|Our July trail ride took the Patriot Jeepers
to Ma Bell for the monthly off-road Jeep workout.
Those of us that camped overnight met up with
the day trippers at the entrance to the campground
and after exchanging greetings with old and new
friends, we took off for the trail right on time.
(Rich – please note!) With barely a cloud
in the sky, this was shaping up to be a good day
on the trails.
Arriving at the trailhead, we found that Lou and Chris had also arrived bringing the number of Jeeps to 23. Bathtub Lou was already out of his Jeep discussing potential vehicle modifications with anyone he could find (more about this later).
The first action was watching Ken (Teal YJ) attempt the first obstacle – a steep ledge with the potential to rollover. After a couple of tries, Ken compromised and made his way around the right side and up a less steep section. Next up was Bathtub Lou (White CJ concoction of new and old parts). After a couple of tries Lou also decided that the aggressive throttle needed to get up the incline could also lead to a rollover. With no other takers, we all rolled on to the main trail.
Ma Bell showed a significant amount of erosion since our previous visit there last summer. Ledges were exposed a little higher than before making some of the side trails all but impassable. The main trail however was in reasonable shape and most Jeeps made it over the various ledges and boulders on the route without help – some needed a tug from a trail buddy but overall everyone drove well.
At the lunch spot it became apparent that part of our group had been held up at the rear. When they finally showed up for lunch we discovered that the holdup had been Bathtub Lou who was again out of his jeep discussing the different shades of fauna visible from the trail, pointing out items of ornithological significance while at the same time debating the relative benefits of revolver spring shackles over the standard variety.
The lunch break proved to be a good time to test my sales skills by moving many of the new T-Shirts and club stickers. Lunch also proved to be a great social time for both new and old members and my leadership skills were needed to get the group moving again. The return trip to the trail head was relatively straight forward with several Jeeps making it thru the mud hole close to the entrance.
The afternoon trail ride on the Wild West Trail was the result of some exploring done by Rich and others the previous year. Rather than complain about the declining access to trails in New England, Rich has made a major effort to explore potential abandoned roads and has added numerous new trails to the club trail inventory over the past couple of years. The Wild West Trail is one them. (See back of the new club T-Shirts).
While this trail has little in the way of challenging obstacles, it does have several rocky sections that need to be negotiated carefully and the run up the logging trail near to the end needs a steady application of throttle. After a minor excursion around a fallen tree at the head of the trail and with help from ‘wild thing’, our trail leader Tom (Red CJ) took us down a winding route thru the woods. With some of the trail becoming partly overgrown with grass and weeds, I heard more than one Jeep clank on a boulder hidden from view. A couple of breakdowns occurred – none serious. John (Green TJ) lost a brake line and Mark (Blue YJ) separated his front drive shaft. Thanks to all who helped put these Jeeps back on the trail in short order.
About the time that I’m halfway up the logging hill, my tires grabbing for traction on the boulder strewn, grassy trail, I realize that this is about as good as it gets. I’m in my Jeep with the roof down, on an old trail in the woods with about 20 old and new friends – it doesn’t get much better than this.
Thanks to Tom for leading this trail ride and thanks to all who helped out on the trail with repairs, tools, brake fluid and spotting where needed. On Sunday, the nine intrepid overnight campers made their way to Rubble Trouble for more fun on the boulders. After your trail leader took a wrong turn and caused everyone to make Y turns (which were well executed by the way) we reached the trailhead which becomes more overgrown each year. Rubble Trouble is a straight shot down hill and back up with the return trip uphill being much more of a challenge. Jeeps with 33’ tires and one or more locker can generally make this trail with little problem by paying attention to the right line and using a little throttle when needed to get up over the boulders and washed out ledges. Jeeps with smaller tires have more of a problem because they can more easily get hung up on the rocks.
Fortunately, everyone made it down and back in one piece. Several Jeeps tested their skid plates on more than one occasion and a few got high centered and needed a tug to get them going again. A special mention to Rena and John (White YJ) for piloting their way thru the boulders and thanks to John (Black CJ) for spotting duty. Also thanks to Deb and Dan (Green TJ) for tail gunner duty par excellence.
With everyone back on the road and axles checked for damage, the return to the campground was uneventful.
Thanks to all who made the trail rides this weekend and for making this a fun and safe excursion in the woods. For those day trippers who have not yet camped with us – try it next month. Bring an air mattress and some bug spray and you’ll be fine. The only problem you will have to contend with is the heat from firebug Rich’s monstrous campfires.
See you all next month.
Trail Leader extraordinaire (Black YJ with horns)