Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Last Abiquiu Trip Before New Axle

This is the last trip out before taking the axle out for a FZJ-80 axle swap.

Went to Abiquiu NM again. Will probably go again for a follow up post new axle.

That's it.


Colorado Wheeling

I finally decided that I will keep posting to this blog. I am however going to take the advice of my brother-in-law and move toward a picture only post. I don't like typing.

I will give a little bit of a story for the this trip. We went to colorado to climb Mr. Blanca. Mt. Blanca has a trail that leads up to Lake Como at 12k ft that looks to be passable by any stock 4wd truck. There are 4 big obstacles on the trail that can only be driven with lockers and 35" tires.

Here's the first obstacle:

Our friends Shawn and Sandra came in their Tacoma. On the first rock Shawn slid down and knocked his t-case and popped a hole in it:

So after getting the Tacoma off the rock we kept going up to the next obstacle.

Here Shawn decided to leave his truck, so Maggie and I took out stuff up and dropped it off by the lake. This required climbing the rest of the way up, turning around, and wheeling back down in the dark:

Here is our camp site:

and the truck explosion:

We actually made it to the top the next day:

We took all 4 dogs up and wore them out:

The trip back down involved some entertaining on the edge wheeling.

At the bottom Maggie and I went into town and got some JB weld to patch the hold in Shawn's t-case. Then the long trip back home.



Sunday, April 18, 2010

First Real Rockcrawling Adventure

We went out to a short trail about an hour from our house today and I got a chance to experience true rockcrawling. The trail is called The Webb and is only .6 miles long. We got onto the trail right before noon and finally hit the end around 5pm. It is a brutal trail. I met Kevin, who brought out a F-Toy to run the trail buggy style.

At the entrance we let our dogs out and then dropped into a dry creek bed with huge rocks. Within the first 50 yards I got a tall rock wedged up into the body behind the front tire.

After a little rock stacking I was able to get up and over this first ledge. After cruising through some easy rock crawling we came to a 3ft ledge. After a few tries Kevin made the climb, and I thought it was going to be a challenge, so I tried a narrower line to the right. After a failed attempt I followed Kevin up the steep ledge and made it. It was the largest step I have climbed to date.

Here is the epic climb:

After another 100 yards we came to another climb. This time after seeing Kevin get his rear end stuck up against a big rock I chose a different line. When I got to the top I turned the wrong way and dropped my front passenger tire into a big hole and lifted the rear end off the ground. The truck almost went over. A quick back up and route correction kept the truck upright.

After some more boulder dodging we came to the last 50 yards of the trail where we spent the most time. I ended up winching 3 times and stacked more rocks then I want to count.

The "hard" section started with another 3ft climb that had a sandy pit at the top. This was the first winch. After walking to the end and scouting the exit we realized by coming up this climb I was stuck on the hard route. The second winch came at the next rock pile where I tried to follow Kevin without a spotter and got totally high centered. A quick tug got me going and I was able to get over the next set of rocks that had kept Kevin busy with some careful spotting. Then came allot of rock stacking to get me up a little section that had a top hunting bus sized bolder that a little rock kept leaning me into.

Then the last ledge before the exit. The camera battery ran out, but I got really stuck up there. After climbing a ledge there was a big rock on the drivers side, but rocks on the passenger side kept tipping me into it. Kevin just leaned in and slid tube along the rock, I slipped in and dented the drivers door in 6 inches. The first real bad body damage for the 4-Runner. To try and get around the rock had me driving up and over some rocks that had a big drop on the far side. After tipping around and almost flopping I winched out again.

After this final winchfest this epic trail was over. This was a great trail. I spent the whole day in low-low, a gear choice I rarely get a chance to use. Today the whole trail required careful navigation. I definitely found the limit of what this truck can do with a full body. It was also great to wheel with someone with a more capable truck.

Sierra and Lucy also had a great time and behaved very well. A few times they even hung out around Kevin.

I'll leave you with a little perspective of how tall the epic climb ledge is:



Saturday, April 3, 2010

First Tank Trap Trip

We took another weekday trip this past Friday. Maggie's brother and sister in-law came up for a rare visit to see what rock-crawling is all about. I had been wanting to go to a place just outside of Santa Fe called "Tank Trap". The only frustrating thing about the Tank Trap trail is it is a mere 3 miles south east of White Rock. If I could drive strait there it would be a 20 min trip. However due to a small river (the Rio Grande) and an Indian reservation, it is inaccessible except through Santa Fe.

So on Friday morning we drove down to Santa Fe, and out to the Santa Fe National Forest east of town. Finding the trail was an experience as it hadn't been wheeled on in a while. I actually thought ahead and brought some coordinates for the trail and we used the GPS to find it. It worked really well.

Once we got on the trail we quickly realized we were following a dry stream bed. This created a lot of "boulder fields". basically stretches of trail with big rocks that were the stream bed. The trail was relatively flat. This combination made for more of a technical crawling trail. There were only two significant climbs (or drop offs from the direction we drove, and one place where I almost flopped it. The first drop is down a sandy step in the river bed that water has eroded out. The second is at the end and is a pretty big step:

The only hairy spot was when I tried to stay up on the beach side of a water hole. The passenger side tires were in the soft mud in the shallows of the hole, and my drivers tires were on the rocky shore. With everyone in the truck as I climbed over rocks it tipped the passenger side toward the water. It made for an entertaining few moments before I turned into the water and drove out.

