Sunday, August 23, 2009

Middle St. Vrain and Coney Flats

Tel, Myself, Allie-Bird (our dog) and my friend Mike joined the Mountaineers 4-Wheel Drive Club out of Fort Collins for their monthly trail run. Tel, Allie-Bird and I were in my stock, blue 2004 Jeep TJ, now known as the "Lil' Blue BoX". My friend Mike was in his fairly stock, orange 2006 Jeep TJ Rubicon. We met up with about twenty other off-road rigs in Lyons, Colorado and convoyed to the trail head which is on the Peak to Peak Highway between Highway 7 and Nederland at the Camp Dick campground. The trail was great, a lot of water crossings and a few challenging rock sections, but mostly just a nice Sunday drive in the mountains. There was one mud/sinkhole that swallowed up a few rigs (not mine or Mike's because we went around it). Mike had to pull one guy out of it. It was a deep hole! The Middle St. Vrain (MSV) portion of the trail was pretty tame with the exception of the sinkhole. The real fun began on the Coney Flats portion of the trail. Coney Flats starts where MSV ends and heads up a rocky hill with a couple of challenging obstacles for a stock Jeep. The "Lil' Blue BoX" was up to the challenge and made it up with no issues. The hill looked a lot more ominous from the bottom than it actually was. The maneuverability of the "Lil' Blue BoX" is wonderful especially after getting so used to "Tinkerbell's" extreme lack of turning radius. Mike seemed to have little trouble with this section as well. We were on our way to the next obstacle called "The Lake" a water crossing that can be pretty deep. Before crossing here, we stopped with the group to eat lunch. It was also a good place to do some idiot watching, like the group of 17-18 year olds who had a stock Chevy longbed Z71 pick-up up there, probably their parents. The trail is not too bad, but it is no place for a long wheel base, stock pick-up. They splashed down into the water and, somehow, managed not to take water into the air cleaner. They made it and we never saw anymore of them, but I wonder what kind of damage the poor pick-up had to endure. After lunch the group headed out across the water. Here is a little video of Mike and I crossing...

It was a great trip, we all had a ton of fun. Next the "Lil' Blue BoX" will tackle the "slick rock" of Moab! Can't wait for Labor Day Weekend!

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Zombie Summerfest 09 (Missing Tink Fiercely)

A Jeep overlooking the "Mud Pits"
I should preface this story by saying I am a little sad that my crawler "Tinkerbell" was unable to make this trip (due to her tranny woes), because this was going to be the last Zombiefest held at this particular location. That being said, I had recently purchased an '03 Jeep Wrangler, which has yet to be named, so we took her out instead to have a little fun. My little Jeep is a stocker, no suspension lift, no big tires, no everyday, just drove off the dealership, Jeep. Tel and I loaded her up on Saturday morning with our camping gear, food & drink and our dog Allie-Bird and headed for the south side of Denver to the compound of the Rock Zombie Outlaws.

By the time we arrived around 11:30 the place was already a sea of activity. Hundreds of people were moving about setting up camp, unloading rigs, heading out to run trails and was busy. I knew right then it was going to be a good time, yet I was missing "Tinkerbell" even more now. We stopped at the welcome tent to get our map of the area and say hi and thanks to the Zombie volunteers working there. We then proceeded to the camping area to set up camp and unload the Jeep.

Day One's Highlights...

We headed out from our campsite to explore the area and become more familiar with where things are located. We traversed the creek several times and had to make a couple sketchy hill climbs, one of which we needed to take a second try at with much more wheel speed (would have been easy in "Tink", yup still missin her). We made our way over to "Todd's Logs" and watched a few rigs take on that obstacle. A little carnage took place while we were there when a Chevy Blazer lost the front driveshaft. He got yanked off the logs by his buddy and headed back to their camp for repairs. We then headed for the most popular area called "The Graveyard". This area is where the rockcrawling takes place and thus has more oppurtunity for carnage and flops. We saw some close calls but no real destruction took place. A lot of people got stuck and needed help getting out, we saw a lot of winches and tow straps being used. Saw a couple winch lines snap, fortunately they were the nylon ones and not the steel cable ones. We witnessed a little three wheel action and some killer articulation with serious tire stuffing. The action was pretty intense and entertaining all day long. We saw a lot of really impressive rigs and some real beaters too. I didn't attempt any of these lines/obstacles in the little TJ. *sigh* I saw a guy I have wheeled with before in "Tink" he had his rock racing buggy out there and put on quite a show going full throttle up the rocks. It was sweet! The crowd loved the display of agggression and the use of the skinny pedal as the Hazardous Concepts buggy screamed up the rock obstacle.

We headed from the "Graveyard" over to the mud pits to see some down and dirty action. Saw a lot of rigs get stuck including a Ford f-250 powerstroke diesel that took quite a wh
ile to extract. It took so long that Tel and I didn't stick around long enough to see it get yanked out. We did see some other guys get pulled from the mud, however. The mud is not something I like to take "Tink" through so i wasn't missing her too much here. It is still a ton of fun to watch the rigs dive into the mud with reckless abandon...good times!

Later in the day while Tel and I were driving around the trails we decided to try a creek crossing called "License Plate Alley". It is a sandy creek crossing with a double hill climb on the other side. It looked easy enough, I had decent speed through the water but when I reached the first sandy hill climb all momentum came to an abrupt stop and I was stuck. I had completely buried the front axle and essentially became a "sand plow". Reverse was a no go either, so I was done for...time to call the Jeep extraction team. A lifted '70's style Blazer stumbled across my predicament and was willing to try and pull me out but couldn't do it solo. When a v8 powered Toyota happened along and hooked up to the Blazer we finally found success in pulling my sorry ass out. It took two v8 powered, built rigs to pull me out...I guess I was stuck pretty good. I am pretty sure the guys who pulled me out thought I was some rookie wheeler without a clue which really made me miss my "Tinkerbell" all the more. Tel got pics of my stuck/extraction.

The day came to a close with a massive bonfire in the rain. The fire wasn't easy to get started with several failed, yet hilarious, attempts with a flare gun to ignite the gasoline soaked burning man. The man finally started up with a team of zombies throwing 12oz cups of fuel on the wood to keep it going...quite a sight! Man the rain was coming down!

We headed for the somewhat moisture free comfort of our tent (it had a small leak) to settle down for the night in hopes of catching a few z's. However, due to the campers next to us with a seemingly endless supply of Keystone Light and a jukebox on wheels with the world longest lasting battery, sleep didn't come easy if at all for that matter.

Day Two's Highlights

Day two started out with a very peaceful, calm, crisp morning. Tel and I took a walk and decided to get our marshmallows and head for the burning embers of the bonfire to roast them. We roasted some of the most beautiful golden brown mallows ever. They were delish! We heard other campers rustling about and a few snoring from the back of their trucks still slleping off the beer from the night before.
We grabbed our folding chairs and headed for the "Graveyard" to watch the first brave souls tackle the rocks. Allie-Bird had a good time scanning the area and watching a couple of dogs play in the creek. Allie is a great camping/off-roading dog. She loves it.

We hung around the "Graveyard" most the day just watching and taking pictures. We had a great time and are a little sad that this was the last time this event would be held here. The Zombies are looking for other places to do this type of thing but I feel they will be hard pressed to find one as good as this. They estimated that over 1100 people showed up for the two day event, that is quite a turn out! Thanks to the Zombies for all there hard work they definitely deserve props for a great time!

Jay, Tel and Allie-Bird