Johnson Valley – 2002 Thanksgiving Run

By Jeep Experts

The plans for the JV 2002 Thanksgiving Run began again in April.  I knew then that I used to be going to attempt to make the journey out to JV if in any respect attainable.  I had not been to CA to see my wheelin’ associates this 12 months and every week’s price of trip throughout the week of Thanksgiving would give me a couple of days to commit to the journey.

My excellent good friend, Blaine Johnson, had been answering my questions on JV for fairly a while.  To boil the whole lot all the way down to a single assertion:  Strip the whole lot I might out of the TJ…..being gentle on the rocks was the secret.  This being the case, I noticed that the onerous prime and full steel doorways could be shed as soon as I made JV.  I didn’t wish to do the drive from Phoenix with no prime and I don’t have a mushy prime.  Blaine offered a bikini prime for me to make use of however with the climate the way in which it was, I opted to not take the time to put in it.  As it was, I neither cooked within the solar nor obtained rained on so all was good there.

I left Phoenix just a little earlier than midday on Monday and headed west on I-10.  I used to be in no hurry since I had the remainder of the day to make Yucca Valley, CA the place I had reserved a room for the evening.  I used to be to fulfill Garry for dinner.  It was an excellent factor I used to be not in a lot of a rush as I met up with a nasty head wind about an hour from Phoenix and fought it the rest of the journey to JV.  Once at JV, I checked in to my motel and found Garry had booked a room there as properly. We met for dinner, obtained to know one another a bit, after which referred to as it an evening.  We could be heading out to the dry lake mattress the next morning to arrange camp (he nonetheless had a few of his gear on the market).

Blaine was not capable of make the journey (a final minute change of plans) so he despatched my elements (my Currie Anti-Rock and Steering system) that he had picked up for me together with Jeff, one other native SoCal Jeeper, who met up with us on the lake mattress Tuesday morning.

With Jeff’s and Garry’s assist, I pulled the highest and the doorways.  I had already eliminated the storage box from the again finish previous to beginning the journey.  We determined to easily disco the entrance finish for now and we might set up the Anti-Rock after we obtained again to camp.  Everyone was prepared to move out to Sledge Hammer and get the day began.

Garry requested which path I needed to run and I informed him Sledge Hammer was to be the primary one for me.  It would give me a style of what JV needed to supply.  Jeff was up for this one as properly so it was shortly determined that Sledge could be at the moment’s goal.  Jeff had not ran the path both so we had been each trying to Garry for some useful help on which strains could be greatest.  In many circumstances, there was just one line….the suitable one.  Anything else would get you hung up, as Jeff and I found each on occasion. <grin>

Did I point out that Tuesday was “Green Jeep” day on the Hammers?  Garry took the lead and Jeff adopted him.  I introduced up the rear (look Mom, NO spare tire.)  Jeff was carrying a 35″ MT/R spare in his quick bus so I opted to depart mine again at camp.  Yet yet one more factor to lighten the load on the path.  Here we’re, simply stepping into the beginning of Sledge.  (Hey, take a look at these model new corner guards from Toys-by-Troy!)

Here is Jeff working his method up the path.  He picked up a few scrapes on his door panels throughout the two days I wheeled with him….however that didn’t cease him from placing his Cherokee on the suitable line to rise up and over an impediment.  I all the time have to provide a tip of the hat to the bus drivers.  Heck, I’ve a tough sufficient time getting my quick TJ via lots of these locations.

Johnson Valley – 2002 Thanksgiving Run

I hopped out sooner or later and snapped an image of the TJ.  I’m certain that a few of the obstacles have names….all I used to be doing was concentrating on getting via them.  I made a decision I’d study extra about what they had been on my second journey via right here!