Taking Nick and Claire out rock-crawling for the first time was fun. Claire was very scared anytime the truck was not perfectly level and so she decided to watch from outside most of the day. This helped keep the dogs away from the truck. Our two dogs and Nicks dog ran outside for the whole trail, making for some tired, wet and happy dogs.

As you can see in the video, the water is pretty deep. I think I'll leave this trail for the dryer summer months. It was still a great trail that is short enough and close enough to do in an afternoon.



Friday, March 19, 2010

The Repeat

It seems I have been hitting up NM wheelin spots in pairs, I went back to Rio Puerco yesterday. My parents came into town this week to visit and I wanted to take them wheelin. We tried a spot closer in Santa Fe, but it was closed due to "wet conditions", which means the snow is melting and making the road sloppy muddy. So we went down to dryer climes. I was able to find my way back into the Puerco without a guide, which was reassuring as last time we heard stories from our guides about people getting lost. It was fun to show my father around, see what his tundra could do, AND wheel toppless for the first time this year!

The other first for this trip was bringing our dogs on the trail. They were great. They rode in the back on the main trail, and got kicked out for any of the hard stuff. My Dad's dogs were in attendance and were much worse about getting in front of the truck as we tried to drive. I was proud of our dogs.

As far as the wheelin is concerned. I had allot of fun and showed off on many of the same obstacles I was shown last time. I did find one new very steep climb and have decided the 4-runner is a really good climber.

Here is my Dad's Tundra crawling up a sandy hill climb. The V-8 is obviously useful.



Sunday, March 7, 2010

FINALLY!!! New Mexico Rockcrawling

Before I expound on my first NM Rockcrawling adventure I first have to tell you all about sleeping in the snow.

I decided one day that I needed to go backpacking in the snow. So I loaded up my bag one day and had Maggie drop me off at the edge of town. I spent the rest of the day getting very lost and slogging through hip deep snow. Los Alamos is surrounded by trails, but with 2ft of snow on them, I was having a hard time following the trail.

Once I finally got tired enough to stop and set up the tent the cheese/milk mixture in my backpack for mack-n-cheese had frozen. The hot noodles that I boiled only warmed up the cheese to room temperature. Despite luke warm mack-n-cheese, I was still full and happy.

The next mornings oatmeal was hot, but it still didn't make up for the frozen shoes. I walked really fast for the first hour to get those things warmed up. Despite the 12* midnight low I still had a blast.

Ok...on to Rockcrawling. I went down to Albuquerque to go wheelin in a new spot. Albuquerque is about 2000ft lower then Los Alamos and therefore has no snow. The place is called Rio Puerco. We arrived at the entrance and met up with some Samurais from the "Desert Ninjas". They are a great group of guys.

When you first get to Rio Puerco it looks like a motocross course. Once we got going we went up and over a big sand dune and down the other side. We went down into a dry river wash and followed the wash all day. We stopped periodically and followed trails up into the banks. Some of them actually got me twisted up.

The real fun came toward the end of the day when we got into some "slick rock". We found some really good V cracks and ledges to climb. This is where the dual t-cases and rear 4-link really shined. My truck even impressed me.

I actually climbed this 3ft ledge.

The praise does go to Maggie for the best documentation of this trip. She is getting really good at taking pictures for me.

I will leave you with a little of what Maggie saw from behind the camera all day.

Monday, March 1, 2010

New Mexico Snow Wheeling

I will start my blog by documenting my first wheeling adventures in New Mexico. I will first say after moving to NM I joined the High Desert Cruisers a TLCA chapter out of Albuquerque. They are a good family oriented and relaxed group of wheelers.

Being that we moved to NM in the winter my first introduction of NM wheelin has been a couple of snow runs. First a New Years day stocker snow run, and then another trip to the same place after a big snow for a "Hardcore" snow run.

The New Years day snow run was a blast. Sans chains, I still did well because the snow was not deep. We drove non-stop all day, and no one got stuck, which means the best documentation the trip even happened is in my head. Here is the only proof I have of even going on this trip.

The second run was more adventurous. We went to Paliza Canyon, which is in the Jemez mountains to the west of Los Alamos. An hour drive through the mountains got me to the trailhead and a waiting group of trucks. My adventures started with a pair of borrowed chains. I have never put chains on, much less chains that barely fit my worn 35" Goodyear tires.

After 30 min of guys standing around giving me orders I successfully installed a pair of chains on the rear tires. I would learn latter that might have been a mistake.

After chaining up and airing down we set off on the trail. Things were going great with Sean at the front in a FJ-40 with a 350 and 39" IROK's. The snow got deeper as the day went on. We eventually ended up in 4ft deep snow. It was great.

When we got into the deep snow I realized how much my 4-runner sucks in the snow compared to the Land Cruisers. Pappy in a FJ-40 with 35" Goodyear MTR tires (same as mine) was able to get to the front and plow fresh snow.

I on the other hand had problems just keeping up in the tracks. I just kept spinning the rear tires.

The biggest adventure came after we had turned around at the top and started back down. I needed to let Ali by me in his FJ-80, so when I found a wide spot I moved over...

Well I also got stuck, the only person to get stuck this trip. Oh well...it was fun.

The rest of the trip we just cruised back down our tracks to the trailhead and went home. It was a great trip. Next time I am going to put the chains on the front and let a bunch more air out of the tires. 15psi is way to much for the snow.

The next outdoor adventure I tried out here was a backpacking trip....more on that later.