My Girl: Gettin' After It!!

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

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Mod Night and GPAX Shocker Run 8

There's so much to get caught up on. It has been a busy few weeks leading up to this weekend's GPAX Shocker Run #8.

I'll try to let the photos tell most of the story:

I went to work completing my bumper. I got pulled over after the last run, in part, due to my tag not being illuminated and not breaking down my speed quickly enough upon entering a town. Dodged a ticket, but thought I should get a jump on finalizing the rear end.

The Rear View

These are salvaged column-leveling plates from a prior construction job

We got a snowfall and I was anxious to play. Primed it and rolled out.

 The shackle mounts came later. They were a bit of an afterthought.

Welded and primed
 I narrowly averted disaster. In this orientation, the top turn tabs of the shackles would dent in the tailgate upon lowering. For now, I have them inverted. I also oriented the shackle mounts generally in this orientation because I rarely heard the front ones clang when on the trails. They are less likely to pivot left-to-right, then they would be jostled up and down if the mounts were oriented vertically.
I was doing very well for fuel storage, but I had very little water for long term overlanding aside from a couple of bottles that I would keep in the driver side door pocket and then the case of water I would customarily pick up on the way out of town and sling into the bed. The latter approach took up a fair amount of real estate. After buying two cheaper plastic jerry cans only to find that they didn't fit in the Smittybilt carriers, I opted to get the blue metal can offered on Amazon. Once I confirmed it fit in the Smittybilt carriers that I already had for gas, I ordered one more carrier and have it mounted to the utilitrac. It didn't get used this weekend due to the subfreezing temps. Any water out back would have frozen.

Sustainability and other buzz words
 And then my truck went Solar. But like for real this time. The old panel was a 15W panel. This is a 160W panel. It will be a game changer for us in terms of what equipment I can run and for how long.

FORCE Club Mod Night

Steve got a new bumper and winch for the 4Runner. Unfortunately, the bumper got misdirected by a few thousand miles and the timing of its delivery very nearly jeopardized the readiness for the trip. Since I am such an enthusiast and had already volunteered to do whatever it took to see it mounted and Steve participate in the run, we ended up scheduling a work session for the Wednesday night prior to the run. I got home at 4am Thursday morning.

 Fortunately a snow storm was projected to hit our area and likely cancel work or classes for much of the region. But when no snow had materialized by 4am, I thought the closures were doubtful and I'd have to show up to the office as an absolute zombie.

I had thought we would need to mount the winch to the bumper and then hoist the combined assembly to mount. After we did this test fit, it confirmed my suspicions. So we had to drop the whole thing down, ready the winch and remount. And there were some difficulties with fitment and hole prep that we had to scramble to resolve while short on time and tools to accomplish. But we got 'r done.

 The snow did ultimately materialize. About 8 inches by us.
My truck did fine in it, but now all 4WD are created equal. Sorry bud. I did a recovery on my street. I went to try to help this hapless soul while on the way to my sister's place to drop off some sand, but the occupants had abandoned the vehicle some time ago, simply leaving the hazard signals to blink incessantly into the night.

The Main Event: GPAX Shocker Run #8~ 3-7-15
 The day finally came. Well, I was even more anxious for the day before actually. I took the day off of work and hung out with the kid before taking him to Granny. Then the plan was for 4 of us drivers to meet up just north of Baltimore at a 7-11 off of 695. Steve was a bit late running back to get his GoPro and picking up his codriver; Cruzer got held up a bit actually reattaching his drive shaft of all things. Phillip and I were on time. Our group stopped at Mud Hook Brewing, a brew pub in York, PA on the way up. Then when we got to town, we hung out at O'Neals in Pine Grove. Sadly, it was dead in O'Neals this year. There was like no one from GPAX there for the night before festivities. Rob T. from VAXC was about the only other familiar face there. I'm actually glad Steve was insistent on pursuing other activities for the drive up. If we had wagered all of our entertainment bets on O'Neals, we would have been sorely disappointed.
 The morning got off to a not so great start, mainly because I did not quite have my bearings when it came time to get to the park. I didn't trust where the GPS was taking us, and as a result, I lead our group, and a couple of stragglers who joined up with our convoy as we left the Pilot gas station on a bit of a wild goose chase. Fortunately, we ran into Breslin on the road, and I said, "We should follow that guy". And he happened to be on Channel 19, heard us, and waited for our group to make one last U-turn. And it turned out my GPS was right. So there was some confidence erosion in following me on the trails :)

