with Nick Sipes
The Last Blast
Our day started surprisingly well. Nearly everyone was on time and everything started out smoothly. The trip to Browning Mountain was very fun due to all the CB chatter and the smell of mud and carnage in the air. The trip over took about 45 minutes or so, and there we waited for one more Zook to show. All totaled there were 9 rides, 8 Zooks and a Jeep. The spot where the trail starts is a creek bed / road, and proves to be a good place to get to know each other. "Zukikid"" or Tommy was new to our group so we took time to try to get acquainted with him. From there it was on to the twisting. Combs road is about 6 miles of old county road, which on all Forestry maps, they claim it as impassible. The first 3 miles of it is fairly straight forward. The trail doesn't get nasty till the "mountain". This is where most of the playing and testing of nerves start. Grumpy was the first to get brave. He had conquered one particular rut before, and was going to pass it up this time, until his wife asked if he would do it. As he hit it like he has done in the past his right rear slipped into the rut and caused him to roll it onto its side. Everyone was fine and with some manpower he was back on all fours to try it again. On the second attempt Bob Smith guided him a little differently and Grumpy was able to successfully navigate it. The next one to get brave was Brady Mikels. He also tried to cross the rut that Grumpy had so much trouble with. The hardest part for Brady, was getting the spot needed to even start the assent. With no lockers it can be a challenge in itself. But with perseverance he made it. Brady made it up far enough to give everyone a good look at the undercarriage without rolling over. That's Bob playing Hercules with Brady's Zook in the picture above. After some talking we continued up! the mountain and over to top to the challenging decent.
On the decent side of the mountain Grumpy was the first one to go down. With a little bit of grunting and some sliding it went fairly smooth for him. As you can see in this set of pictures, the size of the ruts are fairly huge. Above is Bob Smith. He had some trouble getting out of the rut and got very tipsy at the last pitch. The smaller picture is of him just inside the rut getting ready to come out and the larger picture is of him "hammering it" like Bob the Builder should. The next to try the hard line was Brady. Brady had probably the easiest time with this section for the better line he followed. The little green Zook took it like a 10 year seasoned ride and was quite impressive in its ease of the traverse.
Brent was the last to "ride the rut". This is where his first TKO was acquired. As he rolled his ride to the start of the rut. He centered his tire at the bottom and tried to follow it through. When the ground dropped out from under him he slowly worked his way down and ever so cautiously rolled to the drivers front side. Grumpy swiftly snapped a shot and pushed him right which allowed him to continue. Everyone else opted to take the bypass which in itself is a bit spooky. We continued on to a hillside where Brady and Brent tried their hand at hill climbs and Jeff Patton and Nathan Worrel both blazed some lines through the woods while this was going on. Brent made one impressive run at the toughest hill and managed to get all 4's off the ground twice and shattering a rear universal joint. Grumpy had a spare and gave it to him, before you knew it we were lining them up for a group shot.
One picture with the Zooks was taken going to Browning Bridge and with the Jeep leaving. This is the only rough spot on the road before the big holes at the end. Kristin, in the red Zook, had to be pushed by Jeff. Mark in the Jeep had to be pulled by Nathan. This was all the excitement on the trail but there was more to come. When we arrived at the bridge we advised Zukikid where to go and where not to go. The rest of us let almost everything hang out.
In the photo's above Nathan was trying to see how deep this hole was and pulled in a little too far. He hung the differentials and was pulled by Bob. This hole is called Knarley. So far Brent has been the only one to go all the way since we started our little group. Below are some pictures of Brent's try at it on this run.
Here lately we have been showing a lot of really big trucks up, and to our knowledge, they have been coming back to this spot and digging it out so we can't make it. (I guess they are jealous of our little rides.) By this time Mark in the Jeep, Jeff, Kristin, Tommy, and all passengers had had their fill of playing and were watching the rest of us tear it up. Bob and Brady tried the deepest hole. Brady hit it at about 30mph and made it one Zook length into the hole. Its a short deep one. (One you need a divers permit for.) The impact was enough to tear his front flare off his ride.
Bob tried the "horse shoe hole" and gave it a very valiant effort. But the water proved to be too deep. It was cool to see the fan blowing water up onto the radiator support and running out the front. Right before Bob tried the "horseshoe" He and his Wife Sara tried to check the depth. Sorry to say, but Sara fell in. From that point on she had it out for her hubby and made a successful mess of him while he was grabbing for the winch cable on Grumpy's bumper. Grumpy was the last to try a hole and he chose the same "horseshoe" that Bob tried. When I look back now it seems like overkill, but he tried and wouldn't stop for about 10 min. After the third time pulling forward in the middle. he broke the left front birfield. But he continued. Only to be denied the satisfaction of getting out. But with that 10 minute run he continued to creep forward. Soon after he was winched everyone called it a day and said their good-byes. I will say it WAS an event filled day and we were all very happy to have Zukikid aboard for his maiden voyage in his newly lifted ride.