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Califorina 4WD Association - 23rd Annual Winter Fun Festival

Posted in Events on June 1, 2005
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If you enjoy running your rig through the best or worst that Mother Nature has to offer in the winter, then the California Four Wheel Drive Association's Winter Fun Festival is the event for you.

The California Four Wheel Drive Association has held this event for the past 23 years in Northern California. The Nevada County Fairgrounds in Grass Valley, California, has been the main staging area for camping, RV parking, vehicle-safety checks, registration, and food in recent years. The condition of the winter trails for this annual event are dependent on the type of weather Northern California receives before and during the event. This can change the terrain and 'wheeling conditions quickly and dramatically, with little to do other than planning ahead and being prepared.

The event offers easy trails for SUVs, historical winter trail runs, night trail runs, and extreme trails. No matter what the conditions are like for the run you choose to travel, the Winter Fun Festival is bound to test your driving ability and provide entertainment for the whole family from beginning to end.

The 2005 event was held the weekend of January 14-16. Things got underway on Friday afternoon with registration and safety checks. The first trail run of each event is a night snow run, which leaves the staging area on Friday at 9 p.m. After preparing for the run, the group went to the trailhead and 'wheeled throughout the night in the snow. 'Wheeling at night is tough enough, but with snow on the trail and the reflection of the headlight creating deep shadows, the experience is made even more challenging. If you're into adventure, this is a trail run to be remembered. Because of its popularity, participants must register early for this event.

Saturday began with a hot breakfast and the distribution of trail lunches. Afterward, it was time to travel to one of the several trails offered, including the historical and SUV trails. If you were looking for unlimited challenges, the express runs are the best choice. These runs require rigs equipped with lockers and winches and only end when the vehicles are stopped by Mother Nature, or have made it to the end of the trail.

The SUV and historical trails are run through light to moderately deep snow and are open to all four-wheel-drive vehicles. Regardless of your 'wheeling experience or the capabilities of your rig, these are great runs for beginners and life-long 'wheelers alike. Although the historical trail isn't tough on the vehicle or driver, it's heavy on the history of gold mining in the area and how much life has changed since the end of the gold rush.

The long-wheelbase trail is meant to be run through moderately deep snow, with high-clearance 4WDs with oversize tires recommended. The predominant rigs seen on this trail are fullsize Jeeps and CJs. The group started out just a little after 9 a.m., heading into the high country. Within a couple of hundred yards of the start, the trail was completely covered with 1 to 2 feet of snow. At the halfway point, the group broke for lunch, and the rest of the trail was a very exciting cross between packed snow and patches of fresh powder, with depths reaching 2 to 3 feet in some spots.

The toughest runs at this event offered unlimited snow depths for high-clearance 4WDs. Winching was expected and special equipment required. This run started out on a trail a few miles north of the long-wheelbase trail and proceeded straight up and into deep snow country. The snow depth ranged from 6 to 8 feet or deeper, and winches were used quite heavily. We didn't make it to the end, due to time constraints.

After all the runs were over on Saturday, everyone reunited back at the Nevada County Fairgrounds for the evening activities, which included a great dinner, a silent auction, and the famed raffle. With the support of national companies such as Warn and local companies such as J&W Auto Wreckers, more than 200 items were given away. Prizes ranged from Hi-Lift jacks to full winch systems. After the raffle and dancing ended, it was time to call it a night and get some sleep before the Sunday morning snow run or trip home. Everyone who attended went home with memories of a great weekend spent playing in the snow.

For more information on this event, contact: California Four Wheel Drive Association, (800) 494-3866, www.cal 4wheel.com.

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