SHR Run to Superlift Off-Road Vehicle Park
By Ken Womack
Fire and Ice for the SHR’s last run of ’05 and the first of ’06 was great fun! We were blessed with warm weather days and quite cool nights. It let us have our maximum fun
quotient with ease. Almost everybody that came up to The Park, came at different times, some earlier and some later, so the caravan was just me. Later I saw Dana and Erin at Arkadelphia fueling up, and she said she missed the caravan by 10 minutes and didn’t have my cell #. No matter, everybody got up there, which is what counts.
For most of the run, we had 12 rigs and their owners and riders as follows:
Dana Woodruff and Erin Bertram- ’99 Black TJ with longhorns on the hood
Nathan Hayden-White ’04 Rubicon TJ
Milton and Barbara Short with daughters Ashley and Kaylee- ’00 TJ red w/flames
Tolan Harding and Jennifer Smeshy- ‘04 Silver Rubicon TJ
James Kelley, Stephanie Kelley, Joshua Kelley, Kasey Rowe-green 98 TJ
Eric Barnes, Dave Lubbers- White ’80 CJ-7
Swede Garpne- ’99 TJ Black
Mike Jacobs and Family need names-CJ-7
Heath and Courtney - Maroon Rubicon TJ from Idaville OK.
Todd Nelson and Heath Bothner-’99 Black and orange TJ
Charles and Margaret Wise-’92 White YJ
Ken Womack w/Blaze (the dog) ’91 Red YJ
Todd Nelson, Seth Bothner and Nathan Hayden arrived Wednesday, and had already run many of the harder trails, including several of the 5- rated trails. They were well broken in by the time we got there. After we got camp set-up, we ran The Ravine and The Snake trails before getting ready for dinner at Colton’s in Hot Springs.
Most of the group opted for the dinner at Colton’s. I was told we had a reservation, but that turned out not to be true. The wait wasn’t too bad, and soon we were enjoying Colton’s fine food. It was fun acquainting and re-acquainting with the good folks that night. After a fine dinner and good conservation, we headed back to camp, cabins and rooms for the rest we would need for the next day.
Since Todd and Seth hadn’t run The Vertical Challenge yet, we decided to run Buckhorn South and then let the ones who wanted to do Vertical Challenge, a 5-rated side trail. This trail runs along the south edge of the property and is a good one to warm up on. It’s scenic and long. We ran this one with no problems, and when we got to The Challenge, most of the group went for it. Soon they found it to be very tough indeed. Todd, Dana, and Nathan eventually made it with some difficulty, but some of the others turned around. It was doable with very large tires and low gears, but required winching and lots of rock stacking for the smaller rigs. After this side trail, Todd and Seth had to leave to prepare for the journey back home. We wished them well, then finished the trail.
There were some steep rock steps at the end of the trail, with only Dana making it up. The rest of us went up the alternate, which was a decent challenge itself. We then left to go to camp to eat lunch. There we met Charles and Margaret Wise, who had just arrived.
After lunch, we assembled to do some easier trails that Charles’s bone stock YJ could do. We chose Chrysler Alley, a new trail across the road. It was a long winding trail thru the woods that was obviously cut for Jeep Jamborees. Eric Barnes and Dana Woodruff indicated they were in need of more fuel, so they took off back to camp, while the rest of us did The Red Oak trail. Charles had done so well on the first trail, that I felt he was ready for a harder one. Red Oak is a fun trail, rated a 3, with winding steep and loose uphill climbs. He needed about 3 pulls on this one, but learned to use momentum on the steeper hills. Swede pulled him once and I pulled him twice, but Chuck was learning fast. We finished up and returned to meet Eric, Dave, Dana and Erin, who had regrouped and were ready for some more runs.
I asked Charles if he would like to park his YJ, and ride with me on some tougher trails. He did, and Margaret rode with Nathan in his white Rubicon. We were off. We did The Ravine and The Ultimate Challenge and a few more before dusk, the time we need to be off the trails. Charles and Margaret were amazed at what our modified Jeeps could do on these harder trails. We almost convinced them to purchase a new Rubicon…
Because of the dry conditions, we opted to have our nightly campfire at The Short’s and The Jacob’s cabins. They had a fire ring, and a water hose available in case they were needed. We told stories and visited and enjoyed ourselves till late in the evening before retiring for the night.
