This is going to be long..
A few months ago I stumbled across the Jeep Jamboree website, and got very interested. I've only had my Commander since Aug, and it's my first Jeep and first 4x4. So the offroading thing is still very new to me, I figured what better way to learn than to head off to a Jamboree. I was a little put off by the price, but I figured meals were included and I'd have someone where to walk me through whatever we came across. I shot off an email to make sure it wouldn't be an issue to bring my kids (2 1/2 year olds) and received a response very promptly that pretty much all Jamborees were kid friendly and it would not be an issue at all. So I signed up. Since my wife has been deployed I've been taking care of the kids all on my own, but my mom was talking about flying out to help me out for a week or so, so I dropped the idea of her tagging along for the Jamboree.. she was in, but decided to just stay at camp at let me have fun offroading and not have to worry about the kids. Who am I to complain?
So I pickup mom from LAX on Thur and we drive to camp site (Serrano on the northside of Big Bear Lake) We setup camp and head over to registration. They do a tech inspection and place you in a group based on offroading experience and vehicle modification. I already knew when they saw a Commander roll up that they were going to try to put me in the stock group to run some fire roads. So I had a plan.. I talked to the tech inspector and told him I didn't want to be in the stock group (3 groups, stock, modified, and super modified) He said based on long wheel base and no rocker guards he didn't recommend that I go in the modified group, but said I could talk to Randy who was the head guy in charge.
So I go in and find Randy and explain the situation.. "My wife is deployed, if I break it I can fix it before she gets home" all the trail guides running the sign ups love this line.. so Randy and I go out to checkout the Commander. I explain that I'm essentially locked front and rear so capability shouldn't be an issue and that it's just potential rocker damage. He tells me as long as I'm fine with it so is he.. and there you have it, bumped up to the modified group.
After finishing registration I checkout the Jeeps in the parking lot, there were 80+ participants, I was the only XK, there were 2 WK's (one in my group and one in stock) and maybe 1-2 older Grand Cherokees everyone else in was in some variation of Wrangler..
Stock group staging
My group staging
Super modified staging
After a safety meeting we met up with our trail guides for some introductions and such. There were about 15 Jeeps in my group and 3 trail guides. The trail leader with his wife driving in a pretty heavily modified JK, and the tail guide in an even more modified JK.. the mid guide, well yea he was a last minute addition and didn't want to bring his JK since he just had it detailed..... so he was going to ride with the person they thought was going to have the most trouble, me. I was fine with that, I'm still new to the whole jeep thing, I'm surrounded by Wranglers and one WK with a ton more armor, and an ARB front bumper with winch so I'm figuring I might be in trouble.
So we head to the trailhead and airdown.
We start down the Pontiac Loop Trail, and come to the first poser obstacle
Then we find out how the trail got its name...
Then we get to some fun stuff.. I think this was a different trail, but I didn't really know where I was at at any given time so I may have trails named incorrectly..
A little stuffing and drooping
Shortly after me was the WK, and the trail guides didn't realize yet that we didn't need tires on the ground to keep moving..
When I had pulled forward I didn't realize I parked on this rock to run back to take pics of the other Jeeps, I guess Goodyear Silent Armors are pretty strong..
So we finished up the day, Josh (trail guide riding with me) was pretty impressed with how easy the Commander made it through all the obstacles and was excited to ride again the next day since we were going to do some more challenging trails.
After spending the whole day with him and talking with a few of the others people on the trip, we decided since we had about 30-45 min to kill before dinner was served we'd head over to the Big Bear Brewery for a beer. Nice wind down and sit with a few of the people I'd spent the day with and have a little more conversation. This is about the time I find out that Josh is Randy's son.. Refer back.. Randy is running this whole show.. (not that it really means anything, just solidifies that Josh should know what he's doing assuming he's been around this type of thing his whole life)
So we have our beer and conversation and then head back to our catered meal at the Elks Club. I had noticed during registration that there was a cool JK with a rooftop tent and pulling a trailer but didn't get it to really see it until we got back, even though he was actually in my group.
Turns out the owner is Mario, the VP of Adventure Trailers
I ended up talking to him a fair amount throughout the weekend, and his JK is a AEV Hemi and his whole setup is pretty sick.