So, you might be asking yourself what do you do when you get part way up the crater wall and you run out of forward momentum? Well, you can just grind to a stop and attempt to back down the hill....ARGH!! You really don't want to do that. Backing down steep hills can very quickly lead to a roll over, as many experienced off-roaders can most likely attest to. So....you rainbow. A rainbow is nothing more than adding an arc at the top of your track such that the centrifugal force keeps you pushed against the hill while you get your vehicle to do a tight 180° turn and head back down the hill. Once you get the hang of it, it is not too bad to pull off. If you do it wrong, you will roll down the hill. In the case of Janis crater, that might account for about 300 or 400 feet (at least where we were driving). On other parts of Janis, you will roll much further and it won't be pretty when it is done either. Here is a digital movie (1.4MB) of Joe doing a rainbow at the top of one of his attempts going up to the mouth. I wish someone had shot some of mine so I could have seen them afterwards. The adrenaline keeps the heart rate going while you are doing this entire up and back down thing. Before I tried the mouth on Janis, I spent some time in a nice little place called Bob's Bowl. It is near Janis and offers a nice area where one can "learn" how to defy gravity. The toughest part about doing it (for real, not practice) is that you are walking a fine line between making it to the top or rolling over. If you rainbow too early, you certainly won't make it to the top of the hill. If you think you are going to make it, but you run out of energy just before getting there, you may not have enough left to initiate the rainbow, which means either a roll over or a high pucker factor trip going backwards down a hill you can't even climb up! So....as you near the top of the hill, your mind feels like it is doing a couple million calculations per second....how fast am I going, what does the motor sound like, what are my RPMs, can I afford to down shift, do I rainbow now for keep going, was that someone else coming up behind me going to the direction I want to turn, etc. etc.? When you do it right, you have enough power in reserve to cause the rear end of the Jeep to break loose and start to whip around going up hill. This gets you turned around in a heartbeat (or two) and then you need to get off the throttle right away else you find yourself screaming down the hill faster than you wanted. (and that in itself is kind of a rush too!)
The quads and motorcycles have a much higher HP to weight ratio and so are much more able to climb these very steep hills. I'm still not sure if I can get use to an off-road motorcycle that sports a paddle tire on the rear; it does look kind of strange. Here is a digital movie (655 KB) of a motorcycle attempting to climb out of Janis, but doesn't quite make it. The driver is going up a very steep section of the crater. In defense of the driver, he went easily out of the mouth after he rainbowed in this movie and headed back towards the mouth.
The picture above was taken by me while up on Janis's red face....the ground there is red colored and as you can see, there are no tracks on it. It can not be climbed, at least not with anything that exists in today's off-road arena. Joe got on the CB and pretty soon, a bunch of his old buddies all joined up for a reunion at the bottom of the Crater. There were members from several different clubs that Joe has rode with over the years.
This is a picture of Joe on his way down to join the guys at the bottom of the crater. This is the face of the bowl where the big V-8s climb out of the crater bottom. Sorry for the low quality picture. A large forest fire that was burning NW of Flagstaff all during the weekend was dumping smoke right into our area. The haze is the wood smoke from the fire.
Here are a few more photos we took while up in the area. These were taken while we were out driving around, checking out the surrounding trails and countryside.
Here I am sitting on an old dead Ponderosa pine. Joe took us over to the Strawberry Crater area. He had hiked to the the crater on his birthday, the previous day, while Donna and I were driving up to Flagstaff. If you feel up to the challenge, Joe says the view is mighty impressive from the top of the crater.
While out snooping around, we interrupted some of the local residents. We saw one of them as we were driving up to the bush they were under. It was not until we were driving away that Donna saw the second one tucked in close to the base of the bush. So we stopped, backed up the TJ, and snapped another picture before heading out.
Here was another little fellow that was kind enough to let us take his picutre. I used the camera zoom on him to get him to look a bit bigger than he really was. In fact, he is about 3 inches long or so, but I think this photo of him is much more impressive. Donna thanked the locals for being so kind hearted and letting us take their pictures before we headed back to camp.
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