Shortly after the tunnel, I picked up some friends of U-Joint John on the CB. They were running late and had called earlier on the cell phone for directions to the trail head. We held up the group for a few minutes while Michael, driving a built up Cherokee, and his friend driving a Toyota pickup, caught up with us.
We managed to sneak under the south bound freeway traffic by getting into broad wash that just happened to have a small bridge built over it. We opened the range grazing gate and got everyone through, including Michael and the Toyota. With a tight left hand up hill turn, we again headed due south, following the Pipeline markers to Table Mesa. Within 10 minutes of travel, we could see familiar land marks as we closed the gap.
U-joint John called for a halt at the trail head for Raw Deal. His right front hub didn't seem to be engaging in 4WD. After everyone searched for an Allen wrench so the hub could be disassembled and checked, U-joint found one in the back of his YJ....apparently the tool box had dumped its contents along the way. Maybe now we'll have to call him Hubless John......no....doesn't have as good of a ring to it as U-joint John.
Raw Deal was pretty the much the same as the previous trips through it, with the exception of a couple of notable events. This was Brent's first time through (open front diff and Trac-loc in the rear) and Michael with his Cherokee planned on taking the hard lines with us.
Here is Brent getting set up for entering the great divide. He had a little problem right in here in that he got all twisted up and his open front just wasn't helping the LSD rear in doing its job. Dion got him on a new line just a bit to the right of where I had him and he climbed right out. (nice clearance on that belly up skid)
Michael decides to come down to where Brent just was via a slightly different route. He and Dion both took this line coming down "from the high ground". U-joint John spotted both of the guys through this section with no carnage (yet).
Brent did a super job over the Great Divide, as we call it. The shadows don't reveal just how bad you can get going through (actually over) this obstacle, but trust me, you can get yourself in such a way as to need a tow strap to get out (right U-joint?). Larry watches to make sure Brent's left rear tire catches a narrow ledge (if you miss it, you'll peal sheet metal off or perhaps the skin off of a Cherokee's rear bumper....Michael?) while U-joint John directs the spotting action from the front.
I went through the air-hole and as usual, got pretty good air....almost too good! I didn't think it was ever going to come back down. Michael seemed to think it was a pretty good idea so I spotted him through it. At the peak of his climb out of the hole, he stopped the Cherokee and leaned down and out of the door to inspect the undercarriage of his rig. (Actually, I think he was using himself as an outrigger to prevent himself from going over to the right.) Yes sir, he got great air for a LWB vehicle.
While all of the above with Michael was happening at the air-hole, U-joint John decides to run the Great Divide in a non-standard fashion. (I just don't know about these people! Without adult supervision, look what kind of mess they get themselves into!) I got back to find U-joint in this predicament. He was stuck big time. A few rocks weren't going to get him out of this one, regardless of how much those big fat tires of his wanted to grab for traction. Michael backed up his rig and Larry got a strap out of his TJ. The way I see things adding up, U-joint John owes Larry BIG time for all the assistance he got on this trip.....let's see, there was the bolt way back at the beginning to hold something or the other together, a replacement u-joint on the failed hill climb attempt, and now this nice big yellow strap! What do you think?
We finished up this section of the trail and went and played on the big rock ledge. With time running out and several with an hours drive back to home, we decided to air up and call it a day. All in all, it was a pretty good trip. We again proved the GPS does have its place on the trail, taking us from start to finish even though I had no idea where we were going! We all were able to hone our trail repairs skills with the help of a little OJT (On the Job Training), courtesy of U-joint John.
I hope your trail runs are as great as this one was. Enjoy the outdoors and remember to TREAD Lightly!
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