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SMORR was a little chilly, but definitley not Froze Over. Muddy, slick, and an absolute BLAST! Four of us made the trip to SMORR for the event. Rick, Jeff, Dwight, and myself left the Jane Walmart at 7:50 and arrived in SMOOR around 11. The event was very well attended, lots of rigs, lots of BIG BUGGIES. We grabbed a quick bite and headed for the trails.
The guys asked me to lead and while I am not overly familiar with SMORR, with the reasonably accurate maps and signage and Sophie my trail buddy at my side, we dove in. We figured out right away that the trails were MUDDY and SLICK.
First group of trails turned out to not be on the map. Fern gully was an easy warm up and we all cruised through with no problem.
We decided to start with Stocker Stomper, but 100 feet in we saw a line of rigs backed up waiting for something, so we backed out, and headed for Bull Run. We heard over the radio a rig was rolled somewhere on Pee'wee's Crossing, as we reached the bottom of Bull Run, the rolled rig was at the intersection of PeeWee's and bull Run. Some guys were already hooked up with winches and after a couple mis=steps they got the Blue Toyota Truggy upright. It had a neat, JESUS, NOW THAT:S A ROCK! emblem on the hood.
We stayed and helped guy get the rig lined up on the hill by hooking three rigs (ME, JEFF, RICK) together, because when I tried straightening him back, the slick muddy and STEEP hillside allowed my rig to be pulled down the hill. He got straightened up and idled it to the bottom of the hill. All the fluids were good, he fired it up and he was good to go. While we were there we saw a red XJ go by with a Christian Crawlers Sticker on the back window and an awesome exo-cage. We thought it might have been some of the Missouri guys but they were trying to keep up with a bunch of BIG jeeps, juggies and truggies and kept on going. We then crossed PeeWee's Crossing and headed up the finish of Bull Run, turned up Coyote Ugly to hit Ranch Road to finish the run cleanly.
We headed for Rocker Knocker, but again, 200 feet in we ran into a passel of Military Jeepers backed up. We walked down to see what was up, and a rig was broken down right at the ledge. He was going down on the bypass and somehow broke either his knuckle or ball joints. It was obvious they were there for a while, so again we backed out, and went looking for an open trail.
Dwight had mentioned he'd watched a number of u-tube video's of V-Notch that looked pretty interesting, so we headed that way. V-Notch is a 4 rated trail that as one might assume, winds its way through a narrow trail between two hills. Couple of narrow cuts made , including 1 big hop over a neat stair-step ledge. Dwights wife was driving their well built XJ and did a fantastic job squeezing through the chute.
Then we can to the namesake obstacle on the trail, the V-NOTCH!! Unfortunately our first carnage of the day occurred here. Dwight's XJ was a little narrow for the obstacle, and slipped down in the notch a couple of times taking the left line. smacking the right front quarter panel and pushing it in and back a bit. I got video from behind and Rick was filming from the front, with Jeff taking stills, so this was some well documented carnage. The XJ then took the right line and even though she went through at 45^ down driver, she cleared it like a champ.
I was next and based on Jeff and I consulting on the obstacle, I used the wide stance of the JK to my advantage and cleared the Notch on my first try cleanly, up and over using the lower of the two ledges on the right. Jeff and Rick followed cleanly as well and we'd run our first 4 of the day.
Commanche Hollow was just across the way, so we headed down that 3 rated trail, cleared it, hit Snow Trail, cleared it then Cold Mountain, a nice run with a couple of steep climbs and some tricky off camber stuff.
We then decided to run Black Mamba. It was a dissappointingly easy run, with the biggest challenge being the muddy wet conditions that kept trying to slide us into a bank on the left of a long down hill slide. I would probably rename it Garter Snake. We turned right on what I thought was the out (not marked) but oops...! Turned out to be the top of Bump It.
A long slick descent with a 90 degree dropping right around a tree would set us up for the stair step descent to Bump It. Unfortunately the slick trail let the XJ slide off into the tree, and we had a wild time getting it lined back out. I was already at the base of the hill just above the final obstacle, so I watched with interest as the tree further modified the right fender, then claimed the right side of the bumper. Not wanting to miss out on the action, another tree behind the rig reached out and smacked the right rear fender as well as they attempted to winch the rig off the tree in front. As they attempted to move back onto the trail, the right front dropped into the big rut at the base of the tree, and the XJ's rear end headed skyward. I heard a loud squeal coming from somewhere in the vicinity of the drivers seat, as Dwight's wife, who had taken over after the XJ slid off the trail, saw her life pass before her eye's and the rig teetered on the edge of disaster, staying at 45*down to the right. At this point I decided ascending the hill on foot was worth the effort and made my way to get an upclose look at the situation.
Thankfully our erstwhile cameraman Rick did not let the disaster unfolding before his lens deter him from keeping the film rolling, so this entire sequence of events is also documented!
I used my bulk to offset the gravity trying to flop the XJ by jumping onto the rear wheel and settled it back to earth, until she re-engaged the transmission and the wheel spun and tossed me off! Fortunately the XJ started moving forward and we slowly walked it around the tree and headed down the hill.
Things got more interesting from there, as the extreme slope caused two things to happen to my jeep. 1. the fuel pick-up could not access the fuel in my tank so my engine would not start. (note to self, always fill tank before jeeping). And I could not fasten my seat belt. Apparently the geniuses at Jeep figure that if you don't have your seat belt on the side of a steep hill, you probably just don't need it at all. THANKS JEEP!!!:roll:
Rick wasn't sure about which line to take, so he decided to try the line on the left by sliding down a couple of steps on his butt as a test. We didn't know if he was going to stop or not. Fortunately he eventually got traction and slid to a stop, He had a fresh set of skid marks but was none the worse for wear. I thanked him for demonstrating which line not to take.
Thankfully Dwight's winch fastened to my rear bumper got me down the final step, about a 3-4 foot drop, and even through I bounced my head off the roll cage when I dropped off the step, It was good to finish the obstacle, even without power or a seatbelt.
Dwight's wife followed me down in their XJ, again seat-beltless (THANKS JEEP:o) and other than some pretty loud squeaking coming from the drivers seat, she made it clean.
Jeff followed, deciding to join the seat-beltless crowd (didn't really have a choice) THANKS JEEP!! Great idea. No seat belt's on steep hills! Awesome idea! Another idea might be to have the brakes automatically disconnect as well, just to make it interesting.
Rick made the final drop, momentarily experiencing weightlessness as his rig dropped off the final ledge and he bounced around in his rig, enjoying the benefits of non-functional seat belts as well! WOOHOO JEEP, your engineers apparently do not off-road..
Anyway, we had finally cleared Bump It, with Carnage and pulling winch cable several times. Had it been dry, I think we could have cleared it easily.
We then jumped on Ranch Road and headed back to the SMORR Cafe, as Rick's time in the space station had given him quite an appetite.
After chowing, we debated on whether it would be worthwhile to stay for the raffle, as it sounded pretty good. Upon closer examination, we decided to pass up the opportunity to win Pit Bull UTV tires and headed home.
All in all, we ran more trails, took more pictures and video, had more carnage, and had the best run I've had at SMORR.
We used the maps, moved quickly from trail to trail, and were fortunate to avoid any irreparable carnage.
Our rigs finished the day muddy but in one piece (for the most part) and it was a great day!
We're looking forward to our next run at SMOOR to try out even more new trails. The Southern Missouri Chapter is making a run at SMORR on March 17th, and the NWA Christian Crawlers are heading for the Rough Country Suspension Customer Appreciation Run June 7th through the 10th.