2004 Spring Windrock Run

March 19-21, 2004

Written by: Craig Scibetta

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March 19th 2004

Attendees:

Craig Scibetta - 03 TJ/Rubicon, 33" MTR's
Greg Mattern - 97 TJ, 35" MTR's
Mike Care - 87 Four Runner, 35" BFG AT's
Kimball Shahrokhi - 67 Unimog, 43" High Speed Tractor Tires
John Herr - Along for the ride
Reese Mattern - Along for the ride Kimball's son and two brothers also were along for the ride (sorry I forgot their names)

Weather: Sunny with a high reaching mid to upper 60's

Friday morning Greg, his son Reese, John, Mike and I (who were all staying in Hotels in Oak Ridge, TN) drove out to the parking lot at Windrock and met up with Kimball and his crew at around 9am. Soon after arriving we found out that we not only needed the daily pass itself which we had bought the night before in town but also our copy of the signed waiver, the same waiver that I had left the copies for both Greg and I in our hotel room. I soon found myself headed back to the hotel (about a 25-30 minute round trip) to pick up the waivers, this is where I had my first scare of the weekend as in my haste to race back I ended up flying past a cop doing 65 in a 45, he quickly turned on his lights came right up along side of me but then suddenly slowed down and turned into an empty Pizza Hut parking lot………PHEW!!!

After finally heading out of the parking lot we decided to try Trail #3 listed as a moderate trail but after riding on it for about 5-10 minutes without yet shifting into 4wd we stopped and decided maybe we should try another trail (we later heard that trail 3 has a couple of nice hill climbs towards the end so it might be worth checking out in the future). We decided on Trail #21 as it was listed as "Difficult" and we headed out in search of it, along the way we stopped at the top of a trail called Rattle Rock. This trail is an extreme uphill long and wide rock garden where they have held EROCC events, there was nobody on it but we stopped to admire it and then we rolled on. Now for those unfamiliar with Windrock (like we were) it consist of something like 50 trails (not all accessible to trucks) making up 46 miles of one type of trail or another and that doesn't take into account the many little trails that seem to be everywhere connecting some of the larger trails. So with that in mind we ended up somehow on trail #15 where we found a nice ravine to play in, it had a smooth but rather steep downhill and then a rocky uphill climb on the opposite side. I was first to go and aside from a couple of "clunks" on the climb up made it until I reached the last step at the top where the "Rubicon Road Crew" had to step in and stack some rocks to get me up and over. Greg then made it look easy as he crawled the whole thing without much trouble, Mike was next and used a bit more momentum then either Greg or I and pretty impressively made the climb without ever losing forward movement. Kimball was last to go and with his portal axles and the 43" tractor tires made the climb look like a Sunday afternoon drive, I tell you watching the Mog climb was a pretty impressive sight all day!! At the top of the ravine we had a great view of the mountains so we stopped and grabbed lunch.

After lunch we worked around trail #15 which had a couple short climbs that were fun but before actually reaching Trail #21 we opted to instead head to the shorter trail #14 as it was already mid afternoon. Trail #14 started with a short little climb that everybody walked up without a problem but around the next corner the trail got nasty in a hurry. The trail suddenly seemed to go almost vertical and after getting my front tires on the start of about a 20' long section of 60 degree angled rock with water running down it we all quickly realized this just wasn't going to happen, on top of that there wasn't even a place to winch up it if we had even wanted to which nobody actually did. So with sanity prevailing we turned tail back down trail #14 and decided to head to the bottom of Rattle Rock to check it out. After seeing the bottom portion of Rattle Rock we realized we could play on the lower section and then bail off before getting to the insane part where turning around wouldn't be an option. Greg took it on first and did a get job of working through this lower portion with only a scrape and clunk here and there until he finally met his match on a tough step up right at the end of the section, a quick tug by the winch and he was up and over. We then convinced Kimball to give it a run in the Mog and man am I glad he decided to give it a shot; watching that thing was awesome and he just left us in awe with the ease he made some of the tough sections look. The only thing that stopped him was a tight section that he couldn't squeeze the bed of the Mog through but up to that point he showed the rest of us how it was done. Mike's truck was leaking power steering fluid so he opted not to give it a go and push his luck. I gave it a go but about half way up the section I got off the line and decided before getting any more tippy to just bail off and call it a day. So with that we headed into town, stuffed our bellies at a Chinese Buffet and waited to see what tomorrow would bring.

March 20th 2004

Attendees:
Craig Scibetta - 03 TJ/Rubicon, 33" MTR's
Greg Mattern - 97 TJ, 35" MTR's
Mike Care - 87 Four Runner, 35" BFG AT's
Kimball Shahrokhi - 67 Unimog, 43" High Speed Tractor Tires
We were also joined by another 3 Unimog's and a propane powered tube buggy ( I didn't catch their names as it was raining in the parking lot that morning and I didn't get a chance to introduce myself)
John Herr - Along for the ride
Reese Mattern - Along for the ride
Kimball's son and two brothers also were along for the ride (sorry I forgot their names)

Weather: Rain was forecasted all day but soon after leaving the parking lot it stopped, the sun came out and the temp. got up near 70.