The vehicles from our group lineup. Missing LowBrau. So first up is Lopez


Dukes of Hazzard

Kerr's Predator [formerly Big Daddy Don't Call me Titan (because it was a Tundra) Kerr]


Rebel GD and family

Breslin greeting the attendees

Rob T with VAXC

 So I was made a trail leader for this ride since I was bringing my own motley crew up anyway and there was a general shortage of trail leaders as it was. Not even 5 minutes into the trail ride though, I managed to leave the trail. Combination of inattention and deceptive depth of the snow. I took a turn too shallow and the trail punished me for it. Tried engaging the lockers and they only intensified the slide further into oblivion. I called the other drivers over and used it as a teachable moment about self-extraction, winch line safety, and the like. We were back underway in about 5 minutes.
LowBrau's new bumper and winch

We sent someone down into Crystal Lake. 

Maddy stretched her legs during the lunch break.

Selfies while people got unstuck. They kept letting me get too far up the trail.

 The paths we took were not taken by any other groups. So for the first 2/3 of the day, everything Veronica encountered look like this and was between 12"-24" deep. In places where it got deeper, I would plow forward until I just was starting to lose all traction, ease here back a couple of truck lengths in reverse, and then ram forward another 20-30 yards until the snow thinned out some.Veronica was an animal that day and I'm not sure that anyone behind knew how hard she was working to knock down the snow to make it passable. Sometimes it got to be a bit much and I'd have to take some time to free her up.

 Tripod selfies.
 It was well after lunch before we even encountered another group. Here was a bit of a traffic jam where two groups had come together after one had encountered a protracted recovery attempt.

 We later ran into Cruzer and Breslin just as they were completing repairs to Breslin's drive shaft U joint(s). We followed them at a good clip back to the parking lot. Lots of fun, Tokyo drift moments on the GoPro to sift through.
 Our group lineup
 With drivers
Now, two of our members departed for the day at that point. Since a few sections of the park were closed, we were advised that the other property would be made available to all of us for free. It started out great. We figured the other groups might be anxious to go over and explore in the morning and that it would be freed up for a brief jaunt in the afternoon. The above photo captures the essence of the difficulties we encountered.

Some areas of the park didn't exactly coincide with the map. A lot of groups entered or were were present at about the same time (including Jeepers). The ensuing cluster of too many vehicles without clear direction made finding a straightforward way off of the property very challenging. We would often U-turn or divert down another trail only to encounter a group coming from the opposite direction. Then the snow started. Heavily. And we were at a point where seemingly the only way out was a daunting Blue-rated climb in the snow. Cruzer made it up no problem with the Gorilla. I was challenged mightily, but Veronica got the better of the climb while running open-open the whole time. Saric was not as lucky despite a very valiant effort (and some prior prowess in running another climb in REVERSE). I ended up deploying both winches (front and back) to drop enough line back to him and enough ahead of me to anchor to a tree and extricate him. Dukes was able to get the climb after a handful of attempts. It required the full functionality of the extended travel afforded him by the Titan Swap and the burly bounding ability that the 35" BFGs graced his truck with. The rest of our group found an offshoot while awaiting the extraction and was able to link up with us just beyond the climb. We got out just in time to make it to the raffle where yours truly had his numbers called a couple of times for some heartily appreciated prizes.

All in all, it was a great day out on the trails.

That evening, we went to O'Neals for dinner. More folks made it out that evening. Then there was a not-so quick jaunt to Snitz Creek Brewing in Lebanon, PA. From there, I opted to head home and get a jump on photo selecting, chores, blogging, and the start of the work week.

That's all I got.

Until next time.