Part I: Trail Tour 2008
"OK you guys, snowball fight is over," yelled trail boss Scott Frary. "Our local boys here have a special treat for y'all. How about a private spaghetti feed at a rustic mountain lodge accessible (usually) only by snowmobile?"
The flying snow stopped, and roughly 46 winter-clad, hungry 'wheelers headed for their rigs, licking their chops. As if the day hadn't already been special. It was 1:30 p.m. on Day One of Trail Tour 2008, and 24 rigs had already been playing for several hours under a bright-blue Idaho sky in unbelievably perfect snow conditions for 4x4s.
Sometimes the boys responsible for all the cool 4x4 toys on market just gotta get out of the office and play too. That is pretty much what Trail Tour is all about. It's a chance for invited who's who names in the industry, along with their families, to get together with their fellow entrepreneurs, blow the cobwebs out of their not-used-enough trail rigs, polish up their driving skills, eat too much, laugh a lot, and see some great country they otherwise would probably never see.
Trail Tour is the brainchild of Scott Frary of Eaton/Detroit Locker. There have been four Trail Tours to date, each one held in a different location in the Northwest. In was held in Washington in 2005, Montana in 2006, and Oregon in 2007. This year was Idaho's turn. Trail Tour 2008 was sponsored by MasterCraft and held in the beautiful mountainous areas around Coeur d'Alene during the last week of April. This year was a banner snow year for northern Idaho, and in late April there was still plenty of it to be found - up to 6 feet in some places! Local 'wheelers Phil Rohr, Rick Henson, Chad Howell, Bob Jutila, Mark Berger, and Garrett Ness went over and beyond the call of duty to ensure we had a blast 'wheeling (and eating) in their neck of the woods.
Trail Tour 2008 ran from Monday through Friday with a different trail each day. Nights were spent in warm rooms in town, which was a welcome reprieve after 'wheeling in the snow all day. Monday and Tuesday nights were spent in Coeur d'Alene, while the rest of the week was spent about 60 miles east in historic Wallace, Idaho. One of the main rules for Trail Tour is no trailers allowed. Each participating rig had to be street-legal and capable of running at highway speeds to get from trail to trail. They also had to be quite capable on the trail with 35-inch-or-larger rubber, lockers in both ends, a winch, recovery gear, rollbar, CB, onboard tools and spare parts, and survival clothing for winter conditions. Fullsize rigs were allowed but not recommended due to the tight trails we encountered. Nobody brought a "fullsize" rig, but Off Road Evolution's built four-door JK on 40s came real close!