2013 Gulches, SC
Friday,Derk, Doug and myself met at the Flying J at Haw River at 9am and hit the road to Laurens, SC. Carl had left earlier and was about an hour and a half ahead of us. The drive down was uneventful and we rolled into Gulches ORV Park around 2ish. Carl was already there and we went in and got registered, met the owner Skip and our tour guide Dean since it was our first time there. We ended up only using two campsites down by the river. One site was big enough for all of us but we kept two just so we didnt end up with any rowdy neighbors (sites 2 and 3 were only about 100 feet apart). We got camp set up and headed back up to the office to get started. Ronnie pulled in about this time and joined us for the initial ride. Dean gave us a guided tour of the park, pointed out some of the main attractions, and generally just introduced us to the area. They call it an introduction to the park but its really for them to gauge experience level and ability. The next day I spoke to Dean briefly and he said he thought everyone was enjoying themselves but the guy in the white Jeep (Doug). He said "I just cant read that guy". During the tour we stopped and played at a couple areas. The first rock garden/climb was TNT. Derek made easy work of the first ledge then got up near the exit and tried to flop on his passenger side. A couple guys threw a rope on his XJ and tugged just enough to keep him from going over as he backed down off of a big rock, eventually making it on his second try. I believe Ronnie also went up the same route as Derek then I followed behind. We headed on around the park, you can get from one end to the other in about 10 minutes on the main loop that circles the park, and dropped into an area called Death Valley. This is a collection of three trails that all have some cool twisty climbs to get out. There is one steep dropin that is an option that I tried and later Ronnie tried it (the next day). Once Dean knew we could handle ourselves he cut us loose, it was getting dark at this point, and we went out exploring. We rode into the night circling the park about three times hitting most all of the intermediate trails. We eventually called it a night around 10 or so if I remember correctly.
Saturday,On Saturday, we got going around 9:30 and headed straight for Death Valley again so all of us could play around in the daylight. All 5 of us did Radical Ravine which is a short uphill climb (maybe 100 yards) that has a nice ledge in the bottom and some twisty ruts at the top. After that I headed over to Shipwreck, another part of Death Valley. Shipwreck drops in then you have to go around 3 or 4 good sized boulders before a slick 45 degree rock face that is about 20 feet tall. It is muddy at the bottom so your tires get nice and slick before hitting it. It takes throttle and wheel spin to get up. It took me three tries after smoking the tires a bit. After the rock face, you have the choice of an easy out to the right or more rocks to the left also going uphill. I worked my way out to the left and back around to the group to find out everyone had been working on Ronnie's Jeep and I had no witnesses of my incredible driving skills. =) Luckily I had two cameras running. Ronnie then tried Shipwreck. He made it past the initial boulders and got up to the rock face. On his second attempt, the front end slid around and was in a precarious position so we decided to winch him up rather than risk a flop
The last major obstacle we hit was trail 9, another steep hill climb with some huge rocks half way up. Carl made short work of the right side then Ronnie and Derek both took a more difficult route on the left side. Both guys made it look easy. When we told Dean later that both guys had gone up it, he had a look of disbelief on his face