My Girl: Gettin' After It!!

My Girl: Gettin' After It!!
My truck on her maiden voyage in Moab 2012

Monday, January 21, 2013

Some videos and other notes from Rausch Creek

This first video is a minor hangup during one of the early water obstacles. The interesting thing about the water obstacles here are the submerged obstructions which don't really appear until the water has been disturbed by the first couple of vehicles in the convoy.
After I got through, I took footage of the rear two vehicles in the convoy. The chunks of ice in the water were anywhere from 1-3 inches thick. As the trucks plow through, from the inside of the cab, it sounds like quite the raucous of impacts to the undercarriage. It made me glad that I scrambled to get the factory skid plates ordered and installed prior to this trip. But to then listen to another truck pass through, it doesn't really sound like much.

This is one of the more tame climbs. There was a more intense one that was a mixture of snow and rocks maybe 15 minutes prior to this one. Our trail leader advised to give one another a wide berth and, in no circumstances whatsoever, should we stop moving on the climb. So I didn't want to risk bringing out the camera on that one.
This climb was much like the prior initially, then the grade got a bit more severe and the terrain a bit more rocky.
In this video, I tried to capture the depth of the water we were going through. Unfortunately, you can't really tell if the water is one inch or one foot. Probably the deepest portions we went through approached the top of our tires. There were deeper pools, but we all opted not to go through. I considered it briefly with the assurance of the snorkel installed; however, I wasn't so assured of whether the Nittos would drive me back out as they aren't true mud tires.
Other notes:
I left from work in Columbia, MD around 530/6. I had gotten done with turning over a completed commercial space around 4pm. After late lunch and a stop at Home Depot to obtain some longer bolts to finish installing the DIY mid-span skid plate that I started fabricating the night before. I cut and ground round two openings to allow my hands to fit in to the topside of the plates to fasten bolts. Although I had used the angle grinder to smooth out the contours of the opening, it did very little to actually remove some of the burs which actually scratched up my hands pretty well the night before and continued to go to work on my hands during this secondary installation. The air was so cold that I had very little sensation in my hands. I also think it caused my skin to be drawn tighter and be more susceptible to cutting.
I hadn't decided where I'd stay or what I'd do once I got to town. I ended up stopping in O'Neals Pub which is the de facto rendezvous point for post trail meetups. I initially drove to the entrance to the park to make sure I could find it. I couldn't get the address to show up in my GPS; so, I actually used the GPS coordinates that they listed on the site. It turns out, at least for my GPS, I needed to use Tremont Township and not just plain Tremont to get it to show up.
I hung out in O'Neals for a couple of hours. The truck created quite the stir. In the land of lifted SUVs and oversized tires, I didn't expect my modestly modified truck to make any sort of a splash. Street parking was readily available, and I found a spot a few doors up from the bar. Immediately, two men seated in the Pizzeria began staring non-stop at me and the truck. It was a prolonged stare, as I was reorganizing some things in the cab, disconnecting the charger, stowing the GPS, and looking up a hotel location on my phone. And through all of this, there was not a single break in their collective stare.
Initially there were no seats at the bar proper, but there was an open spot near the restroom that had a bar ledge. The music didn't stop, but my entrance did catch the attention of most of the patrons, as it was the kind of place where everyone knows everyone, and clearly no one knew me. Ordered a Guinness and decided on a sandwich selection. Two spots opened up and I switched over. The waitstaff and bartenders were all exceedingly friendly and made sure my stay was enjoyable. After a few minutes, the bar manager announced/requested- "Ok, so who is the Zombie Hunter in here with the truck parked outside". I was a bit taken aback, as I was parked far enough down that you couldn't see my truck easily from the door and he had not been outside since I arrived. A patron chimed in, "Well how do you know they're in here?"
He indicated that the owner of the shop up the road 'watched the guy walk into [your] place.' So I acknowledged it was me. And all of the usual questions started. Quite the funny set of exchanges ensued. There were some impromptu photo shoots that took place. Folks started calling their friends to come to O'Neals and see this out-of-towners truck.
I had the opportunity to return following our day of wheeling, and many of the same girls were working that afternoon. I didn't get to stay long as I needed to get back on the road to see Jenn that evening in Philly.
I'll have to return to this post as I'm still in Philly now and Jenn just finished making breakfast.....

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Rausch Creek Winter Trail Run with MD Xterras

Rausch Creek 1/19/13

 When I first got there, there were only one or two other rigs. This is once things got underway and folks from our group started lining up.
 Puke Green X is a guy on the forum I met out there. I rode third in  the convoy behind him.
 Just beyond the other trucks are some of the more built up rigs being trailered in.
 I represent the Fort Washington Branch. This Xterra is from the Allentown, PA division. Ok, I made that up. I didn't actually get to talk to this guy. I have no clue where he's from.
 This Subaru was right next to the X above. Rausch Creek is pretty safe with all of us in place patrolling the grounds.
 Lining up the convoys. We actually had enough trucks to run two groups of green and one blue. I was in the second green group.
 Maybe two minutes and not even 400 yards into the run, encountered the first of MANY water crossings. There was one portion where the trail literally is one of the creeks. We were driving upstream through a creek. I maintained very good traction throughout. The skids gave me better confidence and the snorkel gave me assurance that even if I dropped down low into a crossing, I wouldn't suck in a large gulp of water into the engine.

 Lots of water as the snow and ice were thawing and cascading down the various mountains.
 I've got video of some of these crossings. If I had someone to ride with me, I could get some footage of Veronica in action.
 On this one, I hit some submerged barrier that knocked me to a complete standstill. I pushed back and popped up over whatever it was. I get out to watch the rest of the trucks and a guy looks down at my rig and frowned. I think I have a shot further down of what he was frowning at.

So yeah, it sheared completely off. I disconnected the harness and pulled it free. It's laid up in the bed of the truck now. The other one got cracked 5 months ago. With this one sheared off today, I might as well replace the set. I'll mount them a bit higher to the trop of the fairlead as opposed to down below. I also made the mistake of having the winch clevis hook clipped into the front of the receiver. A few more of those submerged rocks knocked the spring-loaded retainer mechanism clear off of the hook. I took a bungee and linked it up to the top of the bull bar.

 Climbing our trucks up onto things.

 This is Veronica winking at everybody.

 I tried several vantage points to try to give a sense of how crazy of an angle this is that she was able to partially climb.

 Completely buried the hitch.
 Some of the scenery. It gets to be a bit tough to focus on the scenery when trying to keep the truck from rolling or careening into a tree. But it does end up being some really nice vantage points to take in nature.
 This climb was pretty fun. Nerve-wracking, but fun.

 Me and Veronica at the end of the day.

For the purpose of scale, my truck is 4 inches over stock. The X next to me is Infinity over stock. Much higher up than me.
I need to do a writeup for the tires. They performed VERY well today. I only got rejected at one obstacle, and it was probably a combination of a few factors: extent of prior drivers rutting out the climb, driver error (me), vehicle platform wheel base (long) and the fact that the Nittos, though rated for mud and snow, are, per the manufacturer, admittedly not a mud tire. Nitto makes a Mud Grappler, which I hope in my heart of hearts to be able to take back to Rausch Creek and show that one obstacle who's it's daddy and what he does. Anyway, look for the conclusion of the description in the narrative.