Ultimate Adventure is our weeklong off-road trip where we travel to some untapped part of the country, explore the four-wheeling terrain, and cruise the many miles of asphalt between said trails in our trail rigs. It's a chance for the magazine staff, a handful of event sponsors, and some special invited readers to get away from our grindstone daily lives and go do what we all love best by putting dirt, rock, sand, and mud under our tires. Plus we sleep under the stars in the woods, live off of convenience store food, wrench on our broken trucks till dawn, and wreak havoc on every gas station restroom we encounter. Yes, it really is a lot of fun.
This year we spent our week in the rock- and potato-filled hills of southern Idaho and the top of the most barren state in the nation, northern Nevada. Last month we showed you the rocks we encountered. Big and gnarly lava rock trails near Boise and Elko that sent most of us on our way with plenty of undercarriage scratches that will never buff out, not to mention the busted driveshafts, body panels, and steering components. This month we bring you the last two trail days our team of Krawler-shod four-wheelers attempted. One is the largest sand dunes in North America and the other is a private cow pasture with mud holes so deep our Warn winches were working triple time to get the whole group through. Does all this mess seem like fun to you? Well, get out your pens and pencils, follow the directions on page 60 and send us some photos of what your 4x4 is made of because we're going to need three to five new readers to join us next summer and you might as well be one of 'em.
Day 5, Wednesday: Road Day to Idaho Falls
When we last left off (Nov. '06), our group of 20 modified 4x4s and 40 drivers and passengers were heading back to our camp outside of Spring Creek, Nevada, near the Lamoille Canyon Road National Scenic Byway. We awoke the next day with our tents at the foothills of the Humboldt Toiyabe National Forest below the Ruby Mountains. It was halfway through our 2006 Ultimate Adventure and we once again were heading down the asphalt to find another campsite and more unique trails.
Day 6, Thursday: St. Anthony Sand Dunes, near Rexburg, Idaho
Our third trail day of UA 2006 brought us to the first ever trip to sand dunes on an Ultimate Adventure, and was it ever worth the wait. The St. Anthony Sand Dunes are recognized as the largest sand dunes in North America by covering 41,000 acres with peaks ranging from 200 to 300 feet. Since we had a few wheelers in our group who had never been to big dunes like these, we enlisted the Snake River Offroaders (www.snakeriveroffroaders.com) to help the newbies get used to the steep climbs while showing the entire troop the way through this massive sandbox.
The tricky thing to sand is remembering that even though it is soft and can quickly sink a tire-spinning 4x4, it isn't necessarily easy on equipment, especially when gas pedals hit firewalls and tires leave the ground. Of course, our band of merry dune jumpers quickly discovered that every perfect jump results in a more aggressive attack on the next rise and before long we had multiple vehicles broken. Good times!
Day 7, Friday: Road Trip to Army Surplus Warehouse, near Idaho Falls
We awoke for one more time in our tents Friday morning and regretfully packed our camping gear. Living out of the back of your 4x4 has got to be one of the best things in the world. This was to be our last road trip day, and after a week of wheeling, the idea of more asphalt was anything but appealing. Luckily Team Captain Rick Pw had a surprise for us. Where usually there would be eight or more hours of counting telephone poles and listening to Krawlers get shorter beside double yellow lines, we were instead going treasure hunting. You see, Pw, along with many of our constituency have a thing for the crazy cast-away stuff our government has painted green. What better place to go find all this stuff than the giant Army Surplus Warehouse (www.armysurpluswarehouse.com) outside of Idaho Falls?
Day 8, Saturday: Mud Wheeling on a Private Farm, near Idaho Falls
One of the goals of Ultimate Adventure is to get as much diversity in trails as possible, so with a few days of rocks, a day of sand, and many miles of asphalt under our treads, it was time to find some mud. Every year we hunt for mud, but since the trip is held in high summer, many of the holes we cross are shallow or dry. Not this year. After we spent a night in boring old civilization at a hotel in Idaho Falls, we returned to the Cox Family Farm again under the direction of the Snake River Offroaders and proceeded to paint our rigs brown.
Now we're not sure what they mix in the mud, and there were quite a few cows in the general proximity, but it sure was stinky, sticky, and slick. In fact, we spent the entire day clawing through only two major holes with a mile or so of thick wooded trail in between and again we were giving our Warn winches a major workout. In the end our seventh annual Ultimate Adventure ended with a thick layer of crusty brown mud drying on almost every rig as we headed back to town. Another great trip for the record books.