Protect, promote and provide 4x4 opportunities worldwide
December 2016 â€˘ Volume 43 â€˘ Issue 3
Board of Directors President Tom Mandera– firstname.lastname@example.org Past President Jim Mazzola III– email@example.com Vice President Steve Egbert- firstname.lastname@example.org International Vice President Peter Vahry – email@example.com Treasurer Bob DeVore – firstname.lastname@example.org Director of Membership Richard Hiltz - email@example.com Director of Public Relations James Dixonfirstname.lastname@example.org Director of Environmental Affairs Jerry Smith - email@example.com
Extended Board of Directors
ORBA Representative - Fred Wiley firstname.lastname@example.org 4WD Awareness Coordinator Craig Feusse - email@example.com Website Administrator Milt Webb Design – firstname.lastname@example.org
Legal and Marketing
Legal Counsel Carla Boucher – email@example.com Business Development Manager Ray Stanley- firstname.lastname@example.org
Editorial and Design Editor, Peter Vahry
UFWDA Office and Contact PO Box 316 Swartz Creek, MI 48473 Email: email@example.com Phone: 1-800-44-UFWDA
Introductions: Tom Mandera Steve Egbert Peter Vahry
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Comment: Proactive Involvement Share Your Passion Wisely Proactively Mitigating Trail “Problems” Cycling Poses a Challenge Heaven IS on Earth To ‘Base Camp’ or Not?
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News and Events: Overlanding in West Virginia Rock Junction and Rocky Mountain Off-Road Expo 2017 UFWDA Four Wheeler of the Year Presented to Jeff Dozier IOF National Workshop 2016 CORE Goes to Rausch Creek BFGoodrich Tires Outstanding Trails Program 2016 Winners Christmas Party Time For Auckland 4WD Destination, Steamboat Mesa SEMA 2016
Business Members Member Organizations
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Cover photo; courtesy of Andrew & Cherie Taylor. Stories and articles are submitted from various Association Members and other contributors. The views and opinions expressed in the stories and articles within are solely of the individual, or individuals who submitted said stories or articles. United Four Wheel Drive Associations may neither advocate, endorse, nor recommend any of the said views or opinions.
Introductions Steve Egbert Tom Mandera UFWDA President
The BOD continues to make slow and steady progress - SEMA recently wrapped up, and we had some representatives there and met with ORBA about the One Voice project among others. Our new additions are growing into their roles and feeling out their places. Part of our progress is reviewing the SOP and making some updates. We had to remove numerous items from the UFWDA store - not because we are out of stock, but we have had a difficult time securing a volunteer store keeper who can regularly make delivery on the purchased items. One of the items we had to remove from the store as part of that tidying up, was the membership options that included a free hat, or free shirt. We’re not able to get the hats or shirts sent out timely, and it is embarrassing when we don’t, so we opted to spare ourselves the the poor showing. Thus, you will be seeing some changes to the SOP around the membership options previously defined with the “free hat, free shirt” as housekeeping. Winter wheeling should be here soon in the Northern hemisphere. If you’re still enjoying a late fall (60-degrees F here in Montana) (not that now I’ll bet..Editor) then you still have time to check your antifreeze and your supply of space blankets, MREs, and snow shovels. Or perhaps that’s extra water and sunscreen for those a bit farther south in the US where it is finally getting cool enough to go outside.
UFWDA Vice President
At the recent SEMA Show in Las Vegas, land use groups from around the country had the opportunity to network with each other. On Monday before the show, The North American Motorized Recreation Council brought representatives from many forms of motorized recreation to this meeting, that is facilitated annually by Del Albright. Over the next few days’ additional meetings were held in the ORBA meeting room that SEMA so graciously provides for our use. These meetings were hosted by ORBA and UFWDA to provide educational opportunities and networking. It was also an opportunity for face to face meetings regarding “One Voice”. We continue to make good progress in several of the One Voice regions. The Western, Southern and North East Regions are meeting on monthly intervals and the representatives from each state are getting to know each other. We are looking for representatives in the other regions and some will be starting to meet soon. I am very encouraged to see everyone working together to build something that will provide for long lasting communication and collaboration, this will take time, but it will be great to have this structure in place when a need arises. We had the opportunity to meet with members of the Off-Road press in the Omix-ADA Off-Road Success Center during a Wednesday evening reception. Earlier in the day, I attended the BFGoodrich Tires Outstanding Trails Presentation and said a few words on behalf of UFWDA. Congratulations to the winning trails. The weekend of November 12, I attended Panamint Valley Days a Cal 4 Wheel South District Event. The Panamint Valley area is full of history, very scenic and has some great trails for all levels of wheelers. I went on a harder run this year, Cummings Cut Off to Defense Mine. I did not break my Jeep but there were some new scrapes underneath. I continue to be very happy
with the performance of the upgrades to the Axles, Suspension and my Atlas Transfer Case which are items I have upgraded over the past year or two. I hope everyone had a great time at the event. All the Cal 4 Wheel events have runs for different levels of wheelers. If you are in California check one of them out, they are great fun.
Peter Vahry International VP Editor
Compliments of the Season to all. It looks like 2017 is going to be an interesting year around the world as the effects of the referendum in Britain to withdraw from the EU and the more recent election outcomes in the U.S.A. come into play UFWDA is well placed to take a role in promoting awareness of our recreation to politicians and if we can get even more four wheelers engaged as members, we’ll be even more effective. Our liasion with ORBA is yet to bear fruit, but as we head
into 2017 there are obviously going to be many challenges for or recreation and a need for links to the commercial world. Jeep is an obvious partner organisation for UFWDA to have and we used to have an excellent relationship prior to the 2008 economic downturn when we lost many of the contacts that our organizations had together. The latest figures for November 2016 Jeep sales show a drop of 12.3% over those of November 2015. If there’s a Jeep marketing person reading this, UFWDA would be happy to work with Jeep to promote the Jeep brand, after all, there are quite a number of enthusiasts among our members. That’s not to say that we’d ignore the support of any other manufacturer and there seem to be strong hints that the Bronco will reappear. I’m sure that we’ve got the expertise to evaluate and advocate for such machinery, just ask Tom Mandera! We’re very close to a New Year and what it may bring... If it relates to four wheeling, then UFWDA would like to help where we can and you can help us with your memberships and providing news, photos and articles for UFWDA Voice. Stay safe.
