was very thankful to get on the trail. We proceeded down a narrow
access trail. The terrain wasn't very difficult, but I don't think
a car could have made it. At the bottom of the trail, we came to an
old railroad bed, w/out ties, or rails. We drove along the railroad
bed for a very short time and turned onto another access road that
entered the "Strip-Mine Pit Area".
reasonably sized portion of Paragon Adventure Park is out-of-service
strip mining pits. These are long deep holes in the ground. Some are
wide, some are narrow, some are deep, some are shallow. Some pits
can run for miles, while most can fit within the area of a football
field. These pits create hills, and moguls, and mud-holes. They are
a common play-pen for ATVs and four-wheel drive vehicles.
first obstacle of the day was a short, steep optional descent. Most
everyone went that way. The pictures never really look like much,
but for the novice, these inclines are very steep. All items on your
seats relocate themselves to the floor of your vehicle upon descent.
Everyone was instructed to let the compression of your engine lower
yourself down with your transfer case in 4-Low.
was one of the instructions Lynn gave back in the field. When you're
out on the trail, there is hardly ever reason to leave low-range four-wheel
drive. It allows you to keep better control of your vehicle in most
off-road situations. Since the object of four-wheeling isn't about
speed, low-range is well suited for our purpose.
Cherokees were another popular vehicle at the event. No doubt, because
of how sure-footed and graceful they are off-road. Here is a nicely
equipped Orvis Edition making a descent in the strip-mine pits.
the steep descent, we moved on to other things. Jen navigated my Jeep
through the sandy pits. You may have seen my Jeep in other Rockcrawler
articles such as, Rocklight
Install, and Tom
Wood SYE Kit. My Jeep, aptly named, "TJ Junk" is a low-budget,
high-performance trail vehicle ... built to perform reliably on the
trail, and on the daily commute, with little or no compromises to
strength and comfort.
group wound through the pit and came to the second obstacle, which
was an enornous pit of water that varies in depth and gooiness depending
on what time of the year it is. The water looked pretty shallow, although
still over bumper deep for stock vehicles. Unfortunately, I don't
believe anyone tried going through the center of it... I even offerred
to pull people out if they got stuck! Oh well... this is "Rockcrawler
Magazine" anyway. We'll save the mud for another magazine.
third obstacle was just past the mud. A moderately steep ascent out
of the pit was the next challenge. The difficulty of this obstacle
usually varies from day to day. On a wet day, after being chewed up,
it would take a good run for a stock Jeep to make it up.
a dry spring or summer day, a stock Jeep can walk right up with hardly
any tire-slip. People enjoyed feeling their backs pressed into their
seats on this obstacle, and watching sky before they crest the top.
It is hard to see, so you have to have someone on top of the hill
making sure no vehicles are coming, because the top intersects a trail.
a white TJ Sahara ascends out of the pit. Again, the camera doesn't
do a justice, but it is steep enough to stop any rig in its tracks
if the ground is loose and wet. Onlookers and spotters waited at the
top of the climb, and John Sanzi Sr.'s red Jeep Commanche can be seen
in the background.
at the top of the hill-climb gives you a good idea of what the strip-mine
pits are like, generally. Steep sandy hills to the north and south,
while the pit runs east and west. There are some high-difficulty
climbs out of the pit on its south walls, but the north walls are
usually too loose, like a sand dune.
Here, the convoy
is just passing the masive water-hole, and the ascent from the previous
pictures is just below the bottom of the picture.