2007 Ultimate Adventure Texas Adventure - Cowboy StylePosted in Events on December 1, 2007 Comment (0)
Texas-the home of rugged cowboys, beautiful cheerleaders, awesome terrain, and the 2007 Ultimate Adventure. Last month we told you about how we convoyed around this great state and some of the unique places where our group of 18 trail-prepped 4x4s were tested against mud, dirt, and gravity. This month we return with Part 2 of Ultimate Adventure where the terrain got even harder.
But first a refresher. Ultimate Adventure is a weeklong off-road trip, attended by our magazine staff, a handful of advertisers, another handful of selected readers, and a couple returning cronies who we drag along each year for entertainment. This event is staged to showcase our off-road spirit by living out of our 4x4s for one week and using said vehicles to explore a different part of the country each year. We usually visit three or four states and about the same number of trails. This year we only made it to Texas, but while there we covered some 800 miles and visited five wheeling locales. Oh, and by the way, we usually rough it, camping in the dirt most nights, driving our trail rigs (no trailers) and following each trail day with a long or short trip on the tarmac to the next trail day. On this trip your rig has to be street-legal or at least street-capable and have enough room for all your gear, and when the going gets rough, remember rule number one: No whiners.
This year we started at Barnwell Mountain in Gilmer for some dirt climbs and deep V-notches. Then we cruised over to General Sam's Off-Road Wilderness Park outside of Huntsville, where the trails got muddy and our posse got cruddy. Of course if you picked up last month's issue you already know this. If you didn't, go see if the local newsstand still has a copy of our Nov. '07 rag, and then check out www.4wheeloffroad.com.
This month we'll cover the last three stops of UA '07, each the home of some very cool rockcrawling trails. As many of you know, rockcrawling has been booming across the nation within the off-road industry, but it's certainly not easier on vehicles than any other terrains. We had broken axles, busted suspensions, and rollovers galore, and it definitely wasn't nice and cool when we had to drag out the tools. In fact, most days the temps were broiling and the humidity made you sweat just thinking about it. But you know what they say: The worst day wheeling with broken 4x4s in hot and humid weather with little bugs crawling down your socks is still better than going to the office.
One last thing: If this trip seems like your dream vacation, then find the application at 4wheeloffroad.com and it may be you and your 4x4 coming along for the adventure next summer.
When we last checked in on our troop of traveling dirt devils, they had just finished a day of mud bogging at General Sam's outside Huntsville, and day 5 of the trip was a road day where we headed west to Cline's Ranch near Bandera. Of course every road day involves a plethora of stops for a hundred different reasons, most of which were results of the previous day in the mud which clogged radiators and had computers overheating. These delays were compounded by every gas stop turning into a water balloon fight, and/or a long wait for the restroom. Then just as we're about to get the whole team back on the road, someone forgot to buy extra beef jerky, or something is making a new rattle under a vehicle and the driver and codriver want an extra second to check it out.
Nevertheless, Editor Rick Pw refuses to lead his pack of scouts down the boring major highways when there are sweet deserted asphalt trails through the sleepy towns of Texas. This makes for a very enjoyable trip because the speeds are slower, which allows rugged trail vehicles and their occupants to relax and enjoy the scenery. When we do stop for lunch, it's not at the same boring McChain food places you can get in every state, but rather a unique diner or mom-and-pop lunch shop where the waitress calls you "darlin'" and the sweet tea is served up fresh. The idea of road days may seem boring, but every day is an adventure on UA.
We awoke on the sixth day of UA in our tent around a large field at Cline Ranch, 20 miles from Bandera and San Antonio in the hill country of Texas. If you think Texas is all flat deserts, think again. The Cline Ranch Off-Road Park has 400 acres of various terrain with many large hillclimbs and thick green wooded trails. Most of the obstacles were around jagged rock outcrops, though the trails also have hillclimbs with loose rock that require the perfect mixture of throttle and momentum.
Owner Dan Diffenderfer led our group with help from James Bannack of Brutal Off Road, Landis and Sally Wolfe, Kia Dave, Leroy Hoffman, and Larry Lancaster. We spent the day weaving our way through deep V-notches with rocky climbs and all sorts of brush and trees hanging in close to pinstripe paint jobs and squeeze body panels on the fullsize rigs. Our time at Cline Ranch was short, but we got a lot of good wheeling in. Thanks to all the great 4x4 clubs that helped us out at Cline Ranch. These guys were great and we can't wait to go wheeling with them again: Austin Jeep Exclusive, San Antonio Jeep Exclusive, WFO, and the Lone Star Early Bronco Club. If you want to go wheeling at Cline Ranch, they are only open on certain weekends and you need reservations for your group. Before we left, the broken few limped over to Brutal Off Road for much-needed repair sessions.
We ended our time at Cline Ranch early and hit the road for a few hours drive over to Trees Ranch way past civilization. Trees Ranch is a massive 5,500-acre facility that is part exotic game ranch and part off-roader's paradise. We stayed overnight and had an excellent meal with all the trail teams and local wheelers before camping out under the stars. The next morning we rounded up our team and headed for the rocks. Our course took us down a dry riverbed and then up through some gullies and canyons which were getting progressively tougher as the day went on. Every obstacle had multiple lines to try depending on how each vehicle was built, such that some rigs made things look easy while others spent multiple attempts floundering around.
Roland Trees and Kenneth Wright were our primary contacts at Trees Ranch, but we also must thank Bob Kostner, Richard Hartgrove, Tony Palmer, Steve Pylant, Bunny and Artie Fluffert, Steven Smith, Mark Harlow, and Greg Fritz for helping lead, feed, and fix our crew of four-wheelers. We can't say enough about how helpful all our new friends from Texas were for our trip, and that goes for every park we visited. Even when our group was dirty and stinky from hours on the road or trails, the Texans greeted us as old friends and bent over backwards to ensure we had a good time. If we missed mentioning anyone, we're sorry because you all made our trip great. If you want to visit Trees Ranch, check out the Web site for a calendar of events or contact them to reserve a group weekend for your club. And if you want to try all the trails we hit look for the Rock Garden, the Bowls, the Lathe, Deception, Greg's Hill, Hangover Hill, South Park, and Lucifer.
After we finished up at Trees Ranch, we headed over to Katemcy Rocks between Mason and Brady for our final day of four-wheeling. Though every place we visited in Texas was awesome, Katemcy is definitely the premier rockcrawling spot in the Lone Star State. In fact it reminded many folks of a mini Moab...only on granite instead of sandstone, and if you're down that way and you like rockcrawling you'll regret not stopping by. The 800 acres of wheeling is on property formerly considered useless since it wasn't much good for grazing livestock. Luckily Shain Chapman and Randy Kruse saw the value of rock-covered acreage and joined forces to develop it into Katemcy.
We spent one day there, but many felt a week wouldn't have been enough. The park has campsites, cabins, and showers should you want to stay overnight (by this time in the week our crew was toxic-smelling so we ended up at a local hotel in Brady). Randy and Shain, along with Casey Kruse, Russ and Christie Bear, Matt Hodges, Jamie Katerez, and Gary and Sherri Banks, were excellent hosts to lead us through the park. This park is also open on certain scheduled events during the year or you can reserve it for a group of wheelers if you have a public or private event you would like to plan.