The next four wheeling trip the jeep went on was a re-visitation to the High Rider Trail. But before we went I did some more repairing and modifying.
The rock I got my muffler caught on at Lake Cavinagh made me really want to get the exhaust inside the frame. There was space to do it on the driver side but the passenger side would be a little hard. The driver side was the one that was messed up from the rock so I set about fixing that and after getting some basic joints and pipe from the auto store I had things roughed out and setup and after a quick trip to Don's barn and some welding the driver side was done. I also modified my rear tire rack so I could store my high lift jack on the outside of the tailgate and free up some room on the back. I also got a small jump seat that I stuck in the back so now I could bring along two white knuckled passengers.
We met another person via e-mail that wanted to come along on the run and with Dale, Don, Scott, Tim (new e-mail) and I, that made a pretty good size group. We met at Don's and drove out to the start of the trail. We decided to go around the right by-pass which was what we came down last time. The start took a little doing and we had to winch up Tim and Scott. Scott had put in a new hydraulic winch that he used to get him up over the beginning. I had never seen a hydraulic winch in action before but I was not that impressed. It was reallllyyyy slow and it seemed that if Scott tried to move his wheels the winch would stop. It was running off the power steering pump and I think if he had a second pump on there it would work a bit better. Once we got past the start there wasn't much until we got back to a side hill washout area that we went down before. Don went first and got through without any problem. I went next and in the side hill part I got the rear of my roll bar snagged on a big
Shit, what now. Dale was thinking something might be broken inside the knuckle. Don thought maybe there was some steering wheel lock left over that was engaging. It felt like it was just something wrong with the steering wheel and not the knuckle. Man, please say it wasn't the knuckle. A few jerks of the steering wheel and things were back to normal. Huh, that was weird. We continued on and I could feel things start to lock up again but a quick jerk and it was gone.
Just before the trail met up with the main trail again, the middle of the trail started to wash out pretty bad. Most of it you could get through but there was one spot that Don didn't want to do. There was a way around and he took that option. I looked at this section and figured if I did it right, I could put one tire on either side and drive right over the washout.
I eased along, looking out the driver side trying to get lined up where I thought I could make it. Then I went too far to the right and I slipped in the washout, leaning over into the washout. Everyone else was looking on. I had given Tim my camera and he got some really great shots of what happened next.
Going back out of the washout would be just as hard as going forward so of course I went forward. Sticking it in granny low I crawled forward and was able to get my left wheel up again but because of the way the washout was my right front wheel went back into the washout which caused some serious crossing up of my wheels. I continued on, frame twisting up as my wheels switched position and I was twisted up the other way. Then I finally got two front wheels up, the rears followed and I was out and on my way again. The only damage sustained was that my right rear shock had popped off the bottom mount.
Scott and Tim went around but Dale took the same route I did and ended up going through the same twisting I did but made it out without any problems. I think Don probably would have had an easier time through because he was a little wider. There are not many times when it pays to be wide, but this was one of them.
The rest of the trail was pretty uneventful but fun. We had been through it before and things hadn't changed that much. In one section some logs had shifted around and we had to take a little different line than before. Everyone made it through except me. I read it a little wrong and got crossed up and wedged up against a dirt wall. I was crossed up to the point that I couldn't get my clutch to disengage to try and go backwards so I had to pull out the winch to pop me out. The winch worked fine but it wasn't much of a test of the new battery. The real test would come later.
I made it home without the steering locking up totally but it was still doing it. I dug into the problem a few days later. After taking out the old lock assembly and looking around I tracked the problem to a loose bolt and washer down near the power steering box. The weird shaped washer was twisting and catching on the frame. It's always the little things...
Next: The Island