Off-highway 101 @ Shiloh Ridge
by Stacy Newman (Pics by Various noted in article)
pulled into the Wal-Mart parking lot in
Cleveland on September13, 2003,
to meet up with the SHR convoy, I was pleasantly surprised to see the
number of vehicles ready to go. Lots of people, some recognizable, some
new faces, all were eager to say hello and then hit the road. We filled
up with fuel and held a quick driver's meeting for introductions in the
parking lot before pulling out. While driving towards Shiloh Ridge after
leaving from Cleveland on Saturday morning, I counted 13 vehicles in our
convoy. Clint was leading the way with his borrowed/bought new truck. It
looked so nice, all straight and shiny except for that one "minor" bump in
the tailgate, maybe he can explain that one to us sometime. When we
arrived at Shiloh, we met up with some other SHR folks that had arrived
earlier. All in all, I estimate we had a hair over 20 vehicles.
We decided that we should split the group into two smaller groups. One for the more experienced and larger jeeps and one for the closer to stock vehicles and less experienced. After helping Rachel and her boyfriend Rob get her jeep disconnected and aired down, I was volunteered (thanks to Todd Nelson and his Tennessee willpower to "volunteer" me) to lead the bigger jeeps on a ride around Shiloh.
Off the big guys went. I believe there were close to 10 in our group. We started with the first big hill down into the property and up the large rutted hill. I stopped at the top of the hill to see who was in my group and what everybody was driving, but most importantly to get somebody else to volunteer to lead us around the property. Nobody offered up, so I was leading.
We continued on the trail until we came to a deep, wide rut. I straddled the rut and carefully drove down the hill. This rut was very long, much longer than I expected and too deep to get off of without sliding into it on my side. I took my chances and continued on, worried that somebody would slide off into this rut and get some damage. That's when I glanced behind me to see how many were brave enough to follow. To my amazement, NOT A SINGLE VEHICLE was following me! They were driving along the side of the rut waiting for me to fall in. Finally one brave soul, Eric Barnes, the tailgunner, followed my lead. Unfortunately, he over-flexed a little and tore out one of his bumpstops. When we stopped to play on the rock garden for a while, Eric hopped under his CJ and got everything lined back up and tightened down again to continue on for the day.
After playing in the rock garden, we found a nice hill climb to try. Following Larry Crawford's lead up the hill, those that wanted to give it a try did so and made it. From there, we wandered around to the rock wall. We waited while a couple of really big rigs tried the really nasty lines. Afterwards, most all of us tried, and made it up, the sane side of the rock wall before heading towards the front for lunch. I did try the ugly right hand side line first but, to avoid any serious damage, backed off after a couple of attempts and went up the sane side like everyone else.
At lunch, we enjoyed hearing the triumphs of the newer folks. It was exciting to hear how they had conquered the property. It will be even better the next time they go out with us onto bigger and better trails.
After lunch, the remaining few headed back out together for some more trails. We started with the rock wall, where several folks made the sane line look easy. Ken "Joe" Gaw took a whack at it but had to back off. Not being locked on the rear axle, just wouldn't allow him the needed traction to get all the way over. He'll get it next time; Joe's got some mods coming his way some day soon!
We followed "Wrong Way" Clint along a newer trail that was very nice and scenic as we tried to catch up with Paul Hearn and a couple of others. Finally, Paul led us to a couple of nice hill climbs where everyone could play for a bit. Most everyone made it up the really steep climb. A couple of the smaller rigs went around, while I tried a different climb with a rut at the top. I don't know what my fascination with ruts was that day! It took a couple of tries but I finally managed to get enough sidewall bite to get me up and over the rut at the top of the climb. We finished the trail and headed towards the front to get ready to leave.
Once we made it to the front, folks started getting ready to leave. Those with trailers loaded up, and those without trailers then re-connected swaybars and aired up. A few people headed home, while a few stayed to chit-chat for a while before leaving, and even some others headed towards the trails again. Overall, it made for a nice day trip out of town and onto some trails. I'm looking forward to seeing some of those new faces on some more trails in the future.
(Note: Thanks also to Rachel Lessick, Robert Hearn, Lee Miller and Joe Gaw for sending in pictures. )