If you like lots of rocks -lots of big rocks-then the trails in Johnson Valley are the places to grind your gears and test your lockers. For the sixth year in a row the Victor Valley 4 Wheelers held its Fun in the Desert event in the Southern California desert for a virtual hard-core heaven of multiple rockcrawling trails. Most readers know about the infamous Sledgehammer and Jackhammer trails, but another 'hammer has debuted: the Clawhammer, and with it, the even more challenging Outer Limits Trail. The Victor Valley club members work all year long in the scorching desert heat to open and groom the new trails, as well as to maintain the old ones. And because of the difficulty of some of the runs, a vehicle inspection is mandatory to verify that each 4x4 has working lockers at both ends before it's allowed to hit the trails. In fact, on the two newest runs, body damage is almost guaranteed, and participants should choose an easier trail if they consider sheetmetal more important than traversing a new trail. Along with the requisite food extravaganza and fabulous raffle, the '97 Fun in the Desert event offered six different hard-core runs, and next year's event will undoubtedly be even better. If you want to 'wheel with the best on some of the best durn rocks around, contact the Victor Valley 4 Wheelers at Dept. 4WOR, P.O. Box 1733, Hesperia, CA 92345-1733. You'll be glad you did. Diamond-plate corners are handy due to the narrow nature of the trails this year. This fine flattie finagled its way along the Outer Limits with nary a scratch, save for the front and rear license plates. No power steering on the beast made for a more difficult trip, but the big rocks were definitely more of a challenge for the flattie.Diamond-plate corners are handy due to the narrow nature of the trails this year. This fin Clawhammer starts slow and unassuming, then delves into spots where weird approach angles are needed to set up a 4x4 for the next climb. The bobbed fenders of this CJ-5 helped on the tight turns, because they would've kissed the rock walls if they hadn't been chopped.Clawhammer starts slow and unassuming, then delves into spots where weird approach angles Shear rock walls and some flat washes belie the twisted nature of the trails. This spot on the Outer Limits can cause tires to reach for the sky when you least expect it, but it's only a prelude to the gnarly sections farther up the trail.Shear rock walls and some flat washes belie the twisted nature of the trails. This spot on Taking a 4x4 over the Outer Limits Trail means some careful driving and possibly tipsy moments. The driver of this CJ-7 successfully negotiated this twisty, boulder-filled turn and gave us a perfect photo opportunity. The trail got its name because it's located at the far north side of the Johnson Valley OHV area, and it is the outer limits of a vehicle's capability.Taking a 4x4 over the Outer Limits Trail means some careful driving and possibly tipsy mom Narrow flatfenders have the easiest time squeezing between the tight spots, whereas wider 4x4s need to place both tires on top and wiggle through. This 302 Ford-powered DJ-3A belongs to Roger Nelson and features a C4 automatic and dual reverse-rotation Dana 44 axles, which leaves the rest of the drivetrain tucked up for a nearly flat underside.Narrow flatfenders have the easiest time squeezing between the tight spots, whereas wider The first major obstacle on Clawhammer tips your rig backward, and this flatfender exhibited the air-'wheeling approach. The judicious application of power, with the right amount of guts and glory (not to mention the right line), slid the vehicle into position for a relatively safe and easy straight-up climb.The first major obstacle on Clawhammer tips your rig backward, and this flatfender exhibit Doug and Tami Reynolds helped lead our pack up Clawhammer in their '69 CJ-5. The Buick V-6 turns stock axles, but since we saw the Reynolds at the last Fun in the Desert (Mar. '97) real lockers were added after the Powr-Loks slipped their last disc. The trail seemed tamer to the couple, as they didn't teeter and tumble.Doug and Tami Reynolds helped lead our pack up Clawhammer in their '69 CJ-5. The Buick V-6 Lengthened and strengthened, Trent Dennison's flatfender features a Dana 60 rear and a Dana 44 front, with matching disc brakes and 1/2-ton hubs for the full-floating effect. Trent, a Victor Valley club member, helped open this trail by driving his Boggered bomber on the first official crossing of Clawhammer.Lengthened and strengthened, Trent Dennison's flatfender features a Dana 60 rear and a Dan Opening a trail usually requires that a few rocks be winched in and out of place, and even more are dumped in holes to create easier approaches to obstacles. However, massive road building on many runs is frowned on by these trip leaders, and rock stacking is limited to only what's necessary for an individual vehicle. This early CJ-5, wearing Wrangler rear flares, made short work of this minor bump.Opening a trail usually requires that a few rocks be winched in and out of place, and even Easy-looking climbs such as this usually grab the skidplate on the transfer case, leaving the front tires to claw at the loose gravel while the rear tires hang and spin uselessly in midair. A little rockin' and rock rollin' are needed to spin a 4x4 into position for additional headway.Easy-looking climbs such as this usually grab the skidplate on the transfer case, leaving There may be only one Jeep, but even it couldn't jump boulders at a single bound. One slight misstep by this nearly new Wrangler led to it being perched high and dry, which is reminiscent of our friend Phil Howell's experience on the Dusy Trail (Jan. '97). We always assume that Wranglers, whether they're stock or not, and boulders go together one way or another.There may be only one Jeep, but even it couldn't jump boulders at a single bound. One slig The newly opened Clawhammer Trail was steep and rocky. However, the wind was so cold and strong at times (as evidenced by the bundled-up spotter) that it actually helped push vehicles up the trail. This early CJ-5 lifted a tire as it went around one of the many off-camber turns that caused rocker panels to take a wrinkle if the proper line wasn't maintained.The newly opened Clawhammer Trail was steep and rocky. However, the wind was so cold and s A pack of big dogs headed up the front of the Clawhammer assault and were able to hit the optional second part of the trail. The main part of Clawhammer exits at a high pass and there's an easy road back to camp. But for those who didn't have enough 'wheeling, an even tougher section was available-which novices shouldn't even attempt.A pack of big dogs headed up the front of the Clawhammer assault and were able to hit the When your shifter stick breaks off and you're stuck in the wrong gear, an external cage can sure save a fiberglass hardtop. This unique approach extended to the nifty custom skidplate underneath, which looks good and helped this CJ-7 glide over rocks. An impromptu shifter extension in the form of a Crescent wrench solved the gear selection problem so the Jeep could run the remainder of the trail.When your shifter stick breaks off and you're stuck in the wrong gear, an external cage ca Four-wheeling at its finest was typified by Earl Rahder in his Buick V-6-powered CJ-6. This '68 model was bought new and only recently saw the change to an automatic trans for easier crawling on the desert trails. Earl led the Aftershock Trail on Saturday, then caught up with us on Clawhammer.Four-wheeling at its finest was typified by Earl Rahder in his Buick V-6-powered CJ-6. Thi By Rick Péwé Enjoyed this Post? Subscribe to our RSS Feed, or use your favorite social media to recommend us to friends and colleagues!