When fall comes to Oklahoma, everyone in the early Bronco community starts preparing for the Oklahoma Classic Bronco Roundup. With a total of 51 rigs in attendance this year from as far away as Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Texas, the popularity of this event continues to grow. Naturally, the diversity of the Broncos at the Roundup was amazing. There were rigs that looked capable of just about anything, as well as stock rigs that looked incapable of conquering a dirt road.
This year, the Roundup was held in southeast Oklahoma near Clayton. The Clayton area features trails that range from 1 to 5+ in difficulty. Part of a local campground was sectioned off as a "Bronco Only" parking area where most rigs gathered before the trail runs. This really made it easy to cruise around and check out all of the things that could be done to a Bronco. And, of course, if you are really into Broncos, it was great to see many old Ponies gathered in one place. Although Clayton is only about three hours from the Dallas area, this was our first time there, so, we had to sign up for one of the more difficult runs, the Upper Power Line trail, which leads into the Snake Pit.
Although the Clayton area is fairly large and there are a lot of trails to choose from, it is best to make sure you know where you are going. It is also very important to purchase a land-use permit. These are not required on all trails, but if you happen to hit an area where they are required and you don't have one, the fines can quickly become expensive. If you are an Oklahoma resident, the cost is $25 per person in the vehicle.
For those who didn't want to purchase the permit or who didn't want to run the 4 and 5 rated trails, there were still 'wheeling opportunities to be had. A man named Virgil is a local landowner who allows people to 'wheel on his property for the minimal fee of $10 per person. He has some nice trails for those with stock to slightly built vehicles, as well as some more difficult terrain for technical play.
The beginning of Upper Power Line is pretty mild and very misleading. Our first challenge came about 15 minutes into the trail with a fairly steep climb and a mass of boulders at the top that required some good driving to navigate through. There was a bypass around the boulders, but even that required some real finesse because it was very tight and off-camber. Everyone who elected that route required some ballast on the uphill side to keep all four tires on the ground, but they all made it through with no more than minor body damage.
As we made our way along the trail there were a series of climbs and drop-offs that made for some interesting 'wheeling, but the biggest challenge on Upper Power Line came right at the end with an obstacle known as the Guardian. It is a ledge with a severe drop-off, followed by some rather large rocks to traverse. Of course, if you run the trail backward, you face a very steep climb up the ledge. We happened to be going downhill, but there were still some pretty tense moments.
After the Guardian, we came to the opening of the Snake Pit. It was only fitting that as we made our way onto the trail we spotted a rather large cottonmouth snake, as well as a copperhead. Snake Pit is basically a ravine littered with rocks and boulders. And there were more than a few exclamations about whether we were really going through it. Well, we did. One axle (ours), one U-joint (also ours but borrowed), and five hours later we came to the end of the trail. It was all it was said to be and more. Thank god it wasn't wet and we had lockers or we'd still be trying to get out. As it was, we limped back to camp in 3WD.
True of most outings is that even with the breakage, it was absolutely a great time. By all reports, the other trails were just as exhilarating and everyone had as good a time as we did. Needless to say, after a full day of 'wheeling and trail repairs, we were all ready for the BBQ and a relaxing raffle.
Once again, sponsorship was great for the event. There were several cool prizes on the table. The grand prize was an onboard welder, and Mike Mussett from Richardson, Texas, won it. (We don't like to complain, but we were at last year's event and he won the grand prize there, too. It's time to spread it around, Mike.) Another repeat winner from last year was Howie from Newton, Iowa, who won the Iron Butt award, which we were less anxious to win. Some of the sponsors for this year's event included Danny's Differentials and Down and Dirty Off Road from Tulsa, James Duff, Jeff's Bronco Graveyard, Tom's Bronco and Wild Horses.
We have to believe that some of the success of these events is due in part to the Internet. There is a rapidly growing presence of sites that help spread the word out about things like this. One of them is www.classicbroncos.com.
We'd like to say thanks to Christine (2Broncos2Go on the site) for her efforts in helping to organize this event and getting the word out. Danny Cloud and Robbie Steinmetz were the principle organizers of the event and have turned it into one of the premiere outings of the year. Plans are already underway for next year's event, and we can hardly wait to see what's in store. If you are interested in next year's event, you can go to www.okclassicbroncos.com for more information.