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Barrett Lake
Sept 11-15

Trip Report: Johnson Valley - aka; The Hammers

April 28-May 1, 2005
Trip Report by Rick Frier


     The run started on April 28th with Jeff and Rick leaving Santa Cruz at 1:00pm. James & Cherie left at 6:00pm from Santa Cruz. Robin left at 6:00pm from San Jose and Dan and Terry left from Monterey at 5:00pm. Jeff and I turned at Boone Rd., Johnson Valley Means (dry) lake Recreational area at 9:00pm. Adam and one of his friends were unloading all the wood for the bon fire, Adam’s Jeep and his motorcycle. Jeff and I talked to Adam for a little while and then Adam left to go back to base. Jeff and I called it a night.

     The next day at about 7:00am I looked out the window. James and Cherie’s rig was there and Dan and Terry’s tents were pitched. We didn’t even hear them arrive. At ~8:00am everybody was up and talking about the run for the day. James, Dan and my rig left camp at 10:00am. We left a note for Robin that we were going to run the Sun Bonnet trail. Robin did not find the note until he was back in camp later that day. Robin ran what he later determined was Fisher Mountain trail. The trip through Sun Bonnet went well. Dan had a little problem with breaking the rear u-joint; breaking the centering pin on his front spring and his front drive line looked like a twisted noodle at the end of the day. The trail was challenging and the weather was nice. Terry should get an award for being the most motivated rock stacker for the day. When we got back to camp Robin and Adam were both there. Dan quickly fixed his rear drive line and yoke, fixed the centering bolt and replaced his front drive line and was making dinner and having a few beers enjoying the evening with all. Adam’s firewood burned for hours.

     On Saturday the group left at 9:00am for Sledge Hammer. There were five rigs going on the Sledge Hammer trail; James, Adam, Dan, Robin and Rick’s vehicles. We got to the hard stuff pretty quickly and many of the rigs were in need of a few repairs. Dan was quickly swapping his front left axle u-joint, Robin was tweaking with his winch and repairing a broken fuel line, Adam was fixing his rear drive line and I was looking for a 3” piece of heater hose to address a possible issue. Adam did not have as many spare parts as needed so he decided to leave his Jeep at the bottom of the hill and walk with us through the rest of the trail. We soon got on the way and Dan’s left front axle u-joint went Ka-pow again. Dan then needed to change the u-joint in the drive shaft which he was getting really good at. We were back on the road again and the rest of the day went without any other issues. Robin finished the trail, as we all did, but Robin’s rig had no other issues which supported Robin’s request for some respect. The respect was given knowing he could loose it the next day. We went back to camp and had a really big Bon-fire, good eats and many laughs and lots of socializing.

     On Sunday, James knew of a trail on the backside of the second mountain range, but he did not know how challenging it was going to be. We drove around for a while on the search for the trail and James came through with a huge success. The trail is called the “Outer Limits” for which it is appropriately named. James, Robin and Rick’s rigs were the vehicles put to another day’s challenge. It was long and rough (lots of big rocks). After stumbling over many rocks Jeff decided to walk the rest of the trail to see what it was going to bring. The news from Jeff was – it’s challenging ahead, with a couple of “definite' winch spots. These grew to more than five for most (four for Robin). Amazingly, the only issue for the day was Robin’s rig decided it needed a bit more tender loving care (a broken ground wire on his alternator). The trail was long and quite difficult. We were back at camp at around 5:30pm. James packed up his rig and off he went. Robin, Jeff and I stayed until Monday morning. Robin had brought quite a bit of wood, which gave us a nice evening around the bon-fire.

     Jeff and I left camp at 7:00am and Robin left his Dad’s house at 2:00pm. The one thing that was re-enforced several times each day is that all vehicles need a good operational winch. These are really tough trails. Everybody got home with happy faces.

     Making it through one trail is challenge enough – making it through three on three consecutive days, is nothing short of amazing. Congratulations to the drivers and their rigs!

Thanks for 4-wheeling responsibly.


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