It Isn't Over
Until It's Over!
By Wiley Johnson
|My previous visit to Clayton, Ok was on Memorial Day Weekend for the SWFWDA Spring thing event sponsored by FWD-FWD. It was a great event; I even won a bumper: for a Jeep. And it rained. That fact is significant because rain means mud and mud means tougher trail ratings. My Samurai, Kyotes lil pup, is a very capable trail vehicle but it only has 31-inch tires and a rear locker. This means a trail rating of 4. I like that because it does not limit me in any way. I have always been able to go anywhere I wanted. But the rain turned the inaugural run of Lost Creek into a 5 plus trail. I had to use a winch once and be strapped twice. It was a fun run and the weekend was ok except for camping in the rain.|
|When the opportunity to make a run to Clayton on Labor Day Weekend with smaller groups presented itself, my wife and I were ready to go. Friday we arrived in Clayton about 12:30 am. Shawn and Chris Pagan had come up during the day and had set our tent up so we just had to unroll bedding and go to sleep.|
|Saturday morning, we had a good breakfast with neighbors at the Clayton Country Inn campground and rolled out for Lost Creek about 9am. There were about 20 vehicles on the run: Jeeps, Toyotas and 2 Samurai. The weather was glorious and the run was grand. The Samurai ran flawlessly even if the driver did not. I scraped a couple of trees; yes even as narrow a Sammy is. I was having fun and was not as careful as I maybe should have been but lil pup is a trail vehicle. The Grand Cherokee is the nice family vehicle. I got a new dent on the left front fender but made it through with no effort to speak of. We then watched some of the folks run the lowest stage of Three Stage and went back, showered and drank some refreshments.|
|Dinner was at the Clayton Country Inn with four of us couples having a grand time; good food, good conversation and company.|
|Sunday we were up and ate breakfast downtown and then gathered in a smaller group to do Three Stage, then up Rock Creek and then to some place where our wives could drive a little.|
|Three Stage: If you are not real familiar with it, the lowest hill is several hundred yards long; basically slick, solid, hard rock with a 12 to 18 inch step about one third of the way up. The trick is to get your front wheels up on the step, the just as your rear wheels are at the step, to hit the throttle and keep on it as the rear climbs up on the ledge. It you are tentative or use too little throttle, you will not make it. But, of course, you do not want to bounce your vehicle and break something serious.|
|First up was a jeep and after a couple of tries drove on up the hill. I was next. Shawn Pagan stood at the step to spot me. Dana and I got in and put the Sammy in 4 to 1 low-low and crawled up the loose rocks to the slick part, lined up on the left side and drove up to the step. I walked the front wheels up on the step and hit the gas: 4000 rpm and 12 mph. It was not quite enough so I let it roll back down to where the front wheels were just on the edge and hit the gas again.|
|I am told that I actually got the rear wheels up on the ledge but, all of a sudden, I was not making forward progress!!! I was rolling backwards, even in gear with the gas pedal down. I immediately mashed the brake pedal to the floor and kept rolling backwards. I yelled for Dana to get completely back inside the Sammy and steered backwards for all I was worth. It started to back left which would have turned us across the hill and set up for a multi-turn rollover but I steered it straight. Unfortunately, the terrain on the side behind me was a steeply sloped bank the Sammy rolled back up on it and laid over on its side. Whew!!! Oh no!!! We are going all the way over so I got an E-ticket (remember the early days at Disneyland?) ride and went flying over on my head. Ouch!!!|
|I asked Dana if she was
ok and then immediately, there was someone there putting his back under me and helping me
release my seat belt. Shawn Pagan was on the other side helping Dana get out.
So, Kyotes lil pup now is Kyotes lil turtle. Not very dignified but everyone is ok though shaken not stirred.
|Looking at the underside of your vehicle is an amazing thing when you can just stand next to it. Also, it was immediately evident why this had happened. The front drive shaft had come apart at the slip joint. It had not been recommended to extend the driveshaft when I did the 5 inch lift on the Sammy but evidently the motion at the step there on Three Stage cause it to slip out (pun intended).|
|The guys there immediately started recovery and pulled it over on its side, the slid it around enough to turn it back onto its tires. We then used the winch to slowly back it down the hill. The Pagans went to camp and came back in the new Dodge Ram 4x4 to pull the Sammy back to camp. I removed the rear driveshaft while waiting.|
|The good news is that the entire event is on videotape. The roll over AND the recovery. I cannot wait to get my copy to watch on the big screen TV.|
|The bad news. I need a windshield frame, a windshield, the basket hoop over the top and all the rest of the top end to put it back on the street. I have some serious body dings particularly on the right rear corner. I cannot even put the full soft top on right now.|
|We drank some beer and
ate some dinner that night and then drove home on Monday morning, flat towing the Sammy.
Sammy will go into the garage for repairs and the addition of a full roll cage and maybe a new paint job. I have already tracked down the pieces necessary to get it back on the street.
|Yes, it was expensive but it was fun and that is what 4 wheeling is all about; fun times with good friends and family. Oh, and Dana did not even threaten to kill me but is ready to get back in and go again; but this time keeping all four wheels firmly on the ground.|