After two separate days on two different trails, I can say that Spring is indeed a messy time of year. It’s wet, and muddy, and it’s awesome. It’s bug season of course so that’s not so awesome but you have to expect that and pack lots of insect repellent (or a bug suit). It’s not something you want to forget or you will be eaten alive.
Our first venture out was with a bunch of guys that are from my pool of Storm Trooper Cruisers and one from my RC racing community. I had only met one before but lucked out that they were all good chaps. I’ll definitely be inviting them out to my other offroading days. Actually, it turned out that I’ve ended up organizing a proper group of offroading enthusiasts (just short of being a club), with a wide range of skills, experience, rigs and their assorted mods.
The first day, there were five of us, and we tackled what I thought would be a fairly easy trail…Picard Lake, which is rated at 2+ on our local trail index scale of 1-5. For the most part the trail was quite manageable but it did present a couple of challenging rocky sections. If you have a stock Jeep or other 4×4, you shouldn’t have any trouble tackling this trail…with one exception. Unbeknownst to us, at the end of the trail was pond that was not supposed to be there.
**It turns out there is a drainage problem here that nobody was aware of yet (we were possibly the first full sized rigs on the trail for the season) and thanks to me reporting it later that night, it has been forwarded to the Ministry of Natural Resources to look into fixing.
It looked just like all the other puddles that we had crossed earlier in the day except this one was a lot longer…about 50ft long, and there was no bypass to go around it.
Since I was leading the group, I made the choice to just drive right through the middle like a damn fool. I should have gotten out and walked through it first to check the depth. Well it turned out to be a good thing that I installed a snorkel prior to this trip because it was WAY deeper than my Jeep could have handled otherwise. Without the snorkel I would have sucked water into the engine, hydro-locked it, and written it off. Then I would have needed to be not only dragged out of the pond by…someone, but also dragged all the way out of the trail to where I could be picked up by a flatbed tow-truck.
Fortunately I made it through but nobody could follow me. Well…not using the same line that I took anyway. We could have made the choice to double back and take one of the few escape roads back to the highway, and quite frankly that’s exactly what we should have done. But the choice was made by everyone to venture through the pond…closer to the edge. It was certainly a pucker moment for everyone as they sank into the pond with deep water flowing around their rigs. To say this is an un-nerving experience is an understatement. Unfortunately one Jeep (the silver Gladiator) ended up with water flowing inside. He ended up with about 4″ of water inside. He learned a lesson though…make sure the drain plugs are installed…they weren’t.
Our next time out it was only two rigs as we tackled Scotch Line/Hydro Line. This trail is also rated as a 2+ and is supposed to be newbie friendly. I would have to disagree with that though. It seemed to be at least a level 3, and it was certainly not newbie friendly. Now that I’ve done the trail, I certainly won’t be taking someone here who’s never been offroading before, unless they have a lift kit and large tires to compensate for lack of skill. The really nasty obstacles have bypasses though but there are still plenty of places to get in trouble if you lack experience, skill, or if you have a bad spotter to guide you. That’s exactly what happened to my trail partner last year when he tackled this trail. It was his first time out and although he was with an experienced group, he ended up with an inexperienced spotter while going over one particular obstacle, and it resulted in some damage to his Toyota FJ. When the driver and spotter lack experience…bad things happen. Fortunately it was just an expensive mistake and not one that resulted in injury.
On this day though…no damage was sustained on either his rig or my Jeep, although I did have a lot of scraping since I still have stock suspension and 31″ tires. An extra couple inches would have made all the difference so I’ll have to look into that later in the year.
All in all, my first couple days on the trails have been amazing, and I already have a few more lined up in the near future.