Overlanding in West Virginia I had been wanting to do an Overland style trip for sometime now and when I realized the 4th would be on a 3-day weekend I knew that was when I wanted to do it. I wanted a trip exploring new dirt roads, preferably with as little pavement time as possible, and with a new camping location for each night. Along for the adventure this time were: Andrew & Cherie Taylor – Silver Nissan Xterra (members) George Mattacks – Red Jeep CJ8 (guest) Keith Graybeal & Brian Greene – Green Ford Ranger (guests) Friday night we agreed to meet at a campsite in George Washington National Forest, not far from Flagpole Knob. On our way to camp that night, Cherie and I were surprised to find a mama black bear crossing the dirt road in front of us. We stopped and watched and she jumped off the side of the road, and then over the next minute her 3 cubs, each about the size of a house cat, also stumbled out of the grass and crossed the road in front of us. What a fun way to start our trip! Cherie and I arrived last, just after Keith and Brian, to our campsite near Flagpole Knob. We setup camp and hung out for the evening, getting to know our new friends better
Saturday We all awoke early Saturday and left camp at exactly 9:02am, right on time. We got onto US-33 headed west and right at the stateline at the top of the hill turned onto our first new dirt. Unfortunately the gate was closed. I now see that on the GWNF MVUM that road (FR 85-2) is open seasonally, oops! We tried one other dirt road around the corner (Hall Spring Hunter Access Road), also open seasonally, then back tracked to Second Mountain Rd, which apparently is also closed to 33 now. Three strikes! By this time we had burned some time and I decided that our first two major dirt legs would be a no go, and so we headed back west on 33 toward our next stop. Our first dirt roads would be 21/2 and 220/7 which were fun maintained gravel roads winding up through the mountains. They were an easy drive, other than for George’s CJ which was occasionally overheating due to a cooling system that needs some work. The work on the vehicle is never done though, right? After that we stopped for gas in Franklin, then continued on. The highlight of the day though would be 28/6. The route started off fairly mild but with great views and progressively got rougher as we got further into the woods. Deep in the woods we ended up taking a wrong turn which led us up a
maintained path nearly to the top of the mountain. Just a few hundred yards from the peak there was a gate, so we left our vehicles to checkout the top of the mountain. We had arrived at the Pike Knob Preserve, former home of a fire tower. The concrete corners were still visible and the views through the gaps in the trees were pretty nice. We headed back down the mountain a little ways and took the turn we had meant to take the first time, continuing along 28/6. Almost immediately after this intersection the road became a shelf road along the side of the mountain, which it would remain nearly to the whole way back to civilization. The road is plenty wide for a standard SUV, but has a very steep drop off on the one side, and appears especially narrow because the 2-track down the middle is clearly the width of a fourwheeler, not a full-sized vehicle. We eventually came to a gate, after several hours on the mountain, but were happy to discover it was not locked. We let ourselves through and made sure to close it behind us. On the other side were many cow patties, indicating to us what the gate was for. Shortly after the gate we were treated to a panoramic view across the farm we were on and the valley below.We stopped for a while to take in the view. We made our way the rest of the way down the mountain, through another unlocked gate (always close them behind yourself!) and on into Circleville. Our next stop was Spruce Knob, the highest peak in West Virginia. Somewhere along 28/10 George realized there was something wrong with his steering. At Pikes Knob we checked on the steering to discover 1 of the bolts holding the steering pump on the vehicle was missing, and the others were wiggling loose because of it. Unfortunately we had just arrived at arguably the most remote part of our trip. After enjoying the views at Spruce Knob, and the problem getting worse on the dirt road toward camp, we stopped on the road to further address the steering problem. We found another bolt that would fit in the hole at least to keep it from spinning further, tightened the remaining bolts and headed to Spruce Knob Lake Campground. Although this was technically the backup campground according to our plans, after checking it out
we decided to set up camp there. We got 3 sites grouped together and set up for the night. The evening was spent hanging out around the fire, enjoying the majority of an 18-pack of hotdogs, and applying threadlocker to the steering pump bolts and determining it would be good enough for the next day until we got to a town. Sunday We awoke to a quiet campground and another trail day ahead of us. We each ate, packed up, and got ready at our own pace. George even found a local body of water to take a quick dip in for a refresh! We filled up our water jugs on the way out of camp at 9:30, just a little behind our planned departure time. Our first dirt route would be backtracking a little to 112 and then onto 916 on the other side of Spruce Knob Lake. It was a Grouse management area, and we were going along smoothly until we hit the gate about 1/2 way through. So we turned around and backtracked, back by camp, and continued west on 1. We continued on decent quality gravel roads onto 40. There some locals told us about the Sinks of Gandy, which weâ€™ll have to check out some other time. The views of the farms along this route were really great and took you back a few decades! Eventually we got to our planned campground for the night before, Laurel Fork Campground, and decided we much preferred the campground we had stayed out. Laurel Fork is basically two open fields with everyone facing each other, where Spruce Knob Lake Campground was many individual sites, separated by trees. We continued north on 423 until it intersected with 10, which goes on for many miles.
Middle Mountain Road, or 10, is a very improved two lane, wide gravel road. We passed many dirt road intersections that one day that we may come back to explore. Eventually we made it to Wymer, and US 33. We took this east to Harman where we turned north onto 32. We took 32 to 72 (Dry Fork Road) which was a very interesting road. Dry Fork takes you down through a valley on a narrow and winding road, going up and down, following and crossing various small creeks. It would be a great road for a motorcycle, but too torn up for a sports car, and it was interesting, to say the least, for lifted SUV’s and trucks!
We continued northeast and then east on the Appalachian and then Synergy Highways. These are as paved as they sound. My plan was to turn off the highway at Bismark, and head south along Communications Drive, parallel to the windmills on the ridge line, part of the Mount Storm Wind Farm. However shortly after stopping for pictures we met a gate. As we turned around George was approached by a local, with a mud terrain tread pattern tattoo from his wrist, up his arm and shoulder and up his neck, that said he knew of a fun trail. We decided to roll the dice and following George went in search of this trail.
Eventually we arrived at US-219 and went west into Parsons. We stopped for gas, a break, and lunch at the Sheetz. George got a lead on where he could find the bolt he needed on a Sunday morning and disappeared for a few minutes to resolve the steering issue. He returned triumphant with a bolt that was perfect in every way, except its length, which was resolved with a good stack of washers under its head!
After an hour, a few wrong turns, and a few phone calls to the local for guidance, we found ourselves on 2/1, known only as Schell by the street sign. We went a little ways down it, passed a hoard of side by sides and quads on their way to enjoy the same road, and eventually decided to stop and reassess things. George was itching for some hardcore wheeling, and based on the locals description thought it could be found on this road. Cherie, Keith, Brian and myself were getting fairly exhausted and were more content to mark the trail for another day. But George was interested in going on to check out this trail, with the side by sides there too, and so decided to continue on the trail alone, possibly to find us at camp that evening. The rest of us headed 30 minutes south, back toward a gas station and the original route.
We headed back east on US-219 until we saw dirt again, 18. We turned off the highway onto 18 , then left to stay on it and immediately noticed the quality of the road drop. Thanks for the tip DirtRoadTrip! The road wasn’t too bad, in fact I think all 3 of us did the entire thing in 2WD, but our high clearance vehicles defiently made the ride easier. We were treated to some nice cascading water and some remote campsites we’ve marked for the future. As suddenly as the road had degraded it improved and we found ourselves passing houses and farms again, we had made it through.
Along the way it began to rain, 24 hours earlier than predicted, and Keith and Brian realized they were probably in a good position geographically to call it a trip and head back home. At the gas station
we decided to part ways, Cherie and I headed south and Keith and Brian headed home, probably to enjoy a steak and fire there! In an hour and a half we had gone from 3 vehicles to 1! Rolling with the changes Cherie and I assessed our options. With the rain setting in early, and us now headed south toward our next point of interest, Smoke Hole Caverns, much later than planned, into rain, and alone, we decided to check out the accommodations near the Caverns. There we found out about some Honeymooner Cabins available at a discounted rate just a few miles from the Caverns! We decided to bite and next thing we knew we were enjoying fresh pizza delivered to our cabin, ginormous farmed rainbow trout in the ponds, beautiful views of the rolling clouds in the valley from our porch, and enjoying a hot tub for two! Monday We awoke and headed back to check out Smoke Hole Caverns. It’s not a huge cavern, but memorable and interesting in it’s own ways. There are a few formations you can touch including a natural gurgling water feature inside! From there we decided we would continue south to check out our planned final campground. Recon for a future trip perhaps! We headed south along Smoke Hole Road (2/3), which was another windy and fun paved road, and eventually turned left onto Smoke Hole (2) toward Big Bend Campground. The road in was paved in places, gravel in others. The campground was nice and included plumbed bathrooms with showers in places. It is surrounded by a river which looks like it would be great for
tubing down, which we’re fairly certain others were doing. From there we decided to take the scenic route home. The trip had several unplanned changes but most were easy to reroute around because of the ample planning and alternate routes I had spec’d out. In the end the group disbanded a little earlier than planned, but even that worked out, and we had a great time. I can’t wait until my next Overlanding trip. I have so many routes I found while preparing for this trip that I’ll have to put into my next one! Trail report written by Andrew Taylor. Pictures courtesy of Andrew & Cherie Taylor.