The next day, Swede decided to go back home, he was feeling a little homesick for his other hobby, his Yamaha Venture touring bike. We went on to do Buckhorn East. This trail is rated a 4, but it’s an easy 4, I think maybe a hard 3. I led again, with Charles right behind me. This trail has some steep hills and ravines and is easy if you are locked, but not so easy unlocked and unlifted. I pulled Charles up several steep hills, but I must say he did far better than expected. I nominated him for Rookie ‘Wheeler of The Year! We did a few short ones before lunch.
After lunch Charles met his wife and did some 2’s and 3’s while our group elected to do as many hard ones as we could do. We did The Gorge, The Can Opener, The Slammer and Greg’s Rocks before dusk. The Gorge and The Can Opener are awesome trails that are lots of fun indeed. Because it was dry, they were doable without huge amounts of work. Can Opener had just a trickle of water under the leaves and rocks, making it just a tad more challenging. The Slammer proved to be a pretty hard trail. It has large boulders and rock ledges that require some clearance and lockers. Even with that said, Mike Jacob’s in his CJ-7 ran it with no lockers, but with 35’s. He did very well with spotting and some winching. He did high-center on a huge rock, but still did a fine job. I had a few problems myself, but eventually made it with no breakage. Milton and Barbara Short had done a lot of work to their fine red TJ, and it showed. The investment was paying huge dividends in grins and cheers. Their kids were having great fun, too.
I was really impressed at the driving skill of of Tolan Harding in his nearly stock silver Rubicon. He had just a 21/2 inch spacer lift and 33x10.50 BFG Muds, but the already awesome Rubicon with Tolan at the wheel picked his lines with remarkable accuracy and grace. Dana and Erin made the trail look pretty easy with Dana’s well modified black TJ.
Nathan, James Kelley and Eric and Dave, and Heath and Courtney did quite well too. Our whole group made the trail fun and exciting.
Later we finished on Greg’s Rocks, another tough run thru the rock-strewn and ledge-infested woodsy trails that The Superlift Park is famous for. We finished with a group picture on top the mountain. We did two full days of great trails with a wide variety of skill levels with little carnage. I think the only damage was to Dana’s Jeep when she ran The Slammer on a night run. It was probably too tough a trail to do at night with limited light. She said she felt some vibration from the rear output of the transfer case.
On Sat. night, most of us tried out the great black-eyed pea soup and chili that BJ and Sarah and friends had prepared. It was very tasty and filled in the legendary tale of eating black-eyed peas for good luck on New Year’s Eve. BJ and Sarah are the new hosts of The Superlift Park. They did a fine job making us feel welcome every way they could. Our Fire and Ice Run for ’05-’06 was a fine one. I had great fun and believe everyone else did, too. Many thanks to all who participated. It was great fun! Ken Womack…
Badlands Off-Road Park-Attica Indiana
The second leg of our vacation was to visit my Brother Glenn and his Family in Indiana.
While there, I sold him my YJ. (more on that later). We enjoyed some slightly warmer than usual weather, but no snow. We were able to do 2 half-day visits to The Badlands Off-Road Park near Attica, In. It has about 900 acres of varying terrain. It has dirt cliffs, hills of pea gravel, and lots of woodsy trails that can be muddy. There are also rocky sections with boulders and rock cliff climbs. Four Wheeler Magazine holds The Real Truck Club Challenge there, where one of our own SHR members (Dana Woodruff) was a Top 20 contestant (8th I believe).
The Park has a lot to offer the 4-Wheeler as well as ATV and dirt bike enthusiasts. My Brother Glenn has a world-class off-road park only 18 miles from his house. With his new Jeep, he can keep track of his son Alex dirt-biking. He is very excited with his new Jeep, and has his neighbor all fired up, too. He is currently looking for a TJ to build.
So Ken sold his Jeep, so what’s up with that? Well, long story, but, basically it’s having the same type rig for 15 years (2 YJ’s both ‘91’s) and getting tired of them. I want to downsize my fleet and have one vehicle as a truck, daily driver, and 4-wheeler without towing it to the trail. Yes, that does mean I won’t be doing the harder trails, but I will continue to 4-wheel on back roads out west. Colorado, California, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, as well as some of the states of the Northwest have many off-road trails and back roads on public land that are calling my name.
Back country exploration has always been my favorite type of 4-wheeling. Right now the vehicle I have been eyeing, is the Toyota Tacoma TRD Access Cab with 4WD and locking differential, with the Nissan Frontier NISMO a close second. But, I will wait to see what Jeep comes out with, and to check out the new FJ Cruiser. So there you have it, straight from the horse’s mouth. I will be writing of our adventures in the future, so stay tuned, Folks!