It’s been a month since I got my new used Jeep 4dr Wrangler Rubicon (JLUR) and it was time to get dirty. Now since all the public trails are closed for the season, there was only one obvious (and legal) place to go…the Minden Offroad Park (formally known as Ray’s Place) located in Minden, Ontario. It’s a 2.5hr drive from Toronto where I live but I make the trip regularly in the winter time when working as a Winter Driving Instructor with the Car Control School.
This trip was going to be very different though. Our first time taking the new Jeep (new to me anyway) off-roading. It was also to be my first time actually off-roading myself as a driver. I’ve been a passenger before while off-roading but this time would be my first time behind the wheel making all the decisions.
Now one of the biggest rules when going off-roading is never go alone. That doesn’t include your passengers though. They mean go with another vehicle. That way if you get stuck, the other vehicle can pull you free. Or if you suffer a serious mechanical failure, or a medical problem or injury, someone can get you out. With that in mind, I made arrangements to meet up with a few others inside the park. They had arrived the night before and planned on staying until Sunday. When we arrived on Saturday morning, they were still sound asleep. So I decided to carry on without them. I knew they would be around eventually if I needed help. So essentially…we went alone but we knew we had back-up.
The website for the park clearly states that there are NO “beginner” trails. So if you don’t have experience and skill…you shouldn’t be there. So not having any actual experience…well…I’m pretty skilled behind the wheel of any vehicle and I’ve been able to make them do things that they aren’t designed for, so I was leaning heavily on that to get through the day. Turns out I had plenty of skill and although my Jeep is stock (no modifications yet), it was at least capable enough for what I was demanding of it. I had plenty of recovery gear if I got stuck. But without a winch, I would need someone else to pull me off, or out of, whatever obstacle that got me stuck.
I certainly was challenged but we prevailed. Although I did get high-centred on a boulder for a bit, I was able to free myself thanks to a good amount of determination (stubbornness). Over rocks and boulders we climbed, through the trees, and crashing though thick ice that covered some deep puddles, we slowly traversed the trails though the park, making sure to avoid the trails that were rated for greater difficulty. I knew full well that the more difficult trails couldn’t be done with a stock Jeep and with the tires that I was equipped with; they are proper offroad tires but they are skinny and not suited for serious rock crawling or deep mud. For trail riding though, they are great. I’d like the wider tires that the Jeep was originally sold with back in 2019 but for now I had to make due with the ones I had. It’s just one of those “know your limits and the limits of your equipment” kinda thing and although I pushed the limits, I didn’t exceed them. Well…not by much anyway.
Once all was said and done, my partner and I had a great day on the trails as we popped our Off-Roading Cherry’s. Fortunately there is a coin wash nearby so I could power spray all the mud, snow, and ice off and it allowed me to see if there was anymore obvious damage other than front license plate and cover.
Oh…I didn’t mention that? Yeah….while crashing through some thick ice of one of the deeper puddles, the waterline was up over the bumper and I mangled the front plate and custom plate cover. Yeah yeah…I know…I should have removed it first. I just forgot. Oh well…lesson learned.
But hey…I didn’t break anything important and we had a great day. I wouldn’t expect you all to understand though because, well…It’s a Jeep Thing.