Hot Spring In The New Year
Hot Springs, AR

Hot Springs

Hot Springs SHR Run Jan. 2-4, 2004

in the New Year

This article is the stories of several different people.  Some are SHR members and some are not.  Thanks to everyone who contributed. 

Jump To Stories By:
Ken Womack Justin Ellis Stacy Newman Eddie Stokley
Lee Miller Yrwin Acosta Eric Barnes

The first SHR Run of 2004 was held at The Superlift ORV Park in Hot Springs AR. This run was set up and coordinated by Stacy Newman far in advance. Although we had planned for cold and perhaps wet weather, the 70+ degree temps during the day and 60’s at night pleasantly surprised us.  

The caravan up was a good one, with Stacy and Mike arriving later in the evening. We all met for dinner at The Outback Steakhouse in Hot Springs for a fine dinner and some good conservation. We left to get some rest and be ready for Friday’s full day of 4-wheeling fun. 

Since I had been there several times and knew the Park pretty well, Stacy asked if I would lead trails, which I did. We had a really fine group of folks ready to hit the trails. Since Yrwin Acosta had a brand spanking new Rubicon TJ and no experience off-roading to date, we decided on a 2-rated trail to get warmed up on. Yrwin was excited and really enjoying this even though it was a totally different experience for him. We made it up the pipeline trail and to the top of the mountain, for a nice view of the area.

Next was G-14, a 3 rated trail (on the easy side of 3), which runs downhill through the woods. Here Lee noticed a banging and popping sound coming from the front .It turned out to be a bad axle U-joint. Lee unlocked the hubs and finished the trail in 3-wheel drive. This trail was pretty easy except for one downhill section on a slick slab of smooth rock that was off-camber. It was sweaty palms and shaky clutch leg for Yrwin, but he still made it down with no damage,  

Lee decided to fix his Jeep that night at camp, so he parked his for the rest of the day and rode with me. Eric and Dave (who traveled up Friday morning) showed up about the time we dropped of Lee’s Jeep.  When we headed out again, the next trail was The Buckhorn Trail, rated a 3 with a couple 3+ spots in it. This is a long, scenic trail going through the edge of the property line up and down several hills before turning into a shelf road and rounding the top of a mountain.  At the top there is an optional difficult hill with some 3- foot ledges still slick from rains earlier in the week.  Eddie and Stacy were feeling froggy enough to try it, but were unable to make it because it was too slick. But, they get an ‘A’ for effort anyway since the rest of us took the bypass to the main road. 

We went back to the office to decide what trail to do next. Since we hadn’t done The Ravine and Gorge yet, some of my favorite trails in the park, the group decided to split. Mike Watson and Yrwin ran some easier trails and had a blast while we ran The Ravine and Gorge. Although these are rated 3, they really are closer to a 4, definitely 3+. These are rock crawling trails with just the right amount of challenge to be very interesting, but not overbearing. I wish these were longer, but am thankful for having them to run. The Ravine starts out a dirt road that ends in a steep boulder infested canyon going up through the trees. Taking the right line would keep you moving, but there are some steep hill climbs and 2 foot ledges with tight areas to maneuver through. It ends up on a short road that leads to an escape route downhill. Once out of the Ravine we went to The Gorge and ran it. It was still slick and was a challenging trail to say the least. 

Later, we gathered up at the office to sign out for the day and return to motel and camp. It was now time to fix Lee’s axle U-joint. I had a spare U-joint that fit, while Stacy had a 12-volt trouble light, and Eric had the tools necessary to help Lee do this job. We all took a turn hammering the U-Joint from Hell. Eric and Dave stayed on to help Lee, while I grilled pork chops, sausage, and hamburgers on the grill. The whole group of us was there at camp as Lee and Eric finished the repair. We laughed, told jokes and carried on having great fun till about 11:00 pm.  

Saturday morning had all of us back at the Park about 9:00 for our second day of fun. We decided to try the other side of the Park across the road. This section is about 450 acres with some good trails. This is where Bobbie and his son in a green TJ joined us .We eased up a 2 rated trail, and spotted a 4 rated hill climb. Bobbie was the only one who tried this one. It was too steep and too loose to make it this time though. To the right was a trail rated 3 that proved to be very difficult. It had some gnarly ledges on it, and I needed a winch along with several others.  Only Eddie, Pat and Vanessa and Stacy and Justin made it up under they’re own power. They picked the right line and scrambled up with hoops and hollers from the whole group. Unfortunately, Bobbie bent his exhaust and T-boned a rear control arm on his TJ. We helped him try to bend it straight, but that wasn’t going to happen so we took it off. He left for camp, and later found someone with a spare control arm and a welder. After some quick repairs, he was back running. 

