Visitor # 9633 since 27.DEC.2002
Was held in the Johnshon Valley OHV area, south of Barstow CA, on March 24,25, 2001.
Saturday dawned clear and calm. Quite a few rigs had arrived on Friday afternoon, more rolled in throughout the morning. There were a half dozen trails run that day, each group had a trail leader and tail gunner. I had been doing a lot of work on my truck before the event and wanted to try it out on a decent trail but not push it too hard the first time out. I got in line for the Claw Hammer trail, a 4+ trail.
We had 21 rigs when we left Means Dry Lake. An easy cruise over the lake bed, up a low ridge, past some nice sand dunes and finally up a wash led to the first tough spot. Here, we had to squeeze between a pair of boulders. This obstacle is a sort of gatekeeper for Claw Hammer. If you have trouble getting through here, best to turn around and exit the way you came in. I think a total of 3 rigs, turned back here, if not locked front and rear, 33" tires and decently armored, this was a wise choice! Anyway, the remaining 18 rigs passed by this spot and indeed, the trail began getting serious...
Here, a rocky section with some moderately tight turns challenged the longer wheelbase rigs, then a twisty rocky climb made everyone work for it.
Next was a tight left turn at the top of a rocky ledge. A menacing rocky point stuck out to dent unsuspecting sheet metal. I think this is where Leonel's bed made contact.
Then, at the top of a narrow wash, is a sharp right hand turn up a rocky ledge. 3 point turns are the norm to get properly lined up for the climb. Once the front tires crest the top, you need to turn hard left. Here, a solid axle 1st gen and IFS 2nd gen (piloted by Phil Johnson) make it safely up the ledge.
Gradually, the trail was taking its toll on our group. At the very top of the trail, it makes a loose, steep and rocky climb. More than a few driveshaft got bitten by rocks, or pulled apart. Mike's nice Burgundy 4Runner had rear axle problems. Several bolts in the rear TrueTrac carrier backed out, and caused the diff. to chew itself to pieces. Left with only front wheel drive and a TRD limited slip at that, he needed to be winched out the top. One at first, one of the lead rigs winched him up the first ledge, then while repositioning for another pull, broke a front hub and had to winch himself out in 3WD. Then, an FJ-40 was able to winch the 4Runner up enough, to be able to squeeze by and get ahead. Finally the disabled rig was pulled free and then in the interest of time, the remaining rigs were winched up around the last rocks in the dark.
We began the trail about 10AM and didn't get back to camp until after 8PM! A long day, but the AllPRo and XToys crew had a bit of BBQ left for us.