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"Herc Tour" Report

GJarrett

Elite Explorer
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Location
Tampa, FL
City, State
Chief GPS'um and Still Lost Native Texan
Year, Model & Trim Level
'99 EB 4x4 "Herc" RIP
I wish to express my sincerest appreciation to the gracious hospitality of the following members (and their wives and families) who made my extended vacation possible:
  • Rick and Char
  • RangerX
  • Peter Weber
  • Ray Lobato
:bounce: Wow... trailruns in nine major fourwheeling areas in four different states 1,800 miles apart (putting over 4,500 miles on the odometer for the roundtrip) - all in one month! :smoke:

October 27-28, 2001:
The Slabs, Kingsland, TX

November 1-5, 2001:
Moab, UT
  • Metal Masher
  • Arches Nat'l Park
  • White Rim Trail; including the Shaefer switchbacks, Lathrop Canyon Trail, and the Moses/Zeus spur
  • Hell's Revenge
  • Moab Rim :eek:
  • Elephant Hill
November 7, 2001:
Broken Arrow Trail, Sedona, AZ

November7-8, 2001:
Local night run , Phoenix, AZ
Crown King Trail, AZ

November 9-11, 2001:
Truckhaven Hills, Salton City, CA

November 13, 2001:
Oceano Dunes, Pismo Beach, CA

November 16, 2001:
Bald Mountain, CA

November 17, 2001:
Frank Raines Trails, CA

November 18, 2001:
Hollister Hills Trails, Hollister, CA

With 22 great friends from this website (not including a couple of dozen others who are not members of this board):
  • Kris Guilbeaux
  • RockRanger
  • MuddWhore
  • Michael
  • Gofast
  • trckmagik
  • Alec
  • Sinjin
  • Kubben
  • Rick
  • Char
  • Leebo
  • Peter Weber
  • RangerX
  • Paul Bredehoft
  • FAKRWEE
  • Jefe
  • Ray Lobato
  • BAExplorer
  • tdavis
  • Soupbone
  • Positive Vibes
This almost turned into a "Threewheeling Tour" instead of a fourwheeling tour since the overall theme of several of these runs included threewheeling poses by various people.
101MichaelHelp.jpg

Michael follows Gofast's spotting

101LeeboPark.jpg

Leebo flunks parallel parking during his drivers license test on the White Rim Trail

101HellsGateAir.jpg

I take a wrong line up Hell's Gate (please don't let mom see this photo)

Also a "No-wheeling" pose by RangerX in TruckHaven:rolleyes:
101BillParking2.jpg

RangerX utilizes his proven "existential driving method" to locate the "End of the Trail"


The Tour
Upon deciding to pull up forty years of Texan roots, a good job, and lifelong friendships in Texas in order to move to South Carolina to live near my son, I elected to take a "between lives" vacation before starting a new unknown life in another state. What better way to do it than spend it with my friends on this site and enjoy awesome scenery that only those of us in four wheel drives can witness? Early this summer I emailed a few members notifying them I was thinking about doing a "Herc Tour" for this between-lives vacation (Herc is the nickname of my Explorer; short for "Herculiner").

The timing proved perfect when two events developed coincidentally to my plans. Firstly, Peter Weber tried to get a two-day Moab White Rim trail event organized for the first weekend in November, exactly when I had put in my notice to quit my job in Dallas to move to South Carolina. What timing, and it was in my very favorite place Moab to boot! I was in for sure. Then Kris Guilbeaux sent me an email inviting me on a trip to the Slabs in TX on the weekend directly before the Moab trip planned by Peter Weber and Leebo.

From there it was a simple matter of stretching my trip out a couple of more weeks and posting here to see who wanted to go play with me. Events in AZ and CA began to take shape and the "Herc Tour" became a reality. My only disappointment was an attempt to stretch this out one more state to a Colorado run on the way back to Texas, but time restraints prevented me from adding that to the trip.

The Slabs run report has already been posted so I won't repeat it, except to say it was the best Slabs run I have participated in and I had a great time seeing all my fellow Texans there for what will probably be my final Texas run in a very long time, if ever again. Unfortunately Kubben showed up late that night and I only got to briefly say hi before he set up camp and I left early the morning, so I missed a day's run with him the next day when the XTerras showed up.