We left on a trail through the woods to a very steep downhill section. Mike’s CJ engine was died out coming downhill, and he lost his power steering and brakes. He was unable to get his Jeep on a good line, and it climbed the wall and tipped over on the driver’s side. He was barely moving, so they were not injured, and the Jeep sustained light damage. We winched him back over with a snatch block and Stacy’s winch. At the bottom of the hill, Mike worked on straightening the door and hard top mounts, while the group took a lunch break.

Later we finished out the trail and assembled near the office to regroup and do our next trail, A-17. This trail is a very long trail, rated a 4, but really is a 3 most of the way, except for the extremely steep exit hill at the very end. We started out climbing some steep hills and some off camber riding. On one section Mike and Corinne spotted an exit route, which they took. They decided to spend the rest of the day relaxing after the easy over. About this point Lee’s Jeep’s alternator wasn’t charging and the motor would die out while driving and had to be restarted with a jump. Eric’s CJ was having similar problems, but he had 2 batteries, and was ok as long as we stayed moving, which we weren’t. We found an escape route back to camp, and Lee took it. 

This was a fun trail and took us 2 ½ hours to complete. The exit was down an extremely steep hill that had us puckering all the way down. Yrwin had rode with me on this trail and was clearly enjoying it. The trail led us to the parking lot where we found Lee had already got his tow rig and trailer. Bobbie had made some repairs and was running, too.  

Eric and Dave loaded up to head back to the hotel and break out the battery charger while the rest of us went back to run the Ravine and Gorge again. Yrwin rode with me and thought he had done this trail the day before until we got to the canyon, and then he said “No, we didn’t do this one after all!” This Ravine trail was still wet, and the boulder crawling was so fine! Yrwin was amazed that a Jeep could walk right over the rough terrain and he obviously loved it! We crawled and scratched our way to the top, and then went down the Gorge instead of the exit road. I didn’t know it at the time, but that road was built because the Park feels the downhill is too hard when it’s wet. We ran it unknowingly, and understand why they made this an uphill only. I

went down very carefully, I thought, but slipped into a hole and popped a tire off the bead. Bad timing as we only had a short time before closing time. We jacked up the Jeep in the front with the Hi-Lift, and then added another at the side. After some wrangling with a tree stump, and some pulling of the tire against the rim, my Quick Air 3 pumped up the tire and popped it back on the rim. We got back just in time for dusk closing of the Park. We loaded up Lee’s Jeep, aired up our tires and headed back to motel and camp. It was another fine day of 4-wheeling fun.  

Later on we all joined up back at the KOA for some reveling and a campfire. We chatted and swapped stories for hours. It was great fun for me, and I think everyone had fun. Let’s do it again, soon! 

Ken Womack

I fastened my seatbelt preparing for our first run of the day and for me the first true wheeling adventure ever. Many thoughts crossed my mind. I wondered what the trails would look like and how capable the jeeps could be at climbing step hills, crossing rocky obstacles, or even going down hill over loose rock. The “what ifs” continued until the first real obstacle was complete. Sitting at the bottom of twin hills in line with the third path from the right, Stacy stopped, turned to me and said,”What do you think Justin?”   I didn’t even need to think about it.  I needed an answer to the questions in my head and this obstacle looked like it would give me those answers.  So I pointed to the top and said, ”Let’s go for it.”  We started up. At first it was nothing more than a steep hill. I would compare it to a roller coaster as it climbs the first big hill to gain speed for the trip down. I thought this is going to be a piece of cake. Just then I noticed a small lip just before the crest of the hill. It may not have looked like much at first, however the closer we got to the lip I began to see our line was full of loose rock and we were likely to lose some traction as we crossed over the lip. Before I can even think what is next, the jeep is at the obstacle and starting the climb over the lip. The jeep’s wheels lost traction and the ass began to slide. In that moment, I was experiencing total uncertainty for what was going to happen next. Stacy did not let up on the gas and in a few quick moments the wheels caught traction. When this happened the jeep shot up and over the ridge. Before I could even realize it, we were already at the top waiting for the next jeep to do the same. After that obstacle was complete I thought I had a true taste of what wheeling was all about. 

THANK YOU everybody for the opportunity to WHEEL with you guys and girls in Hot Springs, 

Justin Ellis

When I began four-wheeling, it took several trail rides to see some of the things that I had heard about four-wheeling. This single weekend trail ride in Hot Springs offered up some action that you usually only see after a period of time on many trails.  

