After everyone played on the ledge, we took the bypass which really wasn't any easier, but was more suitable for winching. It was a short steep hill of loose dirt and tree roots. Of course it wasn't a straight shot either, so we would go about half way up, set the winch for safety, and go up some more. Then we'd move the cable to another tree, make the turn and finish the climb. The only casualty here was John's windshield frame tagged a tree and got a dent. John loves the skinny pedal, hence the "Mr. Excitement" decal on the hood. The Waterfall trail starts at the waterfall ledge and goes up the (dry, at this time) creek bed in the bottom of a very narrow, steep, and winding valley. Lots of big rocks, trees, and tight turns with ferns and vines growing up the steep hillsides and a dense canopy overhead. It was absolutely beautiful. Its one of those places where we were too busy either driving or looking around to take any pictures. I guess it takes a dedicated photographer to get the GOOD wheeling or scenery pics.
Friday night there was a pig roast and fireworks display at the whitewater center. They also served breakfast Saturday morning, all included in the registration cost.
The last day was a Diablo run and the lower part of Little Sister again, followed by another out-of-the-way trail called Sacrifice. A group of folks on ATVs heard that we were going up Diablo so they followed us out there to watch. The rest of the club made a run up Diablo, and my wife and I rode along in a couple of the more built jeeps, who's passengers did not want to ride that trail. This trail has a pretty high probability of body damage. We then used the JK to ferry folks up Little Sister to where the trails re-join at the top. We ate lunch and watched a few more jeeps make their way up Diablo, then headed back down Little Sister. Tom was the first one up and he somehow managed to stand the jeep straight up on its tail. He would have gone end-over-end 2 or 3 times down the hill before hitting anything if a little tiny tree hadn't gotten wedged between his left front tire and the tube fender. Here is a pic after we got him off that little tree.
The other 3 made it up without incident. Everyone needed some winching, and there was no damage except for some scrapes where Tim and Brandon scraped cages on the big tree everyone hits. The ATV crowd ended up getting involved in righting Tom's jeep and pulling cable for everyone. We thanked them with the promise of a few cold ones back at camp.
Sacrifice was basically a very steep hill climb that starts off with just loose dirt, then a rock ledge with nothing to get traction on just before and after it. Beyond that is a nasty rut. It's cut about 5 feet below the surrounding terrain Which is fine, except there is only ONE rut in the mud on the right side. The left side is crushed rock at ground level. This leaves a 45 degree side slope on a very steep hill with a wall of dirt and rock that just scrapes your tires and rock rails all the way up. You can't ride it like a V-notch because the right side is way too loose and you'll just fall in anyway. Tom, in the red Jeep on 42s got caught at the ledge because his wheelbase left all 4 tires digging or slipping on the wet ledge. He pulled a cable, got over the ledge, and then gassed it through the notch, leaning on the right 2 tires. I made it over the ledge and about half way through the notch before getting both axles hung. I didn't use the winch but I would have had to drag my axles over the rest of that rut only to turn around 20 up and drive down. I opted to drive all the way down in reverse. Three words: TRUST YOUR SPOTTER. Thanks John! Big tires and horsepower can get you through some places, and crawling with a long wheelbase will help in others. In my mind, the 2 door vs. 4 door debate is a solid tie.
No pics here of mine. I know, no pics or it didn't happen.
We finished off by dodging traffic on the main road through the property, watching some folks at the waterfall and in the creek along the main road. We ended up taking the creek out since the main road was a parking lot. My wife was very unhappy about riding in the creek and stirring up sediment. There was a ton of trash in the creek so we picked a bunch of it up to make up for it. The creek had a couple tough spots, and Tim almost flopped the orange CJ, but the natural gas pipe running next to the creek saved him!
The weather held out until we got back to the cabin when the clouds started rolling in. I swapped back to my street tires, tossed a tarp over the soft top to help keep rain from blowing in the side, and put trash bags over the seats. I wasn't done 5 minutes before the heavens opened up. We hit the grocery store for the grill your own dinner night, and it cleared up just long enough for John to do his own fireworks show. He brought some really nice mortars from home, but one of them must have gotten wet. It blew up about 6 feet out of the tube!
Did I mention the hot tub?
Besides having a dry place to sleep and store tools, the hot tub was the other perk to not roughing it in a tent. That is definitely the way to go.
Apparently I missed one of the drain plugs and there was still 2 inches of water in the jeep on the drivers side. We packed up in the rain and headed out. My wife and I got some strange looks driving in the monsoon with no doors, especially at the toll plaza. We stayed surprisingly dry with just the soft top up and only got wet when a truck passed. An hour and half down the road, the rain stopped and we got gas and breakfast. Over the next few hours on the way to the beach, the typical summer-in-the-South weather kicked in and the temperature went from 62 and wet to 94 and sunny.
I was very surprised at how few JKs were there. I only saw 2 others and both were Unlimiteds. I met Mossman who is on this forum with his Rescue Green JK, and there was another, who's owner I did not meet. It was a silver Sahara with a 6.1 Hemi, Trex sliders, and 37" Goodyear Kevlar MTRs. A very nice ride! I got quite a few people asking "What is that you're driving?" and one guy saying to his wife "he's going to take a $40,000 jeep down that???" I guess I'm just used to seeing JKs all over the place in the Charlotte area.
This was by far the best wheeling trip I've ever been on. I can't wait to go again next year.
See all the photos here.