Author: Tammy Forsyth
I took the day off on Friday to pack up my Jeep and head to Rausch Creek for the much anticipated Women’s Wheeling event on Saturday. I checked in on Friday and headed to the hotel to wait for my friend. I was so excited to have a wheeling buddy. It is very rare that I have someone ride shotgun with me. Two years ago, I met a fellow Jeep Mom online. I invited her to ride with me during my 201 off road instruction class September of 2014. Finally two years later our schedules meshed. Friday night was the Women’s Wheeling Meet & Greet at O’Neals Pub in Pine Grove, PA. Hard to believe, but that was my first ever meet and greet. Amanda and I spent the night catching up, plus meeting some new awesome Jeepers.
Bright and early Saturday morning, we headed for Rausch Creek Off Road park for a day of wheeling on the trails. The rain sure didn’t hamper the day’s fun. Jeep after Jeep kept rolling into the parking lot. You could feel the excitement in the air as many couldn’t wait to hit the trails, including me. This was the 4th year for the event. The first year there were 8 women. The next year was the first year I went with 40 Jeeping women. Last year, the year I drove the Clayton Off Road Jeep, there were 100 women Jeepers. As word of this fabulous event spread across the internet, more and more women signed up. This year there were just over 200 women Jeepers. Many of the women wheeled their own Jeeps. Several wheeled their husbands or boyfriends Jeeps. Some even share their Jeep with their spouse. Yeah Crazy!!! Can you imagine sharing your Jeep? Not me.
I volunteered to be the tail gunner. In case you didn’t know the tail gunner is the last Jeep in the group – the Eyes in the Back. Making sure everyone stays together. My partner and trail guide, Mandy, was amazing for her first time guiding a group. We were group six.
Our group was an amazing group of Jeepers. We all worked together well. The men in the group stepped up and guided us perfectly through the obstacles. They were patient, encouraging and very supportive! Bouncing down the trails at Rausch Creek with the windows rolled down listening to the sounds of nature refills my bucket and restores my soul! Seeing all the Jeeps rolling thru the trails ahead of me brings such a joy to my heart. #ItsAJeepThing The fall colors were an amazing sight, but even more amazing for me was pulling up along other Jeep groups. Recognizing other Jeepers who I once wheeled with was awesome. Shouting out greetings to each other across the trails, and sharing Jeep Waves always brings a smile to my face.
One former riding buddy was excited for me, noticing I finally lifted my Jeep!
Group Six tackled some green and blue trails. We were even able to head back to Trail 11, so I signed into the Jeep Badge Of Honor, once again earning a trail badge. My fingers are crossed Jeep sends me the Badge this time. Trail 11, a green trail, certainly felt a lot easier in my lifted Jeep.
Wow what a difference – definitely a lot calmer!
Pizza Rock was another obstacle we all tackled. We had a fender casualty at one point but it was easily pushed back into place. I was the last one to crawl down Pizza Rock. Each time is different for each Jeeper as the Jeep before you moves rocks or pushes fallen trees out of the way.
After we finished this trail I was told we actually ran the trail the wrong way. Normally the Jeeps crawl up the rock not down the rock. One thing I learned is not to let up on my level of carefulness – is that a word? After crawling down Pizza rock so smoothly I hit a bump in the road sorta speak.
It was bound to happen eventually. No matter how careful I am out on the trails eventually some sort of trail damage will come to my Jeep. And it did, during Women’s Wheeling this past weekend at Rausch Creek. After wheeling spectacularly through the Pizza Rock obstacle thanks to my great spotter, Brian, from Virginia, I headed down the trail on some smaller rocks. I ended up coming down hard on a rock the wrong way.
When I heard the “clunk” I knew it was something bad. Getting back off the rock, and over it, was pretty easy. It was when I tried turning the wheels, I knew something just wasn’t right. Luckily, there were experienced Jeepers, like Chris from New York, out on the trail able to figure out the issue. Turns out it was my steering stabilizer. When I came down on the rock it twisted up the bracket that attaches the stabilizer to the tie rod. The whole steering stabilizer got pushed up. That prevented me from having a full range of steering.
Once again, those experienced Jeepers also were competent Jeep mechanics. And who knew… you don’t need that steering stabilizer to drive. So we took it off until we could get to a dry, flat, out of the way of the trail, so we could get a closer look, and fix my Jeep. If you watch the video you can hear the anxiety and worry in my voice. I guess that comes with a Jeeper’s first time damage to their Jeep. I was also concerned I wouldn’t be able to drive home. Luckily, my wheeling buddy Amanda was the voice of reason.
During our lunch break, Brian from New York broke out his tools and got under my Jeep. It was a pretty easy fix ~ move the bracket back in place, and attach the steering stabilizer. It was a great experience to watch and help him fix my Jeep. Next time though I should be the one wrenching and getting my hands dirty. Just a couple of simple tools was all it took. The one tool I didn’t have that I needed was an 18 mm wrench. A tool every Jeep Wrangler owner needs out on the trail.
Looking back on the whole event, I realize I didn’t need to get that upset. It was a simple fix. However, at the time, not knowing a whole lot of the mechanics of my Jeep was pretty nerve-racking. It was a great experience overall and I learned some great lessons. There is that old saying, “You learn from your mistakes”.
- Get an 18 mm wrench and put it in my Jeep.
- Don’t get so worked up about the damage.
- You can drive without a steering stabilizer.
- At Rausch Creek there is always someone who can help fix your Jeep.
- Never let my guard down while crawling on the rocks no matter how small.
Overall, it was an incredible day with some wonderful women and encouraging, supportive spotters. Every time I wheel, I learn so much about myself, my Jeep and off-roading. This day was no exception, so much was learned! I will share one of those lessons on tomorrow’s post. As a former volunteer of the many, many school activities and PTA, I know how exhausting running an event can be. It is a lot of hard work with long, long hours and a lot of money out of your own pocket. Sometimes the work you do seems to go unappreciated. Two women, two amazing women who I admire were the force behind this terrific event. Susan and Christie, a big shout out of my thanks and appreciation! Next year I am at your service.
Author: Tammy Forsyth
Source: Ladies Offroad Network