Trip Report: Patriot Jeepers,Inc Florida Weekend

After surviving the monsoon for those who camped Friday night, it was great to see the sun try to shine for a day of Jeepiní. At the meeting spot 14 Jeeps gathered and lined up, three CJ7s, a CJ5, five TJs, two YJs, two Willys, and one lone Cherokee! In this group there were some new faces, and a guest, Paul Regish, from the Northeast Association.

After Rich quickly bled his front brake on his jeep the Patriot Jeepers were off to Old Florida Road, led by the one and only Rich Banfield. At the trailhead we encountered some dirt bikers where we were held up for a few minutes while everyone locked in their hubs. From the back of the pack it seemed like the first half of the group was leaving us in the dust, until they encountered the first of two major rock ledges. This obstacle looked a lot tougher this year. The line that many took last year still seemed to be the best bet, but the rocks were really wet and it took some gusto to get up the rock, but not too much that you would slide down into the tank trap.

As the first few made it up the obstacle, I could hear engines coming up behind us. Within a few minutes about 5 Jeep TJís and a Dodge Ramcharger came up behind us. These guys where from a Connecticut group and were shocked to see the rock obstacle and were not sure if the guy in a Ram Charger would be able to do Old Florida Road. To pass the time they thought they would be useful and shout directions to whoever was attempting the ledge. Debra Donovan did a good job of keeping her cool while receiving directions from 5 different people at once. She said she was trying to listen to Richís voice.

After clearing the first slow down of the day, the trail went smoothly. Here and there someone would need to stop for a second, or would get hung up on one of the many boulders that lay in the way. When we encountered the second major obstacle it became very clear that a new line would have to be invented. Most everyone went to the right, parallel to the obstacle then cut back left. John Barnes drove straight up the ledges, driving his motherís black CJ7 with lockers front and rear. He made it look very easy.

Once we reached the water hole I noticed that it was not as deep as I remembered. We stayed to the left and moved on to our next trail. This trail had some mud and steep inclines. There was one section that had a hairpin turn with a 2-3 foot incline to climb. Again it was slick and people without lockers had a little challenge. Joe Lacy made this one look easy in his green TJ. (The Cherokee made it up no sweatÖ. It must be that 2 extra feet that I have over all the other jeeps). Not far from the hairpin turn we encountered more slick rock. John Sugden got hung up and needed to winch, while others needed a little tug to make it up. Joe Mayhamís Rubicon had a little trouble due to the low ground clearance, but he made it up under his own power.

The next trail that we did was the Big View. Again there was some more slick rock, which made the steep rock seem a little more intimidating. (For those who have not been on the Big View this rock is steep and the left side slopes abruptly to the right). I followed Ken Cook who decided to go up right side, and quickly make the right hand turn at the top. The rest of the trail was rocky leading up to the mountaintop where the view was spectacular. The Patriot Jeepers paused for a quick group photo and we were off to the bottom of the mountain and on our way back home.

Later on that night some people stayed and camped at Savoy State Forest. Around the campfire we conversed and told stories. John Barnes told us about his 11 jeeps while Paul Dockery told us funny stories. The funny thing about the night is that everyone who gathered around the fire brought wood, and by the end of the night we had more wood than we knew what to do with. Everyone seemed to be in a joking mood and a good time was had by all.

The next day was sunny and cool to start with. Only 7 jeeps showed up and we ran the Ice Cream Trail, which was almost all mud. We had a nice surprise to see that the ice cream parlor was open so most people treated themselves to a pre lunch ice cream cone. After a quick chat with the new owners of the ice cream parlor and motels, we tried a trail that has not been run in a long time. The Leatherman Rock trail started off nice and easy with a quick dip into a gooey mud hole, then up to an overlook. From the overlook the trail became all water/mud with a lot of rock to negotiate. In the middle of the trail there was a huge boulder that was about 15 feet tall, and it was strange to see because there were no other rocks around. The second half of the trail became a little more difficult with challenging ledges and off camber sections.

Overall the weekend was a blast with only a few mechanical difficulties. Paul Dockery and his Willyís lost its steering box, Rich had some engine trouble, John Sugden lost his rear cable Ox locker, Joe Mayham left traces of his skid plates everywhere, my Cherokeeís brush guard got dented., and a few people crunched their exhaust pipes. Check out the website for pictures from this and other events.

A big thanks goes out to Tom and Michelle Breault Red CJ7, Deb and Dan Donovan Green TJ, John Barnes and his nephews Black CJ7, "Rubicon Joe" Mayham and Family Rubicon TJ, Ken Cook and family Teal YJ, John Sugden and son Green TJ, Eric Desroshers and Family Blue TJ, Roger "The gourmet chef" Barton Black YJ, Brandon Bond, Renee Rogers and her mom Sue Grey XJ. From the North East Association Paul Regish Blue CJ5, Joey and Allison Lacey Green TJ, "The Willys Brothers" Nick Warchol Yellow Willys, Paul and Jonathan Dockery Blue Willys, and our trip leader Rich Banfield Blue CJ7.

Written by: Brandon Bond
1988 Cherokee
Patriot Jeepers,Inc Co-Webmaster

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