April 7, 2008

Lessons in four-wheeling

In search of different trails and such Frank came across Vegas Vegas 4 Wheelers. After a quick glimpse of the site, we knew we wanted to become members. You earn your membership by attending three runs and three meetings. There happened to be a night run scheduled for Saturday so we decided to attend.

The run took place in Apex, which is north of the Las Vegas Speedway, but not as far as the Indian Reservation. Ram and no name canyon were the planned trails. There were eight vehicles in the group; our Jimmy, a Unimog, Toyota truck, a dune buggy and the rest were Jeeps. We had no idea what to expect, but I never could’ve imagined what we were in for.

We started out on a dirt trail, but then made a sharp right into a canyon. A very rocky canyon! We didn’t know what we got ourselves into, but we knew it’d be fun so we proceeded on... Until we got stuck. The path (I guess you can call it that) narrowed and there were several boulders to pass. It was our first time tackling this sort of obstacle.

Slow and steady wins the race

A couple guys spotted Frank to get him through the rough. We made it through, alright, and it was real fun. Then, the convoy pushed on.

Until we got here...

I stopped filming because I didn’t want to bust the camera. However, in hindsight it would’ve been worth the risk. The trail was tricky. We rocked back and forth slowly making progress. The guys spotted us again, and set boulders to help us gain traction. This was the point when we learned we needed rear lockers (they keep the tires from spinning). We pressed on and there were times we were on two and possibly even one wheel, but after a few tries we got through it. Our adrenaline was racing! And I’ve gotta say the feeling of conquering something you don’t think is possible is amazing.

We’re free!

We moved a bit further ahead, and then stopped so the Unimog can climb the hard trail.

A Jeep decides to give it a try, too. Here’s footage of that and it also shows the bypass we took, aka “the easy way”.

The Jeep got stuck, the Unimog winched it out.

Next up was the dune buggy, he made it with ease

After that we moved up along the trail so everyone else could access the bypass. It took us quite a while to pass this portion of the trail. One of the Jeeps got stuck and needed another Jeep to tow him out.

Night set in before we were able to move on to the next leg of the trail. I snapped a shot of it while it was still light.

We were ready to continue on, but when Frank went to start up the Jimmy it was dead. Luckily, it started after a jump. We knew we had to keep it running from that point on. Fortunately at the top of the next pass there were dirt trails back to where we began. Our fun ended there. A few others left too, but the rest kept on to a more difficult part of the trail. If we hadn’t had battery trouble we planned to catch a ride with the Unimog for the next leg, because the Jimmy needs to be modified a bit more before we can attempt that level of difficulty.

We had an absolute blast and we learned a lot. After this adventure, I determined that we were strictly off-roading on previous trails, but on Saturday we got a taste of four-wheeling. The irony, though, is that four-wheeling doesn’t mean having four wheels on the ground. Instead, it seems like two or less (wheels) touch at any given time.

You can see other photos of the event here and additional video here.

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