Easter Jeep Safari 2000
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Story by George Jessup

Easter Jeep Safari 2000

Day 8- The Proving Grounds

Some folks just know! They have nothing to prove to themselves. Then, there are others. They have just got to prove it! Whom they are trying to prove something to is a question. What they are proving is often more obvious to those watching than it is to themselves.

If you're a 'wheeler and you feel that you've got something to prove or if you are just into extreme (like the two could really be separated) then you need to visit the PROVING GROUNDS. I have nothing to prove so I did not attempt this trail (yeah, right). OK, my rig and skills just aren't up to a trail like this "yet" so I watched.

I saw riders that are serious wheelers and many have competed in major Rockcrawling events. Driving were Kelly Sheets of 4 Wheel of Moab (TRAIL LEADER - yellow "CJ"), Ian Liljeblad of DCS Welding (Yellow rockrail), Greg Muhsemann of Flexible Fabrication (Flamed rock rail), Mike Schaffer of Mike Schaffer Fabrication (black super Suzuki), Mr Ed of Mr. Ed's Excellent Adventures / Videos (Maroon CJ w/yellow cage), Ned Bacon of Mountain Motors (Killer Bee rock buggy), Rod Pepper; journalist (Purple CJ), and the sleeper of the crowd, Curt Hildebrand of Metal Made Right/Revolver Shackles (YJ Revolver Shackle rig that looks close to stock).

What I watched was not just a bunch of awesome driving up amazing obstacles that exceed or match those in the different championship events, but also shows of character when they conquered or when the winch came out, because they failed.

The star of the day was Kelly Sheets of 4wheel Moab. He worked at it hard but made every obstacle. Good thing, since he was the lead rig and had no winch. The other rig that impressed me was Curt's Revolver Shackled YJ, with finesse, good technical driving and engineering (YJ had his prototype Z shackles).

The first obstacle of the day was a good indicator of the difficulty of this trail. It started with a series of steps last used by a few hard-core 4-wheelers and the dinosaurs. Both would have a hard time climbing them. In fact, we started with eleven rigs. After this obstacle was attempted only eight remained and this was just a warm-up obstacle.

The next obstacle was actually about a mile away and truly started the PROVING GROUNDS. This one was a slickrock wall that got you rather tippy, backward. Most climbed it.

On now to then next obstacle. It put you into a canyon crack with a straight-up exit stage left then right. Kelly Sheets climbed like a mountain goat and stopped nose up to be a possible winch anchor. Each driver did the same and then endured a climb out of their anchor spot over a diff-clinging rock making the trip up somewhat white-knuckled.

The next big obstacle of the day was a a climb into a canyon that had a nasty wedged hump the size of a Suburban and then a wall entrance into a rock and sand alley. This wall stood as tall as that same Suburban on it's end, who was standing on the left tailing face at the end of this climbing canyon. The result meant driving a climb to the left at the end of this canyon up this wall. It took a left line then a swing into the right wall and a ride on your rock guards - or a winch.

Only four made it without a cable; Kelly, Curt, Mike Shaffer, and Ian, who climbed it after a well-balanced tail-stand. Two broke axles.

One hundred feet away was the next mini-wall, which was about a VW bus-sized. This was climbable by those in 4WD. Greg in his flamed rock rail had replaced his broken axle while others were climbing. Mr. Ed was in a bind because he was now a 3-wheeler. Winch - and on to the next obstacle.

The route to it was around the top of a canyon and on into another climbing canyon. Trust me, the route itself was a little hairy.

On the the next obstacle everyone took a winch, but then again there is no choice because it is straight-up and approximately the size of a vertical mini motorhome. Winch anchors had been placed in the rock above by the discoverers of this trail. The ride up is like one in an old creaky freight elevator, with the clicks, clangs of your rig scraping on the walls and your life seemly hanging by a thread...ok, hanging by a winch cable.

A few more dinosaur steps and a downhill bob and weave that holds a high pucker-factor brought you back to the trailhead. All in all, only those few obstacles and 8 hours later, you start to breathe again. Then go home to check your pride.

Tommorw will be a lazy day to prepare for my trip home. I need to do a front-end allingment so I don't wear away my new tires, check my fluids and find a way to strap my 4 old tires to the roof rack. I was only intending to by two tires, but get a man around new tires and out comes the credit card for those new macho monster testostrone producing tires. Any one want to buy 4 BFG Muds (33x12.5x15)? Two have 60% tread. coachgeo@hotmail.com



INDEX | Day 9

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