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Rock Junction and Rocky Mountain Off-Road Expo 2017
By Jerry Smith
The Grand Mesa Jeep Club of Grand Junction, Colorado, had a hugely successful June in 2016. The first Saturday of June each of the last 8-years, they have conducted what now is widely known as the Rocky Mountain Off Road Expo (RMORE). Three and ½ days prior to that date, the annual Rock Junction event is held. Three of those days are filled with guided trail runs on some of western Colorado and eastern Utah’s most loved trails. Trails from stock and scenic drives to moderate and challenging trails to the extreme “buggy-country” that will challenge the most hard-core rigs and drivers. Even though most of the high-country is still covered in snow in early June, western Colorado and eastern Utah canyon country and deserts can still provide some exciting and beautiful trips… IF you know where to go. Some of the Colorado trails are in remote areas and still are not well known to many. This fall, club members are mapping some
new trails we hope to add to our BLM permits. These new trail additions will “keep it fresh” for those who come annually. There will be some new options on the list of places to go explore and enjoy in 2017. If all goes according to plan, one of the more challenging “mid-level” trails will include a trail that is difficult going DOWN. This trail has rejected some buggies attempting to ascend it. It has some very steep, loose rock and gravel covering large rocks and some healthy steps where traction is hard to find. Winching going DOWN is possible. We did some of that a few days ago. Planning for the 2017 Rock Junction and Rocky Mountain Off Road Expo is already underway. We anticipate a very good turnout and one fantastic time for our entrants. By the way, did I mention a nightly BBQ after your days on the trail is part of the deal? Get your time-off scheduled for May 31st through June 3rd of 2017. You REALLY don’t want to miss this.
UFWDA Four Wheeler of the Year Award Presented to Jeff Dozier
words ; Ray Stanley
A great SFWDA Meet & Ride on Saturday 4 November hosted by your association and the Ohio River Four Wheeler's. We had 135+ vehicles and over 200 people from KY, TN, IL, IN, OH, WVA, SC, GA and MI. Beautiful fall day exploring the Daniel Boone Backcountry Byway. And to top off our day we presented the Jeffrey Dozier the UFWDA Four Wheeler of the Year award for dedication, focus and efforts on the DBBB. Our sincerest thanks Jeff. Also thanks to the ORFW for outstanding work in organizing the day and also for your efforts on the DBBB. Aaron Roddy Joe Kling Photo: Jeff Dozier (left) Ray Stanley (right)
United Four Wheel Drive Associations Inc.,
Protecting, Promoting, and Providing 4x4 Opportunities Worldwide
P.O. Box 316 Swartz Creek, MI 48473 (800) 448-3932
From: Jerry Smith -- Director of Environmental Affairs for the United Four Wheel Drive Associations Email: Landuse@UFWDA.org FaceBook: Director of Environmental Affairs
Proactive Involvement Being Pro-Trails
“To IMPLEMENT means: to put a decision, plan, strategy, etc. into effect. That means there is action tied to strategic purpose, and there is something DONE... Put into effect.” - Craig Ballantyne Is your club or state association working to keep your trails open? Has it been enough? When was the last time you heard of OPENING a trail? Like you, we at the United Four Wheel Drive Associations have been diligently working on that for a long time. We have also been working other angles to promote motorized trail access… much of which you seldom hear of. May I perform a little enlightenment regarding what kinds of things we CAN DO? Some of you, in fact, I hope many of you, may have heard some of this before, but in talking with 4-wheeling people from all around the country, I find that the overwhelming majority of you have ZERO idea of what we are working on “behind-thescenes”. To make this “enlightenment” more interesting, I’m going to relate some of the workings of the club I belong to in Grand Junction, Colorado. I hope to show by example what CAN be accomplished when good people take the time to THINK first, come up with an idea, and then shift into low-range, lock the hubs, and begin a new trail.
The New Trail Admittedly, here in central western Colorado, we have some unique opportunities. Some of these opportunities are nothing we have to do with, but several ARE the makings of many hours of work, dedication by certain people, and probably most of all, persistence. This wonderful, beautiful, and extremely interesting land is blessed with significant holdings of energy. The present big energy presence is natural gas. Huge reserves of natural gas beneath the surface have provided many of our local people with high paying jobs and a really good life-style… when things are booming. One thing you learn by living in an energy economy is that you WILL have glorious boom-times followed by a few days when the bottom falls out of the price of that energy, and you suddenly live in a ghost town. Over 30-years ago, the big energy thing here was shale oil. That industry went through a significant boom period followed by the day the gate was locked and everyone became unemployed. Grand Junction had entire neighborhoods vacant in a short time. Many years before the shale oil excitement, there was uranium mining. This is when the real 4-wheeling opportunities developed. Uranium mining brought with it a side benefit… roads. Back in the days of the uranium boom, roads were built to sites suspected of producing large quantities of uranium ore. Roads just to exploratory drill sites were numerous. Aerial views of places like Calamity Mesa look like an urban neighborhood. Most of those old roads are impassible and go to nowhere. They were built in a time when the word “sustainable” did not apply to any road development. Erosion and nature have reclaimed many of them. But there are the rare “gems” out there just waiting for a little TLC.
Setting Goals When I moved back from Hawaii to Grand Junction in 2005, I decided that over the next few years, one of my goals was to run every road and trail within a 50-mile radius of town. There are very few Jeep trails I have not traveled in that area. Some you would drive by without ever noticing they exist. In over 40-years of Jeeping, my natural instincts have been to follow Yogi Berra’s advice; “When
you come to a fork in the road… take it!” I live to explore any trail opportunity that presents itself. Shortly after purchasing and modifying Happy Trails, my 2006 Jeep Rubicon, I joined the local Jeep club. The Grand Mesa Jeep Club at that time only had about 25 family memberships. Of those 25, only about 5 or 6 were active. Even the officers often skipped meetings. But there were still a couple who diligently worked with the BLM. They had spent many hours over a long period of time to recommend and finally open a NEW extreme Jeep trail some of you have heard of… Billings Canyon. Billings Canyon has been written about in several articles in national magazines. For the more extreme trail lovers, it is a heavy favorite. Large boulder-like rocks line the craggy bottom of the canyon. Negotiating this trail is not for the novice driver, and you better plan on some rock rash and/or breakage if you’re not a well-seasoned wheeler. Recently, a work party had to rebuild the last major obstacle just to make it passable even for the hard-core buggies. This trail was made possible because one man would not let go of the concept. Roy Joseph kept after the BLM and other entities until this world class trail became a reality. For the next few years, the Grand Mesa Jeep Club struggled with little to show. During that time, I was living up to my self-imposed goal, and reopened 4-trails that Mother Nature had closed. The first was the Pace Lake trail. This trail is about 10-miles
long from trailhead to the top. The Pace Lake trail had been close to all motorized use for several years. The trail travels through an old burn that left many standing dead trees to rot. Eventually, the trees began to fall, many of which fell across the road. Erosion was severe after the burn and the narrow shelf-road had deep notches cut into the lower roadside leaving barely enough roadbed to travel. Rock falls littered the road that was already (and still is) filled with large protruding rocks reaching mightily for your axles and rocker panels. In one stretch of about 70 yards, the roadbed had been ravaged by a stream of runoff water that left a ditch nearly 3-feet deep with steep sides that snaked back and forth across the road. The reopening of this trail took two long days of work to make it to the top. Placing rocks in the “V-notches” to slow further erosion, cutting and winching trees from the road surface, cutting Gambel Oak and Mountain Ash from the road to make it wide enough to pass, filling the 70-yard ditch with trees, rocks, and dirt from the high side of the road took several hours just to get through. All of that was done alone. The Pace Lake trail began as a class 7+ or 8 trail. It has mellowed down to a class 6+ over the years when dry. When wet, it can be a BIG handful to accomplish. With snow on it, you can bet it’s going to be a tough trip.