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Many occasions, I used to be unsure simply the place the “path” was. Sledge Hammer, identical to the opposite JV trails, are nothing however rocky washes, bordered by tall canyon partitions.  Garry talked about that the heavy rains can and do roll the boulders round very often and makes modifications within the path.  Heck, the boulders had been consistently shifting beneath the tires sufficient {that a} line that Jeff took grew to become a diff hanger for me. 

Jeff makes use of the rocker guards to slip over a rock.  Jeff and I used them fairly a bit.  I obtained the dangle of pivoting across the rocks because the day rolled on.  With Garry’s Atlas t-case, he might disengage the rear axle and pull himself round with simply the entrance tires doing the work.  Every every now and then, I’d yell at him and inform him to activate his D60 rear….after watching him make a couple of makes an attempt at an impediment. <grin>

So….we continued to work our method up Sledge.  Every every now and then Jeff or I’d drop right into a gap and a few rocks could be rearranged in order to have the ability to get out of it.  For probably the most half, the rocks simply saved coming…..

and coming……

and coming. 

Johnson Valley – 2002 Thanksgiving Run

We lastly reached the Mailbox on Sledge Hammer.  It is an enormous outdated mailbox, firmly set on a concrete embedded publish.  It has a variety of street indicators on it depicting simply how far it’s to locations like Moab and such.  In the mailbox was a log e book that all of us signed (gotta let the BLM know we’re utilizing their trails!).   We caught lunch after which made pretty quick work of the rest of the path.  We exited on the huge hill climb after which headed down off the mountain (an excellent place to make use of the cellular phone, by the way in which) and again all the way down to the path that might take us throughout the lake mattress and again to camp.

Jeff needed to go Yucca Valley and eat on the Rib Company (wow…they’ve GREAT babyback ribs).  Garry and I had eaten there simply the night earlier than however Jeff insisted on going so we joined him within the quick bus and into city.  Jeff additionally wanted to do a little bit of buying on the native WalMart and decide up gloves, hooded sweatshirt, and many others.  (I had gotten one there the earlier night myself and Garry had, from what I heard, purchased nearly each propane cylinder on the shelf so he might fulfill the hungry urge for food of his propane area heater.)

On the way in which out of city, we caught up with Sergey and his brother Steven on the fuel station.  Sergey was simply heading out to the camp website so we joined up with them and headed again (to hopefully a comfortably heat sleeping bag….it was just a little cool out and the wind was nonetheless blowing some).

Garry led us to Outer Limits on Wednesday.  Sergey joined Jeff and I within the procession that Garry led throughout the lake mattress.  We had a wonderful time working as much as the path head.  Lots of open path that Garry enjoys rushing throughout.  With my new Anti-Rock now put in, I set the RS-9000s on 3 and loved the trip.  I discovered significantly better management over the standard  utterly disconnected sway bar that I’ve ran off-road since getting the TJ.

I apologize for not getting very many photos on Outer Limits.  That path is a full step up from Sledge Hammer and I used to be fairly occupied with holding myself out of bother. 

Simply put, Outer Limits had extra and larger rocks than did Sledge Hammer.  The water falls had been greater and more difficult.  Sergey took out a Ford 9″ rear shaft and the Detroit locker on his TJ.  He additionally misplaced a rear nook panel to a fairly giant and nasty rock and broke one more aluminum wheel.  I managed to scrape via your complete path with only a bent license plate, a damaged flare, and a dented rim (however no vibration on the freeway!)  All 4 flares took some scrapes as properly however I managed to maintain all of the sheet steel in manufacturing unit situation.  We used the hi-lift jack on my TJ and Sergey’s (particularly after he broke the rear axle).  The winch cable was introduced out for Jeff on one of many water falls (the bus simply wouldn’t keep on the road).  Yes….Outer Limits was a notch up from Sledge.  It was only one huge rock after the following, for probably the most half.  I feel there was a ten′ part of naked sand…that was it….the remainder of the sand was washed in across the boulders and produced from some very slippery circumstances at time.  However, the MT/Rs actually connected on the rocks when working at about 8 psi.  The sidewall abuse was wonderful and after a detailed inspection of mine again at camp, they regarded none the more severe.

