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Located about a half hours drive north of Phoenix, AZ, Lower Terminator was one of the first extreme Arizona 4WD trails that became well known in off-road circles (so I have been told). Of the two Terminator tails, Upper and Lower, Lower provides the driver (and photographer) with a number of obstacles that will certainly get your attention and hold it for a while. Both Terminators have lost some of their teeth, so to speak, as the years have taken their toll in the form of rock stacking and breaking (the latter being that some of the ledges have broken up and become a bit easier). None the less, the Terminators, especially lower, is not one I would want to drag a stock Jeep through. Most folks recommend 33" tires and a locked vehicle, although it can (and has) been done with less. Several years ago, when I first was introduced to Lower Terminator (I walked about 300 yards of it), I noticed a good amount of gear lube drips on the rocks. Obviously, axles and differentials were and still are the main diet for this trail.
This run was suppose to be one of several that my Southern CA buddy, Robert Yates, was going to run with me during his 2001 Thanksgiving visit. The previous year, he came down during Thanksgiving and we slipped down to the Tucson area and ran Charouleau Gap Trail. Unfortunately, Robert ran into a slight problem during his early November run in Johnson Valley. Although I've only heard bits and pieces (ie., no pics or videos), I heard he got spanked on one of the Hammer trails which resulted in his absence on Turkey Day. (I'm sure I'll hear something about that when he reads this trail report! [insert VERY BIG grin here]
Not being one to let a good plan go south without a fight, I called a couple of friends and asked them if they wanted to make the run. Jeepers being like they are, my friend called a friend who in turn called a friend....well, you get the idea. On top of that, we ran into a few other friends at the Table Mesa Road staging area...well, you know, Jeepers being Jeepers...so, with a bunch of TJs, YJs, and XJs now making up the group, we all finished our airing down and headed off to start Lower Terminator. If all went well, we would proceed onto Upper Terminator before calling it a day.
The entrance to Lower Terminator has a couple of large rocks placed in such a manner as to filter out the SUVs and stock folks who still have some semblance of sanity remaining. For anyone with a built rig, those rocks are akin to hanging a neon sign at the trail head that says "Fun this way....more rocks ahead!". You could see each Jeeper's rig slow to a crawl for a second while the t-case was switched into low range. With that, the next four hours would prove to be a prefect prescription for anyone wanting to catch a little outdoor time with their friends and climb a few rocks while doing so.
Before I start posting pics, let me first apologize for the ones that came from my camera. Today's run was shot with my digital camcorder. The resolution and clarity of the digital camcorder, while great for TV video viewing, lacks somewhat for doing digital stills. None the less, that is where many of the pics came from (freeze frame pics extract from the digital video). Sorry that they are not up to the normal quality that my regular Sony digital still camera produces. But, trying to sling two cameras is a bit to much for anybody. A big thank you goes to my buddy Terry, who walked most of the trail with my camcorder around his neck. The other pics in the collection, the ones that obviously look as though they were taken with a real camera, were just that....pics that I got from some of the other folks that were also taking shots during the day.
So, we are about 5 minutes into the trail and Scott decides he has found an interesting line over an obstacle. What you don't see here was the climb it took to get up on top of this bedrock ledge. The trail goes around the back side of his vehicle, although the sprinkling of various plastic lens assemblies quickly indicated that the more die-hard guys liked this route over the rock. With my buddy Terry manning the camera, I spotted Scott over the rocks. Hey, it was his idea to grab some air, and who was I to say no?
One thing I quickly found was that Lower was very much off-camber most of the time. This little rock ledge was but an appetizer for what was to come. Little did I know that this would end up being one of the more wheel lifting, off-camber trails I had ran (and that includes all of those up in Moab too!)
One of the more noted obstacles on Lower is called White Line. There is a bypass, if you can call it that, around White Line. There was some serious discussion today concerning which was actually the harder, the obstacle or the bypass around it. Several of us opted to try the bypass. Here is Mike taking a shot at the up and around alternate path. In a few more feet, he will find that his new Ford 9" rear axle has a bit of a lip on it and there is a rock just ahead that has his name on it [insert grin here]. He took it in stride and quickly made it to the top, and then back down again using a different route, making White Line a memory.
Scott decided to take White Line and see how it was. It is named as such for the white quartz seam that runs through the bedrock. You can see the seam just to the front of Scott's Jeep in the above picture. Scott did a great job going over the obstacle. Although not viewable in this picture, a big drop off lies to the passenger side of the vehicle. A poorly misplaced rear tire will suck you down into it. Today, it was not bad since the water that often times accumulates from a recent rain was not present. As such, today's roll over would have left Scott with nasty sheet metal and such, but he would not have gotten wet. From the water marks on the bedrock, there has been upwards of 3'+ of water in "the hole" and more than one Jeeper has unknowingly dropped a tire over the edge and rolled his ride.
Meanwhile, back at the bypass, I am proving that there is a bit of off-camber roll to this route as well. If I remember correctly, I think Scott spotted me into this spot. By now, everyone was getting a little "air happy" as all continued to find various spots on the trail that allowed you to defy both gravity and common sense (in some cases).
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