Flatlanders Jeep Club Meeting
12 July 98 near Manhattan, KS

There was a fair amount of rain the preceding month, so the reservoir level was several (10?) feet higher than normal. The entrance mud hole was once again quite muddy after being dry the previous outing. We had a good turnout of about 15 vehicles, so we split into two groups. The "easy" group, so labeled because it contained most of our newer, inexperienced members, headed along the popular route along the north boundary of the ORV area. The "hard" group, where I was, headed out via a less-used trail in and out of a steep ravine, where we nearly had two roll-overs in September.

We then headed into the low lands toward the base of Driveshaft. This trail is normally near the lake, and includes a small stream crossing that's rarely more than a foot deep. The reservoir was so high that this trail was now under the lake rather than near it. Seasoned four-wheeler John Miller was leading our group, and decided to test the waters to see how deep they were. Before his front tires even reached the bottom of the stream bed, he had to stop because the water level was already above the bottom of his hood. John managed to keep the engine running and back out, though, and we all turned around to find another route to the south side.

We decided to traverse Driveshaft backwards to circumvent the lake. A creek-like mud hole at the base of the back side looked ominous, but was only 16" deep and provided no real challenge. My first trip up Driveshaft found it very steep, but easy to navigate at slow speed with low gearing. It would be a different story with a little bit of mud on the trail, though. The YJ in front of me had trouble in one spot because his sway bar prevented the necessary axle articulation. He plans to disconnect it next time. The trip down the front (south) side was just as steep as the back (north) side, but has several narrow, off-camber switchbacks that would be very difficult for a longer or wider vehicle to negotiate.

Later on, John tried to lead us up Arp Hill but couldn't make it more than half way up, claiming it was slicker than owl droppings (or words to that effect). We waited while he made three or four attempts, and then gave up and moved on. The top of the next hill had two routes over some ledges. Two people had trouble climbing the harder route. Mike had a disfunctional vacuum disconnect motor in the D30 of his XJ. Even three-wheeling with his dual ARB's, he eventually had to resort to the easier route. Bob Belbeck got his TJ high centered on a large rock on the last ledge, and Doug Knox got to break in his shiny new TJ to strap Bob up and over. In retrospect, this was probably unnecessary, as two people could have done the job by simply pushing from behind.

We met up with the other group at the ledges on the west side of the park. After playing there for a bit, we called it a day and awarded the Hard Luck Trophy to Stacy Edwards for having to replace a bad fuel filter and fix his leaf springs. It seems they were crossing up because he had removed the spring clamps to get more articulation. He had to winch himself up a tree to get the weight off the springs in order to realign them. Bob Belbeck's tug earned him honorable mention.

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last updated 20 Jul 98
Obi-Wan (obiwan@jedi.com)

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