which would have been no problem coming from the other way.  Of course, the hill we came down would have been a real challenge going up, so it was the lesser of two evils.  More strapping ensued at the ditch, and it just got slicker and slicker.  Some of us made it with generous use of the skinny pedal and a healthy dose of luck.  Then, as we rode up a hill, there was some brush in the way.  Everything came to a halt, and then when starting back up, Jenny’s Jeep let all the smoke out of the wires, creating a deal of excitement. After troubleshooting and isolating the offensive circuit, the starting circuit refused to work.  So Jenny locked it up (Murph has a way of finding these things out, you know…), and climbed in the Jeep that was behind her, and off we went for an eventful tour.  We headed down a long downhill over toward the South side, not really that steep, crossed a small, water filled ditch, and up a grassy hill, not that hard.  1.5” of rain last night, remember?  More stucks, more strapping, and winching on the grassy hill as it got slimy slick.  The skinny pedal was used by some with good effect, but here again, tire tread design came into play.  The more aggressive treads had less trouble.  Well, I didn’t want to hold things up, do I drove through the ditch and up the hill.  I love my YJ; it makes me look good!

Shortly after, we were getting ready to leave for town and Hamer asked me to help get Jenny’s Jeep back to the house.   We headed back out and managed to turn the Jeep around and pulled it back to the cabin where it awaited a mechanic’s attention.  Pulling the Jeep made me sweat a bit - my 4-banger started getting hot, so I turned on the heater.  It worked! It was enough additional cooling and brought the engine temp back into the normal range.

So there’s my trail report.  The other part that I enjoy is B.S.ing with old acquaintances and new.  We have a really diverse group of people come together for these events and it seems that I meet more new people each year.  It’s fun to watch people catching up with friends that they haven’t seen since last year.  This event, being held under difficult circumstances seemed to create some stronger friendships- I guess if you’ve been getting muddy together in a mutual effort to get things rolling again, it does create a stronger bond.

To those of you that didn’t make this event:  you missed a good one, maybe one of the best ever.  See you at the BLAST!

Created: 28 May 2009