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In 2018 I was looking to spread my wings and venture to new places to wheel. I met the President of Carolina Trails Off-road (Awesome Group of Jeepers) and was invited to their 2018 Uwharrie Spring Invasion. It was weekend of wheeling & camping in Uwharrie National Forest.

I arrived Friday night set up my tent and hung out with a new group of Jeepers. I always find Jeepers, no matter where they are from, are so open and welcoming! During the campfire, stories were told of other wheeling adventures at Uwharrie ~ Broken Jeeps, Flipped over Jeeps. I started to get anxious and doubt my off road capabilities, and the level of trails I could ride. But my new friend never lost the faith that I could wheel the more difficult trails.

Typically groups that wheel at Uwharrie have their drivers meeting at the Eldorado Outpost. You will need to pay a small fee for a permit to wheel. I had to decide if I was going to wheel the more difficult trails. Yikes! I was the only female driver. I thought to myself I better buck up and show them I can do it.

The first trail of the day was the Jeep Badge of Honor Trail, The Dickey Bell. A 3.5 mile trail rated as moderate to difficult with a rocky hill climb obstacle. For the most part this trail winds up and down over red clay trails through the forest, a nice easy Jeep ride.

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I aired down to 15 PSI, disconnected my sway bar and spent the whole trail in 4 lo. Which later I found out some in the group only put their rigs in 4 low for the obstacle. Once at the Dickey Bell rocky hill climb the trail spotters took their places. This was an intense rocky climb, but my Rubicon with lockers and that 4 to 1 transfer case cruised right on up the trail. I guess I needed to give myself some credit as well. I didn't realize I had quite a bit of off road experience under my belt.

Now it was on to the Daniel Trail, the most difficult trail in the park, 2.1 miles. The first part of the trail is a series of rocky switch backs. Once you make your way up that first switchback and onto the second you come to a "ledge" you need to climb. It was definitely intimidating.
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The most difficult obstacle I have ever tackled in my four years of wheeling to that point. My heart was beating a mile a minute and my breaths were shallow. Everyone out there was so supportive and sharing positive words of encouragement.
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It was go time. There were two choices, to the right the easier route which to me looked scarier than straight up the middle. Straight up the middle was supposed to be the more difficult. Mitchell, my spotter, was one of the best so I decided to tune out everything except his direction. As I crawled up the ledge, the center, my Jeep shifted to the right and I wasn't able to see his direction. I had to back down for one more try and with the great guiding by Mitchell up I went with a little more skinny pedal than I'm used to.

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Then it was on to Mike to take me up the rest of the way to the next switch back. This time to make it to the next switchback you needed to do some maneuvering with backing up. A little too much reverse and you were careening down the mountain. The next leg of this switch back was a little too "tippy" for me, off camber right towards the edge. I pushed through and kept chanting "I've Got This" in my head. I was pretty proud of myself for not uttering a string of profanities.

As we came around the corner the whole area opened up to one huge rocky hill climb. The right was more difficult, the middle was off limits, and the left was were I was to go. However, the left rocky side was right on the edge of the mountain. Okay so I'm not sure mountain is a good description, but to me it was a mountain at that time. So I took a deep breath to calm my nerves and followed the Jeep in front of me. I was on my own, no spotter.

I tend to be a cautious slow wheeler so the Jeep in front of me got way in front of me. At one point I wasn't sure which way to go, so I winged it hoping I wasn't taking the route that would make me flip. Whew! I made it. However not all the Jeeps did. There was some trail damage that day, bent draglink, popped spring, sheared off pitman arm, broken axle. But I came out unscathed.

The last trail of the day was the Dutch John Trail. The obstacles on this trail were no match for my kick ass Jeep and no match for me!
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In 2019 I went back down to North Carolina to wheel Uwharrie with the Carolina Trail Off-Road. This time I opted for the easier trails just so I could say I wheeled all the trails in Uwharrie. The year before the trails where dry and dusty. In 2019 the area had a good rain and soaked the trails. Wheeling on the slick red clay was a totally different experience. It was a huge learning experience for me.

I was very frustrated on parts of the trails because my Jeep was getting no traction. I had to be towed on one trail where my driver's side tire kept slipping into a two foot rut. Several other off-roaders made it thru, but they had their throttle timing down to a tee. Something I needed to work on. It took a few slick trails to get used to hitting that skinny pedal harder than I am used too. I am usually crawling up rocks not muddy slick trails. By the end of the day I was doing pretty good. I was wheeling on Wrangler Duratracs.

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