By Christie Cashatt
25 October 2014
If you grew up like I did, in northern Wyoming, four wheeling was what you did with your parents as a kid; what you did with your friends in high school. It was a pastime that was looked forward to with zeal. We usually had little to no provisions, and certainly none of the fancy recovery equipment that the four-wheeling generations of today have. If you were lucky, your vehicle came equipped with a tow strap and a jack. If you were really lucky, you had a bag of Doritos. Ahh, but those early expeditions into the back country formed memories that last a life time. Fast forward… a good amount of time, and a lot of lessons learned. We are now in the position of helping people new to wheeling learn all those things that have helped us stay alive and reasonably comfortable while wheeling over the years. It is always nicer to learn from other peoples’ experience, rather than from the “hard knocks” of your own inexperience. In an effort to share our wisdom and our technological advancements, the Colorado Four Wheelers decided it would be good to host a trail skills day.
On October 25, 2014, members of the club met at our usual trail staging area, Rudy’s BBQ on Highway 24, scored some breakfast burritos, and hit the road. Up beautiful Highway 24 to Woodland Park and then Divide we caravanned. We headed out to the Rainbow Falls area, with an area called “Little Moab” in mind. “Little Moab” offers a series of stair-step rocks on which we could practice spotting, winching, and picking your line while attempting obstacles. Fortunately, we had 15 rigs of all kinds show up for the event. We had several Jeeps of the TJ and JK variety, two Jeep Grand Cherokees, a Bronco, a Dodge Ram, and a Toyota 4Runner. We also had a “sponsor” in Chrystie and James Marden of R&R Off Road, from Colorado Springs. They were able to bring with them equipment for people to try out, and also sponsored lunch.
We hit the first parking area at Rainbow Falls and everyone aired down. This was the first lesson of the day, as not everyone knew the value that airing down held. Chrystie and James brought auto-deflators for people to try, and those seemed to be a hit. Prior to hitting the trail, we discussed the channel that we would use for the CB radios, and the order of vehicles, to insure that the winch equipped vehicles were spaced throughout the group. After everyone was aired down, we headed up the trail to “Little Moab.” Along the way, individuals were able to try out different obstacles, including some muddy ruts that were a lot of fun. When we arrived at “Little Moab,” we encountered two vehicles that were not with the group, but soon assimilated in, and were able to learn from our adventure as well. The more experienced members of the club helped guide less experienced drivers up, down, or around the obstacle, as was necessary.
For the next two hours, drivers were allowed to experiment and learn; some learned how to spot different wheel-bases than what they drive. Others learned the mechanics of how to properly attach a winch line, and the value of weighing down the cable with a dampener. Some simply tested their own vehicles to see what they could comfortably climb, without incurring damage. During all of this, significant support in the form of spotting, encouragement, and even winching was available to drivers. Everyone took a break for lunch, which was grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, cooked by Chrystie Marden. Everyone donated a little money toward Colorado Christmas For Kids, a charity that works through the Department of Human Services, and provides Christmas gifts to children in need. Lunch alone raised $111.00 toward this worthy cause! After lunch, several members of the group took a scenic drive to complete the rest of the trail while others continued to play on the obstacles.
At the end of the day, everyone headed back to the main parking lot at Rainbow Falls and used CO2 tanks or compressors to air their tires up. Some were not familiar with having on-board CO2 tanks, and were able to learn about the pros/cons of having a tank vs a compressor. After airing up, we headed back down Highway 24, having enjoyed another beautiful Colorado day with friends. Although no one in the group was a completely novice driver, several people came away with skills they did not have previously. And, we impressed a couple of other wheelers with our team work. We plan to host another skills day in the future, and hope that we will have a good turnout again.
As I think back to wheeling when I was younger, I think of situations that could have gone pretty badly. We never went in a group. Now, it’s taboo to go alone, and a lot less fun! When I was introduced to the Colorado Four Wheelers about 11 years ago, I had no idea that a four wheeling club even existed. The camaraderie and support that members of the club exhibited was inspiring back then, and is alive and well today. I feel fortunate to be a part of a group of responsible wheelers; people who won’t hesitate to help anyone in need, and who take our sport seriously. We all want to see our sport continue, and only safe, responsible wheelers can make that happen.
More pictures from the trip available HERE