If you own a Jeep Liberty you are used to people labeling your vehicle as Jeep's answer to the grocery-getting machine. Well, if the LOST KJ West club has anything to say about that, it will have you picking up your goods from a store that only can be found with a map and compass. We were contacted recently by Clint Rounsavall, the club president of LOST KJ West, and invited to attend a run the club was holding in Barstow, California. Eager to see how well the KJs do in the dirt, we loaded up our camera gear, threw a few snacks in the back, and headed out for the weekend.
Led by Clint Rounsavall, we headed out on our adventure through the trail named Devil's Loop. This trail would be considered moderate level as some of the rock gardens are a little too much for a newbie, yet not tough enough to insist on massive tires and coilover suspension systems.
Another great thing about the club is that there is also a good number of women involved with the events - not only heading out with their four-wheeling men but piloting their own rigs through the trenches as well. Annette Barnett makes short work of this section early in the day. Her '04 Liberty Sport is equipped with the popular Frankenlift suspension setup that we covered in a recent issue. With only a few inches of lift, a sturdy set of Boulder Bars rock sliders from All J Products, and 32-inch tires, it gave her all the help she would need on the day.
Seth Green of ARB USA decided to make the trek all the way down from his home in Washington. The front end of his KJ is protected by ARB's deluxe winch Bull Bar, which proved useful before the day ended. About halfway through the day, he came through a narrow pass that led the front right corner of his Jeep into a large rock. The protection from his bumper saved his rig's body from damage, but it did leave a nice trail scar. Hey, chicks dig scars, right?
You definitely can't miss Wally Candall (unless that is of course his KJ is blending into the background). With the help of his friends in the club, Wally custom-painted his very own camouflage design covering the entire body of his vehicle. His '02 "Camo Edition" Liberty has a Con-Ferr roof rack stuffed with a Hi-Lift jack, spare tire, and PIAA driving lights. Oh yeah, he painted that too. A Warn 9.5xp winch and OK Auto mount were also added to the front of his KJ.
John Mathys decided to take the more challenging pass through one of the bigger obstacles of the day. Although he needed a little tug, we were impressed once again by how far the Liberty has developed into a great off-road vehicle.
Navigating his way through the trail, Ted Kalil and his '05 KJ had no trouble keeping up. His Jeep is equipped with both a CB radio and a ham radio just in case he feels the need to communicate several miles into the distance. Having a ham radio is extremely beneficial when four-wheeling into desolate areas; just be sure you have a license to use it.
Mike Lewandowski kept everyone in stitches with his bang-and-bash techniques throughout the day. The Boulder Bars alongside his '02 Sport saved the day for him on several occasions.
Everyone had a great time on Devil's Loop with no need to weld or even wrench on the trail. The LOST KJ West club members were some of the nicest people we have wheeled with, and we look forward to heading out with them again very soon.
Heather and Quinn Thomas of All J Products made an appearance with their '99 Jeep TJ. The capabilities of the TJ proved why the Wrangler is the best wheeler in the Jeep lineup. We won't mention the driving error early on in the day that got them stuck though. Oops.
That's what friends are for. Mario Donovan's '92 Jeep Comanche had a little trouble passing through this graded section. Slight miscalculations led to the tipping of his Adventure trailer, which eventually ended up on its side. Everyone rolled up their sleeves and helped lift the trailer back onto its tires with no more problems on the day. Adventure trailers are a great way to pack up all of your essential supplies when you just don't have enough room in your rig. You can equip them to match your vehicle, choose what tires and wheels you want, select numerous equipment options, and so forth.