Yes, it took me a little while to post this, didn't it...
All pictures are taken by my girlfriend.
On May 16th, Finnish Jeep Drivers Club held their annual spring safari in Ravijoki. The place was advertised as having suitable terrain for all kinds of vehicles, so my girlfriend and I decided to take part. I'm very glad we did!
Upon arrival, vehicles were divided into different groups according to their off-road capability. As always in Finland, most vehicles to show up were built up off-roaders, so our little SUV ended up being the only member of group three. The trail guides didn't seem to mind, so we wound up following a Wrangler around a couple of the easier trails by ourselves.
The trails we rode were easy forest trails with some hair-rising off-camber climbs and downhills thrown in. Like I was told at the FJDC forum, a good place for any vehicle to try real
off-roading in! Ground clearance was never a problem on these trails, however lack of articulation combined with open differentials (thanks, you cheap bastards at Chrysler...) was. On a couple of the climbs I lost traction, which might partially be a tire issue, partially articulation issue. (My anti-roll bars were connected, as the stock brake lines really do not look to me like they can handle any extra articulation. It would be interesting to see how the vehicle would handle itself with the roll bars disconnected, but something really needs to be done to those brake lines first!) The Yokohama All-Terrain tires I had did not seem to deform significantly at 25PSI, on the other hand I was told that when driving over some rocks there wasn't all that much tire left between the rim and the rock so deflating much more than that was inadvisable. Going for smaller rims for more side wall would probably be a good thing.
Trail damage was largely avoided. Some scrapes on the sides from tree branches but nothing that penetrated through the paint, a tiny scratch on the plastic rocker panel and somewhere along the last and biggest climb, which turned out to be quite a struggle and in the end required winching to get the Patriot up it, the front bumper scraped against a tree, leaving a small mark.
And finally, the pictures:
Following the guides in their Wrangler.
Just a view from the trail
A typical view of the trail from inside the vehicle.
This descent doesn't look like much on camera, but teetering on two wheels on top of it was quite exciting enough for a rookie like me.
Spin, spin, spin your wheels... Here we see a troublesome spot on the trail. As you may be able to barely see, the trail slopes quite a lot on the right. I am trying to aim for the left edge of the trail without hitting that tree on the left, but my right front wheel still loses traction. It remains unclear whether my left rear wheel had traction at this point or whether it was spinning too. In the end, clearing this little knob required a slight pull with a tow strap.
In hindsight, if
the rear axle had traction, more power might have helped. (I had the ESP fully off the whole time - not sure if a different mode would have made a difference. I was too busy trying to find a good line to think about this stuff. I reckon I need more practice at this stuff.
Lining up for a new try on the same climb.