3rd Annual DML BBQ and Trail Ride - July 6-7, 2001
Forestville, NY


Everyone takes their time waking up - our guests from Syracuse, the SCORE club (Salt City Off Road Enthusiasts) arrive while some are still wandering around in their pajamas. After some quick inspections, introductions, and discussion of what treasures lay just out of sight from the barn, we saddle up and move to the pit.

Jon, Dakota and Jason take a few trips through to show everyone how it's done. Dakota manages to show off some too, taunting the Jeeps. A brave soul tries it out, and more follow. A few get stuck, mostly the lower ones. The pit is laid out such that most trucks carry a large amount of water up onto the exit ramp, extending the reach of the mud somewhat. This makes pulling folks out of this end of the pit a little tricky. Fortunately, however, Jon's strategically placed (nearly hidden) winch anchors never get called into service. Every Jeep that passes through the pit gets a very healthy coating of mud, inside and out. Most have to disassemble their distributors to dry them out. Then Adam disappears. We would soon find out that he had some more ideas.

The fun is too much for him to ignore. Adam fires up the rental Explorer and turns some donuts at the end of the mud pit. On at least one occasion, he nearly catches a wheel on the edge of the pit. Had he caught it, he probably would have broken something, or even rolled the thing. How does one explain 50 pounds of mud and a collapsed roof to Hertz? Others take their turns with the donuts, while Adam runs off to the other end. He wants to just clip the edge of the pit to get some extra mud, but the super-low running boards hang him up. He's left with the left front wheel hanging into the pit, and the right rear suspended in midair. And can't get any traction - aren't open diffs great? A few people walk over and bounce on the right corner of the bumper, and finally Adam finds some bite and escapes. Time for a late & quick lunch.

After lunch, everyone piles into their vehicles and it's time for the trail. Because of everyone's cries of "you had an easy walk because you were in front" last year, Jon brings up the rear. Jason & Norah lead, followed by Andy. Dakota sits this run out, preferring to videotape it for all posterity. Jason & Andy make it through the Longest Hundred Yards easily, but the first Jeep isn't so lucky. Dakota shouts "Andy, we need a pull" but instead our headstrong CJ'er decides to get pulled back and take another crack at it. Everyone else passes through easily.

The ride goes fairly smoothly until the hill down to the lower waterfall. Just before the big mud turn, Jason gets a Check Engine light. He's been having trouble keeping the transfer case in 4LO already, and this is not a good sign. One of our new friends was a Dodge certified mechanic, so he takes a look. The light is cleared temporarily and we keep rolling down the hill.

We hang out just above the waterfall for a while, many of the Jeeps taking spins through deeper portions of the river. The river isn't running as deep or as fast as last year - it's been a dryer summer. Adam's ruts are still in the ravine wall from last year's 4-wheel burnout (see the May picture in the DML 2001 Calendar). Pete Cutler, recalling David Martin's attempt at climbing the waterfall last year, decides he's going to attempt it in his TJ.

After a few false starts, Pete makes some progress, but quickly gets himself into trouble. He's nearly sideways across the waterfall and well off balance. The winch gets pulled out just to stabilize things, and a tow strap is attached to his right rear corner and held by 6 guys to stop him from slipping too far once the winching starts. Meanwhile, we're all smelling gas fumes. Pete topped his tank off just a few miles from Jon's house, and at this angle, some is spilling out of the vent in the gas cap.

Then his battery cuts out. All the runs through the mudpit clogged his alternator. Jon comes around to jump-start the Jeep, and eventually it's recovered. It would cut out again just before climbing up out of the river. This time, it won't restart, and Jon pulls Pete all the way back to the barn. This run is cut short, and we regroup.

After a quick inspection of Pete's Jeep, it's decided that it's best to leave it at the barn and not take any chances. Jason & Norah decide against tempting fate as well, and relax at the barn, listening on the radio and checking over their Dak. Everyone else cruises down to the far end of the landing strip and heads for the upper waterfall. Everyone navigates the trail without incident.

The last challenge of the day is Mud Lane. As we found out yesterday, there isn't as much mud as we had remembered. No matter. All but one of the 3 Jeeps that attempt it get stuck at least once, and get pulled back to try it again. After seeing Dakota and 2 Jeeps make it through, Andy decides enough's enough and backs out of the bypass to take a swing at it, scraping up a wheel flare in the process. Andy backs up too far and ends up with no speed in another spot of mud. A little rocking and he's out. Then, a second to catch his breath and the pedal hits the floor. Steering is pointless - the ruts guide the wheels. The truck makes some awful noises when the belly slaps the mud while bouncing through, and the ruts take the truck on a collision course with a few trees. Fortunately, they steer away in time, and Andy has clear sailing aside from a Jon Steiger squatting in the trail trying to take pictures.

Final tally on Mud Lane: Dodge 3, Jeep 3.

We return to the barn and most of the SCORE folks decide to call it a day, hitting the road. Bob and Aaron are staying nearby for the night so they hang out for dinner.

Then, finally, after 2 years of planning to go to the ice cream stand, the DML BBQ crew makes it there! We get plenty of odd stares on the road and in the parking lot.

Click on any thumbnail for a full sized version

The Mud Pit

Riding the Trails

Peter's Wild Ride

Back at Base

Ice Cream Shop

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