Slabs run thread:
http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=37229

My trip to the Slabs started a recurring Whoops theme throughout the following month. I banged up my WAAG front grillguard bad enough to have to remove it and my front bumper and readjust the bracketry and bumper with a torch and "universal 5 lb adjustment tool" ;) . Little did I know I would test my approach angle many more times on this trip :( The other recurring theme that began at the Slabs was that I was blessed with phenominally perfect weather for the entire trip. As a matter of fact, Peter Weber complained on the White Rim run that the cloudless skies needed some clouds for better sunset color.

The WAAG wasted no time getting used again, when I hit a mule deer doe just south of Moab while driving there to join up with Peter Weber and Leebo for the White Rim run :eek: The only funny part of that is that it happened right under a "deer crossing" sign so the deer must have been real well trained :D I didn't even get to keep a backstrap. I figure that the local sheriff's family has been eating well for the last couple of weeks.

Arriving a day earlier than the others for the White Rim run, I elected to scout out a trail that none of us have run yet in order to prerun it for possible scheduling in our Moab 2002 event. I was limited in my choices, since I wanted to scout a fairly difficult trail, but didn't have someone to join me. I never run alone so I had to plan for this very carefully and be willing to deal with the consequences. I chose Metal Masher, a 4 rated trail. It is near Moab, the trail isn't that long or far from many other popular trails, and cellphone access gets through for the entire trail. I had a couple hundred pounds of tools and supplies with me and plenty of camping gear, food, and water. I contacted a tow company and fourwheeling company in town to make sure I could be extracted if something happened and decided to go as long as I still had cell coverage. It wouldn't have been cheap if I broke or got stuck, but I would be fine should it happen.

The first of Metal Masher isn't that bad but once it gets interesting it is truly a 4 rated trail. Rock Chucker, the first famous obstacle on the trail, is way beyond anything I would want to try, but there is a bypass. Mirror Gulch is tight enough that any mistake will result in body damage on side body panels- it gets its name from broken side mirrows being a common occurance against its walls - and the first ledge required me to be a rockstacker to get over it. Then there's Widowmaker, heh. Here's a photo of the first part up Widowmaker.
101Widowmaker2.jpg

As most of you are aware, pictures never seem do justice to conveying the true difficulty of an obstacle. This one is awesome. The first ledge of it is basically a vertical wall similar to Dump Bump, but then you have to climb up the rest of the obstacle afterwards, as if conquering a Dump Bump isn't enough! I wasn't about to try to tackle this one alone; maybe next year with the group. It will surely be a great place for videos on our next run. It also has a bypass for those with more sense than others of us :D Metal Masher ends with a bang at Mother-in-Law Hill which provides a choice of several lines from possible to insane for those who want to try their luck at climbing it. Moab 2002 is gonna be fun. :cool: Be there.

The Moab Colors Run
http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=37607
Peter and Lee showed up and we met at the hotel that night to get ready for a two-day run on the White Rim trail the next morning. As the adventure continued it quickly became clear that we had timed it perfectly for the changing of the leaves. The "White Rim Run" quickly became named the "Moab Colors Run". Traversing canyon rims of the mighty Colorado and Green Rivers, we were presented with beautiful green trees mixed with Cottonwoods and others that had exploded into massive golden yellow displays against a backdrop of the Moab redrock, all resting under cloudless crystal blue skies.

Honestly guys and gals, I tried to get some pictures with my cheap digital camera, but if ever there was a "you hadta be there to see it" time this was it. Photos can't capture the experience we had. As Peter told me, "Some pictures are only for memories; a camera cannot capture them." How true. Here are a couple of feeble tries from the album link I posted at the top of this thread.

