Trail Report: Grand Rapids Labor Day Weekend 2004 

Author: Todd Wick 

The group numbered about 8 by the time we arrived at marble. Duey (Grizzly) with the "flower power" Cj5 had rear wheel bearing failure on the trip out. We played briefly at the coffee grounds and headed for a new trail............we all know how some of those adventures go in GR. Sometimes you get the right trail ......sometimes you don't. We followed a track through the trees that led us down to a wonderful view of one of the water filled pits. We were on a rock pile some 200 or more feet up from the water. Of to one side the pile slpoed agressively down to some ATV trails into the woods. We debated whether anyone would be able to make the climb out if we were to venture in. Eager to get the wheelin' started I volunteered to drop down in and see if I could get back out. Mark Anderson jumped in as my trusty co-pilot and we survived the drop in.........steep.........little scary!!!! There was little to no flat area to line up a run at the hill climb out, so after a 3 point turn we were ready for an attempt. I hollered on the radio for TAZ to move his truck cause I was planning a slightly different line on the way out and.............due to a really good first run....I ended up powering down just as I reached to the top. Having a very large F-250 in my way proved to be the stopper to a sure thing. After backing down and getting the truck moved, I was able to power up and out on my second try. A successful run was all that was needed to prod others into giving it a shot. Rich Graham, Jason Graham, Mark Anderson, Blue Sammy, CB, Mike(Grizzly) all make nice runs up and out of the hole. I made one attempt at my original drop in point and found the terrain to be much less stable for a good run out. We all loaded up and headed for Knorr's gulley or ravine or rollover point or whatever you'd like to call it. We were looking to run the trail up and out along the ridge......but a lot of erosion and wet terrain suggested that the entire group had better find a more stable route out. Taz and Owen had a bit of fun down near the water (large moguls in the trees). We got to watch Taz try and flex his 3/4 ton.... "not". The Wicks took this opportunity to grab a sandwich. On to a new trail back in an area that had been recently logged. Under a light rain we played around on logs, stumps and black and grey mud. This area was a total change from anything we had done previously. Loose wet logs and mud can make a small burm into quite a challenge. Owen managed to break a front spring mount and needed to strap things back together top get himself off the trail. I though I heard that the Blazer also broke a front U- joint back in this area. The group fell in line and we were working on a plan to get Owen safely home. Anyone having been out to marble will understand that the wet weather was a blessing for the ride in and out............cause there was no dust to deal with!!!!! Halfway to the road, Owen's escort (Bill.....I think.....Taz's boss) lost his water pump forcing him to the side of the road. I was pushing to head back to 7 cities mainly because I know the area pretty well and cause its much easier to get a lot of wheeling done in a short time and I had a neighbor who drove up for the day to see what wheeling was all about. We arrived at 7 cities about 3pm and made a plan to hit 2 tier, the ravine, moguls and run rock chucker backwards after which Taz was going to prove he could do $100 hill again. After blasting through 2 tier and playing around on the hills waiting for everyone to make it to the ravine we got to watch the sammy make his way through. The usual line up and out was getting even more eroded than on Sat. and the rock halfway up was beginning to look more and more menacing when Mike (Grizzly) found out how menacing as he applied full power to get out we heard the bang.......font u-joint and shaft....if I heard correctly. (he would like to upgrade to a D44). Next........Rich Graham a couple of runs and the ruts kept forcing him to slide over and into the rock.-----to be read (rock at pinion height) The next attempt ended with a bang as Rich's rear shaft had both strapps machined off along with the u-joint. Strapped him out and Jason decided on plan B. I plopped down in to see if there was anyway to get around the rock menace..........but no dice. Several attempts put me in the same spot with my rear shaft dangerously close to said rock. I opted for plan B..the easy drive out. Taz made us all look silly as he straddled the rock and powered out. Next....moguls......what more can you,fun,fun. My time was running short so I chose to head for camp at around 4pm. missing the run down rock chucker, as well as Taz'z near full run at $100 hill. I heard later that Owens rear CV started to go on his limp home. Back in camp Hands were offered to help my rider get her alternator installed and we managed to get all packed up before the real rain began to fall. I'd like to forget the ride home.............long, slow, rainy, did I say rainy...........I mean I though the hurricane had arrived. Very low visibility at times. We arrived home worn but safe at around 12:15 am. Great time in GR,