Everyone 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".
A 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.
The 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.
Four-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.
Grand 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.
After 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.
The 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.
The 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.
On 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.
Here, 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.

This picture 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.

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