Join Date: May 2005
Location: Riverside, CA
The Baja Pole Line Run #4 was an overwhelming success...in more ways than one. Our group consisted of some seriously capable Jeep Wranglers, a locked Toyota pickup, and a locked Chevy Z71 with 35s. After meeting John Vera and fellow Marine Juan Rayavaca. at the Jalisco Restaurant on Imperial Blvd. Friday afternoon, we dined on authentic Mexican cuisine, and talked about recent modifications made to John's Unlimited since Pole Line Run #2. Growing in stature from 5" of ground clearance under his Skid Row gas tank skid, this Unlimited now featured a Kilby gas tank skid, 3.5" of body/susp. lift, and taller 32" BFGoodrich tires. John pointed out that his recently added Novak shifter greatly aided in transfer case operation. Since Juan has family and friends in Mexicali, the two drove south of the border where they met our group Saturday morning en route to Hwy 2.
Brothers Steve and Jim Grier attended this run from Reno, NV where Jim resides with his family. Brother Steve Grier flew in from Toledo, Ohio to attend Pole Line Run #4 and to ride along in Jim's recently outfitted '03 Wrangler Rubicon. With a 1" Body lift, 6" Full-Traction long-arm suspension, 35" BFGoodrich tires, 4.88 gears, built axles, winch, and all of the extras to make this a comfortable and safe trip, Jim and Steve were ready for some real adventure.
Larry Crothers from Imperial, CA run Pole Line Run #4 with his father Mr. Alan Crothers of Coachella, CA. Larry recently put down $4,200.00 on a fully installed 4" Full-Traction Long-Arm system on his '05 Wrangler X and with 32" BFGoodrich tires, new alloy wheels, and a new tire carrier system, he was ready for some Baja action! Because Larry lives so close to the Mexican border, he and his father have shared many good times, and many decades bouncing around in the desert in whatever modes of transportation were at their hands. The senior Crothers also boasted about owning a quad which he loves to explore the desert in when he is not a passenger of his sons built Jeep.
Victor Rodriguez from Phoenix, Arizona took notice of this trail run, and drove down to San Luis Colorado, AZ along the Mexican border to pick up his father Victor Rodriguez, Sr. to join him on the ride. This run had plenty of family involvement, and it was great to see brothers, fathers and sons enjoying themselves side by side. Victor was the Pole Line Run Rockstar of this event. By driving out in his lifted Chevy Z71 pickup with 6" of lift, 35" BFGoodrich tires, and factory rear locker, Victor was doing what is so rarely seen these days - 'wheeling a full-size Cowboy Cadillac!
Wendell Boyston of La Quinta, California is a proud desert rat who has not had the opportunity to attend a proper Baja run, but has figured a way to fill his dashboard with Jeepers Jamboree dashplaques since ordering his Wrangler Sahara new from the dealership in 1998 with every possible option...including a $35 block heater
option! Wendell attended alone since his wife had prior commitments and could not attend this run. With a 6" "Frankenlift" as Wendell calls it, 35" Goodyear MT/R tires, Warn recovery gear, Collins lighting, and a penchant for adventure, Wendell loved every minute of this trail run.
Ivan Getting of Boulder, Colorado attended the Pole Line Run #4 in his Toyota Tacoma with the factory TRD options - rear locker, and upgraded suspension. Ivan had recently upgraded his suspension to an upgraded rear spring pack, OME shocks, and with a plethora of Garvin navigational support on-board, Ivan was able to calculate rates of ascention, distances between (previously generated) waypoints, estimated time of arrival between those waypoints, along with generating our own event-specific waypoints to the tune of 100 waypoints along with elevation data!
After a brief driver's meeting, our crew crossed the International border in single-file and were quickly greeted by John and Juan. Three additional rigs did not show up at our meeting place along the entrance to the Laguna Salada, so we drove along a soft and recently soaked desert playa down towards the Cohabuzo Junction where we later stopped for our lunch break. After pointing out that our trip would snake around the Sierra Las Tinajas at the base of the Sierra Juarez escarpment, we pointed our seven vehicles towards the sandy, truck-shuddering Canyon Alamito wash where we would spend our first evening under the stars. Our group viewed the dry, dusty olive plantation off to the distance which is situated along the graded road to Canyon de Guadalupe - a hot springs oasis where JustRuns visited in the spring of 2004 and December 2005 (on Pole Line Run #3).
