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Back to Basics Overnight Tour - A Jolly Green-But Not Giant-Run with Jolly Jeepers

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Jimmy Nylund | Writer
Posted February 1, 2000

Jolly Jeepers’ 16th Annual Back To Basics Overnight Tour

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  • Jolly Jeepers’ Back to Basics run is held on the multitude of trails near Flying M Ranch outside Yamhill, Oregon. There are plenty of trees to winch to, and you’ll run into them almost everywhere if you’re not paying attention. In fact, Oregonians are so used to winching to trees that they seem to overlook the possibility of using another vehicle as an anchor. Can’t see the Jeeps for all the trees…or however the saying goes.

  • No run with so much Warn presence (the facility is basically just down the trail a ways) would be complete without having to use the winch. Jim Piatt was the first to foul—his wife, Marcy, was the first to abandon ship, with assistance from Warn’s Tom Telford. Being intimately familiar with the area, Telford was the trail leader for this group, leading a dozen-plus vehicles through the network of trails.

  • Big Bertha is a long and steep hill, so long that by the time you reach the two rocks near the top (by the rear tire) that protrude some 30 inches from the dirt, they look perfectly driveable. In reality, going around to the left is the only sane approach, but that isn’t even easy when you’re on a steep slope with uneven footing. This situation was saved by…you guessed it, a Warn winch.

  • Not everybody used the cautious approach on Big Bertha. Gregg Welter, for instance, took his ’53 Willys wagon-bodied IFS Toyota to new heights while traversing the hump, which had all except the Warn coilover-equipped vehicles maxed out on articulation. Less obvious than the right-front, Gregg’s right-rear tire was off the ground too.

  • “You want me to go THERE?” asked the otherwise-always-smiling disc jockey Barney. “Well, yes, except here,” Tom Telford replied. And why not—with the small ridge largely worn down by now and a prototype Warn coil suspension under the Flatfender, Barney made this section as easily as he kept the crowd entertained in camp.

Oregon—the land of logging trucks, triple trailers, yellow Dodge pickups, and Geo Metros of all colors. At least that’s how we perceived it en route to the Jolly Jeepers’ 16th get-together in the northwestern part of the state. Yes, somehow this was our very first venture into the Pacific Northwest. Of course, as one would expect, given the annual precipitation, either side of the blacktop, Oregon is primarily green.

On the numerous trails near our base camp at the Flying M Ranch, we realized it was a good thing that each group had a knowledgeable trail leader—so green is this part of Oregon (southwest of Portland) that there’s moss on the trees for at least 370 degrees. No using them as a clue for which way is north should one get disoriented in the virtual maze of trails, which range from simple but scenic to passable by most. Rain, which the Jolly Jeepers claims hits this mid-July event only every six years or so, would make all trails a real challenge—or impassable. Being used to relatively barren Southern California, we found most everything around scenic, some sections more so than others.

For some reason, we never ran into a tree or dropped off any of the steep slopes, so we must’ve missed seeing a fair amount of the vast views, or the ol’ CJ’s self-preservation instincts are stronger than we thought. Either way, it was easy to spot us as the tourists at this event, because everybody else’s vehicle had a top of some sort (or at least a windshield) and mud tires.

After the groups were back in camp, a hearty dinner was served and sign-up for Sunday’s runs started, followed by a raffle and entertainment. Sunday morning breakfast was served at a reasonable 6:30 a.m., after which trail leaders began to depart with their groups for the second day of ’wheeling.

Jolly Jeepers was founded in 1962 (as was Four Wheeler magazine) and is a club that promotes sensible fun. In fact, its list of suggested equipment for off-road trips includes “…a sense of humor, a good attitude, and common sense,” and it seemed everybody in attendance took that suggestion to heart. While there was no written rule about generators, they weren’t left running during the night, making an already very pleasurable event a little nicer.

For information on the 17th Annual Back to Basics Overnight Tour or the club itself, write the Jolly Jeepers (Dept. FW02, 115 E. Arlington, Gladstone, OR 97027) or check out its Web site at Registration is limited to the first 101 applications (sorry, we’ve already reserved our spot, so there are only 100 left), so don’t wait too long to register if this kind of run sounds like your kind of fun. Good trails like the ones used for Back to Basics may not grow on trees, even in Oregon, but mushrooms sure do. Did we mention that the area is lush?