The next “find” was the Calamity Mesa Loop Trail. This trail was found on one of my exploration forays. Coming to the “Gatekeeper” obstacle was a showstopper the first 3-times up there. The obstacle was the work of Mother Nature. Most of an off-camber mini-pass-like road, the right side of the Gatekeeper had washed away leaving a deep ditch with large rocks all over the bottom. Initially, traveling down that ditch was not possible. Within a few feet of the bottom of the first obstacle, the road goes through a long bentonite section where the right side is mostly missing. A deep ditch is on the right side while the left side has a steep, slippery hill. Both sides would result in a rollover should you slip off the narrow, severely crowned road that can be slippery when dry and dangerously passable when wet. The first 8-miles of this trail required help from two Jeep clubs to reopen, the rest was mostly done alone. With 11-named and many unnamed obstacles, this 20-mile loop trail is a favorite of all who have had the privilege to drive it. Another trail on Calamity Mesa that still receives little use is the Airstrip trail. On the mesa top is an old dirt airstrip with a road that goes for miles and then intersects the Loop trail. Just finding the lower part of this trail required some effort. Thick brush had grown completely across the partially slickrock trail and had camouflaged it very well. A trail with no tracks on rock can be hard to follow, add the overgrown brush and you can assume the end of the trail pretty easy. Again, this was a lone effort. Not far from the Calamity Mesa Loop is a road that will take you up on Flat Top Mesa. There, more uranium mines and another airstrip greet you… IF you can get there! Near the bottom of the climb to the mesa top, major erosion has left some serious problems for access. Just passing the humongous boulder that rolled off the mountainside can be a chore. But then there is another large rock in the middle of the road you must sneak by. This one requires some serious judgment issues on your part. Is the likelihood of a Daytona stripe on both sides of your vehicle worth the view from the top? Again, reopening of this trail was a lone job. Next, the Coon Hollow trail reopening. This trail is marked on BLM maps as a “Jeep trail”. When we first explored it, 3 to 4-foot high sagebrush had overgrown the road. Only ATVs had used this trail
for an estimated 30-years. It also had some major erosion at some of the wash crossings that turned away travelers. This trail required some help to reopen. The next trail I will write of is the 21 Road trail. Again, articles in national 4x4 magazines have made this extreme trail famous. Efforts to “adopt” this trail had been thwarted for nearly 20-years. During the most recent RMP, the GMJC found out there was an endangered species of toad “suspected” to live there. The road was also on the “endangered” list of being closed. Club President Jeff Bates got an idea while thinking about how to keep the trail open. Where we were unsuccessful in adopting the road, we could adopt the TOAD! Actually, protecting the toad’s habitat. This valiant effort has eventually led to being able to formally adopt the road and greatly lessened the chances that the trail will be closed. The last trail I want to emphasize is the Tabeguache Trail (pronounced; Tab-a-watch). This trail is nearly 100-miles long. From Grand Junction to Montrose is the description normally given, but it can be used to access many other parts of the Uncompahgre Plateau. Parts of this trail are only single-track, but there are routes that a 4x4 may take to avoid those. A 1/3-mile section of this trail was nonexistent at the crossing of Hwy 141. In the 1987 BLM Resource Management Plan (RMP), this connector trail was authorized, but was never finished for a variety of environmental reasons. After nearly 30-years, the physical trail was built in 2015. We are currently awaiting $112,000 in grant money to build a legal crossing of the highway to open this trail to motorized use. With good luck, it may be open in the spring or summer of 2017. Did I mention this effort took 30-years? Currently, we are in the initial stages of working with the BLM, USFS, and a private landowner to construct a connector section of trail that would extend the Pace Lake trail all the way to the John Brown road and into Gateway, CO. This is expected to take 4 to 6 years minimum just to get the permission to make this happen. Are you seeing a small theme here? New fourwheel drive trails of ANY kind can take a very long time to grow from a concept to reality. They take building a strong relationship with the local land managers and a huge helping of persistent, yet patient understanding. The US government moves at a pace that will frustrate you like nothing else.’’
Patient persistence seems to be the answer. You must ask first, and keep asking every month until they finally determine you are going to get your desired outcome one way or the other. I firmly believe that if you use this method, eventually -- in the long run, you can even reopen trails in your local area that have been long closed. Patient, but persistent prodding, poking, inquiring, and long-term desire will get you either a new trail or reopen one that was taken away. It won’t be easy, but good things seldom are. Cooperation is another significant word to incorporate. Without cooperation, you’ll only increase the time necessary. As you can see, the overwhelming part of this kind of work MUST be done at the local level. NO state or national organization is capable of monitoring individual trails like you will need to. What you want from your state and national organizations is direction, advice, and support. The many things you must do to make things like this happen are numerous and sometimes intricate.
You’ll need some “wisdom” from those experienced in doing this. THAT is where the larger organizations can shine. Somewhere in those organizations is someone with the knowledge to help you through the rough spots. Now --- go out and pick your first project(s). Get the ball rolling and keep up the pressure. Be flexible. You may not get EXACTLY what you want, but if you are patiently persistent and cooperative, you can become the proud owner of a new or old motorized trail. P.S. One last thing… when you do come to that fork in the road… TAKE IT!! One of those trails may become your next project. P.P.S. “To implement means: to put a decision, plan, strategy, etc. into effect. That means there is action tied to strategic purpose, and there is something DONE... Put into effect.” - Craig Ballantyne
r u o y ! y e l r e a s i h w S n o i s s a p h mit t S rry gber e J E ds: teve r o S W to: o h P
What if YOU were given the responsibility for managing our public lands? Beside your education in biology and a few other sciences, what makes you qualified to do this?
picked up and hauled out, and the desire to do the right thing while on the trail, we need to make them understand WHY these trails have so much meaning to us.
You’ve been walking for most of your life, so hiking may be the first qualification. You’ve likely been driving for some time, so going shopping and to the office are a given.
So, how do we build that kind of understanding?