First thing to see was the way that all four-wheeling folks are friends as long as they are respectful of the trails, vehicles, and people. While sitting in the parking lot, we were approached by a fellow and his young son, Bobby and Wade. They had driven to the park and were looking for someone to wheel with, he asked if he could join our group and we obliged. It’s so easy to make friends when you’re wheeling.  

Of course, the next thing to see is carnage. We had plenty of that to go around. Lee Miller had a broken u-joint. Soon after, Bobby mangled his exhaust requiring a trail repair using a winch and some logs for leverage. The next day Bobby managed to crinkle one control arm and rip another’s bracket off. While he limped back to the parking lot on the access road, we started down another trail with a very steep, long descent. The carburetor in Mike’s CJ started giving him problems and he couldn’t keep the engine running while descending the mountainside. This ended with his CJ landing very softly on its side. No injuries and only minor damage to the CJ but Mike’s dog was a little confused as to what had happened. Lee’s jeep made it back on the trail for the second day of wheeling but it didn’t last long. His battery and/or alternator suddenly died, leaving us to use jumper cables to boost his power long enough to get down the trail a few hundred feet before needing another boost. We finally found a clearing through the trees to the main road where Lee high-tailed it back to the parking lot before losing power again. After getting Lee’s jeep off the trail, we found that now Eric’s jeep was having electrical issues. A jumpstart was needed and he kept it running long enough to finish the trail.  

We (Ken & Yrwin; Eddie, Pat & Vanessa; Justin & myself) decided to take the last three jeeps we had left and run a couple of good trails while Eric and Dave loaded up the CJ and took Lee back to camp to get his truck and trailer. We ran up the ravine and started down the gorge when Ken came off of a ledge and popped a bead. The way things were going this weekend, it really was no surprise that we’d have some sort of tire issues to deal with sooner or later. It took two hi-lifts and a winch to stabilize the jeep while a small stump was sawed out of the way to get the bead back on. The bead was seated and we finished the trail with the help of Ken’s spotting to head back out of the park. I think that all of the weekend’s wild events helped to pull this small group together very strongly. 

Camaraderie was the final experience of this four-wheeling trip. I went to Hot Springs for a good wheeling trip to start the New Year. I came back with some new friends that had seen a lot of minor carnage in a short while, but a deep sense of togetherness pulled us through it with the best of attitudes. 

Stacy Newman

Pat, Vanessa, and I had a great time in HOT Springs and the weather could not have been warmer for a January weekend. The caravan trip up there and back with everyone was great, this was our longest trip ever with a group of people this size but it was fun and made the driving easier. The wheeling was fun and challenging; if you didn't know how or haven't used your winch in awhile this was the trip for winching 101. The carnage was plentiful but light.

 We started out with seven of our (SHR) own plus one more, we quickly whittled this downed to three then two by Sunday morning when I found out I wheeled half a day on a broke spring hanger on the left front. If I could find a way for all trips to be this fun and to wheel all the time "man what a life". C-ya on the trails. 

Eddie Stokley

I think I liked this run mostly because everyone ran the same trails together. Ken made the trip enjoyable because of his knowledge of the park and his attention to details while leading the trails. Everyone knew what to expect on each trail, which is very helpful to people new at this sport.  The reason I joined a club was to meet new people and learn more about off-road driving & everything that goes with it. I did both on this run. 

Lee Miller

My First 4x4 Experience 

The trip started at the Wal-Mart parking lot in Cleveland, TX.  After some breakfast at McDonald’s, I looked out at the parking lot and saw this unimaginable muscular jeep on a trailer!  The SHR group had arrived.  I asked myself, “Why are they on a trailer?”  Shortly I would find the answer. The jeep looked like it had been through a painful transformation.  It seemed it had been injected with some nuclear chemicals. After some greetings and a quick gas up, the convoy took off towards Superlift’s ORV Park in Hot Springs, AR. 

On the second day we met up at the park and they told me that we were all going to take some easy trails, 1’s and 2’s.  I was calm; after all, I have taken bigger challenges before, like driving 140mph at Texas World Speedway.  I was thinking to myself that we were going to the park to drive all day long on gravel roads.  The trail leader tells me to be second in the convoy.  

