In the photo above is Lynn, part of the namesake of JoeLynn Pizzeria (her husband Joe is the other part). She borrowed Cruzer's phone, I secured some tools from my recovery box, and Steve held the light or something. We helped her remove the dangling portions of her bumper. She was otherwise unscathed. The deer apparently scampered off into the woods.
By the time I pitched my tent and Cruzer had offloaded most of his effects, the large group still had shown no imminent signs of departure. We elected to just go try our hand at navigating the map. About 1/4 mile from the site, I observed that two well-built (but on the tamer side of their present brethren) had fallen in tow behind us. We stopped at the port-a-john (it was morning after all), made introductions and decided to head out as an impromptu group with me at trail lead position. The above picture might be my favorite from the day.
One thing I noticed is that when trying to wrangle a dog, make sense of a map, and steer, there isn't really much opportunity for photos. The guys also pointed out towards the end of the trip that I spent a fair amount of time facilitating my own recovery; so, that might have to do with the limited photos as well. Jerks.
On my Youtube Channel, there will be some video of the boys taking a few of the mud puddles at high speed. It is the stuff of truck commercials.
I was curious about the "Mud Bogs" shown on the map. A couple of the Jeepers had been here last year and warned that it was more like a muddy lake than a bog. They were correct. As soon as we rolled up, people who were standing around the mud bog immediately started pointing at me. I felt self-conscious. Really, they were pointing at my snorkel. And because a dude has a snorkel, folks expect you to plunge into anything wet.
The snorkel does not make the truck waterproof. In fact, every time I get asked about it, I mention the same refrain about how if it were caulked (which I still haven't done) and outfitted with the appropriate DIY fitting to the airbox (also undone), I could make the engine absolutely impervious to water infiltration. As it stands now, it is a suitable deterrent, but I'd better not stop moving if I encounter water. There's also the risk to our notoriously low-hanging alternators. Nonetheless, I got called out, so I decided I better do my due diligence.
I brought my waders on this trip. I thought it was overkill. I still don't even have a preferred method of stowing them in the truck aside from them being neatly folded in the back seat with Maddy. But I used them. My smarts were immediately regarded as the stuff of legend. My front tag was hanging off. I obtained my screwdriver and removed it. I secured a few other things and moved my dog over to Steve's truck. Then I I walked the full length in my waders checking for concealed entrapments. Branches, tree roots, old car parts. To the far left of the bank, the hard pack bottom turned to a soupier, suctiony mess that threatened to retain me. Murmuring arose within the crowd. "Is he stalling?" Then Cruzer remarked, "I'm probably just going to steal your thunder".
When I next looked up, he was halfway across the pond in his truck. To myself I thought, "I wasn't worried about being first, just don't want to be the last guy stuck. Take your precautions."
Cruzer made several trips. At one point, I jokingly remarked, "If you go again, you ought to try doing some doughnuts." He actually did a slow motion doughnut which was pretty ballsy as his trajectory did take him a bit further out into the soupy part than I had expected when describing the limits of what I had felt and what some of the regulars had cautioned to me as I was wading out there.
Steve has pictures/video of the waders.
With some quick winching and liberal use of my front receiver as a plow, I ...modified...the upslope. Steve passed on this. Wise choice. Next up were the Jeeps. They had some difficulty, more so for the second Jeep as more and more of the bank gave way and afforded less traction. By the time it was Cruzer's turn, I think even he had some difficulty upon locking his rear (which made some unhappy sounds).
And that's what they did. These dudes could drive over trees, this muck...whenever and wherever they wanted. Yes, it was stupid cool. But then we were all like, "In a way, it must be boring. You never get stuck. You just go where you want. There's no challenge."
Now, maybe the black trails kick their @sses, but on this stuff, it's just kinda like "Meh".
We got creative and made up some bypasses. For this stretch everyone said, "Well, we rely on Will to show us where not to go, and by the time the last guy goes, we've figured out where the best path is".
It's not that I choose bad lines. I think most would attempt to follow the trail as I did if they were in the lead. But when the trail conditions break down/deteriorate, it becomes clear that an alternate path should be taken. It just so happens that me and my truck were the key to that clarity.
I managed fairly well. I managed fairly well to crack the protective housing on my driver side, bed-mounted offroad light and to push in my rear fender well. I managed fairly well to make some 8-point turns. After that, it was good to be free. Steve and his 4Runner made out just fine. Shorter wheel-bases pretty much owned this trail. And it was fun. The dent is a dent. It wasn't true trail carnage; so, I took my lumps as an offering to the trail gods for a fun day in our trucks.
|A little trail carnage. It adds character.|
I'm going to take some time in the coming months to rework my front end to reclaim some clearance and such. I kept the front receiver on for structural integrity and front recovery points. But after shearing the weld-nuts free on the driver side and having limited to no use of it for it's intended function, it is about time for it to go. The new bumper I plan on making will have some recovery points and I'll look at maybe welding a 2" receiver (which I already have) somewhere in the front, but higher.