But have you ever done any horseback riding? How about mountain biking? Then, of course, there’s always camping, fishing, hunting, grazing cattle, gathering firewood, mining, mountain climbing, skiing, and a million other things that people do on public lands. How are you going to relate those experiences to your new job without having ever experienced them? Do you even care that someone wants to use a trail for horse back riding or packing in hunters for elk hunting? How about trail riding on a motorcycle… those loud, smelly, dirt slinging machines you have always loathed? Can you empathize with someone who wants to go have a picnic, take a Sunday drive in the mountains or desert, or just explore old mine sites? And what about the people who enjoy a day out on the trail in their UTV or 4x4? In your college classes, you’ve been taught about the ravages they create on the roads and trails. Thinking about the erosion and the trail braiding (widening) makes your blood boil. All during your education, you’ve been too poor to even think about having an ATV, UTV, motorcycle, or even a 4x4. Just having enough money to eat and go out on a date was your idea of luxury. Most land managers have never experienced a Jeep trip. They don’t have a good perspective of why we do what we do or how much love we have for the Great American BackCountry. When it comes down to being a “conservationist” group, the wheeling community has few rivals. With all the trail work we do, the O.P.T. (Other People’s Trash)
Maybe the best way to convey that feeling to each new (or even the more experienced) land manager is to take him or her for a ride or two. Demonstrate the right way to treat a trail, how we relate to the other user groups and the surrounding land. Build a strong personal relationship with them. Give them a strong taste of our trail etiquette knowledge and our desires to educate even non-members in the proper use of the Great American BackCountry. How working with the other user groups for the betterment of trails and land raises all uses. We need to show land management how much we love the land they manage. They need to understand that we are not out simply polluting the land, water, and air as some would have them believe. And let’s not forget to learn FROM them. What do THEY see as proper uses of the lands they now manage? We should be asking questions of them like; How can we make your job easier? What can we do to keep or make our trails sustainable? What do they need from us when we volunteer our time to maintain trails? Take a Land Manager Riding For the most impact, it would be best to take your chosen land manager out on a favorite trail. This will help you show your enthusiasm in a familiar environment. Your enthusiasm will hopefully become infectious. You will want to demonstrate WHY we love our sport and the lands we are able to access.
Show them the scenery, the obstacles, the challenges, the history of places we go, the destinations we achieve, the wild game we get to see. Take them to areas we have done trail work, or where work is needed. Ask them how we can help them maintain the trails properly. Get their permission and thoughts about any plans for certain maintenance projects you may have in mind. Point out sites that make this trail special and popular. Let them fully experience what it is that we get from a day on the trail. Take a lunch and drinks to share. (find out what they like BEFORE hand). Make your time count. Have others along on the ride. The more people they can see enjoying this experience, the better. Take pictures… lots of pictures. Share those pictures with the land manager so they have a memory they can share with others.
And don’t forget to ask THEM about their job. Ask about how YOU can make their job easier. How WE can work TOGETHER on things. This is not meant to be a dictator showing a one-sided view. This is a RELATIONSHIP building opportunity. If possible, take them on an overnight trip. Where better to get to know someone than over a campfire eating good food and sharing stories. Don’t forget that nearly everyone and anyone who has a job managing public lands qualifies for this kind of experience. The more we can learn from them, the better we can change our behavior to make them comfortable in knowing we do care about the environment. Now, go find yourself a public land manager to share your experiences with. Plan a day out on the trail where you can learn from each other. MAKE it a day to remember. Hey, if it turns out that well, make it a habit and they can become a good friend as well.
Proactively Mitigating Trail “Problems” Are YOU Tired of Just Reacting? By Jerry Smith UFWDFA Environmental Director Whenever public land management makes decisions about closing individual trails and roads, it’s almost always done behind closed doors. Often, in fact most often, there will be no reason offered when management is questioned as to “why” they close a trail. So, there lies the question. Why do we the public, the OWNERS of “public lands”, not deserve a straight answer? Oh, and that brings us to the next question. “What if we got a straight answer?” What are we going to do with the information? But then, that begs the question; “What if we had that information BEFORE the final decision to close a trail was made?” Might there be some options before us that we could use to keep the trail open?
PRIOR to a decision to close a trail being made? After all, you can’t “fix” what you don’t know is broken. From personal experience, the very first thing necessary is to build a strong and trusting relationship with your most local land managers. This is not just a quickie introduction type of relationship, you must work to build a very good working relationship at the very least, but a good personal relationship is even better if possible. You might wonder; “How do I do that?” That’s a very good question. The easy answer is to participate.
In many cases where the reason for a trail closure is evident, there are things that COULD be done to lessen the problem. With a smaller problem, the necessity to use the extreme measure of trail closure just might be alleviated.
“Participation” can come in many forms. One of the primary forms would be to show up at BLM and USFS meetings in your locale. Go with an attitude of “How can I help keep our trails open to motorized uses?” You must ask questions that will get you answers as to what the agency is planning for individual trails. YOU must get specific because they seldom offer specifics.
So, how do we find out what problems exist
Next, get to know the agency recreational
planners… but don’t stop there, get THEM to know YOU. They should know your name and what affiliations you might have in motorized recreation. Ask them, “What can I do to help make your job easier?” They may have small, or even large projects that you and/or your organization can assist with. Volunteer work is always appreciated. When you are out on a trail, if you see something that needs attention, either do what needs done or at the very least, report it to the correct authorities. Again, volunteer to assist with the project. Building a good working relationship will always pay dividends. Take these agency people on a trail ride. Give them an experience that they can relate to when making trail decisions. Show them WHY we love to go out on the trails. Show them how we pick up trash or do minor trail maintenance when we come to it. Ask them about problems like trail braiding (widening) and how we can help keep it to a minimum.
Get to know what it is THEY look for when assessing a trails “sustainability”. Even primitive trails must be ecologically friendly to the eco system to be sustainable. It is up to YOU to find out what problems THEY see with individual trails. By heading off the problems BEFORE the agency people must make a decision about the sustainability of a trail is the way to keep your trails accessible, safe, and enjoyable. Remember, YOU are the “Public” in public lands. Take ownership of the problems and work with land managers to alleviate them before they must make a harsh decision. Make that decision EASY for them to keep your access to that trail. WE must stop reacting to those decisions AFTER they are made. WE must become proactive if we are to have motorized trail access on public lands. Now, go out and become PROACTIVE!
White Pine Bush Rd
Cycling Poses a Challenge Words: Peter Vahry
November 18, 2016Zealand we have a government Here in New DOC Campsites funded, but small, organization called the Walking Backcountry campsite Access Commission, whose role is to enhance Basic campsite access opportunities in the outdoors. While the Great Walk campsite name emphasizes walking, they are active over Serviced campsite most recreations to mediate on public access Standard campsite matters and provide information that includes a DOC Huts useful Basic GISHut/bivvy map website that identifies public lands and theGreat legal road network (even those roads only Walk Hut surveyed, but Serviced Hut not formed) www.wams.org.nz Serviced-Alpine Hut
I was invited to attend a ‘workshop’ meeting in late Standard Hut November with the Walking Access Commission DOC Land Information (WAC) and representatives of other organizations Prohibited Areas Prohibited Freedom Camping Areafor recreation. involved in creating ‘trails’ Restricted Areas Restricted Freedom Camping Area It was scary to find how many people were working Road (Formed and Unformed) on projects that use many of the unformed legal Conservation Land roads (ULR) that four wheelers covet and that in Public Reserve Land most cases it is for cycle trails. Certainly an eyeopenerMarginal that Strip poses a threat to expansion of four Crown Land wheeling in many areas of New Zealand. Esplanade Reserve
Hydro Areas There is going to need to be a push from four Non Primary Parcels wheeling to quickly identify ULR that we might use NZ Parcels (1:18,000) and establish a foothold, allowing us to create trails to our requirements... which would mean things like wider bridges than those the cyclists build!