101Peter2.jpg


101WhiteArchGroup2.jpg


101MoabColor1.jpg


101GreatSunset2.jpg


101GoodColor.jpg


101GroupSunrise.jpg


101WRTowers.jpg


101TrailsEnd5.jpg


After 125+ miles offroad in the Moab redrock sand our vehicles were all the same color ;) I was ready to get to town pronto and hit a shower. Unbelievably, the only highway into Moab from the north was shut down both ways at the north bridge to allow an honest-to-gosh cattle drive to cross the bridge. We must have stayed there for 45 minutes while they were herded across by cowboys. One person who noticed my Texas plates commented that I must be used to this, but I had to reply that in Texas we figure out how to do this stuff without completely shutting down a major highway :rolleyes:


Afterwards it was time for Peter and Lee to continue on to their homes while I stayed on in Moab Sunday. I checked in to the Silver Sage Inn and proceeded to the City Market that morning to see who I could hook up with for some runs. I had the good fortune to meet Gene Day. He is a Jeeper and soon-to-be Red Rock 4Wheeler, an acquaintance of Charles Wells (the man who writes the trail books we use, including the Moab book) and one of the nicest people I have met. I wanted to try other trails that I have not experienced yet, and two of his favorites I hadn't tried.

He led me on Hell's Revenge that morning. It was while on the Hell's Gate spur that I got my first pucker moment of the day. I could describe it as one of my scariest moments up to that time fourwheeling. That's only because I hadn't been on Moab Rim yet a couple of hours later :eek: If you'll look at the third threewheeling picture at the top of this post, that's me taking a wrong line up Hell's Gate. For those of you who haven't seen it, it is a nearly vertical hill straight up the Moab slickrock ("slickrock" is a misnomer - it has extreme traction, like driving on 200 grit sandpaper. That's why you see photos of rigs climbing impossible angles like this one; the traction is incredible). It is hard to describe what goes through your mind when you are at the bottom of the trail and realize the only way out is up that wall:
101LookingAtHellsGate.jpg


Gene took that "threewheeling" photo at the top of this post while above me. If you'll notice the background, you can see the level ground below me and the tops of some trees to get an idea of how vertical it is. I got on the wrong line and couldn't make it further and slammed my side into the wall and lifted my front and now I was really vertical. I was high up the trail wall, pointing straight up, and could feel my Explorer lazily rocking back and forth on the ragged edge of doing a backflip back to the bottom far below. I was afraid to even breathe, I wasn't gonna dare move an inch, and my Prairie Tan leather interior was about to turn Biologic Brown. Fortunately Gene had a remote control winch. Since the angle was far too steep to walk or climb on, he used his remote control winchline to rapel himself down to my vehicle to hook me up. I don't know what we would have done if he didn't have that remote control and had been tied to staying near his Jeep with a hardwired winch.

Well, I thought that would be all the adrenaline I would need for the next year or two, but then he talked me into following him up Moab Rim after we finished Hell's Revenge and took a lunch break. Oh my gosh.

Moab Rim is a true 4+ trail. Gene told me that the local club gives out a t-shirt to those who make it as a sort of an initiation or rite of passage. To quote Charles Well's opening description, "This trail wastes little time getting down to business. The first mile scares the wits out of most people. I've driven it many times and still get nervous."

Let me tell you people, Mr. Wells doesn't have the less-flexible IFS front end that I do, and he didn't come near to describing what it was like in mine. I am trying to come up with a word but I'll have to settle for just saying it was a mile of pure unending terror. Several offcamber knee-to-thigh-high ledges that tilt you way over while sliding you sideways as the rear tires fight for traction, all the while being mere feet from a cliff ledge leading several hundred feet down to the Colorado River basin. In a vehicle that can flex it would not be quite as, um, "interesting", but with an IFS front that leans whichever way the tires travel offcamber, I was praying to just survive a rollover. Sorry to disappoint you fellas but I don't have any decent photos during the run (I was too busy improving my prayer life at the time). But I made it, and here's the view from the top.
101MoabRimView.jpg


Then I had to go back down the same way I came up, and that is even more scary if possible. At the Z-Turn, Gene missed the same line he took going up by mere inches, and promptly did his threewheeling by hiking his rear tire up 3 1/2 feet or so -- a heckuva lot for a built TJ. His tilt meter read 40 degrees and he rolls at 45 degrees. I climbed up on his bumper, helped get the rear back down, and then spotted him safely out of the turn.

