Trail Report: Chucks Winter Run 2004 2004 

Author: Dave Jacobs 

Wheeling at Chuck's started Thursday night around 7pm when the Canadian touched down in East St. Paul. Took us nearly a case of beer and Amy's warm garage, to catch up on current events! Decided to take Friday off. We went to Harbor Freight to view the most current chinese imports. Got off with a 20 dollar nibbler, gonna try that on the willys rust. Went out for a couple of frozen pizzas and damn if they didn't sell beer. Another round of talks in the garage and the night was over quickly. Early saturday morning, I brushed the snow out of the jeep and trailer, fired up the Ford, and we headed out to river falls. Kinda worried, cause the temps were still around 10 below or so. They promised 13!

We arrived at perkins at 830 and most of the usual suspects were already outside with their vehicles running, and some jeeps on the trailers were running too. Good idea. I was next door filling up the jeep with gas, oooooh! Chuck Howard gave me the thumbs up for thinking ahead. With coffee in hand, and the jeep on the trailer, running, headed out to Melvin's. Ian stayed behind to have breakfast at the perkins. We parked at the field near hanna's park, and we unloaded the jeeps there. The weather was still cold though, 13 didn't look good. John had some trouble with the 4.3, it flooded, the battery went sick, and Jeff came by to help. He and John took the TBI almost apart, and with the help of battery cables, they finally got it to run. Keith took his hardtop off, and should have taken the doors off too. The passenger side door decided to not work and he couldn't get it open. Dang! We had the driver's meeting and we split into two groups and took off!

John, me, Keith, Dave S, Dan O, Tom K. took off for Two Falls. We went back down the very cold gravel road just past the entrance to hippy gulch, and took the field road to the entrance to the bottoms area. Didn't feel like taking the wooded trail down that nasty steep hill. Woosies; yah, got that right! The feet, hands, and forehead were almost froze at this time, 13 didn't look possible. We decended the hill, one thing about winter wheeling I really like is that the jeep feels like it floats over the snow, really smooth. We hung a left down the river bottom and eyeballed the entrance to hippy gulch, meandered around and finally humped up and over the short but steep hill to get to two falls. John and his trail b*tch, El Presidente' were leading the way, we took lower falls with no problem. We got to upper falls, and noticed a small but significant obstacle that wasn't there this last fall run. Hmmmm, a tree decided to lean over the trail from left to right. John, me, Tom, and Keith had no problem rubbing, and tucking under the tree. Denty Dave didn't think losing his soft top and windshield was worth it. So, John hammered the yellow jeep over the log bridge and thru the deep snow to position his jeep near the tree and the helpless teal jeep! Cheap shot! Tom ran the winch cable down to the tree and Chuck P. put a 'tree saver' around the dead tree and john winched it back up the hill and out of Dave's way. Dave made it to the top and Adam from Backwoods or something Off-road in his skeleton Cherokee was next. He made it past the exit stones and Dan Olson was next. Dan got up to the exit stones, but the trail won. Dan lost a passenger side ujoint, and to make matters worse, the carnage bound up when he tried to drive. Grrrrr! Adam and Craig Wiggert stayed behind and helped Dan take apart the unit bearing to remove the shaft. At least that's what I think happened. Dan tell us more!

After Two Falls, a decision was made to bear the brunt of the cold and windy gravel road once again, and head back to the entrance to the bottoms area and take on the infamous, and notorious, don't do this at home, Hippy Gulch, backwards. John and Chuck P. lead the way, and we headed up the gulch. We proceeded along the lower portion, gave thanks to the lower falls for what it once was, and skated along the ice that made up our route. We were able to corner that nasty tree just below the top falls fairly easily. The thick ice raised the playing field enough that we were able to swing right far enough to escape the roll bar paint deposit trick usually done in the fall. Bonus! John took his jeep up the upper falls, hammered the throttle, took no prisoners, and made it look easy. After, the big jeep flopped almost to its side in the ravine, but john drove it out and up to the exit/entrance 'ramp'. I stopped the red junk and watched, and made some yellow snow. Told Tom not to spin his tires at this point, but he wasn't concerned, it would be frozen by then. 13 still didn't look like it was going to happen. John placed his front tires up on the ledge, and torqued his way out onto that cold, windy, access road! Up next, I made it up the upper falls with some 302 muscle, and entered the ravine just like john did. The jeep flopped over almost on its side, but kept going to the outlet. Planted the tires on the ledge, and muscled the jeep up behind John's on the road. Tom was next, missed the action on the falls, but saw him lose a fender flare somehow, and he took a couple of tries on the outlet ledge, but made it too. Keith took some crap from the burgeoning peanut gallery for taking more than 4 attempts to get up the last ledge. Gee, when did that start! ;) But he finally made it. Dave S. walked and crawled up the ledge with one attempt. Dink.

