Well I made it to the cliffs, and let me tell you, it was an educational experience. I learned how to replace a valve stem in a tire, that I absolutely hate mud, how to remount a tire on a rim in the field, that a 90amp alternator CANNOT power 2 jeeps simultaneously, I'm pretty sure my jeep hates me, and a whole series of other thing I'll get to in a few minutes.
Well we get to the park with minimum issues. Forgot to coordinate with other JP folk, so I ended up not meeting with anyone, but I did bring my buddy Jake. So we got to the park, hooked up my flag, and up the trail we went. Stopped off early and aired down to 14psi in my brand new mudders.
Jake helping me out. Note: a screwdriver works better than the crappy little valve on my tire gauge.
Started off by playing on a rock pile. Seemed like a good idea and it really was a lot of fun. Scary as hell, but fun. Not used to driving on a pile of objects with sharp edges. I was just praying I didn't pop anything. I did finally get to stretch a little
Played just a little bit around the edges of the pile, I wasn't yet feeling brave enough to clear the top of the pile. Sat and watched a bunch of ATV's playing for a bit, then continued our adventure. Worked our way around the park, bypassing the big mud trenches that appear to be there so people can get their mud fix if they feel the need for one. I did not at this point in the day. Did a full lap of the exterior path of the park with no major incidents. Never got stuck, didn't break anything, didn't need to even look at the winch. It was almost too easy, still a lot of fun though. But we couldn't go through just one lap and NOT play a little more.
So back to the rock pile to play some more. I was feeling a lot more comfortable at this point so over the top we were going. I wish there were more pictures, you think since all Jake had to do was ride shotgun he'd have been all over taking pictures, but alas, there are very few. Anyway, so over the pile I start to head, get to the peak, a rock shifts, the jeep slides to the left a bit....and I hear a rush of air.
: I look at the tire from my door, I don't see anything yet. I back her off the pile as quick as I can trying to avoid breaking anything else. I get her back down to the dirt. I find the problem right away.
Looks like the valve stem on the front driver's side tire hit a rock and tore half around the base of the stem and it was releasing air. I check my jeep for my lug nut wrench...and can't find it ANYWHERE. (In hindsight, I brought a full set of wrenches so we could have gotten it off in a pinch, but disconcerting nevertheless) That did not help the situation. So we start try to tie it off, pack it with anything and everything, and the tire just gets flatter and flatter. Not really surprising, but it was an act of desperation. To our GREAT good luck, a black Cherokee pulls up and asks us what's going on. Pat and Phil are the names, and they just happen to be mechanics.
They let me know we can probably fix the stem if they have spares at the pro shop. We get the Jeep jacked up, they lend me an impact wrench to remove the wheel, and they also lend me a full 31" spare instead of having to use my 28". Sweet! We decide to stick together for the rest of the day, Pat is definitely eyeballing my winch, and as it turns our they have more wheeling experience then me, so I'm all for it. So we start heading back towards the pro-shop and run across a stuck jeep, a stock TJ who's only mod was a winch. Low and behold, there's nothing in front of him to winch off of for 150ft. So Pat hooks up a tow strap, gives him a tug and our marry band has now expanded to 3.
We get back to the pro shop, I get the last valve stem they have, and we get to work. Breaking the bead was a bigger pain than we thought. Pat ended up having to drive onto my tire to do it. But he did it, we put in the new stem, used an in car compressor and with a little finagling, reset the bead and re-inflated the tire. It seemed to hold air, so we were good to go.
We continued on, climbed some stuff, drove through some puddles, then arrived at the big trenches. Apparently Pat's a mud person, because he dove right in. I figured, hey, I got new mud tires, lets see what they got. I played right along. Made it through the water hole no problems. The thick mud however... I needed a tug.
And our new friend getting good and stuck.
And the playing continued, our very intelligent stock friend just watching. I started getting cocky and stupid. Went through a bug mud pit, got through no problem, then there was a hump and another one right in line. I barrel into it full speed....and hit something. I'm completely stuck. I pop my head out and this is what I see.
There are no words as offensive and horrifying as the slew of curse words uttered from my lips when I saw that. I blew the bead on both sides of the tire, and now I'm terrified a jacked up my brand new tires.
Pat drives around to tug me out, if he can and goes to drive through this dinky LOOKING little mud pit, instead of taking thirty extra seconds to go around the pits. He gets stuck. and I mean REALLY stuck.
He managed to bury both differentials completely in clay. The little stocker grabbed the tow strap and tried to tug him out, no good. We were going to try the winch, but as it turned out, his winch didn't actually work. No one had a shovel. This was turning out well. Thankfully after maybe 45 minutes of digging, a good samaritan showed up, and tugged me out. We pulled the 31" spare out again, mounted it up and repositioned to help out Pat. A good hour and a half total digging time, finally I parked mine in front, winched up, and tugged him out.
The final damage amounted to 2 of his fender flairs completely broke off, another half broke off, half of his front bumper cover was torn off. We decided enough was enough, we'd head to the creek off of the parking lot, wash up a little, and then call it a well abused day. We made it to the creek when Pat advised me of the next problem. His Jeep was drawing from the battery, and his amperage was dropping quick. His alternator was dieing on him. Apparently it had been a common occurrence, because he had a spare in his jeep. He did a quick splashing lap in the creek to rinse off and parked it for a minute.
Just because even when you get your *** kicked, you need to keep a sense of humor.
I did the same, and tried to clean some of the mud out of my unmounted tire to decide if it would be possible to remount it, or if I was going to half to tricycle home on my 28" spare. Our stocker friend decided to play in the water, and started playing in the deeper section. Low and behold, he got stuck. After rocking back and forth trying to get out for a while, the jeep actually began digging itself lower in the water. After a few more minutes of that, the jeep just died.
Sadly he didn't give anyone a chance to get into position to tug him out. Before me or Pat could get into position to tow him out, a nice fella in a Suzuki Samurai back in and towed him back to the lot. Me and Pat decided we'd head to the lot, he'd swap his alternator while Phil tried to get the stocker running again, and we'd all get out while we could. I swapped over to my little spare and back to the lot we went.
This was taken from home,but gives you an idea what it looked like.
So we all powowed, shared tools and did our best to get everything fixed. After a while of cranking the stocker, Phil managed to kill the battery. I hooked up to him and revved my engine, and basically my jeep and his starter trying to get it running.
Finally we have to give up. I unhook, and park my jeep. It dawns on me if we were pulling that much current...maybe my battery needed to charge a bit. Yup...it sure did. All I got were a bunch of clicks.
The park was now trying to close, and the last employee tried jumping me with his little S10. It wouldn't do it. We ended up push starting it and getting it going. Our stocker friend got towed back to the garage for the local mechanic to try and fix it. Pat got his alternator in. All parties involved swapped names and number, of which I lost most of on the drive home...stupid cell phone...but it was still a great day, even if filled with disasters.
I did find out later the stocker got back to the garage, had his battery charged, and it started right up. Lucky guy.
Me however, lol. I got home, turned of the jeep and tried to start it again, nothing. Battery was dead. I through the trickle charger on and let her go. I have a thread up in the TJ section to diagnose that one. I'll get to that adventure in my next post.