Then it was my turn. I had to take the same line he just tried to take going down, and I knew d@m# well I couldn't survive a 40 degree lean if I missed the line a few inches like he did. I felt like kissing the ground when I finally got to the bottom of the trailhead.

One thing this trail taught me was how far offcamber I really can go. I found myself leaning at angles that I would never have believed I could stay rightside up on, especially considering the fact that I have a safari rack with a spare tire up top. I am now completely at ease in situations far more offcamber than I was before.

My Explorer really isn't nearly "BigDawg" enough for Moab Rim. It beat the hell out of my vehicle. The rear bumper moldings and side exit Gibson exhaust were torn to bits and my front end started a minor wobble and my steering wheel wasn't pointing where it did before. File that frontend info tidbit away for future reference in the story because it will get a lot worse later on. The transmission framemount crossmember was torn up badly enough that I may need to replace it. Of course the WAAG and front bumper weren't located anywhere near where they were at the start of the trail. Here's how I left Herc parked at the Silver Sage that night to try to straighten some of it out. People stared at me the next morning for some reason.
101SilverSagePark.jpg


Rick wants Dan Mick to lead him on Moab Rim next year. I'll go again, but only to take photos from outside the vehicle :D

Monday morning, after unhooking Herc from the comealong/telephone pole and checking out of the Silver Sage, I proceeded south toward Arizona. On the way an hour and a half southwest of Moab is the Elephant Hill trail in the needles section of Canyonlands Nat'l Park, a trail I have always wanted to try and one described in Well's book as one of the most enjoyable trails he has ever driven.

I waited to meet up with someone and had the good fortune to get to know yet another interesting person, Col. Clyde Gillette. Clyde is 78 years old, in great shape, and a hiker. In addition he is a pilot and mountainclimber, and I also did not learn he is a Colonel until I received a later email from him with an address acknowledging his rank. At that age, he fought with my father in WWII. I hope to meet him again and camp and hike and fourwheel during a future adventure.

Coincidentally for our Explorers, he also drove up in an early model 4wd Explorer. He wanted to scout the trail for hiking to the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers, which is where the Elephant Hill trail leads up to. We elected to leave his vehicle at the trailhead and only come back for it if needed. It was a fortunate decision for him. He is not an experienced fourwheeler and expressed continual amazement that we could actually drive up this trail.

I am not sure I would want to try to take a stocker up Elephant Hill -- it could probably be done, but it's gonna hurt. The trail is indeed very fun and at a level that would test the limits of a slightly modified vehicle and thus would make a great all-out run for those with mild 2" lifts, oversize tires, and a limited slip. Skidplates would be necessary and nerfbars would get beat up pretty badly or destroyed.

Elephant Hill has a campground called Devil's Kitchen that is the coolest campground I have ever seen. It is midway through the trail so not a lot of people could get to it. There are about a half dozen sites inside of rock caves where you can pitch a tent and look out through arch formations to the Needles formations on the horizon. I don't know if it would be possible but if enough of us decide to arrive early for next year's Moab run I would like to camp there.

There is one place on the trail that caught my undivided attention. It is a narrow passage between two rock walls at 3.3 miles into the trail. The trail had eroded and tilted my Explorer in a place that already was way too tight.

101ElephantHillSqueeze.jpg


This photo looks like the camera was tilted, but it's not. The right tire track was much lower than the left and that angle you see is how it really was. I couldn't steer closer to the left wall because doing so tilted me further over to the right wall. If you take a close look at my left front tire you can see that it is barely on the ground. Everytime I tried to steer further left away from the wall, the tire would start lifting off and lean Herc right over into the wall I was trying to avoid. Clyde stated that I cleared the wall with less than 1/2" inch clearance at one point.

A 1/2 mile hike at trail's end provides a lunch break with a great view overlooking the confluence of the Colorado and Green rivers.

