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"XJ list Fall Crawl - Harlan, Ky Jeep Cherokee's Off Road continued."

October 16, 2009 by Mike Strawbridge
We proceeded down trail 20 which was a fun easy trail with lots of mud puddles.  20 intersected 10 near the helicopter pad.  There we found a shelter that we decided would make a great place to have supper.

We then split into two groups to head back.  Some of us were going to do trials 16 and 15 and meet back up with the others at Middle fork.  Well group one turned out to be just Robert and every one else including the newly arrived HEMI Ram took trail 16.

The trail started out with some tricky downhill sections that were lots of fun for me now that I have an engine that will run pointed down.  The Titan Stroker performed fantastic all day by the way. That's www.titanengines.com.  Tell Chuck that Mike Strawbridge sent you.

We later came to a steep slope topped by a very narrow passage between two rocks. The rock were wide enough to pass a Jeep between but not the HEMI.  But the rock to the left was low enough to go over.  Some of us elected to go between the rocks while others went over the left rock.  The HEMI did it in fine style leaping over the rock.  I hope someone will post a video with sound.

Later we came to a junction with a steep climb one way and a tricky drop twist the other.  Neal gave the climb a go and had trouble so we elected to take the group to the left.  Remember this hill however, as the story gets back here later.  Note this hill is too steep to climb with 35" swampers and dual lockers.

Later after a couple of tricky drops with a twist we came to another intersection with a choice of up or down.  Again we chose down as we were nearing the end of the trail.  But this time the trial ended abruptly in font of us.

There was no good place to turn around ten trucks here either.

So since I was in a spot to try the climb, I gave it a go after Neal and Adam scouted it for me.  I eased in to the Titan Stroker and it pulled my up the hill.  There was almost ninety degree turn just where the climb got steeper and I added a bit more throttle as Neal and Adam waved me on.  I made the climb easily.

Next up was Brian who made a good run with lots of revs and some flashy wheel spin but he made it up just as easily.

I think Scott P came up next and then Matt stared up.  He got a bad hop off a rock early on and lost momentum and had to give it another go.  Before he made it to the top the foggy mist turned into a downpour of rain and sleet.  The minimal traction of the damp clay now had the coefficient of friction of 90W gear lube. Matt made the rest of the climb on his winch line.

Next up was the HEMI powered RAM.  he did not get far at all before he slipped over the edge.  He got a tug back on the trail and hit it again.  He made it just about half way up the hill before he started going backwards.

We maneuvered Scott's XJ into position against a tree for the long pull.  We had to add 40 feet of straps to the end of his winch line to reach the RAM.  Resetting the line at the end of each strap was a challenge as every time we tried to release tension on the cable the ram would slide down.  We had to tie off the straps to hold while we re rigged the cable.

Once the Ram was around the bend we moved Brian's XJ into position to pull form a different angle.  

While they we pulling I decided to see what was ahead of us.  After scouting the trail ahead I realized that I did not want op go down that hill.  Later looking at the map, it was marked a level 5.  A Toyota Cab truck on 44"s came up and wanted to get by.  He warned us that we did not want to go down that way for sure.

After much discussion, we decided the only way out was to take the ATV tail that intersected here knowing that it ended with the hill that Neal could not climb earlier.  And that was before the rain turned it to soup.

I think we all agreed that this was the most adventurous spot we had ever gotten ourselves into while off road.

We tried to turn Matt's Jeep around to use his winch and he slid off the hill.  We had to use my winch and his to slide him sideways back up.  The guy driving the Toyota seemed a but impatient with us but did a great job of helping us with the rigging to get Matt back on semi solid footing.

We then decided to back my Jeep into position to pull the ram the rest of the way up and to head out the ATV trail.  By now all my windows were completely fogged up and I could not see a thing.  Neal gave me directions as I eased my Jeep past Brian's with almost and inch to spare.  I eventually got turned around and hooked up to the RAM for the final pull.

I then had to back down the ATV trail until I got to a spot almost wide enough to turn around.  I am not sure how the full size pickup made it along the very narrow trail but he followed me to the big scary down hill run.

After walking it, it did not look so bad.  I just put it in first gear and let the Titan Stroker hold me back.  I had to use some wheel brake as well to control the speed.  I did feel secure knowing I had a racing cage around me and a full harness on.

I crawled easily to almost the bottom where a drop off a big rock cause the front tire to slide but I just eased into the gas and let it bounce the last few feet.

All the others made it down in similar fashion.  Except for Scott P who made it look easy crawling slowly all the way to the bottom.

We now took the easy trail back to camp.  Robert and Tom had had time to explore several other trails and go to walmart while the waited for us to make the "quick" trail run.  Derek and Julie and done some exploring in their tow vehicle as well.

We then headed back up to the shelter for dinner.  The campfire cooking story continues here.



Mike Strawbridge October 16, 2009

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