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Getting the trucks through these woods will be a miracle, I thought to myself, as I watched a Yukon plow his front end into the far side of a gully we were crossing. The Highlander 4X4 Jamboree sponsored by the Central Ontario 4X4 Club was underway.
The previous evening we had registered sixty vehicles at the Ogopogo Resort base camp near Minden, Ontario. I knew when I saw many of the full size trucks signing up for expert trails that it would make for an interesting weekend. The Highlander expert trails were muddy but, more importantly, this was real deep woods into the middle of nowhere with no short-cuts home.
The carnage was in evidence almost from the beginning. At the first mud bog most trucks winched for sixty yards after a twenty foot foray into the mud. Those trucks that took the by-pass (the only one of the day) faired not much better as rocks and steep off camber slope meant sliding off the trail and into the trees. It would be a long day.
By lunch we hadn't got through 25% of the trail. A beaver dam crossing guarded by protruding rock meant two more hours of spotting and winching to bring the eleven trucks across. By two in the afternoon, there were numerous dents and bruises, broken windows, bent rear winch receiver, bent nerfs, bent front bumper and banged up skid plates. And that was just one truck.
The woods were unforgiving. Hours of trails with only inches to spare between trees and difficult, rocky, slippery terrain under foot meant as participants tired, mishaps increased exponentially.
By the time it was dark we were completing our last water crossing. All the trucks were still under their own power but nobody escaped unscathed. Some of the newer full sized trucks had thousands in body work repairs. One had a broken axle tube and some had bent tie-rods. The strange thing was at the end of the day, all the participants were grinning from ear to ear.
After a twenty minute highway jaunt back to Minden, everyone was treated to a sumptuous buffet dinner at the community center. The participants strode in feeling like warriors back from the battlefield. The other trail groups had returned earlier and most had finished dinner. Dinner for some meant a quick bite and back to the truck for repairs. Tomorrow was another day of Highland trails and the warriors had to prepare for battle.