With our tanks full of fuel we continued our trek into the Mount Hood National Forest, which extends from Mount Jefferson to the Columbia River Gorge and accounts for over 60 miles of streams, lakes, and mountains. Making our way through the tall trees and along the Roaring River we landed in Clackamas, Oregon. What’s special about Clackamas is that it is home to one of the leading winch manufacturers and the oldest UA sponsor, Warn Industries. Since we were in the area, our crew dropped in at Warn’s headquarters for lunch and a guided tour of the factory. Rolling out an average of 250 winches per day, Warn’s American-made products were a great reminder of the people we employ and the great things we make here on U.S. soil.
Tim Hardy’s classic M5000 winch served him well over the years but must have known it was
It didn’t take long for the Warn powers that be to start checking our pockets for winches and to decide that we had parked on their grass long enough! So with a couple rigs now equipped with fresh winches (thanks for the help, Warn crew!) we kicked things back into high gear. After a brief freeway jaunt we crossed state lines and continued our path in the direction of Cougar, Washington.
This path would lead us to a well-known and much anticipated highlight, Mount Saint Helens/Gifford Pinchot National Park. For those of you too young to remember, Mount Saint Helens is a volcano famous for its 1980 eruption that impacted nearly 150 square miles. Mount Saint Helens is now a National Volcanic Monument and continues to be observed and studied. Fortunately, there were no exploding volcanoes or rigs on this day. After dining on the rich views we kept the convoy moving.
For most of the UA we eat out of gas stations or coolers and wherever we might stumble acr
As nighttime fell, our twisting path led us to Erind Conden’s property, which quickly acquired the name Camp Conden. The Conden family counts among its members many Flex-a-lite employees and true wheeling enthusiasts. And while camping at Flex-a-lite’s massive warehouse would have kept us a little dryer, we were happy with the soft grass and gracious accommodations that the Condens provided. So with our tents set and the rain beginning to roll in, we all wrapped it up after an extremely long but enjoyable road day.
TV personality, wheeler, and Warn spokesperson Jessi Combs was nice enough to hang out wit
The Ultimate Adventure class of 2012.
Drivers meeting around the ultimate fire pit at Camp Conden.
Piloting Nitto Tires’ Jeep Wrangler JK were Mel Wade and Tim Coltey. Fitted with 40-inch T
Day 4, Tuesday, July 3:
Wet & Wild Wheeling
After a long night of unrelenting rain the crew crawled from their tents to make breakfast and get their rigs ready for the day. The cool air and cloudy skies were telling signs that what we figured would already be a muddy trail day was going to be even slicker. Gathered around the massive fire pit we got the day’s briefing and conjured up a little warmth. Our trail destination for the day was a short distance down the road from Camp Conden in the Elbe Hills OHV Area.
UA crony and ex-magazine guy Trent McGee had no trouble hitting the rev limiter and poweri
To offer local insight, Marc Bowers, along with Mitch Carter and Bill Carter, took time off from their day jobs at ARB USA and agreed to show our group the way. The black diamond trail we would be attacking is known as Busywild Trail. Named for Busy Wild Creek, which runs through it, the trail is one of the most challenging in the area. While Busywild starts on the mild side, it quickly becomes more treacherous as deepwater passes and mud-filled gullies work to get the upper hand on your rig. Many of the gulch walls clutched the 4-bys in-between as they worked to power through without getting damaged. This would be a day where wheel speed and light weight would be king and the all-important recovery winch would be used frequently.
With rain falling continuously throughout the day, the trails were constantly slick, which required careful footing both inside and out of the vehicle. As we progressed farther into the trail, the vehicle-to-tree magnetism intensified. With the combination of slick ground and full-bodied rigs, body damage became more frequent. With close to 70 percent of the trail complete, nearly half of the group had sustained some level of sheetmetal carnage. From smashed sideview mirrors to completely crushed doors, the Busywild Trail continued to gift the group with serious trail scars.
You may have plans to take one line, but the axle-grabbing stumps and deep ruts can twist
For the locals, the trail typically takes only a few hours to complete. With our group we managed to make it an all-day affair. We actually eked out every inch of daylight we could on this day, and as the last rig finished airing up for the road back to camp the sunlight disappeared. Ultimately we got everyone through with minor mechanical damage but plenty of new body bruises.
With a license plate that reads “JP Bling,” we expected a good show from GenRight owner To
As we returned to Camp Conden with headlights blaring we were treated to a wonderful surprise: a ready-to-eat meal sponsored by Flex-a-lite. The nice guys from Butcher Boy Steaks selected delicious rib-eye and T-bone steaks, and the local M.T. Head Brewing Company knew we liked suds. Overall, it was a rainy but exciting trail day, and we couldn’t think of a better way to end it than at the Conden family’s camp.
After fixing his rear ring-and-pinion catastrophe from earlier in the week, Paden Saracino
When it comes to ultralow, Dave Chappelle’s Toyota Hilux takes the cake. Fitted with a cus
Another rep for the low-lift, big-tire campaign was Chris Durham and his one-off Wrangler-
Steve Carroll’s Trailblazer came into the Ultimate Adventure with extremely straight body
Jim Repp and Tony Carvallo are two Jeep engineers who are both true wheeling enthusiasts.
No, you haven’t just entered a time warp, nor are you seeing things. This is the other UA