Trail Report: Grand Rapids Memorial Weekend 2003 

Author: John Nutter 

We got up their about dinner time on Friday. We saw Dave Estby from 2 Harbors way in the back corner of the camp ground, but we needed electricty so we couldn't camp by him. It wasn't long until Rob Marble found us. Wicks showed up about an hour later and people continued to roll in through the course of the night.

Saturday moring we had 4 Trailriders Jeeps there: Jerry, Todd, Monica and us. We also had Rob Marble (CJ7), Dewey (CJ5) and Isaak (in his Dad's CJ6 - cool old Jeep) from the Grizzlies plus Mike Neilson from St Cloud in his CJ7, Dave Estby in his wide CJ5, Dave's son in his XJ and a guy in a Samuri - I think his name is Roy. Was that everyone?

We headed to 7 Cities and did the usual tour. Nothing really new. We started at hill 203 (AKA $100 hill). There were some ATVs there and they were able to motor right up it. A few people took a stab at it, but no one put on a performance anywhere near what Matt Dubbin did last year. One of the ATVers owned land behind 7 Cities and he was very happy to run into the Grizzlies because he appreciated the clean up efforts they put on at 7 Cities every year. He even offered to give them the key to the gate on his land for an event.

Next we went to the Ravine (the one by the moguls) and most people tried it. There were two lines this year, with one harder than the other but still doable. Rob put on a great show on the harder line, flinging rocks everywhere and making it on the 2nd or 3rd try. After that we went up to the Moguls. Basically business as usual there. After that we headed back down to the base of Rock Chucker ravine (back way into the Rock Garden) and ate lunch before heading up. Rock Chucker was pretty much a freeway and everyone went right up. About half the crowd went left at the top and headed into the rocks. I made Janet a little nervous by taking off across the rock garden with no one else following, but I steered us over to the original entrance and then looped back through the woods to the group. The automatic transmission really showed it's worth on that excursion and I was all smiles by the time I was done. Everybody else that went left into the rocks did the short loop out and back with almost no problems, except that Dewey bent his tie rod and then got hung up about 50 ft from the exit.

We dropped down into the Ravine again and headed for Dewey's gate keeper this time. The big rocker pannel eating rock at the Gatekeeper was now just a stump of it's former self. Several people probably recall Taz using his rear pinion yoke as a power auger to eat through the rock last Summer. Anyways, the high line was easy and the lower line wasn't as bad as it was last year. There was also a middle line that fell in between the high and low line for difficulty. Dewey spotted most people through. I went for the lower line and enjoyed the automatic transmission some more. Rob and Mike went for the lower line too. Mike got wedged in good near the end of the obstacle and had to get strapped to get out of one spot but other wise made it through. Rob didn't seem to have very many problems except for choosing the right line to get up on the first rock. Todd and Monica both bypassed the first big rock on the lower line and jumped into it half way up. This worked out well for them since they were built enough to go over the rocks rather around on the high (tippy) side. I was impressed with how both went over the boulders.

When everyone was through with the Gate Keeper, we headed to the 'Heaven' area. Everything was fine there, with people calmly motoring over the rocks. Eventually everyone was done, except Rob who was out in the middle with his hood up. At first it seemed like he had flooded his engine, but eventually we diagnosed the problem as a bad ignition module. We swapped in the module from Mike's CJ7 and Rob was able to drive out. Dewey towed Rob after that and of course took pitures of it :) I took the detour over the rock pile near heaven on the way out but no one followed. It made me miss you people who didn't come up there. We got back to the road and Monica was going to run into town with Birdget to get a new ignition module for Rob. The module is a quick swap, so most of us went back to the campground for the evening. We weren't back for more than 10 minutes when Rob pulled up. It turned out that he had a broken wire on his module and he found it becuase he was pulling the old one while Monica and Bridget ran for parts. A crimp on connector fixed things up and he drove back. Bob and Mary Duke and family showed up shortly after we all returned to the campground.

It was a good campfire Saturday night.

Sunday morning Jerry made breakfast. Spam and eggs and french toast. Mmm mmm good. More people showed up Sunday, another XJ, Tom Stinar (member of the Grizzlies) in his TJ and a guy in an old M38A1. Dewey was out for the day. He found problems with his front end the night before and he just started wrenching in the morning.

We all took off for 7 Cities again. This time Rob announced that the group was too big and he'd lead one group and look for harder stuff to do and the other group would go for the usual tour and show the people who had just arrived all there was to see. Todd, Mike, Monica, Jerry and us headed out with Rob. Everyone else went with Isaak. The first thing we did was run a secion of moguls at the base of a cliff. This is along the left side of the road right before you get to the ravine. It was lots of fun with side hills and boulders that couldn't be avoided. We noticed that Monica's ARB had quit working on that section of trail, but she still made good progress. The other group had run Dewey's gate keeper backwards and were coming up the ravine at the same time as when we got there. I think they may have headed up to the Modguls.

We tried to decide what to do next and Rob thought Rock Chucker Ravine needed some maintenance, so we headed over there. The Grizzlies want to see that particular obstacle stay challenging, but it degrades as it gets used and rocks get thrown out and re-arranged. We moved around rocks and added a few new ones in an attempt to restore the trail to the condition it was in a few years ago. Of course we had to test it out. Once again, I was veryhapy with the automatic transmission as I eased up towards the top. Todd was the 2nd guinea pig and he got about 3/4 of the way up before he got stopped. After several tries, Todd got by that spot with no rock stacking, strapping or winching. It was a good example of how the trail changes though, as several rocks were now further down hill than before. Rob, Monica and Mike came up next following in Todd's path. Mike had to take off soon after that.

Once we were done with Rock Chucker, I talked the group into "an adventure". Todd, Monica and Rob followed me across the rock garden from Rock Chucker to the old entrance to the rock garden. Todd emerged from the other side with a HUGE grin on his face. Rob Was smiling and talking about how good that felt and how the rocks just kept coming. Monica was about 50 ft from the exit and hung up. Don't think that's bad, she had just come across several hundred feet of the rock garden with no locker and no spotter and had just now got hung up. She was in good spirits and I tried to spot her out of it. My spotting was bad and Monica got high centered. I walked back to the exit and Todd and his high lift came back to Monica's Jeep with me. A little high lift work and a couple rocks under her tires was all it ook and soon she was out and it was lunch time.

Rob had a steep hill climb he wanted me to try after lunch. It was basically a huge V shaped wash out that he wanted me to try to climb out of. They had been driving down the steep side, but no one could get up. I couldn't get up it either and spent about 15 minutes trying to turn around in the bottom of that V notch to get back out. Us, Jerry and Monica headed back to the camp ground after that, packed up and headed for the Cities. Traffic wasn't bad at all. The Wick family, Rob and Bridget joined up with the other group.