I checked the Forums to see if anybody was heading out to the trails this weekend.
Mattie posted up on the Brawlers site, saying he was headed out for a Saturday night run.
I had time on my hands, so I left Friday morning for Means Dry Lake, located in the high desert of California, near Landers.
I have wanted to mark waypoints in my GPS for a while, so this was going to be a good time to explore the area at a comfortable pace.
I knew I was early, but I was surprised, the place was deserted! One family of motocross riders, but no crawlers.
I got here about noon, had some lunch after dropping Tuffy off the trailer, then couldn't decide if I wanted to set up camp or mark waypoints.
While looking over the map of the Hammer trails, I decided to mark waypoints. Then, just as I was leaving for the trailhead to Jackhammer, I thought I could possibly be out till dinner. I brought my chuck wagon box, and just in case, my sleeping bag.
I had decided to mark waypoints for Jackhammer, Wrecking Ball, Bender Alley, Jack North and Clawhammer....by running them. It was the shortest way around, most fun and probably really stupid.
I would not advise anyone to attempt running an extreme off road trail alone. However, I was confident in my rig's trail worthiness. It had been proven. I was also confident in my ability. I have honed my driving skill on many runs to the Hammers over the years.
This was ramping up the challenge a notch.
I was stoked to see a beautiful new sign marking the trails. There wasn't one here at the last Tinbenders event. Kudos to The Fuzzmeister and the Victor Valley Four Wheelers.
I already had Sledge in the GPS, I marked Jack here.
And into I went. The only part I dreaded was the hill climb at the end.
From the top of Jackhammer.
I had momentum and traction and gearing pulling me up the hill, all of a sudden my beer coozie blew out the window! My daughter gave it to me, I had to get it. The wind was blowing, I was stopped in the middle of the loose rock and sand hill climb, and I had to get out to reach the coozie. If there was a time for disaster, this was it.
I didn't feel comfortable getting completely out of the truck, so I pulled the All Pro driveshaft e-brake, turned the engine off in gear, held one foot on the brake, opened the door, and stretched out to grab the coozie before it blew away. A real Darwin award moment. No worries.
Further on, at the bottom of the drop out, I turned left for Jack North, which leads to the trail head of Wrecking Ball.
Wrecking was a breeze. I stopped, halfway through, to waypoint Bender Alley. Then further up, walked the waterfall. I still had to maneuver the tricky little v-shaped, stay to the right section past this, then drop out to the end of Clawhammer.
I made it to the bottom of Wrecking Ball, which is also the end of Clawhammer.
As a side note, Jack North claimed my drivers door and rear quarter window and tail light. There is a V-notch drop in a section of the trail that schooled me.
It was about dinner time. I heated up a bowl of chili, no beans, with some sourdough bread and a cold Canadian Molson, left over from the Tinbenders. Cheers Rick.
Clawhammer was uneventful. Running from top to bottom seemed easier than climbing up.
Made it back to camp. Already had dinner, decided to set up camp and start a fire. Fortunately the wind died down later and I could enjoy the outdoors.
I started out at 2pm and made it back by 8. Jack took an hour and a half. I was done with Wrecking by 6 pm. Dinner and running Claw took two hours. I marked 4 waypoints. Jack, Wrecking, Bender Alley and Claw.
I had a great day, it was a lot of fun.
Saturday morning, still no one showed. So I set out waypoint, and only waypoint, upper and lower Big Johnson, and Outer Limits. I was tempted to run Outer back to the Masters Course area, but decided not to tempt fate twice in two days.
When I got back to camp, I spotted Mattie and his crew preparing to run Sledghammer. they invited me to run with 'em.
One of the rigs was Parker's Cherokee on 33's. It already had evidence of abuse, and there were only four rigs. How bad could it be?
Mattie's rig, based on an Avalanche style chassis, sports a linked Dana 60 and 14 bolt with coilovers, powered by a 4.3 V-6 backed by a TH700 and an Atlas transfer.
His buddy, Dave, is rocking a sweet Rover.
Parker put the Jeep through it's paces. Here a tie rod gives up the ghost. In anticipation, he had a spare!
Another section, and twice as long on the trail as Mattie told the little woman back at camp, we told him to head back to the family. Here he is attempting to pass the anchored rig of Parker's.
Gotta love these things! Mattie didn't want to destroy Parkers rig in the process, so Dave was called in to winch the little grocery getter out.
Dave drove out, turned around, came back in and pulled Parker out. Parker drove by and pulled off. Mattie could head out and back to camp.
Still a tight squeeze.
We finally made it. Mattie thought a couple hours should be good to run Sledge. We were on the trail 6 hours I think. But that's what we were there for.
Parkers reward is a poser shot at the mailboxes.
Almost made it out, when a little too far to the right, on the bypass, Parker sends it all the way over.
I winched him back on all fours. It rolled back over real easy.
Both Parker and Logan were fine, thankfully. Logan prepared for it, Parker got his bell rung.
Believe it or not, he drove it out. It really wasn't as bad as this shot looks, The suspension is just flexed out here.
On the way back to camp, we ran across the Brawlers. They were headed to Chocolate Thunder.
I was ready to get out of my rig for awhile, fix some dinner and relax.
Later they got back and gathered up Mattie and his crew and hit Resolution. I was invited and tempted to join 'em, but peaked early having run two days straight. I opted out for the sleeping bag.
After Resolution, they hit Clawhammer. The Brawlers came out Saturday late afternoon, ran three trails and were gone early Sunday morning. True extreme crawlers.
Sunday morning, after trimming, Parker's Jeep is starting to look a little more like a true Hammer rig.
I didn't get to run with everybody. I heard there was some wild wheelin' going on.
Next time I'll try to be patient and time my arrival so I'm fresh for the activities.
As always, it was good to meet some new people and a ton of fun to wheel with 'em.
Good meeting Mattie, Dave and his crew. It was good meeting Logan and Parker and fun watching them maneuver Sledgehammer.
Until next time. Stay safe and take care of each other.