After a great day with Clyde we said our goodbyes and I continued on to Arizona to stay with Rick and Char. Along the way I stopped in Sedona to run the Broken Arrow trail that is maintained by the Pink Jeep Tours in the area. Although it is a short trail it is one of the prettiest ones I have experienced. Sedona is a gorgeous area, so much so that it has pretty much turned into a ultra-sheik tourist trap. The trail offers outstanding views of this beautiful area.

101Sedona1.jpg


I got to Rick and Char's later that day and Rick took me on a night run to a local trail area he knows that overlooks Phoenix. The only pucker moments were when we were looking down at Phoenix that night under the stars and the commercial flights stopped and all of a sudden military jets started circling the city. You could hear and see them kick in their afterburners while they were going around. We never found out what that was about. Being only a short time after 9/11, it was a very spooky feeling.

The next day it was off to the Crown King trail. Here's a link to the trip report.
http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=37810

Rick has tried before to talk people into doing a Phoenix run but no one believed that such pretty areas are near Phoenix. I think we fixed that with this run. What a great day. With interest whetted, it looks like a March run is being planned and others are now ready to come experience Arizona trails. http://www.explorerforum.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=38260

Rick, thanks so much, and have a great time with a major run there next year! And thanks to you and Char for putting up with me for a couple of days.

Rick and I then caravanned to Truckhaven Hills in southern California to meet up with FAKRWEE, Paul Bredehoft, tdavis, Jefe, RangerX, and their friends. I had never been there and didn't know what to expect. We stopped at a totally desolate wasteland of a dirt plot and Rick announced this was the campsite. I think he lauged out loud when he saw the look on my face like "Huh? This is It???" Fortunately, it wasn't.

By then my grillguard had fallen back again and I comealonged to Rick's Great Pumpkin to readjust it again that night. I was wasting my time.

TruckHaven was like driving through the pictures you've seen of Afghanistan, or the middle east -- caves and all. I almost expected to discover more Dead Sea Scrolls there or find Osama Bin-Laden somewhere.
101RickTom.jpg


T-Haven is a moonscape full of a spaghettiworks of gullies and hills where you can get lost in a maze of trails. What makes it really fun, though, is the night run. To creep through those gullies only seeing what is in your light beams is a surreal experience not unlike feeling you're on another planet. I enjoyed watching us continually outperform a Jeep CJ-7 that joined us for the run :D.

One disappointment was that a beautifully built yellow early Bronco broke early into the run and we didn't get to see him strut his stuff. FAKRWEE exploded a hub and RangerX blazed trails through the gully walls by using his sheetmetal. Once the trailride was over we all raced back to the campsite and I bottomed out my frontend and once again crammed the WAAG way up, so I had wasted my time readjusting it to Rick's Explorer the night before.

Sunday we all parted and I followed RangerX back to his home at Seaside. Thank you to Bill and his family for putting me up for the evening. The next morning I (once AGAIN :rolleyes: ) comealonged my grillguard -- to Bill's Ranger this time -- and pulled out the WAAG. It is still there at that position today, knock on wood. I need new bracketry though because these are so weak from continual bending back and forth.

On the way up to northern California to meet up for the next weekend's runs, I hit the only bad weather -- a torrential rainstorm in LA -- and stayed with Peter Weber and his family that night, enjoying their gracious hospitality, of which I am thankful for.

I had a day or two extra to burn going north so I took the slow scenic route up Hwy1. Hwy 1 has always been my favorite road and certainly one of the most scenic drives in America. It hugs the California coast and winds along the cliffs and beaches. On a motorcycle the twists make an awesome ride but on a lifted Explorer with no antisway bars it was a lot more "interesting" and slow. The scenery is so drop-dead speechless that the only way to drive it anyway is slow with lots of stops at lookout points.
101Hwy1Bridge.jpg


Along the way I stopped at California's Oceano Dunes Park, the only place to legally wheel on the beach in the state, and played in the dunes for awhile.
101OceanoDunes4.jpg


Just north of the famous Hearst Castle at San Simeon is a beach that Elephant Seals have begun to migrate to. The beach was covered with hundreds of seals sunning and napping. It was fun to watch their antics and I wasted awhile just sitting and watching the show.
1012Seals.jpg


Oh yeah.... I you decide to travel Hwy 1, be sure to fill up BEFORE leaving! You don't want to buy gas there! :eek:
101329Gallon.jpg


While traveling up the highway I entertained a busload of Japanese tourists who followed along and enjoyed watching/photoing me hike a leg at all of the vista points. :)
101Hwy1Pose.jpg


I fulfilled a longtime dream that night and camped under the stars amongst the huge redwoods at the famous Big Sur campground just south of Carmel and Monterrey. What an awesome place to camp.