A question posed several times was what is the effect going to be of electric bikes? Already they are being found being used on mountain bike trails. Will they be banned in non-motorized areas or considered a health benefit and an incentive to
1:2,257 getting more people in the outdoors? 0 0.0175 0.035 0
I was fairly quiet during the meeting, but certainly learnt a few things. It also provided a ‘networking’ opportunity and a chance to put a few faces to names in the outdoor recreation world. Land Information New Zealand (LINZ) Sourced from the LINZ Data Service and licensed for re-use under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 New Zealand licence
New Zealand Walking Access Commission
IOF National Workshop 2016
Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia Indonesia Off-Road Federation (IOF) as the Principal Organization of the off-road activities in Indonesia, which governs 376 clubs and communities, and 2,271 active members, have delegated the mandate to 33 Regional Offices to participate in this annual gathering. This annual conference is to strengthen the communication between the Central and regional offices, brotherhood and a face to face meeting among the key personnel in the regions and central offices. The IOF National Workshop 2016 was also to share experiences and knowledge.Â As for the content of the conference, among others are ... - Report of accomplishment for 2016 - Financial report - Activity report from every division - Declaration of Strategic partners, Volunteer and Sponsors (BNPB, Basarnas, PT SOG, Mitsubishi Motors)
Each of the opinions, contribution and feedback are captured and compiled in the outline of the manual organization book for the IOF, and regulations in each divisions and type of activities (ie. Organization, Legal, Sports, Environment, Social and Rescue, Training, as well as Research and Development). The process of discussion covering all subjects in the annual workshop were done via commission assembly rooms, prepared by the steering committee and facilitated also by the steering committee under the leadership of IOF Chairman, Mr. Askar Kartiwa. Following this annual workshop, the improvement process will be done by each division at the Head Office level. The result will be applied in the following year, including the calender of events for 2017.Â As agreed, the next IOF National Workshop in 2017 will be held in beautiful Manado, in North Sulawesi, Indonesia. See you in 2017 in Manado !
IOF Chairman, Askar Kartiwa announces the inaugeration of Mr. Sanny Yauwhannes (center) as a member of the advisory board during the IOF conference in Semarang, with Adji Gunawan, Secretary General on right.
Heaven IS On Earth! By Jerry Smith
You know the feeling… that feeling of such peace and tranquility that comes while out on a warm summer afternoon on your favorite Jeep trail and you just want that moment to last forever. A soft summer rain has just settled all the dust of the trail and cleansed the air for as far as the eye can see. The air quality is pristine and the sunlight is perfect across the entire landscape. It’s one of those “WOW” moments. Everything is just so calm. The stars and moon have aligned in the perfect storm of beauty and love. Infinity is not that far away! At that moment, the trail becomes your home. It’s your heavenly wannabe “forever-safe” place. Your healing place, everything is wonderful, and all is well in the world. With all the crazy things going on in this mixed-up world, finding that “special place” can be hard to find. One time it will be overlooking a bright green meadow on a sunny afternoon. The next time, that particular scene may just be another place. It is your present state of mind that allows one moment in time to become that “special place.” You must clear your mind of all the worries of this world to allow that “special place” room to paint the picture, ring the bell and create the sounds, offer up the aromatic smells, and even give you a tangy
taste of that crisp, clear air in that “special place”. By allowing the clutter-free room in your mind’s eye, to allow for your ears to listen, your nose to smell the fragrances, and your tongue to experience the sweet tastes of the love of that “special place” at that “special moment”, you are giving yourself permission for all of heaven to enter your being. Sometimes, this just seems to happen. Other times, your mind is so cluttered with the outside world there is no room for the vastness of heaven to enter. Heaven must have your entire attention to materialize. There can be nothing else when heaven appears. At those moments, every sense is so enhanced that the slightest interference from outside thoughts will whisk it all away instantly. Next time you are out on the trail, take a moment to let heaven envelope your senses. If you can, make a habit of this. You may find that several times a day, you will stop… clear your mind, and just step into that special heavenly place. Remember… practice is said to make “perfect”. Taking it to another level, perfect practice might make “perfect” look bad. Heaven is waiting to overwhelm you. Go-for-it!
CORE Goes To Rausch Creek
On Saturday, 27 August a group of eight vehicles including CORE members and guests headed up to Rausch Creek in Pine Grove, PA for a day of green coded trails. A few of the vehicles met up in Frederick, MD for the drive out while others met at the Exxon Station near the park. We started the day with a drivers meeting in the parking lot where we covered basic offroading procedures and the trail itinerary. The types of vehicles ranged from modified JKs to a stock Range Rover Discovery. As we hit the trails around 9:30am, we were met with a traffic jam of modified vehicles seeking a day of black trails. One vehicle even cut us off as if we were on the DC Beltway. After clearing all the “traffic” we met our first obstacle, which was a descent down a rocky trail with one particular challenging set of rocks and drop-off. The morning was spent taking advantage of all the green trails Rausch Creek had to offer on the East and South Property. Many of the trails had the option to remain green or tackle some blue level obstacles. A number of the drivers took advantage of the more challenging trails which resulted in one vehicle getting stuck
on a large bolder. With this challenge came the opportunity to pull out the Hi-Lift Jack and demonstrate its use on the trail. As with all challenges, everyone pitched in to help Mo get unstuck. We also had the opportunity to test Nissan Xterra tire changing skills when separately, both Alex and Mike experienced flat tires. We stopped for lunch around midday which gave everyone the chance to relax and share vehicle modification stories. The afternoon was spent riding the green trails on the West Property. We returned to the parking lot shortly after 5:00pm where everyone aired-up and said their good-byes – marking the end of another fun CORE trip to Rausch Creek.
BFGoodrich® Tires Outstanding Trails Program 2016 Winners announced
Las Vegas, Nev., Nov. 3, 2016 – BFGoodrich® Tires, in collaboration with 4 Wheel Parts, United Four Wheel Drive Associations, Blue Ribbon Coalition and Off Road Business Association, today announced the winners of the 2016 Outstanding Trails program. Nominated for uniqueness, terrain type and enthusiast following, the trails selected and the associated clubs for this year’s program are: · Sidewinder Trail, Colorado, Mile-Hi Jeep Club · Daniel Boone Backcountry Byway, Kentucky, Ohio River Four Wheelers · 21 Road, Grand Junction, Colorado, Grand Mesa Jeep Club · Hagen Creek Trail, Yacolt Burn State Forest, Washington , Piston’s Wild Motorsports Club
BFGoodrich® Tires builds tires for any adventure, including those that take drivers off their daily roadways. Through the BFGoodrich Tires Outstanding Trails presented by 4 Wheel Parts program, that promotes sustainable and responsible off-road driving, BFGoodrich will once again award grants of $4,000 each to four qualified and passionate off-road clubs in North America. These clubs will use their grants to continue local efforts that preserve and protect their hometown trails. This is the 11th year of the program. To date, Outstanding Trails has awarded grants to 40 off-road trails nominated by 38 local clubs throughout North America. The program has provided more than $150,000 in grants in support of these trail conservation efforts. Nominations were accepted beginning March 28 through July 15, on the BFGoodrich Tires website at www.bfgoodrichtires.com. The competition invites off-road clubs from around North America to nominate local trails that merit grants for maintenance or refurbishing. Trails are selected based on uniqueness, terrain type and enthusiast support. BFGoodrich assembled a panel of judges comprised of four-wheel industry veterans to evaluate Outstanding Trails grant submissions.