We decided to start the day by doing Trail #7 (rated difficult), Kimball had vaguely remember this trail from a few years before as a fun trail to run so after a mini meet and greet among the Unimog owners and getting organized in the rain we left the parking lot. Half way up to Trail #7 we stopped for a minute as it turned out the buggy was having some problems, while stopped Mike realized he was really starting to lose a lot of power steering fluid. After some time spent trying to fix the problem he realized a bad hose was causing the leak and would need to head into town to get it replaced, John volunteered to also go and help with the fix and then call us once done so we could try and hook back up. At this point it was already late morning and Kimball realized that there wasn't going to be enough time to complete Trail #7 and still get back into town by early afternoon as he needed so he and his crew headed back down with Mike and John.

When the remainder of us got to the start of Trail #7 we were faced with an initial steep rocky uphill climb that looked pretty tough and intimidating. The plan was for me to head up as far as I could and then let Greg spot me once I needed it but surprisingly we were able to claw our way about 90% up the climb (man I love having lockers!), just as the climb reached it's steepest point was also the only stretch that was muddy from the earlier rain. With the tires turned to slicks from the mud and staring at a double step about 5ft tall it was time to pull cable, once I was up Greg gave it a shot but the mud was just to slick so he was forced to also pull cable. The rest of the group (3 Mog's and the buggy) had come about half way up the climb and after watching us one of the Mog owners decided not to try the climb and headed back down. The other two Mog's both made attempts but once again were denied by the lack of traction caused by the mud. Lastly the buggy gave it a go and with the combination of the lightweight vehicle, the skinny pedal and driver skill was able to get past the mud section and nearly was able to climb the double step. It was a lot of fun to watch him basically attack an obstacle that speaking for Greg neither of us would have dreamt of doing in our vehicles. After several attempts he decided to also head back down and that group of him and the Mog's headed to Rattle Rock to check it out.

So then there was two, Greg and I thought that maybe the trail was rated difficult because of that first climb but after coming around the next corner we were quickly proven wrong. We were facing another long climb (even longer then the first) with several very tough spots that would require winching but since heading down what we just winched up wasn't an option we planned our attack. It took the two of us a couple of hours to finish the climb and reach the top of the trail with us each needing to pull cable a couple of times but I tell you it was a rush the whole way. At one point while coming up one of the tougher sections all I could see was blue sky out my windshield while being quite a bit off camber, this of course is exactly the point when Mike called to see where we were as he and John had repair his leak and were looking to join back up with us, needless to say that conversation was short and sweet!! We reached the top of Trail #7 just about the same time as Mike and John drove up from an access trail and we ate lunch with awesome views overlooking a large portion of the park below us and the mountains rolling in the distance.

After lunch it was already past 2pm so we decided to head down to Rattle Rock as Mike wanted to give it a try now that the power steering leak was fixed. Along the way we did a couple of the fun climbs on Trail #15 we had done the day before and while going up one of the climbs Mike hit a small step up "just right" where no lie his front driver side tire bounced up about 4ft off the ground which was enough for John and I to use a few expletives as we watched it from behind in my jeep. Then Mike provided a little more entertainment as at the very beginning of Rattle Rock he bounced a little to hard off a rock just enough to tap a tree and break his front turn signal cover while leaving the bulb in tact (quite a feat), incidentally that turned out to be the only damage suffered by anyone for the weekend J! After picking up the pieces to the cover Mike proceeded to complete the lower section pretty impressively. After Mike finished we could hear some vehicles playing on the top portion of the trail so we took one the access trails to go watch. When we got up there we watched a guy in a buggy that very much resembled the "Karnivore" that BFG gave away in a promotion last year hammering it on the very large boulders at the top of Rattle Rock. His basic driving style was point the vehicle up the trail and hit the skinny pedal until a rock stopped him, then back off that rock aim a little left or right and hit the skinny pedal again, then repeat until you have completed the trail which he did under the applause of the crowd which had gathered. We also learned while watching that one of the Mog's that was previously with us along with the propane powered buggy had both driven up Rattle Rock, and I tell you having seen the trail in person that is pretty darn impressive!

The forecasted rain finally came calling right at the end of the day so everybody scampered to their vehicles and we headed out of the park. The whole weekend was a blast with two perfect weather days, some good wheeling with no real damage and good company, and just when we thought it couldn't get any better the Mexican restaurant we went to dinner at ended up having an all you can buffet………hmmmm GOOD!

Good Times, Good Friends, Good Wheeling Enough Said!