The first trail came up, and we took it.  It was ok, but bumpy.  I thought that I needed to loosen up the new Jeep Rubicon anyways; it only had 2000 miles on the odometer.  Next, was the second trail… As we came up to it, all I could see was this immense, colossal hill.  The first jeep goes up the hill and up, up, up and more up.  On this hill, they tell me on the FRS to lock the Rear-Axle and go up.  YES go UP!  I asked myself, what did I get into?  I started the task of climbing the hill in my JEEP!  The Jeep starts going up, little by little, inch by inch, like a great mountaineer climbing up Mount Everest.  From the driver’s seat the only thing I could see was the blue sky, I couldn’t see the trail!  I look to my rearview mirror and see Eric Barnes’ Jeep and he told me on the FRS to “give more gas to the jeep”.  To my astonishment, the jeep climbed the hill.  YES, it actually climbed the hill!  By this point I was so nervous that my legs started to shake like an aspen leaf.  The rest of the group caught up, and we continued on the trail.   

At my horizon view I could see the narrow and curvy trail.  Sometime passes and the narrow trail changes to down hill, then uphill.  Another up hill trail?  “Yes”, they tell me on the FRS that we are going to an uphill trail, but this time my miniature jeep was taking the battle really well.  After I conquered the hill, they tell me on the FRS that we are going to an easy 3 level trail and also to lock the Rear and Front Axle.  When I heard that, I though it was a really unreasonable insane task in front of us.

By this time the trail gets really difficult.  There was a hill with a big rock in the middle of the trail, but the jeep got stuck on the rock and they had to winch it out. We continued on, but the rest of the trail wasn’t that hard.  By the end of that trail, though, I needed to calm my nerves, so I asked Mike if he would like to see the rest of the park on 1 and 2 rated trails after lunch.  He agreed and we split off from the bigger jeeps after lunch to see some more of the park.  

The third day, I met up at the parking lot with the rest of SHR’s group.  We quickly aired down and had a driver’s meeting.  I counted 6 good Jeeps and 1 alpha and omega Jeep in the parking lot.  (Ooh yeah, 1 alpha and omega jeep.  Eric Barnes’s jeep has a V8 and also fiberglass body.)  I planned to ride with Ken Womack today because at the driver’s meeting they said that we we’re going to some hard trails, 4’s and 5’s today. 

We approached the first trail but I couldn’t see the trail, the only thing I saw was some rocks on a hill.  It looks like a dump truck went up the hill and dumped some big rocks down it.  I asked myself, “This is what they call a trail?”  Ken tells me, “Let’s go up!”  It seemed like I was at AstroWorld, but the jeep went up.  Some Jeeps had to go up by using the winch.  Bobby’s jeep (a guy we met in the parking lot looking for someone to wheel with) hit a hard rock and it looked like it killed the jeep.  They winched it up to the top of the hill.  He bent some mechanical part.  By now I was thinking to myself that this Jeep is dead and that they needed to call in a chopper to airlift it out. This jeep was dead!  Instead, he took the part out of the jeep and went down the mountain to the parking lot.   

We continued on the trail down a steep descent, when on the CB they tell us “Stop! Mike has rolled his jeep!”  Ok, stop and let’s think.  The jeep is ROLLED.  In my head, I was thinking for the second time that a Jeep had died and they would definitely need to call in a chopper to airlift it out.  The jeep was dead but using the winch, a hammer and some ingenuity, they got the jeep upright again and finished the trails.  By this time, they had accomplished killing my nerves.  Back in the parking lot we saw Bobby and his jeep fixed up, and he was ready to go on the trails again. 

The fourth day we headed home together in a convoy.  By the end of the trip, I was thinking about the next generation of Jeep Wranglers?  It could only be completely out teched, out maneuvered, and out designed by an Alien Super Crawler.  It should be able to climb Mount Everest or any other peak that you can throw at it and that’s even without a driver.  Only in a JEEP! 

Yrwin Acosta

Often, as I’m sure Chris will attest to, it is hard to solicit comments from people after they come back from a long trip.  But as you can see from the response to this trip, if you weren’t there, you really missed out.  What I find most pleasing is the common theme of “We had great people on this trip”.  For sure, Hot Springs is a neat little town, despite being the boyhood home of President Clinton, and it provides all sorts of non-wheeling activities when the park is closed.  Yes, the weather was much nicer than we had prepared for and the park is great. (For those that like Gilmer, this park is awesome.)  Sure, we had lots of REPAIRABLE carnage and chances to use all that gear we spend so many dollars on.  But the good times had while trying to mash U-joint end caps on and devouring Ken’s good grub while listening to Vanessa explain her philosophy on men were more of the things that made this trip.  On the trail or off the trail once again it is the people of the sport and specifically SHR that make these trips so enjoyable to me.  Stacy did an excellent job coordinating the trip and Ken is definitely the guide of choice while up there.  Many thanks go out to both of them for providing the rest of us a trip that we will long remember. 

Eric Barnes