BFGoodrich Tires 2016 Outstanding Trails Winners: During the course of the year, BFGoodrich Tires will be at club events associated with these trails to highlight the uniqueness of each location, educate off-road enthusiasts on the responsible use of the trails and present a $4,000 grant to each club to assist in the preservation of trail access. · 21 Road, Grand Junction, Colorado, Grand Mesa Jeep Club The Grand Mesa Jeep Club is the second oldest organization of its kind in Colorado. With more than 100 memberships, the club has adopted the 21 Road Trail and other local trails and is committed to its protection and maintenance. The Grand Mesa Jeep Club has «adopted› both the 21 Road trail and the threatened Great Basin Spadefoot Toad (the «21 Road Toad»). The club has committed to protecting the toad›s habitat in at least 3 areas along the trail with posts and cable. 21 Road runs through several canyons in Grand Junction and often changes with extreme weather conditions. Grand Mesa Jeep Club plans to use the grant money to work with the Bureau of Land Management to cable off critical habitat and increase signage to ensure proper off-road use of the trail. The club plans to build and outfit a trail support building to ensure tools and equipment is available for ongoing trail maintenance. · Sidewinder Trail, Gunnison, Colorado, Mile-Hi Jeep Club Sidewinder Trail is a trail managed by the MileHi Jeep Club in Colorado. The trail is part of a network overseen by the Colorado Off Highway Vehicle Coalition. Mile- Hi Jeep Club maintains the Sidewinder Trail which is one of the only constructed technical four wheel drive trail of its kind in the West. The club was formed in 1956 and currently has more than 400 members. The members divide into patrols that have specific roles to educate members in proper and responsible
off-road driving. Mile-Hi plans to use the grant to further build the trail›s technical challenges for extreme enthusiasts and improve signage on the route. · Daniel Boone Backcountry Byway, Kentucky, Ohio River Four Wheelers This trail is a 98-mile loop that spans several counties through remote and scenic Kentucky including the Red River Gorge. The trail is growing rapidly in recognition and use. With this increased traffic, regular maintenance is needed. The Ohio River Four Wheelers club has been around for 25 years and takes pride in promoting safety on its trail rides and environmentally-conscious off-roading. The club plans to use the grant to conduct any repairs that are needed and promote the trail in the region. They also will continue to uncover additional sections of unmaintained county roads that can be incorporated into the Daniel Boone Backcountry Byway. · Hagen Creek Trail, Yacolt Burn State Forest, Washington , Piston’s Wild Motorsports Club Piston›s Wild Motorsports was founded in February 2007 for the primary purpose of reopening public access to the 4x4 trails that were closed over 20 years earlier. The club started with just 2 families and has grown to almost 50 active and honorary family memberships. the club built three new 4x4 trails in 2014 and is on track to build three more 4x4 trails in the near future. The club membership is dedicated to being active stewards of the motorized trails in the Yacolt Burn State Forest from conception of the idea, through construction development and for ongoing maintenance to ensure the public›s access to these trails into the future. The club would like the opportunity to go back and «upgrade» the existing trails with some additional optional routes, increased and varied features with some new challenges and possibly create some inviting «social» areas to encourage wheelers to visit the area as often as possible.
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Christmas Party time for Auckland 4WD
Words; Peter Vahry Pictures Jack Talbot & Peter Vahry With summer time now here in the Southern Hemisphere and Christmas only a few weeks away, the Auckland Four Wheel Drive Club held it’s annual picnic at a privately owned small sand dune area about 30 Km from the city on December 4. With 36 assorted 4x4’s and families it was a case of getting loose for a couple of hours on the sand followed by a picnic in the shade of the trees. We seem to have created a club ‘tradition’ to serve up a dessert of cream filled ‘chocolate log’ with strawberries. Definitely popular with the young and old alike. I suspect there are a few eyebrows raised at the driving in the stream, but the landowners gave permission and were amongst those playing with us. From all of us at Auckland 4WD Club, have a great Christmas and Happy New Year.
Destination, Steamboat Mesa By Jerry Smith
Rock Junction is the premiere event put on by the Grand Mesa Jeep Club that precedes the Rocky Mountain Off-Road Expo that takes place the first Saturday of June. Rock Junction is three-days of guided Jeep trips on some of western Colorado and eastern Utah’s excellent trails. In order to keep Rock Junction fresh, the club has been mapping out new, seldom used trails that offer some good Jeeping as well as scenery that will imprint indelibly on your memory. Some club members will back me up about this; when I say “good Jeeping”, you might expect some rough going and often a challenge that will tighten your seat covers. We have it all around Grand Junction, Colorado. On this trip, we met at the Broadway Albertson’s for an 8:30 departure. The line of 18 rigs going up Monument Road to the east entrance to the Colorado National Monument never looked better. A quick identification of all as “going through Glade Park” allowed all a fast “check-through” with the park ranger. The winding road up the Rim Rock trail gains altitude rapidly. The paved road is steep, crooked, and mind-blowingly beautiful. The red and creamcolored cliffs and rock formations tend to pull your eyes off your driving, but this is a good place to pay attention to the road ahead. Along the way to the end of DS Road and the Utah
border, there are more points of interest. Arches, “windows” in rock cliffs, wild game, and just plain gorgeous country abound. At the end of DS, we accomplished the airing-down ceremony. The next several miles would be on freshly graded county roads. The “freshly graded” is significant. The road is usually a bit smoother shortly after being bladed, but the dust from all the loosened gravel can choke a camel. With 19-rigs on the same road, the dust cloud hung long in the calm air. This strung us out for a great distance. By the time the rear came to points I identified on the CB, they had sometimes heard another. With several side roads along this trail, there were many highlights to relate. Some of these side roads are very interesting trips and well worth mentioning. At a relatively low altitude, this area makes for some great winter trips. It helps quell the cabin fever that often accompanies winters. If you live to explore the Great American BackCountry, this lengthens the year by months. Nearing the lower Granite Creek area, we passed some significant side roads. Lots of discussion of them enlightened some of the “not-so-familiar” with the area. We who have explored this area intensely often talk of individual trips, rocks, and brushy areas intimately. Experiences with obstacles, rescues, and other trail things have strong memories for us. At the crossing of Granite Creek, I had the line hold up at an alternate crossing while I checked out the often-impassable bog that the creek
creates. Today it was easily crossed. The creek this time of year runs quite slow and shallow. Other times, this crossing is deep with tire sucking mud that can require either a strap or the winch to get you through. After some rougher road and climbing to a higher altitude, we had some superb looks up the Granite Creek Canyon. The deep vertical-walled canyon is a winding, craggy, and awesome scar on the land. This Utah Juniper, Pinon Pine, and sage forest is a living high-desert. You have to live in this country to learn to appreciate all the many things it offers. Spending days in the backcountry is the best way to learn to live with the land. Otherwise, it will look sparse and desolate to you. In this kind of terrain, as you change altitude, the layers of rock and dirt are exposed. The exposed rock strata will deflect the blade of the motor grader leaving small ledges and steps for your tires to negotiate. The pace will slow to a crawl and the “headshake” will become violent if your driving isn’t one of “experience”. A while later, we approached the bottom of Steamboat Mesa. Here the road has a crossroad. Going straight (south) will take you around the lower beltline of Steamboat Mesa. A right turn will take you to the steep, narrow shelf road that climbs to the top of the mesa. This road had not long ago been bladed by the same grader. To my way of thinking, this was a terrible waste of money. I had been up on the mesa just weeks ago. The road had some erosion, but was easily passable. The blading continued up on the mesa top where it just created more of a dusty scar. Before the blading, the road was nearly smooth and firm with little dust problem. While ascending the side of the mesa, the only reason I could think of for the blading was that maybe they were up there to dress-up the airstrip. In the several times I have been up on top, I have never been able to clearly identify where the actual landing strip is. I still can’t. On the top, the road runs from near the mid northeast side to the western end. On the western end is a large dome and the road circles the dome. From some sites along that circle, with a short walk you can get some outstanding views of the Delores River Canyon and surrounding country. As someone who studies areas that I have Jeeped, I pointed out most of the individual mesas. The Palisade WSA begins the “tour”. Working west and around in a clockwise direction, you come
