Paragon - A beautiful Place
What a beautiful place! I still can’t get over the fact that there
are over 150 miles of trails here. Whether you are a seasoned pro with
a dedicated trail rig, or a “newbie” with a brand new stocker,
this place has a lot to offer. Paul and I arrived in the morning, a little
later than expected due to some navigational errors on my part, and were
met by Ed and Michael patiently awaiting the throngs of Rovers that would
soon be entering the park. As I went to the office to register our group
and pay for the guide I had reserved, the rest of our crew barreled in
with Drew leading the way, followed by Bill and then something large and
green that resembled a RRC. Game on! We met our fearless leader, Chris,
who was piloting a Geo Tracker that would give a MB Unimog some serious
competition. He chose to ride with me instead, providing me with ultimate
trail rig accessory, a real live GPS!
If you’ve never been the lead
vehicle on one of these types of excursions, I don’t think I can
recommend it. You can’t watch other’s lines (read: mistakes),
and you’re always wondering if the people behind you are enjoying
it as much as you. Of course, the view is much better up front, and I’ll
try to describe a few of our more memorable experiences: the “crick” crossing, “Puddle
of Mud”, and “Competition Rock”.
The water crossing was our first cross-over from tame “green-laning” to “this-could-seriously-void-my-warranty” type
trail riding. With a depth of only 3 feet, it was still deep enough to
wash over our hoods and conceal the large boulder that was just to the
left, (or was that slightly to the right?). After the successful crossing
of what seemed like the Amazon River, we headed to a trail that will live
in our memories forever. ““The kind of trail our grandchildren will tell
their grandchildren about.
The dreaded “Puddle of Mud” certainly lived up to its name.
What a beautiful, unassuming trail. “our first
cross-over from tame “green-laning” to “this-could-seriously-void-my-warranty” type
trail riding”This must be the access trail to the
real trail, right? I mean, where’s the mud? Oh, there it is! Breaking
through the hard candy shell to the creamy goodness underneath revealed
a quagmire of biblical proportions. I believe at one point we had three
trucks stuck at the same time! With Drew and his winch at the ready, and
me and Ed with a slightly soiled strap, we were able to snatch and winch
the wounded to terra firma while only the trucks with HTGRD mud tires (Honest
To Goodness Real Deal) were able to spin through with minimal drama. Then
there was Bill with his locked and loaded Disco wondering what all the
fuss was about.
To wind down the day, why not do something crazy that may result in total
carnage or perhaps death? Now I know what you’re thinking. You’ve
had a great day, no one got hurt, no one broke anything (major), and you’re
guide gets off in 15 minutes. Why climb “Competition Rock”?
Because it’s there! We have Land Rovers, the most capable 4x4xfar,
or so I’m told, so we must be able to do it, right? To see a picture
of this 80 foot cliff would not suffice. There is no way to adequately
describe it using words. It must be experienced. Try giving a haircut over
the phone, and you’ll know what I mean.
Getting to the top was the
most butt-puckering 4x4 experience I’ve had so far, and I’m
sure I’m not alone. Just ask Ed. He and Chris were battling the evil
forces of gravity after Ed lost traction and did a dead-on see-saw impression.
The only thing keeping him from careening backwards was Chris’s strap
attached to Ed’s front bull bar and, of course, my amazing Jedi powers.
Needless to say, Drew was able to hook up his winch rope and retrieve Ed
with no further drama. After a quick change of shorts, Ed vowed never to
speak to us again. I can’t imagine why. Please join us for the next
trip to Paragon scheduled July 3rd, 2004.
I like to wheel every season of the year, but it seems that more
the early spring and summer than any other season. Typically, the spring
thaws bring mud but also deeper water at some of our favorite off-road
sights. I have had to bale the Disco out twice due to the ingress
of water up to the door pockets! Which leads me to a maintenance item that
is often overlooked: the swivel pin housing.
During routine maintenance
on our customers vehicles, we check the quantity and the quality of the
fluid in the swivel pin housings. Low or no fluid has the typical failures
associated with inadequate lubrication. Land Rover has suggested gear oil
or CV joint grease depending on the model, but the oil is easier to drain
from the swivel pin housing, especially if it is mixed with water!
Has anybody ever weighed the spares and equipment they load for a weekend's
adventure? I removed my camping gear, recovery gear, tool boxes, spares:
brake pads/tie rod ends/ track rods/axles/ belts/short block/ transmission/
radiator, powertank, and the back of the vehicle came up several inches!
Some of the containers required two hands and considerable effort to remove
them from the vehicle! there is an addtional bonus: fuel economy broke
into the low 30's with a hot cammed 4.6 under the hood!
But I wonder, do I really need all of this stuff? If I take it out because I
have decided that I haven't needed it for a while, will I need it next time out?
Is Jeremiah going to run out of brake pads on the downhill side of a ski resort
in Vermont again? Is Peter going to put another hole in his Rangie gas tank that
could only be fixed with a sheet metal screw?
What would you bring along?