Fall Camp is not the last event of the season for the EOTB, but it does serve as a beacon, letting us know that the prime wheeling season is coming to a close. It’s usually a relatively small event, rarely attended by more than a dozen vehicles.
This year’s event was larger. In addition to having a larger contingent of campers, including guests from Muskoka and Montreal, several members made the trip to join us for individual runs, with some coming in on Friday night to run the Calabogie Line and test their light bars, and some coming in on Saturday.
The club hit the trail on all three days. John led a group through the Calabogie Line at night on Friday, which was a hit with all those that attended. Saturday morning we counted 18 vehicles at the dam, which we divided into three distinct groups. Some ventured up the south side of Evergreen Mountain while the rest headed to Crag Lake with the intention of splitting once there. After lunch, some continued on to do the back door, some returned down the Front Door.
We knew it would be a challenge getting MikeM’s Suburban (affectionately known as the Land Whale) up to Crag Lake. A small group took up the rear guard as his escort, allowing the larger group to continue on at a quicker pace. It took some finesse to navigate the Suburban through some of the tighter corners and we did have to tow it twice, but Mike made it to the lake.
With everyone finally at the lake, we shuffled the vehicles, allowing those vehicles tackling the back door to continue on their way. While we were turning the rest of the Jeeps around and preparing to head back down, a call for help came on the radio from the group headed for the back door. Matt had broken an axle at the Gatekeeper. Matt had been denied entrance.
Since Matt’s rear axle is a C-clip Dana 35, there was nothing to retain the wheel: it would slowly walk itself out if he continued driving. This left us with a few options. The prudent solution was to move the Jeep off the trail, park it, and return with spare parts. We kept a small group behind to help move the Jeep while MikeB took Peter’s place leading the group out the back door and Derek continued down the front.
We still needed to move the Jeep, which was blocking the trail, which meant we needed to retain the wheel somehow. Using a high lift handle, 4 long sockets and a ratchet strap, we made a makeshift retainer to put pressure on the wheel to keep it from walking out. It was a bit noisy as the assembly jumped the tire’s lugs, but it held firm, allowing Matt to back his Jeep off the main trail. With the Jeep secured and out of the way, we headed back to camp and Matt headed home to pick up a spare axle and some tools.
On Sunday morning, many chose to venture out to Three Mountains to enjoy the panoramic views while Peter and Paul headed back to Crag Lake with Matt to replace the broken axle. We started by anchoring Matt’s Jeep with a winch to keep it stable, then proceeded to replace the axle. Within an hour of reaching the Jeep, the axle was replaced and back on four wheels and we headed back down at a leisurely pace.
The weekend certainly offered us many challenges. Rain on the trail, rain overnight, wet tires, wet rocks, broken tents, broken axles, and plenty of fun. It is a camp weekend we won’t soon forget.