Informal trail rides with friends hold unique challenges. Without the crush common to large events, there is time to play and explore. Some months ago, Chris Villareal and a group of 'wheelers from the BTG (built to grind) Rockcrawlers arranged for a small trail gathering in the southwestern desert north of Phoenix, near the small town of New River. Here, geological forces left numerous wash trails and interesting rock formations that are perfect for four-wheelers at play.
Friday turned out to be a cool but comfortable day as the group hit the first trail of the weekend, Armegeddon. Our group quickly assembled and headed down one of the dirt roads that canvas this area, seeking the sandy, rocky wash trail. Locked hubs and Low range were decidedly in order.
The first obstacle was a narrow dirt slot with some boulders added in to make the path more interesting. Once past this obstacle, you're on your way to a more exciting trail. There are numerous obstacles ahead to test your 'crawling prowess. We'd almost had our share of fun when one of our drivers decided it was time to lay his rig on its side; it was an easy fix, though, and we had it righted and on its way again in no time.
After night fell and temperatures dropped, some of the 'wheelers were itching to go back to the trails, so various groups hit Terminator, Anaconda, Annihilator, and Predator. Headlights lit up the rocks in eerie patterns, and the trails took on a whole different character in the dark.
Saturday was a great day, with light, cotton-like clouds overhead. The big run for the day was a trail called 6th Day, another challenging run in this area named along the lines of a Schwarzenegger movie. This trail was expected to thoroughly challenge the well-built rigs in the group as well as entertain plenty of spectators.
6th day is all about rocks - big rocks! It's as if a giant hand came down and cast huge boulders down the center of a wide, sandy wash. The wash is wide, but that doesn't mean there are bypasses. Once you're in the wash, you can pick from numerous lines, but they're all difficult. A group of 10 vehicles chose to give the route a try. The wash looks relatively mild to begin with, but further along, the rocks grow in size. Pretty soon you're negotiating boulders the size of washing machines. It took a good part of the day for the group of rigs to successfully finish the trail, but no major breakdowns slowed the group. The snail's pace came naturally due to the difficulty of the obstacles and the reverent approach of the drivers wanting to keep their rigs in one piece.