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Jeff grabbed my digicam and snapped a pair pics for me.  Pivoting across the rocks made for good use of the rocker guards. 

Garry demonstrates for us methods to stroll his TJ up onto a pair of rocks whereas holding simply sufficient weight on the motive force’s facet to forestall a roll over.  This was not the one place that we had been capable of see Garry’s exact management of his TJ.  The man has a knack for placing his rig the place most people would by no means even try it.

Jeff pilots his rig up and over an enormous ol’ rock.  Garry additionally launched himself over it (actually).  It was sort of like watching the shuttle take off, besides that we didn’t have an official depend down!

About 3/4 of the way in which via the path, Sergey broke a rear shaft whereas making an attempt to climb a water fall.  Left with solely 3 wheel drive, the winch and strap was put to excellent use.  We had been capable of make the tip of the path with out an excessive amount of bother.  When the bearing retainer plate began to bend, the rear tire began leaning in in the direction of the body.  He parked the TJ on the facet of the path and Garry and Jeff returned with Garry’s tow rig to select it up.

Later that night, after some dinner, we managed to swap out the axle.  There was a spare Currie axle in Blaine’s trailer.  Even although it was arrange for Blaine’s 5 on 5.5″ bolt sample, it was additionally drilled for a 5 on 4.5″ setup.  We relocated the wheel studs, obtained the damaged axle stub out of the tube (it had damaged about 6″ from the flange), and put in the brand new one.  Unfortunately, the Detroit had let go when the torqued up shaft unloaded.  Sergey was down for the depend.  On Thursday morning, we loaded his TJ on Blaine’s trailer which was being towed behind Jeff’s motor residence.  Sergey and Steven drove Jeff’s Cherokee again. 

Robert confirmed up together with his Suburban and trailered TJ whereas we had been engaged on Sergey’s axle shaft. Robert was fairly shaken up.  While driving on the freeway, a motorhome forward of him misplaced a tire/wheel.  Another motorhome hit it and despatched it Robert’s method.  Unfortunately, Robert was not capable of keep away from it and ran over it.  It lodged beneath his trailer and he safely obtained off to the facet of the street.  Robert believes his driveshaft obtained a success (new vibrations) and once I spoke to him simply yesterday, he mentioned he additionally has an exhaust leak close to or at his headers.  What a solution to begin a wheelin’ journey!

Thursday morning, Jack arrived at camp and shortly obtained prepared for the run.  Robert needed to do Sledge Hammer and I used to be up for a neater day of using shotgun in his entrance seat (sure, I had a reasonably good dose of Outer Limits the day earlier than and because the TJ was nonetheless in a drivable situation, I assumed I’d depend my blessings and maintain it that method for the following day’s 300+ mile journey residence).

So….we begin on Sledge and work our method via the rocks once more.  Here is Robert’s TJ negotiating one of many obstacles (identify to be found subsequent 12 months!).  He discovered that his 35″ tire in a measurement 37″ gap made for some tough going.  But, the MT/Rs lastly dug in and did what was wanted to get him going once more.

Johnson Valley – 2002 Thanksgiving Run

Jack was sporting a model new….new as in nonetheless had these little rubber whiskers….set of 37″ MT/Rs.  He had reduce away many of the sheet steel that may have interfered with them and was simply plain having an excessive amount of enjoyable with them!  Here is Garry telling him the place to go (oops…that didn’t fairly sound correct).

Meanwhile, again on the ranch, Robert and I proceed alongside.  Rocker guards are a will need to have right here.  The trails are tight and sometimes occasions twisty and you don’t have any choice however to place the guard towards the rocks and pivot round them.