The next day I proceeded to Ray Lobato's home to get ready for the upcoming weekend's northern CA runs. I am deeply appreciative to him and his family (especially Christina, who gave up her futon five whole days for me) for the time they gave to me.

Ray and I started Friday by meeting up with RockRanger, tdavis, and BAExplorer for a snow run up Bald Mountain. It is a short trail and we were worried that it wouldn't fill a day. If dry it would have gone too quickly, but in the snowcovered woods the trail proved to be just the right amount of challenge to provide a day's worth of really fun fooling around.
101BaldMtnGroup2.jpg


Here's Ray having a little fun.
101RayBaldMtn.jpg


The clown of the trip proved to be BAExplorer's dog Kia, a lovable mutt who insisted that Ray throw a 30+lb granite rock to fetch (luckily she didn't catch it, whew!) and who grabbed a long stick in her teeth, snuck up behind me, and goosed me between the legs with the thing.

Saturday Ray, tdavis, BAExplorer and I met up again, this time joining Soupbone and Positive Vibes to follow them to the Frank Raines wheeling area.
101FR1.jpg

Frank Raines left its mark -- literally -- on all of us. Tight trails lined with hard Manzanita scrubbrush and small trees, it scraped permanent trail pinstriping onto all of our vehicles. I manged to even get scraped down to the primer in one spot. There were lots of fun tall hills and places to explore. Late in the day we found a streambed rockgarden and decided go rockcrawling. It was tough enough that only Ray and I elected to continue so the rest of the gang piled in with us and went for a ride and photoshoot with tdavis recording the run. Hey Tom, where's some pics?

The rockgarden really took it out of Herc. My previously out-of-alignment and wobble condition became much worse after completing the trail. Early on I heard a muffled metallic snap and stopped to try to locate it but couldn't find anything wrong underneath. After leaving the trail and meeting at a local gas station, I found I could not disengage 4wd. I'll get back to these two breakages -- both of which later proved to be major -- after the Hollister report. What breakage Moab Rim may have started, Frank Raines quite efficiently completed.

On Sunday Ray, BAExplorer (with Kia, of course), Positive Vibes, and I went to Hollister Hills. Here's Positive Vibes trying his hand on the logs and rocks in Hollister's obstacle park and BAExplorer climbing the staircase.
101AnthonyHollister.jpg

101AnthonyStair.jpg


Ray conquered a tough hillclimb on Chapparal Trail that I had done the Wednesday before and I elected to try it again. This time I ended up in another extreme pucker-producing threewheeling pose while he and everyone else looked on. Ray climbed up on my WAAG to try to weight me back down. I had to admit defeat this time and slowly backed down the hill.

At Hollister our group had the hilarious good fortune to occasionally witness the antics of a very brave and/or very stupid Jeeper in a red Cherokee. He was locked front and rear and had MT tires, but the MTs were regular size tires and he had no lift that I could tell, so he appeared pretty stock.

We first saw him attempt the mountainous Truck Hill, the commonplace scene of rollovers that also took out one of the contestants in this year's Top Truck Challenge. Vehicle parts and windshields litter the hill. Uh, he didn't make it.

