Camp Heep at
Rausch Creek Offroad Park
with the Maryland Creepers,
NOVA Jeepers, and the Off Camber Crawlers
August 19 and 20, 2006
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Wow, what a great time.
This got long, so the cliff notes are that it was a great weekend and we all made it home.
Got up there on Friday hours later than planned after threatening to quit my job several times that day. So, I guess I owe a huge thanks to whoever it was that suggested I sit down and have a beer before I hurt myself setting up my tent. I showed up at Rausch mad as all hell, but it sure didn't take long before the good cheer of the crowd wore off on me and I was able to enjoy the night. The awesome bacon wrapped filet sandwiches, courtesty of Randy Woods, sure didn't hurt either.
Sorta wish I didn't enjoy myself so much as staging was an effort for me after however much I drank that night, but I was able to make the trail guide meeting and get settled in with a group behind me. I guided group four which was blue/green and, despite what I was saying that morning, I didn't puke all day.
There was a little bit of an issue on the trail 3 hillclimb behind the office, but it was nothing more than a lack of confidence from one of the drivers. I think the actualy quote was, "you want me to do what???" Unaware of what he was capable of, he was understandably nervous about piloting a stock Unlimited on GSA's up the climb, but was able to make it with just some minor spotting. For anyone that doesn't understand, this is why I love guiding people new to the sport. The look of fear and "what the hell did I just get myself into" that dissapears after the first rock, and finally becomes smiles and laughs at the end of the day is priceless. He did great all day, BTW.
We ran lower three out past the drainplug where we spied a Toyota truck hydrolocked in the water. Obviously, we felt the need to bypass it.
Things moved quickly after that as we moved onto trail 1. We split up to let those that wanted do the blue hillclimb, and we met back up to run the green section of the trail out. As we headed out to the west side, we ran J which gives everyone a chance to flex out a little on the washed out entrance and then just take a beautiful, slow decline down the mountain. Then we did trail 15 without issue where we broke for lunch where the trailhead is on 11. This was also where we fixed a CB grounding issue which became our only mechanical failure of the day.
We ran some greens after that which included 14 and 19B. It was pretty cool seeing these trails for the first time and making the loop around the far side of the park to get back to H. On H, we took our first strap of the day (yes, on an access road) when I tried to run a stupid line in some deep ruts to see if I could do it.
We got to run 10A after that where everyone enjoyed splashing in the mud. The couple Jeeps with GSA's had a little more trouble than the rest of us and it took a little strapping to get some traction out of one of them. By now I was also becoming impressed with the stocker TJ on GSA's(can't remember his name, but his right seater was Mitch from AOR) as he not only kept pace with those of us running bigger Jeeps and proper tires, but also skipped many of the bypasses.
Things were going so well and my Swampers were hooking up perfect, so I figured it would be a good idea to put on a show and make a run at the Milkshake. It looked like I should be able to keep the Jeep from flooding, so I gave it a shot. I managed to get all four wheels into it when I lost almost all momentum, so I brought it to a stop before I got in too deep. Very impressed with myself for finally starting to learn some control and stopping before things get worse. After seeing it take much, much effort to get me free, I was pretty happy that I exercised that control.
From there, we headed back to camp. Not sure who in the club came up with the idea to cook for the group, but it has been an awesome idea both years and they desperve a big thanks. Also thanks to Burton and Julie, as I know they had a big part in the whole thing (even though all I saw of Burton was him sitting in a chair with a beer). I hope that they will be kind enough to post up with a list of those that helped so they can get the credit they deserved.
The raffle was awesome thanks to Sean's vendor relations skills and the vendors who donated. I gave away my prize to my buddy, because I already owned that product. However, I didn't go away empty handed because Mark from the Creepers (I think it was him - it was kind of dark) gave me the prize he won. I also missed the winch given to a NOVA member by one number as we settled it with the "think of a number from one to twenty" thing, so I feel good almost winning that.
Sunday got off to a later start and, as it turns out, we didn't get much riding in. My group turned into blue to blue/black and was nine strong. We ran out to 13B, which is my favorite trail on the park. My Swampers were having a little trouble hooking up and caused my only carnage of the weekend. I kept slipping off a rock which caused me to run into the same tree about a dozen or so times and busted out one of the KC lights on my bumper. The majority of the group was able to avoid the easier lines, although I am rather dissapointed that there was a rock that was able to defeat me after trying about twenty different lines.
That same rock managed to put a bend in the tie rod of one of the XJ's. They gave it a couple whacks with a hammer to knock it straight, but that was all it took to bust it in two. Being a custom setup, we attempted some on the trail welding but finally had to run it back to the office to weld it proper.
As we waited for them to come back, we left somebody with the busted Jeep and the group ran the rest of 13. On one of my previous trips down this trail, I ran some stupid line over a small section of rocks that gave me a great time, putting me very off camber and leaning me to within a fraction of an inch of a tree. It's a very long story, but on that trip things went very bad after trying to replicate that line for the rest of the group. Not one to give up, I felt the need to run it that way again and ended up taking the only strap of the day.
We followed 13 out to 11, and followed H back to 10A so we could get back to the busted XJ. Within a minute of us arriving, they showed up with the repaired tie rod and got to work installing it.
As we were waiting, I decided to take a stab at Rock Creek. Being open/open on 32's and just over 2" of lift, I was very impressed with how well it did and was able to get a couple cool pics of my Jeep out there. To be fair, though, I still only ran the width of it (30 feet or less?) and only did it about 10 feet from the bypass, but I did get my Jeep out on Rock Creek.
After getting the XJ fixed, we decided to take the easy way out and get back to camp. We ran 10 out where Jimmy lost a rear spring in his TJ. It was replaced quickly with the dangers of a Hi-Lift being demonstrated as Jimmy came within a fraction of an inch from taking the force of the handle to his manhood.
The Jeep gods were not smiling on us, so we tried to get the hell out of there and still only made it as far as the Pole Line. It seems that a slight bend we noticed in a centering pin got much worse and broke on JT's XJ. In the process he lost his driveshaft (after losing one on the highway coming up to Rausch), slid his axle back and tweaked his leaf spring. We started working on it as Burton's group went by and they stopped to offer assistance. As he headed back to camp to look for a centering pin, it seems that most of my group followed them leaving just a couple of us on the trail. I owe a huge thank you to those of you that stayed as you understand the meaning of "leave no one behind".
Burton grabbed a centering pin from the other guy (been on enough rides with you that I should know your name, but I am horrible with that sort of thing and honestly don't know your, or your fathers, name). We also ran into a small group of leaf spring guys who stopped to offer assistance and provide us with a centering pin. As it turns out, the one Burton ran all over the park to get and deliver didn't fit, but the one from the random Jeepers was perfect. It took some work lying in the mud to get it proper, but we did get it mobile and drove it off the trail in front wheel drive.
We rushed through packing and cleaning up as it was getting really close to closing time. JT got the driveshaft installed on the XJ and Jimmy dealt with several fitment problems on his doors, surrounds, top, etc. after his flop on Friday. We made it out of the park just a few minutes before close.
It was a long ride home, but we made it. We had to stop once to deal with some engine issues with the XJ, but it kept running. We were all having issues of some sort, so we ran home at slow speeds turning the two and a half hour drive into a four hour one, but at a few minutes after 10pm finally made it.
So thanks to all. I expected a great time, and was delivered an ever better one.
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