2020 Off-Roading Review

I had an excellent year off road. I keep a journal and track when, where, and with whom I go wheeling. At the end of the year, I count up and remember my off road year in review. Here are the highlights. No names have been changed to protect the innocent. Some dates and runs are linked (look for underlined links) to other stories already written this year. Some trips are a couple hours long; some trips are several days long; some trips just seem to last forever.

  1. January 1, 2020: High Desert Hangover Run
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The first of many people I would winch this day (Photo by the author)

Tiddie Springs is usually fun in the snow. This run started the year off with a bang. It was supposed to be a snow run, but warm temps and high snow levels turned it into a muddy mess. There were about 25 rigs on this run and I felt guilty because I talked Gabe and Mr. Cota into going.

On the way out the bottom, there was a long, 200 yards of rutted, muddy Owyhee mud. Gabe, Mr. Cota, and I drove it pretty clean, kept good ruts, and made it to the bottom. However, a yellow TJ behind me fell into the ruts and made bad ruts for everybody else to follow. From this point, Gabe and I winched about 20 rigs downhill past this section. It made for a long day.

But, just when I was afraid I was going to stop having fun and was tired of pulling winch line, Jason Hild saved me from boredom. When it was his turn, he revved up, dumped the clutch, and hit the bad spot with speed. It almost worked. He took one bad hop to the side and rolled to the bottom of the wash. He did one complete rollover, landed on his wheels, and drove out the bottom. He didn’t even break a cab light. It was pretty cool.

2. January 18, 2020: Snow Run

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The Fire Jeep with a little less ATF (Photo by Jason Hild)

This was a Cliff Snow Run. We went up Sweet/Ola. Gabe, Howard, Harvey, Cliff, and Jason met at the little store in Montour. While we were waiting, I realized I had over-filled my transmission fluid. I came up with the genius idea that I should drain a quart while it was on the trailer. I found an old McDonald’s cup in the garbage and snuck off quietly while everybody was talking.

I cracked my tranny drain plug and let it start filling the cup. Trying to be as clean as possible, I set the cup down on my trailer and went to put the plug back in. I barely caught my pinkie on the lip of the cup; I can still feel it barely touching the cup. I looked in horror as the cup barely tipped over and then spilled 32 ounces of ATF all over my trailer. As I cussed and tried to clean it up, everybody saw and got a pretty good laugh about it.

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Howard driving off the road for some reason (Photo by the author)

Howard, not to be outdone as the talk of the town, ran off the road with his pickup, trailer, and Jeep on the way home. I’m still not sure how he did it, but we had to pull him back up on the road and get him headed home. Sometimes, the ride home is harder than the wheeling trip.

3. January 19, 2020: IOR Prairie Run

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(Photo by Ginny Simms)

Twenty-eight rigs; long dirt road drive but we did find some unbroken snow. Lots of people stopped at the store for food.

4. Feb. 1, 2020: Snow run

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I B GPN, all the time (Photo by the author)

Jason Hild snow run; seven rigs. We were out until 10:30 at night because there were a lot of break downs. Howard, Gabe, Harvey, me, Cliff, Jason, Andy. One rig lost several beads, had steering problems, winch problems, and a broken stub shaft. Everybody has breakdowns but this rig had all of them for the year in one day. It was bad luck, but we were winching and towing him out most of the night. It made for a long day.

5. Feb. 16, 2020: Atlanta

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(Photo by the author)

Drove to Atlanta by myself for lunch and to sit in a hot springs. Great day. I saw about 30 elk all alongside the road. I also found a gooseneck trailer off the road that almost made it to the river. I bet whoever was towing it pooped themselves.

6. Feb. 23, 2020: Rock Run

7. March 22: Rock Run

Because of Corona, IOR canceled the 3 Club Run and BBQ. Still, a lot of people went down and ran Gauntlet and Diff Hanger on Saturday. However, Gabe had to work, so Howard, Harvey, Gabe, and I went down on Sunday. It was awesome; just us on the trails. No breaks and a great day wheeling.

8. April 10, 2020: Rock Run

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On top of Two Headed Dragon (Photo by the author)

Harvey and I ran Two Headed Dragon, Meatgrinder, and Dirty Little Secret. I pulled the right hand side of 2HD without spinning a tire and was all proud of myself. However, I shouldn’t have celebrated early because I pulled up to the top V notch extra credit, hit it wrong, and fell in sideways. I had to be winched out by Harvey.

9. April 18, 2020: Snow Run

10. April 27, 2020: Rock Run

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Harvey’s Jeep on Upper Gatekeeper (Photo by the author)

Gabe, Howard, Harvey, LJ, Dan, and Neighbor Sean ran Gatekeepers, Meatgrinder, and Teeter Totter. This was an excellent day on the rocks; no problems, in fact, this was one of my favorite days ever. I pulled the waterfall on Meatgrinder by laying the wood to the Fire Jeep and got a great video of it. Everything ran and worked well today. No breaks except Sean ruined a valve stem.

