Our third wheeling day came to an end on an uphill rockcrawl known as Black Sheep. We were playing in some big rocks now! And at first sight some of us didn't think anyone was going to crawl up the steep chute. Trail leader Donnie Hargrove busted a 30-spline Dana 60 stub shaft, we cut a tire on the UA K10, and Tom Boyd lost his quarter-panel (which Keith Bailey was nice enough to carry back to camp for him). But the rest of our posse made it through just fine. Tired, dirty, and dehydrated, we climbed back up to our campsite on top of the hill.
The final 100-mile leg of UA 2005 road trip took us through Talihina, Oklahoma, where we stopped for food, fuel, repairs, and some souvenirs. Fred Williams' Toyota needed an alternator, one of Sam Patton's Boggers had to have a tube put in it (the fan-belt tire plugs weren't working), and a local mechanic brought out his small-block-powered VW drag car (on a Jeep DJ frame) to see if we would buy it. He said he'd part with it for $4,500 if you've got to have it.
Before we could get back on the road Mother Nature snuck up on us with a healthy summer storm. It was like we had stepped into a swimming pool, and in two seconds we went from being hot and sticky to cold and wet. Even our full-cab K10 was leaking! Editor Rick Pw rounded up the troops and drove us north out of town and out of the storm.
Big Cedar, Oklahoma
This is not 4-Wheel & Off-Road Publisher Jeff Nasi's M715. We stopped in Big Cedar, Oklahoma, for him to check this one out, but Jeff (and his M715) couldn't be in our group photo cause he was shortcutting his way up Highway 271 instead. It turns out a noise Jeff thought was coming from the NP205 in his M715 was really the ring-and-pinion in his 14-bolt chewing itself up while he drove. We figured he better play it safe and limp it to Poteau, Oklahoma, while the rest of us took the scenic route. Sorry, Jeff, you would have loved this thing.
Our final trail day took us to Cavanal Hill, the tallest hill in the county, where Tim Sims led us through the Axle Breaker trail in his heavily modified CJ-7. Things got off to a rocky start quickly as we looped down a steep incline only to come back up this loose rock mess less than 30 yards away. Our trail leader tried to work a few different lines, but even with 44s he had to winch to get up. For a while it seemed like we might be on this one obstacle all day.
The next two rigs up the hill struggled with the climb. Our Ultimate K10 had to winch when a steering line came loose. Keith Bailey busted a driveshaft and had to winch. John Hughbanks was ready to winch, but he surprised everyone when he throttled up the hill in a single try. Once the line was established and a few of the rocks were blasted out of the way, everyone made it up the climb. Scott and Zach, the "Tuff Country Brothers," practically crawled it in their Toyota buggy.
Returning reader Aaron James, inventor of the redneck cell phone tower (see November 2005 issue), came back this year with his 2001 Dodge Ram. Since we last saw Aaron's 1/2-ton, he fortified it with 1-ton axles to handle the 37-inch Krawlers. Aaron was the last in the group to hit the hill, but he had to make it up - cause he was carrying all our spare parts, tools, and juice boxes.