I hid behind some rocks (not precisely onerous to do) and snapped an image of Jack as he as ready to take a stab on the subsequent impediment.  I assume you could possibly say that his CJ will not be precisely probably the most eye-catching rig on the path.  However, the driveline getting it throughout these rocks is second to none.  They don’t name him Axle Jack for nothing (DUH!).

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The Hammers rightly deserve their identify.  Jack was not as fortunate as I on this one.  While my rim managed to bend, his took a success and cracked out a pleasant piece.  Sergey’s got here out in two 3″ lengthy items. 

Garry works his method in the direction of the tip of Sledge.  We are nearly executed with this and with the trip again to camp nonetheless forward, we’ll have sufficient time to get our Thanksgiving Day hen cooked up with all of the fixings and make for an ideal day.

Robert watches as Jack works the rocks.  If I keep in mind accurately, Jack mentioned he was going SOA on the CJ in just a little bit.  He had simply put a pleasant customized made (by him) flat skid plate on and with the brand new tires in place, the brand new carry is subsequent on the to-do checklist.

Johnson Valley – 2002 Thanksgiving Run

We wrapped up Sledge and headed again to camp to start out dinner.  On the way in which, Robert and I seen a clunking noise coming from the rear passenger facet of the TJ.  Robert determined to decelerate (the noise was in sync with the suspension biking) and test it out as soon as we made camp.  Upon arrival, he pulled the tire and located a little Sledge memento wedged in between the disc caliper, the spring, and the shock.  Garry took a have a look at it and commented that he had not met anybody up right here that truly carried their very own stacking rocks with them on the path.  We all obtained amusing out of that one. 

Garry fired up the propane turkey cooker and I pour in about 6 gallons of peanut oil.  Once the magic temperature was reached, Robert rigorously lowered the turkey into the the pot of boiling oil.  He obtained volunteered for this job since he had executed yet one more turkey frying episode than the remainder of us had executed (which was zero!).

Just a mere 40 minutes later, the turkey was pulled from the fryer and Robert carved the hen into manly sized chunks.  We had mashed potatoes, white pepper gravy, yams, and a few cranberries to go together with it.  Not unhealthy for a couple of Jeepers celebrating Thanksgiving in the course of Johnson Valley.

The guys are loading up their plates whereas I take a couple of photos for this write-up.  No one walked away hungry that night, for certain!  Robert made a visit or two again to the pan that had the turkey in it.  I had by no means eaten a fried turkey and let me let you know, it was scrumptious!

To wrap up the night, Jack introduced out the TV/VCR and we watched the 2002 Top Truck Challenge video.  After that, I loaded the week’s path photos onto my laptop computer and we had been capable of see these (a few of that are on this path report).

Friday morning arrived and Robert and I packed up and headed for residence.  Jack and Garry had been going to remain one other day or two and do some wheelin’.  I heard on the radio, later that day, that they could have gotten some rain.  Not an enormous drawback for them since I used to be the one one in a tent (you already know, these issues that not often keep dry in an excellent rain storm.)

The drive residence was uneventful and I ran out and in of the rain as much as the Arizona border.  Later that night, the rain obtained to Phoenix and we had a really good soaking.

A VERY huge thanks goes out to Garry for recognizing my beginner butt over the paths.  Thanks additionally to Blaine for getting my elements to me although he was not capable of attend this 12 months’s outing.  It was my first time wheelin’ with Sergey and Jeff and I really loved the time we spent on the path collectively.  As for Axle Jack, I look ahead to catching him once more (I’m certain I’ll) and Jack, perhaps I’ll even break down and decide up a set of these fancy, shmancy u-joints you make!  Robert and I’ve been wheelin’ collectively since 2000, after we did our first journey in Death Valley collectively.  Since then, we have now executed a few memorable trails in Arizona, the Rubicon, and now Johnson Valley.  It is all the time a pleasure to run a path with you.

I look ahead to subsequent 12 months’s Turkey Day on the Hammers!  Until then…..

Remember to TREADLightly!

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