Hippy Gulch was a lot of fun, glad we took the time to check it out. After Hippy, we went up and over the very cold, windy, not very friendly, gravel road to upper dam gulch. The very red faced Melvin came along on his ATV and told us we could access that area if we removed the barbed wire and electric wire fencing. We chose Chuck P. to do this. Heh, heh, heh. We went thru the woods on the right side to the down hill run to the other section of Melvin's. John lead the way and we went right along that creek bed to position ourselves to go up the hill. We all made it up the hill with some throttle and we went down the other side to find the rest of the group. Our whole group was in that area, many sitting idle, watching others take their chances on melvin and geraldine, and that ravine on the hill I can never remember. Oh well, we went up the hill to assess the situation. John went back down and took the ravine. Dave S. followed. Me, Tom, and Keith took Geraldine and made her look like a little girl! Big tires and throttle over an icy section and we didn't have a problem. We went back down, met up with John and Dave S. and took the left route up melvin. The ravine was fun, not much of problem getting up it till we got to the top. Dave took several attempts to the right to get out of it. John took less, I took more! Tom went down further down and up along the hill, almost dumping into the waiting ravine, but made it. After, the whole group went to the bottom of the hill area and tried their best to get up that #$!#$@!#$ hill!

Chuck Howard did an Andy and went left along the fence line. The fence won. Dave S. who made it up already went to retrieve the trailmaster. Tom and I went right to the far side, since there were no tracks. Not enough of a run to really make it up. In other words, we sucked! One by one, some made it up, John wasn't happy he made it up once, so he had to do it again. He went up the main middle route, the 4.3 screamed at him as he made his way up the hill. The jeep had a mind of it's own and the tail end swerved back and forth and one last time almost into a tree that is 3/4 of the ways up. We simultaneously laughed and got out the way as the jeep nearly clipped the tree while John made it up grinning harder than usual. Prior to that run, since I was already up there, I finally figured it out by backing up on the main run and hitting the 302 hard. The jeep lept up the hill and it felt great to surpass previous years of having to winch up the hill. The TJ's made a good showing on getting up the hill, Bob Dukes was pretty happy I think!

After awhile, some of us went back down the other side of the hill to get to sandstone and mud. I've always wondered where ya got that sandstone thing. I know about the mud! Anyway, we went up the hill again to the entrance. The left-hand turn above that ravine sucks as much in winter as it does in the fall. We got to the entrance and positioned ourselves to dump into the ravine. I've always hated that left hand turn and the dump in to the ravine. We all made it and took off down the sandstone ravine. Some ice on the trail, but it was pretty easy. The entrance to the lower section encompasses the tight turn next to a tree and the bank on the right. I was behind Keith and didn't see John go after it, but he made it. Keith had little difficulty too, the ice on the bottom leveled the trail, and we hardly touched the tree. Tom made it and his jeep started making some non-jeep noises. He thought he hit a tree that moved his front clip over and the engine fan was hitting the fan shroud. And prior to that, his steering column came loose! That'll teach ya! Tom went back up the hill to his trailer and home. After, John took off to the big hill for the winch-fest, and Keith and I went right to try out Diablo. No one had tried the run, and I was first, with my new co-pilot Chucky P! We crammed the jeep up the hill and the first ledge took a couple of tries and some throttle. We got to the tree on the left, and pounded our way through it. The right hand outlet didn't look safe, nor makeable. So, we decided to go ahead over some crap thru a couple of trees. It took several tries, but we finally jigged our way to the right to complete the run. Keith made it up the ravine, but got hung up taking the right hand outlet. We hooked his winch cable to a tree to pull his jeep to the left. He then drove it out. Ian took the outlet trail up to meet us. We went back down and took a right to the new trail. I went first, followed by Keith and Dave. I made it up fairly easily, took a thump on the right roll bar on one of the trees though. Got out and watched the others on their climb. Keith came up, took a hit on that !$!@#$ passenger side door that wouldn't move, it looked ok. Dave couldn't get by that tree, so he backed down for another day. We went back down the hill and stopped at the lower hill level and took a break.

Keith broke out the cookies, that fella!, and we watched Dave S. pull the skeleton cherokee out of the woods. Guess he broke something. At that time, heard John's voice over the FSR calling me. He blew a tire on Diablo, the rookie! Went back to his trailer and hoisted the little spare onto my jeep! Big Cheap Shot! Went back to John's jeep, met up with Keith and Chuck P. and no John. We took a couple of hi-lift attempts, jeep dropped, not our jeep, and decided to move jeep forward, better footing. Smart move. John's not back anyways! John came back and we got the spare on the jeep. We decided that we had had enough, and took off back to the field of trailers. We loaded up our junk, and sat around in the falling snow to talk about the days events. After an hour of tall tales and many lies, Chuck's crew wasn't quite back yet, some of us took off for Pizza Hut, warm temperatures, and of course, cold beer!

The Hut was fun. The Hut had 3-beer limit, the canadian was not happy, but we were too sleepy to argue. Lots of good food, bull, and camaraderie. The club did what it does best today, have fun. Thanks to Melvin, Chuck, and all the club members who made it out there today.