Later on, unbelievably, we got to see him attempt the Mud Bog at the Hollister obstacle course. What in the world was he thinking, LOL! For those who don't know, the Mud Bog is a deep pit about a hundred yards long that is filled with water. Huge mudders -- you know, those big pickups with 15" lifts and 44" bogger tires -- plow through it and churn up a gooey sticky mess of deep mud leaving deep ruts guaranteed to high-center or sink anyone attempting it with less than 40"+ tires into a quagmire of icky goo. This guy has something like 29" MTs and lockers and he's gonna try it. I bet that he wouldn't make it ten yards. I think he performed admirably by beating my guess by almost two yards. I just HAVE to post a picture. Check out his window sticker, LMAO! What a hoot!
101JeepGotMud.jpg


My trailkit has everything (including hip waders) and this guy wore my size shoes so I lent him my hip waders to get out and work with. It was the least I could do for someone who provided so many with such rich entertainment. By then the mud bog was lined with dozens upon dozens of spectators enjoying the show, including the local towtruck driver who was licking his chops anticipating earning his $250 fee to get the Jeeper out.

Now remember, Cherokees are unibody! Where can he hook up a strap? What was this guy thinking? To make a very long story short, after strapping to his rear bumper and ripping out the bumper mounts, his friend backed him out by strapping to the nerf bar. While this operation was underway all bystanders got the heck outta the area since most of us didn't believe the nerf bar mount would hold and the nerf bar was about to become a lethal missile as soon as it unloaded from the strapping pressure. Luckily for the Jeeper, it held. What an adventure, LOL.

When the day finished Ray and I said our goodbyes to everyone else and we limped slowly back home with me in 4wd and a front end that was about to vibrate me to death.

We tried every trick in the book to disengage me from 4wd, even checking my electronics by using his spare transfer case he had in his garage and testing its shift motor against mine, etc etc etc. It was then that I remembered the metallic snapping sound of the day before. I am fairly certain that I grenaded some innard of the transfer case itself and will have to remove it and tear it open next week before moving to South Carolina. I got back to Texas by removing my front driveshaft so I would be in 2wd going back.

On the return trip my wobble and alignment got so bad that I knew I couldn't make it any further and got an alignment enroute. I was informed that my tierods were shot and was shown the alignment readings, all of which were way off the scale, especially the toe-in reading. After having cam adjusters installed and a lengthy workover by an experienced alignment tech, I got all readings within tolerances except my righthand camber. The technical description of that problem, as worded to me, was that my frame was "goobered up bad" and if I wanted that camber fixed it would have to be at a frame-straightening shop. Both of my new front tires (which should last 60,000 miles) are worn badly with less than 5,000 miles on them. I was told that fixing the horrendous toe-in would take the wobble out for the rest of the trip, but it didn't. I limped home to Dallas under the speed limit and the next day tried to rotate my tires on the theory I had ripped off a few wheelweights on a trail and that was my problem. Nope, that wasn't it.

I got home on a miracle. When I raised my left front, my wheel was so loose I could wiggle it up and down and back and forth several inches each way! My bearings and hub are complete toast, hanging by a mere thread. They are so bad that I believe I could wrench my wheel off with my bare hands. I am one lucky sonofagun. Lifted with no antisway bars, I have no doubt what would have happened should I have lost a front tire at highway speeds (and I couldn't have blamed Firestone on that one ;) ). In addition both of my tie rods are ruined, so add that to the bill. This trip got expensive :(

I am supposed to be moving this week to South Carolina but will have to spend an extra few days replacing my hub assembly, replacing tie rods and opening up a transfer case.

Thanks to all of my friends -- both the ones I already have met and the new ones I have made on this 4,500+ mile trip -- who helped make my vacation experience the fourwheeling trip of a lifetime and everything I could have dared hope it would be.

I hope to see y'all on the trails again soon!
 



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leebo

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Gerald,

Glad everything went ok. It was a blast as always wheeling with ya, can't wait to do it again. I know we will too :D

Good luck on your move and God bless
Lee Tongate
 






Dre

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man, that was some trip!! I'm all jelous now! keep these beautiful pictures coming,

later,
 






leebo

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Two more things,

We were there getting an end of the trail shot for about an hour, and the only one you got is of just me... GEES!

Here's the full link for the White Rim
Dead Link Removed
 






RockRanger

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It was nice to meet you Gerald. Thanks for the ride on Bald Mountain. I am glad that it turned into a good day run. I was worried we wouldn't find enough to play with but we did.

