The GTB's Meet
the SHR's at Las Cruces, NM
By Paul Trotochaud
Ok-- what kind of title is this for an article? Yes, there may be too many abbreviations, but if you remember the SWFWDA winter quarterly event at Las Cruces last year, then you may recall a previous article about Green Tea Bandits (GTBs). The GTBs are David Schumpert of SC, and Paul Trotochaud of Texas. Green Tea and hot dogs on the trail for lunch are their trademark, and this year both of their wives joined the GTBs with some members of SHR for the year 2000 SWFWDA quarterly at Las Cruces.
David and Kathy Schumpert have been avid Jeepers for years. Paul and Lynn started about four years ago. Together, the GTBs and their wives have been to many events at Tellico, TN, explored the Big South Fork area at Onieda, TN, and now, Las Cruces.
So, the start of the story begins with a toast of green tea. For those of you unfamiliar with the GTBs, a cup of hot tea on the trail is now a trademark for David and Paul. It mostly likely originates from late night coffee and tea that were often shared back at the campsites in Tellico, TN when many a lie (and of course, many truths) would be told of four wheel drives adventures. The green tea break is not as “hardcore” as it may seem. The comforts of chairs and even a new table may seeming suggest a non-extreme perspective to “4-wheel’n”, but rest assured, we’ve seen some difficult trails including Broad Canyon, Off-Broadway, etc. Even on our last day this year at Rincon/Salem trail, our trail leader indicated that, “… and on this section of trail, I’ve only ever seen one CJ ever go up that section.” Of course, …. it was … let me repeat… WAS…. a challenge now conquered by two additional CJ-7’s owned and operated by David and Paul. We received a nice compliment from our trail leader when we reached the “summit” of the trail. As he witnessed us setup for tea, he was kindly offered some hot dogs, relish, chips, etc. The trail boss just looked at us, grabbed a hot dog, and said… “You guys are way-out there!”
Let me say that Las Cruces is the “THERE” place to be for the finest 4-wheel’n around. David and Kathy Schumpert obviously believe this since they drove all the way from Mountville, South Carolina with their CJ-7 on trailer to meet up with Paul and Lynn in Houston. Together, Paul, Lynn, David, and Kathy created a short caravan of trailered Jeeps that left Houston on Tuesday 5AM to travel 10West to Las Cruces in a single day… a long fifteen-hour day on the road. Although the trip is flat and usually uneventful, our tow vehicles were put to the test in Fort Stockton. Both, Kathy's (and let me emphasize "Kathy's") Grand Cherokee, and Paul’s green Suburban monster met up with a very, very nasty sandstorm. This was only after making a short passage through a hailstorm, and yes, there was a little blue sky to experience with what had to be some 40+mph headwinds. It was nice to be warm and dry in the comforts of a Suburban and Cherokee, but we certainly paid at the gas pumps with fuel to power us on to Las Cruces.
On Wednesday, an absolutely gorgeous Wednesday, we got in the lineup for the moderate trail ride to Dona Anna Mountains. The company was great, the scenery beautiful, and the Jeeps ran flawlessly except for Paul’s dripping of gear oil coming from the rear differential vent tube. Paul had over filled the differential prior to the trip. Although this annoyance remained for the four days of “Jeep’n”, it was forgotten at the base of the “Good, Bad, and Ugly” obstacle. Only David and Paul attempted and achieved getting to the top of this very large rock via the “bad line”.
The “good line” was passed over to do the bad line a second time as we thought to be… “twice for good measure”… and of course a chance for some great pictures. The “ugly line” is left for those to tell lies as no one goes to the top via the ugly line on this rock.
The GTBs met up with the SHR crew on Thursday to do the moderate trail known as Amestia Ledges. Both this trail and the Hopping Jalapeno trail are well know for very sharp, tire piercing rocks. The start of the damage log begins with the ledges. Dan Neuss will be left to tell his own story as to how the rocks love to eat tires, and it was on this trail that a BFG was an appetizer for the rock godzilla. For most of the SHR members on the trail, this was the first “real” trail to test some equipment modifications that have recently been made. Hopefully, most will include their own tales of their equipment reviews in SHR newsletter articles. But for Paul, he was in Las Cruces with the T-18 he had wished for, a MPI 4.0L engine, an on-board air system, custom hyper-extension shackles, and a rollcage that never wants to be tested. All these upgrades are a resounding “EXCELLENT”. Be on the lookout for future articles to provide more details of each of these new features on Paul’s 1985 CJ-7.
On Friday, many of SHR were all suppose to run Broad Canyon. An event this size doesn’t let everyone get their first pick for a trail to run, so some of the SHR members were on different trails. Paul and David got to run with a large contingent of Land Rovers including SHR’s own Alan and Mimi Dobbs on the Broad Canyon run. Test rock is at the start of the trail, and if you’re intimidated or not equipped to do at least one of the three different lines across test rock, it’s best to turn back before starting into the canyon.
It was cold and windy, but it was more AWESOME. This is a scenic canyon with all the challenge expected from the hardest of the hard trails. The damage log continued on this run. Alan’s defender experience a broken CV joint. Paul somewhere at the end of the trail broke his left front axle u-joint. This is now a tradition as Paul broke the same u-joint at the end of Broad Canyon last year. There is also a new bent rocker panel design that Paul’s CJ shows off on the passenger side. And, David Schumpert… he was clean of damage, and he remained nearly unstoppable on the trail except for a winch cable to pull his to the top of snake pit rock.
Paul stayed up very late on Friday night to replace the front axle shaft with the help of David Schumpert. Although 2AM is early or late (depending on your point of view of being ready for another fun-filled day of 4-wheeling in Las Cruces)… Paul was up and ready in time with his true love (yes, this is Lynn of course and not his love of the Jeep thing) to be in line for the trail ride headed for Rincon/Salem Canyon. It’s a very long ride out to this canyon. Yes, it’s a long ride out, but it provides a different terrain than that experienced on other trails in Las Cruces. On this trail, you can pick your line to enjoy any challenge you want. You can go easy, moderate, hard, and even one obstacle exists as an extreme obstacle. The terrain itself is mostly red sandstone, and it provides traction with smooth rocks verses the ragged, shale type rock found on most other trails in Las Cruces.
And so, the story started with a toast of green tea. And now, it’s fitting to come to a close with recognizing the best part of the trip. This is a part that can win you extra “brownie” points, a part that helps you get ready for that next big Jeep accessory purchase, a part that will help make it easier for getting ready for the next trip, and a part of all my trips… my beautiful, and wonderful wife… Lynn. It’s been awhile to get away on vacation as just the two of us, and it was absolutely special to spend the vacation together with great friends, great scenery, great off-road challenges, and a Jeep.