Day three.. I had planned on taking the Horse Gulch trail with Tom Osborne, but it was looking like a large group, and so I offered to lend Mike out on the Lava run.
We seemed to have about 20 trucks on each of the trail rides.. and Saturday's Lava run was no different. Don Harden was our tailgunner in his CJ, with Bill Springer in his 4Runner up front, and Stacey Schessler somewhere up front in her Jeep as well. I was about 2/3rds of the way to the back. Tom Wood of Six States Distributors was right behind me in his Nissan pickup - with 35s and dual transfer cases.
We called out our names, rigs, and where we hailed from as we drove down the Frontage road. This time, instead of a large group of Canadians, we had a good number of four wheelers from the Seattle area with us.
The Seattle folks started giving "RJ" a good deal of grief about keeping his CJ clean, and not getting it muddy.. as we Montanans simply drove right through the muck n' goo. I also discovered early on that I was just about out of windshield washer fluid. ;)
We took our time, pausing for a few pictures of the scenery, then winding our way through the gates, and up through the trees. As the trail progressed, I started asking Mike if the trail had gotten narrower since I'd last run it. For some reason, I kept feeling the trail as narrower. I quickly surmised that, after 50 trucks had driven through it, and it had rained for two days, the trail was considerably "greasier!" A fullsize Ford pickup at the front of the group clipped a few trees from what I heard , but I don't believe anyone else had much damage. I bounced my front fender off a tree - in the same position I had bounced off a tree two weeks before. My alrady mangled rear bumper became much more mangled as it hung on every rock and obstact that ca me my way.
Climbing to Mike's Hill, one of the Jeeps in front of me discovered a dead battery! A quick pull, and it was running again. They changed the battery out at our next scheduled stop.
We bypassed Mike's hill - enough fun had been had on it the day before, and it was starting to get churned up a bit, and we didn't want to damage the terrain in any way.
Passing the hill, we made our way through the trees some more, and over the tree roots that Tyler had high-centered on two days prior. Everyone crossed the obstacle.
Coming down to the Cataract meadows were we'd eaten lunch on the prior trip, Mike asked if we wanted No Mud, Little Mud, or Lotta Mud. I opted for the Lotta Mud run. The Little Mud took the same route I had taken two days prior - through the 3 mud holes , then up a trail that "Y"s around a few trees then comes back together. One side of the "Y" was nearly impassable.
The "Lotta Mud" group (including Tom Wood, behind me) rolled around the corner, then turned off and down into a different trail that cut across the meadow.
This trail had larger rocks than the "Little Mud" route, and I had a rough time with a more than a few. I was tugged with a strap a few times. I drove my front diff right into a rock (covered by mud), and found myself unable to make progress. A friendl y Jeep (with Wyoming plates, and a tire cover from Colorado Springs) backed up to me, and we attached my strap. A few gentle pulls and a little bit of a tug, and I still wasn't going forward over the rock. Tom Wood then gave me a gentle pull rearwards, during which my Scout's front end raised up into the air, and I watched my driver's front tire spin in the air from the driver's seat.
Tom let me loose off the strap, and I tried forward again only to hit the rock, but a little farther over. I backed up just a bit, then cranked the wheel hard to the left, and asked my spotters if I was on the rock. "Yeah, but I don't think you'll have the traction to get on it.. I think you'll slide off." Hmm.. time for my new Lockright to pay-off. I cranked the wheel, and goosed the throttle, and then walked right up onto that nasty old rock, and I was making progress again.
I smacked my undercarriage on a few more rocks in the mud, and required a few pulls now and then from the friendly Jeep in front of me.
Once I cleared half of the mud holes, I noticed my Scout bouncing very wildly up and down, and my steering was "tight" again. I had been checking my shackle bolts at every stop, so I still had the nuts.. but I hit something hard enough that I flipped my front shackles inward. We paused while we pondered what to do. Ultimately, my Hi-Lift was placed between the axle tube and the shackles, and the shackle was "jacked" forward and back into place.
Then, on our way to our lunch spot, I drove down into a mud hole in 2nd gear (4-low) and then bogged down as I climbed out. My carb strikes again - it won't start. The Jeep in front of me came back to tow me to lunch.. even with my Scout in gear (2nd, 4 -Hi) I couldn't get it to start.. we pulled the air cleaner, and let the flooed motor air out while we ate lunch.
Tom Wood gave me a little bit of denatured alcohol, and the Scout fired to life once again. About this time I noticed the Jeep in front of me undergoing repairs. FRDZLLA's driver was busy working on the Jeep's alternator, trying to convince it to start charging the battery. The Jeep was not running well either due to water in the distributor. Mike offered up my on-board air, and I gladly drove my Scout forward to blow compressed air over the distributor.
After lunch, we drove on. The Really Lotta Mud group turned left through the trees to go back through the mud holes the "little mud" group had just passed through. I had already taken my Scout through those particular mud holes twice in the last two wee ks, and I had drug my undercarriage on rocks each time. I had no real desire to repeat that, and I took the right turn through the trees, and then crossed through a stream and worked my way up to the rock I dubbed the "Sheep Rock" in honor of our friend Eric from the Bozeman club and his "Cheep." Eric enjoys driving his Cheep CJ-7 up and over this particular rock. I put my Scout's right front tire onto the rock and started climbing, only to rub the driver's rear tire right into the roll-bar mounting bo lts. I stopped, and stepped out to take pictures, then backed off the Sheep Rock, and drove on up the hill and met up with the "little mud" and "no mud" groups of Washington Jeepers.
Some of the Jeepers began to become impatient and wanted to make progress. Mike n' the others had gotten pretty well mired in the mud, and were having a blast.. but for those of us waiting, it wasn't quite so much fun.
I volunteered to lead the group onward. We drove up from the clearcut we were in, and drove to the "Picture Tree," then continued on through were the snow bank used to be (where Loretta dented the Bronco while dragging my Scout through 3 feet of snow jus t 6 weeks earlier) and then came out to a good pausing point that overlooked the Pegasus Gold mine.
Just as we grew tired of the mine, and decided to roll again, Mike n' crew crested the hill in the distance, just rumbling to catch us. We then took an easy pace across the meadow and then up a long steep hill, around the top, around the U-turn switchbac k, and then drove down into the ghost town of Comet.
We wandered around Comet for a bit, and then Mike Kelly and his mud-playing crew pulled into "town." Everyone got a few minutes to look around, and then Mike led us all out of the woods and back to asphalt, and pointed us towards Boulder.
After arriving in camp I assessed my damages - my rear bumper had been very significantly tweaked by the rocks and trees. Well, I was wanting to build a new one anyways...
Divide Ride '98