[Total Escape on Guadalupe Canyon]
After a chilly, windy evening, our group was awakened to a warm and brilliant sunrise. Barrel cactii were in bloom and Ocotillo bore green leaves indicating recent rains had again brought the region to life. After packing our Jeeps, Toyota and Chevy, the plan was to ascend "The Summit" - a place where SCORE races down a precipitous mountain trail in its' 500 and 1000 races from time to time. High atop "The Summit", the traveler is treated to views of the Laguna Salada dry lakebed, the upper San Felipe desert, the Mexican state of Sonora, Mexico, the desert peaks Arizona, California, and of course, the marvelous Sea of Cortez.
Once our group reached a primitive corral, we stopped briefly and walked about studied the area. Gone was the carpet of plush, green grass which had greeted our Pole Line #2 group in April '05. Recent rains had not measured up to the downpour of winter '05 and this area resembled a dirt lot more than a desolate park like in '05. So, we turned our rigs around, and made our way back down to Canyon Alamito where we joined the trail as it meandered towards Canyon Enmedio.
The Last Supper in Enmedio:
Canyon Enmedio is a tributary which feeds the massive Canyon Jaquegel off to the south. Separated by a range of smaller mountains, this boulder shrewn Enmedio has claimed at least one 4WD vehicle, as a lone Suzuki Samauri bares mute testimony to the rigors of off road travel in this desolate stretch of desert vastness. With rocks the size of beachballs scattered around it, a torn soft top, and broken marker lights, this Samauri did not have the umph to get out of Enmedio, but rather, succumed to its grip.
On our way down Canyon Enmedio, our group had marveled at some of the rock outcroppings which provided the perfect "Kodak moment" as we were treated with a spot to stand our Jeeps on two wheels for a series of flex shots worthy of the magazines. As cameras clicked away, our attention was on the right side of the canyon, and we did not notice that we parked our rigs near the entrance to Basketball Hill. This of course, led us further down Canyon Enmedio than we had planned, robbing us of the daylight we had planned into our day, but providing us with some great action that Baja can be known for.
As our vehicles bumped and skidded across larger and larger rocks, we were presented with an impassible situation where two boulders blocked the canyon leading towards the 170 foot vertical waterfalls. With the ingenuity of our US Marines Rayavaca and Vera, along with the assistance of Wendell and myself controlling the winch cables, and everyone else who helped toss rocks for 30 minutes, we were able to pull the big Z71 pickup up and over the downed boulders with the aid of an improvised bridge constructed of hand-thrown rocks! Unfortunately, our group was treated to the bad news that we had missed our turn to Basketball Hill to the tune of 2.1 miles downstream. With all of the careful negotiating involved in getting this many vehicles down the boulder-piled Canyon Enmedio, Victor Jr. was given the bad news that we would have to pull his big Z71 across the same boulder bridge a second time, in the dark! The normally cool-headed Victor Jr. was literally in shock. He could not conceive the thought of rock crawling his extended-cab 4 wheel drive pickup truck with the torsion-bar drop kit, and unmaneuverably long wheelbase over the group of boulders that we had encountered, but to do it twice, and in the dark, was pure lunacy.
After careful spotting, body damage, lots of winching, the use of IPF spotlights, video and digital cameras in use, Victor's pickup truck made it a second time over the boulders without dropping into the adjacent ledge which could have rendered his truck a complete mess, and our trip a total bust. Thanks to the careful winching of Wendell and Juan's spotting, Victors tall "Cowboy Cadillac" made it back up the canyon, and into camp after a hard day of 'wheeling.
Our group finally set up camp at the entrance to Basketball Hill - a narrow canyon which climbs up a telephone pole-lined mountain, packed with enough 2'-3' rocks that would make most rock hounds happy. By 8:30 a.m., our group was on the move. Winch-equipped Jeeps were placed between the two pickup trucks in an effort to get each vehicle up this tough canyon replete with v-notches and even cattle paths along the canyon walls which drift near the "recycled" telephone poles which were placed in precipitous perches high above this definitely "Most Difficult" section of trail. Within 1 hour, each of the seven vehicles ascended BBHill and our group posed for a congradulatory photograph on the saddle of this mountain which overlooks the rocky quagmire of a canyon named Enmedio.
Victor's BFGoodrich tire took a sharp stick in its' sidewall, but thanks to the well-prepared members of this group, we had the tire repaired, aired up, and sealed within 30 minutes. Unmounting this tire was not necessary, and we were off in no time. By 4:30 p.m., our group had reached the junction of Ejido Saldana and Highway 5 leading north and south. After connecting our swaybars, airing up our tires, and logging our contact information, we promised to do it again real soon.