Located in the Mojave Desert, Johnson Valley, California, is more than a playground paradise to thousands of off-road machines; it also hosts some of the toughest rockcrawling events the nation has to offer. This stretch of desert certainly isn't the wasteland it appears to be, either. To the discerning eye, it's a land of challenge, a gateway to adventure. The trails to be found there will test driver skill as well as vehicle integrity.
This year, more than 500 people made their way down Highway 247 to gather at Soggy Dry Lakebed for the 10th Annual 4Runner Jamboree sponsored by All Pro Off Road. Approaching the lakebed from a distance, you would think you were driving into a scene from a Mad Max movie, but upon closer inspection, the first thing you notice is the difference between the movie's vehicles and the participants' vehicles. Though the two may have some striking resemblances, most of the participants' vehicles were functional, fully equipped, rockcrawling machines. These trick crawlers put on quite a show for the spectators as well as the participants, proving time and again that the little Toyota isn't the underpowered, miniscule, non-threat that the many V-8 boys claim it to be.
All Pro Off Road did a tremendous job organizing this awesome event. This is the company's fourth year sponsoring the all-Toyota weekend, which has become a no-fee extravaganza designed to show appreciation for its loyal customer following. More than 242 vehicles were at the starting lineup for the trailruns Saturday morning. Friends, families, spectators, and serious enthusiasts walked the rows of rock Toys, checking out the machines and taking note of new designs and trick suspension concepts. Watching all of these Toyotas take off over the dry lakebed and march off to their designated trailheads in uniformed columns was amazing.
With such familiar trail names as Sledgehammer, Big Johnson, Outer Limits, Gatekeeper, Jackhammer, and Wrecing Ball conjuring up images of beaten, rolled four-wheelers, it is easy to see how the participants could have been a little apprehensive. But in the name of adventure, they were more than willing to conquer or be conquered. The trail action was very intense, as the Toyotas crawled up, over, and around jagged Volkswagen-sized boulders, negotiated narrow trail passages, and defeated the desert. With the completion of each obstacle, hoots, hollers, and high-fives could be heard echoing though the canyons. At first glance, you would think these trails were impassable, but each was traversed and subdued one at a time.
At day's end, hundreds of participants and spectators gathered back at the lakebed for the huge BBQ and raffle. Some really cool All Pro Off Road suspension components and a set of Goodyear 37-inch MT/Rs were raffled off. Next year's event promises to be even bigger and better, so get your Toyota's trail-ready and prepare yourself for a great time.
For More Information
If you're interested in attending next year's 4Runner Jamboree, contact: All Pro Off Road, Dept. 4WDSU, 541 N. Palm, Hemet, CA 92543, (909) 658-7077, www.allprooffroad.com.