Author: Charlene Bower
I had Frankie and the opportunity to go on a night run, so I made an executive decision: Kaleigh, let's go wheelin! (I mean training!)
Kaleigh Hotchkiss will by my co-driver and navigator for the upcoming Rebelle Rally in October as part of our Ladies Co-Driver Challenge. This rally offers a very unique challenge in today's world of technology. We can't use any of it. We can only only use a compass and map to be able to hit specific checkpoints as we traverse across the desert for approximately 2,000 kilometers (1250 miles) of spectacular desert driving via dirt roads, double tracks, trails, and sand dunes.
There is a lot of training that Kaleigh and I have to put into action for this event. I've been working on my driving skills, she has been working on her navigation skills, but we also have to work on our communication skills. This run would be a perfect opportunity to get both of us in the Jeep together and click off a few tasks from our training list.
Gabe, our Bower Power Hour producer, is an active member on VJC (Virtual Jeep Club) and hosts a lot of runs with the Craigslisticon. The Craigslisticon is a Jeep that 30Pack Matt has helped build up over the last few months for the Tech & Tool segment of Bower Power Hour.
When Gabe asked us to come on the Log Corral Night run since we still had Frankie (the BFGoodrich Tires Jeep) in town after our latest Trail of Missions Baja Adventure, I had a hard time saying no. With a call to Kaleigh to check her schedule, we decided to make it happen. Our significant others, Matt & Ryan would sit in the back seat and Kaleigh and I would sit up front and organize our space. It may be a short trip, but adding our backseat drivers would help us add some chaos into the mix.
I showed up to the trail with very little expectation of what the trail and group would be like. I was excited that there were over 15 built Jeeps ready to wheel and 3 were lady drivers! We dropped the air pressure in the BFGoodrich KO2's down to 22lbs and had a nice uneventful run through the evening. Kaleigh got the opportunity to sit in the Jeep and feel the comfort that will become her home for 10 days. She also worked with her maps and equipment to find the right place for everything to go. We won't be able to utilize this vehicle for training purposes again, we needed to use our time wisely.
There were a couple of fun challenges for the Jeeps along the trail. At both, we got out, I helped Kaleigh see the line and then had her spot me up. I'm a hand person. I can't hear you talking to me, so just use your hands to point and tell me which way to go. We had a couple of good opportunities to work through concepts and utilize them. I think we will do good if we get into that type of a situation.
The most hysterical part of our night was playing around with our tent. Yes, we took our tent. Not because we were planning on using it, but because we need to practice putting it up and taking it down. It's not difficult, it's a OzTent Malamoo X-TRA that pops up in 3 seconds. The entertaining part is getting it back into the bag. It's like a sun shade you have to twist and turn it into a smaller circle, but it has a mind of it's own. You know what I mean - you've been attacked by your sun shade before too, right!
After a few takes (on the video, coming soon!) we mastered it! It is a really awesome tent with a built in awning, patio, mesh rear window, attached weather fly, handy internal pockets, and is 100% waterproof! There is a lot of room in there for both of us. It's 200cm wide, but 300cm long and is an awesome 125cm tall. I'm actually really looking forward to being able to utilize this tent!
The evening hours got more interesting as one of the guys drove his JK into a pretty significant ditch. We were sitting in the back of the group and didn't realize what was going on. We started to watch headlights turn around and decided to go investigate. 30Pack Matt took quick control of the situation getting the WARN Winches hooked up in the right direction and location. With a little winch help, some movement of the steering wheel and a little gas, the Jeep was back up on an even surface.
The finishing element of the trail was a river crossing. One of the coolest water crossings I have been through! I'll let the darkness add a factor of challenge to it. (and reason we have no pictures) We came into the crossing via a overgrown channel and dropped into a rapidly running river, that clearly had rocks under the surface. (You can tell there are rocks by the ripples on the top of the water). I hoped we wouldn't find a diff rock in the mix, and luckily didn't. Frankie took the crossing, with water that came up over the hubs, like it was nothing. We walked through it, crested out of the bank on the other side and finished the trail at a marina.
It was 1:30am. This simple trail ride really allowed us to get a lot checked off our list. Kaleigh had the opportunity to feel how the Jeep worked and get her space organized. We worked on spotting and hand signals. We got our tent situation figured out and our game plan for the one hour that we have between taking the finish flag and our impound time. But most importantly, we got the opportunity to communicate back and forth, especially important as the night went on and it got later and later and everyone was more and more tired. We got this!
Continue to track our training adventures at www.gemoffroad.com. We will be heading to Reno for our next outing which will specifically target our navigational skills.
Facebook Post with Pictures: www.facebook.com/BowerMedia/posts/1203520809690010
Author: Charlene Bower