to Delores Point, South Beaver Mesa, Beaver Creek Canyon, North Beaver Mesa, Polar Mesa, Cottonwood Canyon (that is along the Rose Garden Hill trail), Delores Overlook, Seven Mile Mesa with the Top of the World trail in the distance, the lower Delores River Valley, Granite Creek and land stretching to the Colorado River, Pinon Mesa with Ryan Creek and Lost Horse Canyon, and finally, if you have a good imagination, Sheep Creek is behind Steamboat Mesa to the east. All of those places have at least one Jeep trail that we have traveled. After descending Steamboat, we traveled to the head of Sheep Creek. This requires you drive miles of bad road. Most of the road is layers of shale-like rock that means your ride is going to be rough. Steps and broken rock abound. At the Colorado/Utah border, the grader stopped his work and the trail deteriorates. That’s good! We turned off the trail at the Sheep Creek trailhead and began the descent. Below the old shack/ cabin, the road had been recently bladed and was in the smoothest condition ever seen. What a disappointment. Except for one novice driver, we would have made good time getting out to the highway near Gateway, CO. Several long waiting periods stretched some nerves and made a few late for planned dinners. Overall, the trip was well received and enjoyed. Most saw country they had never seen before. Most saw in the distance, places they may never drive or remember the names of, but they saw them anyway. With some work this spring, the trail will welcome some of our lucky Rock Junction entrants giving them a new look at some Great American BackCountry. We hope YOU will join us. “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go…” – Dr. Seuss
Now, when you come to the fork in the road… take it! That will be where the adventure is.
To ‘Base Camp’ or Not? Tom Severin Because many 4WD excursions last two days or more, there’s usually the need to select a campsite arrangement. You can elect to go with a base camp, or set up camp at a different location each night (what I call a cruise or a moving camp). Another option is a hybrid variety. This is handy for really long excursions, say in excess of seven days. Use a base camp for a few days, then a moving camp for other days in your trip. There are no hard and fast rules. Select the arrangement(s) best suited to your trip, its location and the needs of your guests. Before going further, we should review some fundamentals of campsites. Regardless of the style you select, it should: •
Have an epic view
Provide Level spots for tents (or trailers)
Allow the ability to have a fire
Include the possibility of shade
Be easy to find for those who arrive on their own.
Be large enough for all vehicles, including trailers.
Offer multiple trails out the backdoor or at least an easy drive in and out. Long, difficult drives become tiresome, especially after a hard day on the trails.
Someone suggested “no wind” but that might be hard to control!
And let’s not forget Tread Lightly! - the best camp sites are found, not made use existing campsites.
It might be impossible to combine all the criteria into one penultimate campsite. Compromise on the items that are less imperative to you. I prefer a moving camp for nearly all my trips, but I understand the interest in base camps. Let’s look at the pros and cons of using a base camp for your 4WD excursion.
Advantages of a base camp A base camp is ground zero for a four wheeling experience and becomes the launching point for each day’s driving. Upon arrival you off-load much of your gear, including tents; unhitch trailers; and set up portable toilets or PETT systems, among other items. Extra fuel, water and firewood are also stored at the base camp. It takes a fair amount of work to set up and break down a campsite. Therefore, if you can minimize those events, you’ll save a lot of valuable time and aggravation. A base camp can be set up and left for several days. A prepared campsite is a real sight for sore eyes—and a relief for tired butts—after a long day of driving. And if you happen to run long one day, you’re not stuck having to set up camp in twilight and on an empty (or near empty) stomach. Or if a storm hits, you are not setting up in the rain and snow. You are not packing away wet gear and tents. In fact, you might make your current site a base camp and hunker down to wait out a storm. Similarly, mornings tend to start at a leisurely pace. You’re not scrambling to break camp. You can take a shower, spend time with your buddies, and enjoy a fine cup of coffee with a full breakfast. Your “home port” (aka base camp) affords you a little more time to enjoy the peaceful early morning hours. One of my most enjoyable mornings was sitting around a breakfast campfire in the Rasor Off-Highway Vehicle Area (OHV) drinking coffee. It was the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Most mornings we are up early, break camp and don’t have time to sit around much less build a fire. This day we had no plans. The weather was a bit on the crisp side but there was brilliant sunshine you only get in the desert. I spent a couple of hours talking to some great people I just met, who invited me to share their camp fire and coffee. A day in the desert sure enhances simple pleasures! If you build a “breakfast fire” be sure it is dead out before leaving for the day.
As you prepare to hit the trails for the day, you have time to make sure all tasks are completed properly. That means securing all gear, cleaning up thoroughly and, most importantly, making sure any fire you started is out cold. Never leave a campsite with hot embers in the pit. Speaking of fires, if you happen to be in a rush one morning, skip the campfire. Use propane stoves for cooking.
Disadvantages of a base camp One big advantage of a base camp—leaving most of your gear behind for lighter, lesscumbersome four wheeling—is also its Achilles’ heel. Inclement weather and a significant breakdown can leave you stranded. If the weather turns sour, you’ll have to decide quickly whether to turn back or hunker down for the night. Can you get by without a tent, sleeping bag and your main stash of food? Extra gas, water and other supplies are hours away. What will you do? Breakdowns happen, as you know. Axles and other power train parts break. Radiator hoses blow. Tires burst and valve stems crack. Vehicles run out of gas. If you have all your gear and supplies with you, these issues are manageable. If all that stuff is back at camp, you could be in deep doo-doo. This is why I prefer a moving camp. I (and my guests) carry basics such as a sleeping bag, fuel, food and other necessities the entire trip. If something happens, we can set up camp right there. We’ll get a good night’s sleep and deal with the problem in the morning. At least we’re safe and secure. If using a base camp, you’ll pack lightly each day: a lunch and a small container of water, along with some basic tools. You’re counting on nothing significant happening while on the trail. Granted, you rarely experience major issues, but four wheeling is inherently risky. You’re off road and usually hours from civilization. You must be self-sufficient at all times. Another disadvantage is that you’re limited in how far you can travel each day. You don’t want to stray too far, because eventually you
have to return to base. A moving camp allows you to plop down where you want, which is nice if youâ€™re pooped after a day on the trails. A base camp is a useful option for four wheeling. Account for its inherent drawbacks,
and you and your guests will enjoy a nice outing in the wild.
An Epic View
Photos: Steve Egbert
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Rocket City Rock Crawlers 4WD Club http://www.rocketcityrockcrawlers.com
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• • • • • •
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