with Fred Swanson
ASA4WDC 26th Annual Jamboree
Let's start off by saying the wheeling in Arizona is some of the best in the US. The terrain is desert, and the trails are rock and more rock. Waterfall's, washes and just plain big rocks. And they are not your usual rocks, they are rough, sharp and they love to eat sheetmetal, tires or any other part of your truck they can find.The Arizona State Association of 4WD Clubs(ASA4WDC) 26th Annual Jamboree promised to be 4 fun-filled days of the most intense wheeling Arizona has to offer. I wheel with a group I met 2 years back at this very same event. Their club is called the Casa Grande Four Wheelers, and I've been wheeling with them ever since.
The first days had us on a trail named Predator. It is a fairly new trail, and there have been some write-ups in magazines about it. It runs very close to another known trail (Terminator). This trail has all of the usual rock ledges, waterfalls, big rocks, tight canyon sections that even a Samurai would think twice about. It is rated as a 4.5, and body damage is almost certain on some parts. The first major obstacle we encountered is this rock section you had to squeeze through. Here is John Allen in his Land Cruiser negotiating the section. You may recognize John's Land Cruiser from Top Truck a couple years back. Next up is his brother Jim Allen in his custom made Rock Buggy. Jim hand-built this machine in about 11 months. it is named "Twister", and as you'll see in some of the pictures, it lives up to it's name. Further up the trail and we found the super tight canyon that none made through except Jim in his Buggy and Troy in his custom Wrangler. This section is so tight, that I couldn't squeeze my Samurai in, plus the walls are so tall that I would have crunched the top trying to go through. Maybe next year we'll attempt it in the Samurai buggy we're thinking of building.
Just past that section was a nice twist of rocks placed just right. You'll notice the 4-runner coming off of the rock and he kept hanging his bumper on that same rock. That's with 35's and a 6 inch custom leaf spring suspension. Bob came from Vegas to run this trail.
Day 2 had us on another extreme trail that was officially opened at last year's Jamboree. It is called Axle Alley, and is rated a 4.5+. It has a couple of sections that are winch only, especially for us short wheelbase vehicles. We were led by a Jeeper by the name of "Mr. ED". I think everyone knows Mr. Ed, and we had a great time on this trail. This was also our first time to run this trail. The trail starts out innocent enough, but it changes quickly. I think I counted about 12 or 13 waterfalls. It was intense, and the day was long, but I believe everyone came away with an appreciation of this trails difficulty. We encountered a couple of minor breaks (now you know why it is named Axle Alley), but fortunately no axles, until the very last section with one front axle on a TJ. (Picture Axle 1,2). We were too busy running the trail to get a lot of photos, but I was able to snap these towards the big waterfall.
As the photo shows of John's Land Cruiser, it was steep and tall, and the winch was required for most except the longer wheelbase vehicles. And of course, Jim has to show us how it is done. This buggy was unstoppable.
Next up was me and my invincible Samurai. Well it almost made it. I just couldn't get past this hole. That rock to the left just kept looking at my right fender. Here is Warren on a section that claimed his front axle. Plus, the wall took a bite out of his top. It's hard to tell that there is a 3 foot hole in front of his left front wheel that pitches your vehicle into the wall. Well we finally made it off the trail just as it was getting dark. We were all exhausted and thrilled with the run that day.
Day 3 found us on Lower Woodpecker, and this is becoming more of a social spot. The trail is only an 1/8 of a mile, with one true obstacle. It was over so quick that I didn't get any photos. Hopefully I can get some shots the next time we run it. Day 4 was the best day yet, as far as the weather is concerned. It finally cooled down, and that made the day even more fun. We went on Lower and Upper Ajax. Lower Ajax is rated as a 3.5+, and the "plus" is the extras on the side of the trail. Like this huge set of rocks that was calling my name. Jim went through with his buggy, so naturally I had to follow. Follow the sequence of photos to see the major air going through this. Of course we attracted an audience, and everyone yelled "STOP, photo shot!"
And for the finale, here are some parting shots of "Just how much flex is enough" by Jim Allen. Jim's buggy can walk over just about anything on the trail, or on the walls or wherever we wants to go. Check out the web site http://www.canyonstatecomponents.com/