11. May 8–11: Creek N Trail Cleanup Run

12. May 21–25: Christmas Valley Sand Dunes

13. May 28–31: Anderson Ranch Dam

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Watching other people get stuck is a spectator sport (photo by the author)

Quads and camping at Anderson Ranch Dam. I had the most fun watching other campers, trailers, and pickups drive too close to the reservoir and get stuck. It was a full time job drinking beer and watching the rescue missions for three days. Great time.

14. June 14: Rock Run

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Fire Jeep on the Teeter Totter (Photo by Joyce Miller)

Very spring Owyhee day: it rained a little, sunned a little, winded a lot. Howard, Harvey, Gabe, and I ran Carnage, Meatgrinder, and Teeter Totter. Harvey had a bum foot so Ginger drove his Jeep all day and did a great job on the rocks. No breaks, no problems, a really good day.

15. June 19: Rescue Mission

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The “stuck” pickup (photo by the author)

I received a Facebook message from a guy stuck on Shaw Mountain Road. I went and found a rig not stuck, but a driver who didn’t want to drive down. We put a different driver in the pilot seat and drove it off the mountain.

16. June 20: IOR Rock Run/Cleanup Run

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Five rigs headed to Two Headed Dragon (Photo by Lynette White)

There were nine rigs for this: 5 for Two Headed Dragon and 4 for Lost Trail. I made a mistake leading this run. Even with low numbers and almost everybody knowing where to go, we had someone get lost and miss a turn. We had to wait for over an hour while we sent a search party. Always let the rig behind you see where you turn and it helps to have your radio turned on for communications.

I pulled the right hand side and spotted some of the other rigs up the left hand side. We also ran some of the extra credit lines on Lost Trail, which makes 2HD a better, longer trail.

We were back at the trailers at 1:00 and it was really hot. We loaded up and went to Sinker Creek. We went and parked and hung out in the water. We didn’t see another rig on Sinker Creek, which was really odd, but there were a ton of beaver dams. They have really changed that creek in the last couple of years.

17. July 1-July 6: Rim Butte

18. July 25: Rock Run, Lone Pine

I broke a rear axle on the very first obstacle. Thanks, Jesse. As Forest Gump says, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

19. July 27-August 1: Desert Run

20. August 9: Lone Pine

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The Redemption Run (Photo by Dave Simmons)

Redemption run after a new set of Dutchman chromo axle shafts. Gabe, Howard, Harvey, and Dave ran it. No problems, and enjoyed the heck out of the new trail.

21. August 22: HDOR Night Run

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Night Run! (Photo by the author)

Sinker Creek at night was really fun. It was James’ first Jeep ride with Nana and Pops and he had fun dodging branches and playing with flashlights. We made it back to the trailers about midnight.

22. October 15: Rock Run

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Howard on Machine Screw. Photo by the author because his Jeep wouldn’t get off the trailer.

Machine Screw with Gabe, Howard, Jeff, and Harvey. My starter broke on the trailer when I went to unload. I rode with Gabe. Again, “That’s all I have to say about that.”

23. November 14: Snow Run

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Square headlights in the fresh snow (photo by the author)

Howard, Gabe, Harvey, and I spun up Shaw Mountain Road after the first good snow storm of the year. It was an awesome day with really good, driveable snow, about a foot deep.

24. November 21: Rock Run

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Top of DLS (photo by the author)

Meatgrinder, DLS, and Top Ripper with no problems for Gabe, Howard, Harvey, and me.

25. December 26–29: Sand Hollow

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The new motorhome and the wrong Jeep (photo by the author)

Lynette and I decided we needed an adventure, so we bought a new motorhome and headed to Utah. This trip was awesome and I will be going back to Sand Hollow.

Before leaving, I worked on my rock Jeep for about three days. I had it running just the way I wanted and took it on several test runs. Christmas morning, I went out to start it and put it on the trailer. It wouldn’t start. I tried a different fuel pump and ignition module. It fired up for about 30 seconds and died again. After two and a half hours of trying, I finally gave up, knowing that parts stores were closed for Christmas and I should have already been on the road. I loaded my street Jeep on the trailer and left my big Jeep.

However, we still had fun. I’m surprised how well my little Jeep did down there. It ran Double Sammy, Milt’s Mile, the sand dunes, and lots of unnamed rocks. We explored around to The Maze, the Flintstone House, The Lunch Room, and The Squeeze. I rode up The Chute in a guy’s RZR and wished I had my big Jeep. We also drove to Torqueville Falls, which was awesome.

In addition, the little Jeep took Lynette to Wal Mart and In and Out Burger, so she was happy the other Jeep didn’t start.

January 1, 2021: High Desert is hosting another Hangover Run in two days, so I plan on starting next year the same way I ended this year: in 4 Low, spinning high RPMs, bumping along to awesome places with awesome people.

Written by: Nathan White