Wednesday, May 20, 2009

OJT Sayersbrook Bison Ranch Recap (Part 2)

Saturday morning was the epitome of camping for me. I got up around 6:30 which is VERY early for me, but I felt rested and excited about the day of wheeling. I set up my (sisters) handy coleman propane grill, fried some scrambled eggs with sausages and started percolating a pot of coffee. Turns out that coffee percolation isn't very efficient and it took over 30 minutes before the coffee had any taste, but the eggs/sausage were delicious and it was a great start to the day.

At about 9 everyone gathered with their jeeps in the big parking lot near the campground and discussed the plan for the day. We decided to break up into small groups of 5 or so jeeps and explore the park. Then we'd meet back at the pavilion for lunch where we could talk about the best places and head back out for the afternoon. I ended up joining a small group with Herb and Matt with Herb in the lead. Our goal was to hit the hardest trails first (marked as red on the maps we were given) because that's how we roll....

The only problem was finding the hardest trails. It turns out that there hasn't been anyone fourwheeling at the ranch for the last couple years so the trails were very overgrown. There is a nice paved/gravel road system that runs throughout the ranch and the trails all branch off this road system. We spent about an hour driving these roads looking for the trails, stopping every once in a while to try to figure out where we were and scratching our heads. Finally we decided that if we saw a break in the tree's then it must be a trail and that worked. We did end up going down a motorcycle trail once which was interesting. Luckily Herb was in front so he took out all the small trees that were in the way.

We also met with another group on the best trail we found during our morning session. They were coming from the opposite direction while we were driving down a shallow creek bed. Adam, a member of that group, had a small problem negotiating a turn while trying to avoid a tree (that he hit on his first attempt).

After Adam was winched back to level ground we did an out and back on that trail and had a great time. Plus I got to use my winch for the first time when Matt got stuck between 2 logs in a fairly muddy section of the trail. After pulling him back off the logs he made it over them just fine.

Next up was lunch back at the campground pavilion; which consisted of PB&J sandwiches for me with Diet Dr. Pepper to wash them down. Others ate better. For the afternoon trip we picked up another jeep in our group (Tony) and I was drafted to lead since I'd had a little success deciphering the map during the morning adventure. We took the original red trail that we had intended to take in the morning and we spent all afternoon on it. The first major obstacle was called "the waterfall" and it was crazy. A very steep, muddy, rocky hill with a ledge and sharp turn at the top. When we arrived there was already a group of about 6 jeeps playing around on the hill so we got to watch them attempt it before it was our turn. Rodger was the first person I saw go up and at first he tried to crawl it but with the mud and rocks he didn't make it very far. He ended up getting a run at it and used the momentum and lots of throttle to make it to the top. Here's a video of Rodger making the run:

Here a passenger view from Matt's jeep (might be NSFW due to language):

Unfortunately there's not a video of my run (I'm sure it just happened to quickly), but here's one of Tony at the top of the hill:

My only carnage of the trip happened on that hill. I made it to the top but it was a crazy bumpy ride. The steering wheel was bouncing all over the place an I managed to turn on my windshield wipers and headlights somewhere on the way up. Then when I tried to make the ledge at the top I needed to back up for a different approach. While backing up I put my foot on the brake and felt the jeep surge a little, that made me press harder on the brake which caused me to go back even faster. Then I hit a tree. Turns out I had my foot about half on the brake and half on the gas. Luckily the tree just dented the rear fender well a little but nothing broke. I hit it in the optimal spot, if there is an optimal spot to hit a tree. For the environmentalists, there was no damage to the tree that I could tell. I was a little embarrassed by the mishap so I put my jeep in drive, mashed on the gas and popped right up on the ledge like I knew what I was doing. The turn to go back down the hill was pretty scary because it felt like I was going to go rolling down the hill, but my spotter got me through it without incident. Ross was not quite so lucky (didn't break anything):

There were lots of good places on that section of trail, one was a hill that only the JK's could climb, there was a nice drop off that I accidentally jumped and a slab that turned out to be fairly challenging. During that time Jay broke a u-joint, Ross had to change a flat tire, and we spent a lot of time watching each other climb stuff so the afternoon went by very quickly and we headed back to camp for dinner around 5:30.

I want to get this posted up so I guess this trip is going to have a part 3.

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