With campers arriving throughout the afternoon and early evening, everyone was excited for this year’s Camp EOTB. Tents were raised, meals were cooked and soon the group converged around the campfire. Recent weather meant that we were under a fire ban, so we had to get creative. With some LED lights and a piece of orange tarp, we had our fire and our focus shifted to planning our trail runs on the first full day of camp.
Saturday morning, we split into two groups, one headed to Bear Skulls, the other to Crag Lake.
At Bear Skulls, we made good progress navigating the obstacles, taking photos and before long the group was stopped at for lunch on the shores of Little Black Lake. Paul, having ceded control of his Jeep to Sylvie for most of the morning, decided he would tackle the waterfall. For the first time in club memory, the waterfall was dry, as was the silt filled hole at the bottom. Perhaps today it would be possible not to get stuck. With a bump and a slide however, the Jeep was out of position and bounced into a rock cleanly removing the rock step on the passenger side with a very loud ping. At least he got the satisfaction of getting out without a winch.
As Mike and Tom took their turns at the waterfall, Lewis broke his steering idler while moving the 4Runner. Fortunately, Lewis was carrying the Dufresne idler that was fabricated under similar circumstances almost a year earlier. With Lewis’ truck mobile again, the rest of the trip out was uneventful and we headed back to camp for dinner.
Meanwhile, at Crag Lake, Nick led 14 trucks from Camp to meet up with four more at the dam and all headed into the dust of Dodge Lake Road, plugs removed for flooding that never came – there was no standing water anywhere on the trail, just mud. Thick, Nick-and-Cherokee(-and-Land-Rover) sucking mud. The Cherokees? Lanark Locals, encountered before the first water crossing. We heard the impact gun first, then saw the Green Monster with its twin PVC air intake and exhaust pipes extended above the roof line, a young lad in need of another Vise-Grip lying underneath. Rendering aid, we were able to press on to the first water crossing, but water there wasn’t – and our valiant Trail Leader was our first stuck of the day. A quick recovery strap pull, some S-ing around the angle iron, and we were on our way… …until the next mud stretch, with the PVC-equipped Cherokee bogged more than tire deep on the left, the black, now two-wheel-drive-with-a-fragged-front-diff Cherokee on the right. (The sounds of two agèd and inadequately maintained Cherokees attempting to skinny-pedal out of frame-deep mud is akin to a PTO-driven log splitter beating into wet, dense wood….)
As we aided them, Impact Lad offered inappropriate beverages, wisely declined by all except himself and his companions, then offered a length of chain with a pair of J hooks large enough to gaff tuna to add length to Nick’s recovery strap. A surprised Trail Leader reached behind his seats to place the protective shielding of a camp chair on the dash. Just in case. We don’t like open hooks, and we really don’t like ginormous open hooks coupled by heavy chain.
With the Cherokees unstuck and turning about, many of us took the ATV trail around the mud. Clever spotting was required for most, except Brigitte, who made the tight twisty off-camber passage look easy, as she so often does, for Peter, who, concerned with slowing down the group, decided to transfer much of the mud of the passable stretch to the inside of his Jeep (perhaps motivated by less-than-noble reasons and stuck trucks), and for the Land-Rovers, who didn’t have much a choice, really. Beautiful beasts, but uncommonly large.
The rest of the way to the lake was just good fun, careful wheeling and largely uneventful, as was the return, at least until the mud stretches. One Land-Rover rescued the other after its driver mistook “take the right side of the left stretch to avoid the rocks” for “take the right stretch, avoid all rocks, and sink into the muck”.
The four from the dam – Norm, Ben, and Land Rover pilots Mark and Gavin – split from the main group to head to Sullivan, where several of them camped, expecting to join us on day two…
…but that’s a story for another post….
With everyone back at camp it was time for the annual camp BBQ. After a day on the trail, it didn’t take long for everyone to dig in. I don’t think anyone was left hungry. With the meal done, everyone was given some time to digest before starting the annual round of bite the box. As there are no official records, this is difficult to confirm, but it is likely we had a record number of participants this year. Only three or four people opted out and a surprising number of participants went deep into the rounds. Nick was the last man standing, leaving the women to sort out the true champion. In the end, only Dominique and Tracey remained and with the box already 6″ into the ground, they opted to sit as co-champions.