Matt
 






TarHeel085

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hey gerald man when you planin to move, i gotta see your truck man!:D how did Peter Webers 99 sport hold up? im hopin pretty good, since it doesnt look as though its too modified.
 






Brian1

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Wow Gerald, looks like you had an excellent trip! Those pictures are amazing. I am anxious to read about your runs in CA. Oh yeah, 1 more thing, next time stop in Albuquerque! LOL. Good luck with your move and I hope everything goes good for you.
 






TwoToneX

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Yeah, and don't forget Colorado for next time as well ;)

That's an awesome trip, glad to see you had fun, and good luck with everything coming up!
 






COMMOCOZY

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GREAT STORY AND GOOD LUCK

Gerald-

I just read your BOOK, and man I must say it sounds like a blast. Something I wish I could do. I have wheeled the piss out of my explorer and it is starting to fall apart. I can afford this; so I am going to get a TRAIL mostly rig :) It will have to drive back and forth, but if it breaks oh well.

I have narrowed my choices down to one. It is a 79 Jimmy. Clean and it is only 1300. I have come to the unfortunate reality that I will no longer be able to wheel with the explorer guys/ gals and will gravely miss this. I will have to find some new people to wheel with. Once I get this beast and get everything working 100% I plan on making a trip like you. My family has a house in NC so maybe sometime when I am down there we can hook up. Good luck in SC, and I wish you the best of luck!
:D :bounce:

P.s. those shocks i got from you are still workig GREAT!
 






GJarrett

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Thanks guys. Peter's stock Sport performed admirably. His only damage was from banging his grillguard into a wall while we were blindly looking for a campsite at night, lol.

Hey Lee, you big goof, everything DIDN't come out okay! I have finished the post now and you can go back to read about the breakage and carnage from later on in the trip. And yep, I never could get that dang timer to work on our parting White Rim shot. I'll just have to depend on Peter's. What can I say, I'm an amateur, lol.
 






leebo

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Originally posted by GJarrett

Hey Lee, you big goof, everything DIDN't come out okay!

You didn't get any Herk on various body parts, and you didn't have to use a kleenex, I'd say you came out fine. :D
 






Rick

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Photos look great :D I'm glad I could be part of your grand tour. I hope the damage to Herc's t-case isn't too bad and you get it going again in short order!
 






donkey boy

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Welcome to the region!

Great pics and great write-up, Gerald! I will take the time read it completely tonight.

And may I welcome you to the "region"! I'm up in Central-Virginia though, but that's not that far anymore. I'm occasionally in South Carolina and will keep from now on my eyes open if I see Herc. So if you see a Jeep Grand Cherokee driver going nuts, that might be me :D Where in SC are you moving to?

Maybe we should start thinking about a Tellico ride sometime next year ;)
 






Ray Lobato

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Hey Gerald,
Great pictures! Well Buddy, It was a real gas wheeling around with you and a pleasure having you stay with us. I hope you get Herc fixed up real quick and hope your move to SC is fruitful. See you at Moab!:chug:
 






kvo

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What an awesome trip and the rig held up great (with the aforementioned repairs) considering all the wheeling you guys did .

Beautiful pictures, great places. I love that clothes line picture.
 






rustytr

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Talk about jealous. That's the kind of trips I like taking but never get too.
 






Positive Vibes

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It was nice meeting you too, Gerald. I'm glad you and Herc made it home in one piece. Hope to see you at the next T-haven. Peace, love and granolla!

Derrick
 






offroader_69_me

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AWESOME

Well Gerald I wish you could have made it through here but I understand the need to make it home, looks like you had a GREAT trip. Something I would like to do someday!!!! Good luck with your move and your next life, God bless and have fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 






Kris Guilbeaux

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Great Report Gerald!!!! I had a Blast and was honored to be a part of the Biggest run you have ever been on. Good luck and if you are ever in Texas be sure to get some wheeling together...
 



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Blue Steel

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nice write up. now i'm jealous. oh well. hey where are you moving to in sc? i live in wilmington nc, and that's an hours drive from myrtle beach in sc. should get together and do some wheeling. also i want to check out your truck and see what "makes it tick" :)
 






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