Fort Hood
By Ken Womack

This was the run that we had been waiting for! We had heard much from Bob Keniston about Fort Hood, and were anxious to check it out. We were not disappointed.

When J.J. & Brenda and I arrived Friday night, Bob, Swede, and Erik had already been there for a while. Swede had an axle break on his tow trailer and blew out a tire. He was lucky enough to catch a welding shop just before 5:00 p.m. He also got another tire.

Saturday morning we all met at the Ft. Hood Access Station to get our permits and see a short film on the rules and regulations. There we met up with Victor & Johnny from Heart of Texas 4x4 Club (who would be our trail leaders, thanks guys, great job!), and 4-wheelers from the Bosque Valley Club and one from San Antonio Jeep Exclusive (SAJE). The Bosque Valley folks had some awesome vehicles. One guy had a 350 powered Jeep Scrambler with ARB's front & rear, and air lines running to all 4 tires from his ARB air compressor. Cool! Another CJ-7 had a 350, heavy duty axles, lockers, 6 inch lift and more. Another CJ-7 was V-8 powered and spotless red. A beautiful rig, no doubt. These guys were well-equipped and were a fun loving bunch of folks for sure.

We started out with 11 rigs and eased down the trail till we got to our first serious obstacle, one that has claimed many axles, hubs, and of course, driveshafts! Thus its name, "Driveshaft Hill". Bob Keniston going up the hillThis very steep hill had loose, broken slab rocks on it with a right turn 3/4's the way up, then a 1 1/2 foot ledge right at the top. This one is a classic hill climb. Steep, tough, with a high pucker factor, this hill proved its name correct, claiming 2 driveshafts on a CJ-5 that broke its rear driveshaft first, then he nailed it to climb the ledge, and broke the front driveshaft. He was strapped up the rest of the way, and parked it, to be retrieved later. Swede climbed right up, and looked good doing it, but broke his front driveshaft strapping up another Jeep that didn't quite make it.

From there, Swede decided to head back home, having already spent $100 fixing his trailer. Swede will be back and will get to conquer the hills another time. Bob broke an axle when he pulled away with line lock still on, but almost made it anyway, getting a pull at the very top. Bob must have gotten a thrill when his Jeep popped up about 3 feet in the air! I know I would have. It was my turn next, and after watching the previous rigs, I was a little concerned, not really sure whether to use 1st or 2nd gear. I decided on 2nd, because 2nd would probably still be low enough, but have less chance of spinning out at the top. I went up taking the little right turn, and putting only 1 tire on the ledge. It worked, and up I went. J.J and Erik decided not to try this one this time. Wise choice since they aren't locked up yet.

Swede climbing Driveshaft HillAfter everyone that wanted to had climbed the hill did, we went back down. We moved along the valley floor till we got to our next hill, The Marbles. The marbles are large white rocks that have rolled down the hill and look like marbles. This hill wasn't as steep as Driveshaft Hill, but had looser, larger rocks, and a nasty ledge at the top. This one was great fun too, and nobody broke. We had lunch here at the top, and relaxed for a while. After lunch we went down the other side, made a sharp left, then up another steep short hill that you had to turn hard left, pop up on a ledge, then hard right, and up the hill. There was no go around in case you wanted to avoid this one. We crossed the creek a few times, and had some more hill climbs.

Then we came to a washed out section that a few hardy souls just had to try. I didn't feel too hardy when my Jeep slipped into the giant rut and was tilted way to the left. Not stuck, but in a precarious position. Some spotting from Bob helped me get out OK. There was an interesting hill right next to this one and J.J. and Erik climbed these with ease. On the way back we crossed the same creek we did earlier, but an off-camber ledge gave some of us some problems. I was one. I could not make it up the 1st or 2nd time. Victor told me I needed to get way to the left and climb the bank, then cut right. Well, climb Jeep Thrills did, but too high on the bank, and I near had an overeasy. After several pictures were taken a strap was put on me and a tug got me on all fours.

After pulling back a collapsed shackle, we were on our way back. The Bosque Valley folks went to retrieve their buddy's Jeep and we all left to sign out. This was a beautiful day of 4-wheeling. Many thanks to the Fort Hood staff for letting us come, and to Victor and Johnny from H.O.T. 4x4, and to Bob Keniston for getting us set up to go to Ft. Hood. This is the place to go, relatively close (about 200 miles), camping and motels close by, and lots of 4-wheeling.