Thursday, May 10, 2018

Wheeling With the Big Boys

I know I have said this hundreds of times, but I am going to say it again. 

"My Jeep has changed my life." 

Never in a million years would I have guessed that buying my Jeep Wrangler would have sent me on such awesome adventures and help me meet the most amazing people. 

The cool thing is my adventure continues to get better and better each year. I call it my Jeep Journey. This past weekend I loaded up my Jeep with my camping gear and hit the highway for a seven hour drive to North Carolina to wheel with 
Carolina Trails Off Road

I met the President of the group during an interview on the podcast I host, The Jeep Talk Show. We struck up a an online friendship on Facebook and I joined their Jeep Group. They were holding a Jeep Event, 2018 Uwharrie Spring Invasion so I decided to check it out. A weekend of wheeling & camping in Uwharrie National Forest. 

Friday afternoon I pulled into the group campsite and was greeted with warm friendly faces. It was so cool to finally meet Bryan and his family in person.

I set up my tent and started meeting the other members as they rolled into camp. Then it was off to Boondocks for a meet and greet. Then back to the camp for some campfire time, then bed. 

During the campfire, stories were told of other wheeling adventures at Uwharrie ~ Broken Jeeps, Flipped over Jeeps. I started to get anxious and doubt my off road capabilities, and the level of trails I could ride. But Bryan never lost the faith that I could wheel the more difficult trails. He continued to encouraged me to wheel the more difficult trails. 

The group was splitting into two groups, intermediate and difficult. I was wavering back and forth that night as I went to bed as to which group I was going to wheel with.

At the drivers meeting at the Eldorado Outpost  it was decision time. Hesitantly, I picked the difficult group. While our guide, Mike, was giving us the low down of the days plans, I checked out the other drivers. 

Yikes! I was the only female driver. I thought to myself I better buck up and show them I can do it.

The first trail of the day was the Jeep Badge of Honor Trail, The Dickey Bell. A 3.5 mile trail rated as moderate to difficult with a rocky hill climb obstacle. For the most part this trail winds up and down over red clay trails through the forest, a nice easy Jeep ride.  

I aired down to 15 PSI, disconnected my sway bar and spent the whole trail in 4 lo. Which later I found out some in the group only put their rigs in 4 low for the obstacle. Looking back I didn't need 4 lo for most of this trail.

Once at the Dickey Bell rocky hill climb the trail spotters took their places. This was an intense rocky climb, but my Rubicon with lockers and that 4 to 1 transfer case cruised right on up the trail.

I guess I need to give myself some credit as well. I have quite a bit of off road experience under my belt. 

Now it was on to the Daniel Trail, the most difficult trail in the park, 2.1 miles. The first part of the trail is a series of rocky switch backs. Once you make your way up that first switchback and onto the second you come to a "ledge" you need to climb. It was definitely intimidating. 

The most difficult obstacle I have ever tackled in my four years of wheeling. My heart was beating a mile a minute and my breaths were shallow. Everyone out there was so supportive and sharing positive words of encouragement. 

It was go time. There were two choices, to the right the easier route which to me looked scarier than straight up the middle. Straight up the middle was supposed to be the more difficult. 

Mitchell, my spotter, was one of the best so I decided to tune out everything except his direction. As I crawled up the ledge, the center, my Jeep shifted to the right and I wasn't able to see his direction. I had to back down for one more try and with the great guiding by Mitchell up I went with a little more skinny pedal than I'm used to. 

Then it was on to Mike to take me up the rest of the way to the next switch back. This time to make it to the next switchback you needed to do some maneuvering with backing up. A little too much reverse and you were careening down the mountain. 

The next leg of this switch back was a little too "tippy" for me, off camber right towards the edge. I pushed through and kept chanting "I've Got This" in my head. I was pretty proud of myself for not uttering a string of profanities, or so I thought. 

Check out my video on You Tube. 

As we came around the corner the whole area opened up to one huge rocky hill climb. The right was more difficult, the middle was off limits, and the left was were I was to go. However, the left rocky side was right on the edge of the mountain.

 Okay so I'm not sure mountain is a good description, but to me it was a mountain. So I took a deep breath to calm my nerves and followed the Jeep in front of me. I was on my own, no spotter. 

I tend to be a cautious slow wheeler so the Jeep in front of me got way in front of me. At one point I wasn't sure which way to go, so I winged it hoping I wasn't taking the route that would make me flip. 

Whew! I made it. However not all the Jeeps did. There was some trail damage that day, bent draglink, popped spring, sheared off pitman arm, broken axle. But I came out unscathed. 

The last trail of the day was the Dutch John Trail. The obstacles on this trail were no match for my kick ass Jeep and no match for me! 

Listen to my story on The Jeep Talk Show Podcast Click Here

What a super great day I had. So many accomplishments. The biggest was my confidence in my wheeling. I look forward to wheeling with the awesome folks from Carolina Trails Off road again real soon. 

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