On Friday morning at about 8:15am, John Harper, Kimball Shahrokhi, John Barclay, Scott Roberts (and his friend Brian), and myself met at the Grizzly Bear Texaco on US74. John Harper lead us out to the trail head and we aired down and paid up. We proceeded on to trail #4 to trail #11 and stopped to look over Guard Rail. We had no intentions of attempting it on Friday. This was simply a scouting mission.
Next we turned around and rode back to trail #4 and followed it to trail #5 where we hooked left and headed for the creek crossing. On the way is where Kimball gave us a show at the ditch. The pictures I sent out showed Kimball with his left front wheel in the ditch and the right rear wheel about 4-5 feet in the air. He was already starting to live up to his nickname “Hollywood”. So we all pulled his rear bumper down as he eased out of the ditch and away we went again. At the creek we found another ditch about 6 feet wide with some mud in the bottom. John Barclay drove through it once or twice with no real effort required and then we all crossed the creek.
After crossing the creek we ate lunch at the camp area and chatted with some ATV’s who were admiring Kimball’s Pinz. We decided to spend the afternoon on something more challenging so we headed on over to trail #7 to take on “the Ledge”. I think we got there via sections of trails 6, 4, and 8, but don’t quote me on that. We soon found out that “the Ledge” would prove to be more challenging than we originally anticipated. John Barclay took the lead and made it to the last section where he had to resort to winching. That was pretty much the story for all of us. Thanks again for the help John!
We finished out trail #7 and rode #4 over through Fain’s Ford. We played on the rock hill beside the creek for awhile and then rode toward #5 where we encountered the work crew. We waited for a few minutes and they allowed us to pass. Darkness was nearing and so we headed back down #5 to the creek crossing with plans to use trail #1 to exit the park.
Before crossed the creek on #5, we encountered some ATV’s playing in the ditch. We all watched them get stuck and winch or strap each other out. John Barclay gave it another shot with the CJ and once again made it look easy. You see, the trick was to keep your wheels on the sides of the banks and straddle the darn thing. Well how hard could that be? Right? So I decided that I would also give it a try, only I was not so fortunate because I could not keep my wheels up on the bank and went straight to the bottom. Maybe I took it too fast of just wasn’t paying attention. In hind sight, I had no business going in there right before dark, but I did anyway. This mud was as thick and sandy as wet cement and the harder I tried to get out, the deeper I sank in. It was soon apparent that help was required and Scott Roberts hooked a tow strap onto me and began to tug, but no go! My right front wheel was totally covered in mud and my front axle was buried. Next John Barclay put a winch cable on me and began to pull, but he did not anchor off and his front wheel angle was not ideal for winching. Before you can say BANG, John busted a u-joint in his left front axle, but I was still stuck. John anchored to a tree and got out the snatch block for some extra power. Scott put a second cable on my other front hook and finally out I came. Thanks again guys! We changed my front tire which had spun off the bead during the recovery and we all headed out to the trail head in the dark.
My confidence was shot and desire to wheel was gone. John Barclay was bummed because of his broke u-joint too, but we all headed down to the Sirloin Family Steakhouse in Murphy and ate supper together. Rob Sitze and family were able to join us since they were able to catch our CB conversations and learned where we are going. We finished up a nice meal and headed on back to camp to repair our vehicles. The club really teamed together and we had John Barclay fixed up in about 2 hours and several beers later. We were also able to clean up my tire bead and rim and used John’s OBA to reseal the bead and air up my spare tire for Saturday’s ride.
Saturday we all met again at the Grizzly Bear Texaco on Saturday morning and headed out to the trail head. This time we were joined by Rob Sitze and family, Mike Yager, Alan Dickenson, Frank ??? with his red 4Runner, and another fella with a white Mazda Navajo who had Mike Care riding shotgun. I’m sorry if I missed someone, but I am terrible with names. From the trail head, we took trail #4 down across Fain’s Ford and played around on the rocky hill. Unfortunately, we suffered our first and only major breakdown at this spot. Alan Dickenson broke a stub axle in his front diff on the rock hill and had to leave his rig behind. He and his dog jumped in the Pinz with Kimball and we all rode over to #9 and spent 4 hours on Slick Rock. Before leaving Slick Rock, Kimball wanted some help traversing over the last rock section above Slick Rock. I hooked up my strap to him and began to help work him forward. Well Kimball again decided that we needed more entertainment and had the Pinz teetering on two wheels. I guess he would have dropped the Pinz over on it’s side had he not taken on two passengers earlier in the day. The extra ballast on the right side definitely helped!
We doubled back on #8 to trail 4 to pick up Allen’s 4Runner and proceed out on #5, but ran into a broke vehicle at Fain’s Ford crossing, so we all turned around and had a long slow ride out on #6 to #1 and finally back to the trail head after dark. Most of us ate at the Sirloin Family Steakhouse in Murphy again and headed back to the cabins afterward where beer consumption commenced. Hope you and the other club members enjoy this report. Sorry if I got long winded, but I never claimed to be a writer.