Finding New Territory

Distance = 48 Miles
We got lucky, and had good weather today, after an entire week of rainy miserable weather. Jeff and I took advantage of it and went for a ride. We started out the ride like we usually do, checking to see if anyone was in the Indian Creek and Table Top areas. We saw a group up on Table Top, it was a mixed group of utility and sport ATVs. We pulled up next to them and stopped, a few said hi, and nodded, that was about it. We didn’t know any of them, and they were getting ready to head out. They rode off, and we stayed, thinking of where to go next. Jeff had been wanting to go to Motown Lookout, after seeing the photos I posted from the time Ben and I found it. I had tried to show him a couple rides ago, but couldn’t quite remember what trails I needed to take. So we decided to head back out that way and explore some. We weren’t on the same trails that Ben and I had been on, but we ended up fairly close to the Lookout. I looked on my GPS to see if I had the track log still saved from the time Ben and I rode there. Luckily, it was still saved, so I took a look at it, to see how I had gotten there. We were only right down the road from it, about 0.7 miles. So we continued on toward it, and after a while I started to recognize the trails, and I knew we were on the right track.
Sure enough, we found the Motown Lookout. You can see a shopping complex on the next mountain top, and parts of Morgantown. We sat here for a while, discussing the area, and where we wanted to explore next. This is the furthest North East any of us had gone before. We heard a couple ATVs coming our way, we took this as a good sign, that there may be other places this leads to. They passed by us, and waved, going further down the trail, stopping at the edge of the hilltop. Jeff thought that he had seen one of them around before, and said we should go ask them if they knew of any new places to ride. So we rode down to meet them, and we were very glad we did. They were quite friendly and willing to tell us about the surrounding area, and where we could ride to. One of them mentioned a tunnel that run underneath the Interstate. Jeff and I had both heard about this tunnel, and had been dieing to find out where it was. They were happy to tell us where it was, with very accurate directions.
Even though we were given very good directions, I was still a little surprised that we found the tunnel. You had to take a few turns, that took you all the way down to the bottom of that shopping complex. We were only about 100 yards away from the onramps to the Interstate, when we saw what we thought was our final turn before the tunnel. We headed out the road and found the gap in the guardrail that they had mentioned. This was RIGHT next to the Interstate, we dropped down off the road and to our delight, saw the small tunnel that we had heard so much about. We were smiling and giggling like school girls, knowing that we now had access to an entirely new set of trails to explore.

     Riding though the tunnel was quite interesting. It was just wide enough for a large ATV to fit through. The ATVs echoed as we passed through, and Jeff just had to rev his crackling exhaust. It was deafening. You pop out the other side and you are on a small side street, aptly named Tunnel Street. We were not sure where to go from here. All we knew was there we should find some power lines, and follow them up the hill. After looking around a bit, we spotted a large set of power lines, and figured that was it. We had to ride down the paved streets just a little, before we found the bottom of the power line ride away. Sure enough, there was a trial there leading up to the top of the hill.
What we saw when we got to the top had us speechless. We just stood there laughing with huge smiles on our faces. We were now on a mountain top on the other side of that shopping complex. We were surprised how much ground we had covered to get over here.

     But over to our left was the real prize. There was a HUGE strip mine, complete with hill climbs, jumps, bodies of water, and trails leading off in all directions. One set of trails that especially got our attention, were running up thought the main power lines ride away. All the way to the next hill top, and the next, and the next! Just the strip mine, and the immediate area around it could occupy you for days. There is no telling where we can go on the main trails leading out of it.

     The strip mine looked really cool, it was like being on an alien planet. It is made of very fine, black ash, and ground up coal. Quite nasty stuff actually. For the most part, the surface was solid, but it broke up and turned to dust very easy. If you gave it a little too much gas, you would just spin your tires and dig in. Water erosion had formed valleys and crevasses. This gave it a very alien effect.

     There were also very flat areas, that reminded me of salt flats. You could just haul ass across them wide open. I hit about 50 mph a couple times on the flats, but you still had to be very careful. It was hard to see the relief of the land at times, since the surface was entirely black. You could easily wreck if you didn’t see one of the crevasses or valleys coming up.
   Jeff and I rode around here for a while, looking the area over, and seeing where trails connected into the strip mine. I circled back around to meet back with Jeff. He was down in one of the lower valleys next to a body of water. I dropped down in past him toward the body of water. I was actually thinking of going through some of the water, when I noticed the ground getting very soggy as I made the turn. Just about the time I noticed this, I started to get bogged down, and was beginning to sink. Seconds later I was buried in thick black mud, the ATV was completely bottomed out, the ear axle half submerged. I was stuck, real stuck. I hopped off the ATV and started to walk over to Jeff. It was like walking on a marshmallow. Even in areas where I had ridden over with no trouble were actually very smooshy. Jeff was talking on the phone to Drew, and hadn’t even notice I got stuck. Drew wanted to ride, with us, and asked where we were, which we got a kick out of. There was no way to describe to him where we were. It didn’t look real bad, but it was.

     I have a winch though, so I wasn’t worries yet. Jeff pulled up in front of me, and we hooked up the winch to his ATV. I gave it a little gas, and started winching in, it immediately started pulling Jeff back toward me. I should have stopped right then, and told Jeff to get far way from this water area. Just then, Jeff nailed it, throwing black mud everywhere, and within seconds, he was buried deeper than I was! Jeff looks back at me, with this “Oh Shit” look on his face. We were officially screwed.
     We tried lifting up on the ATVs, to try to free them, or at least get the rear axles out of the mud. We couldn’t budge them. We knew we were in deep at this point, so we hiked up out of the valley and started to gather what little rocks and logs we could find, to wedge under the tires. Jeff looks at me and laughs, “I hope you like camping.”
Just then, we heard a couple ATVs off on the other side of the strip mine. It felt like one of those survivor shows, we started waving our arms and yelling at them. Thinking to ourselves, please, oh please see us. Luckily they did, and started heading our way. They got to within about 50 yards of us and we could already hear them laughing. They dropped down in the valley with us, one of them saying “oh damn, you got near the water, you don’t get anywhere near the water here”. They were very friendly and helped us get both ATVs out. I hooked my winch to one of their ATVs, making sure he started far away as possible from the water area. Even then, it was very difficult to get me out. Three of us lifted up on the front end of my ATV, getting the front tires up out of the muck some, and shoving logs underneath them. After doing that a couple times, and alot of winching, I was finally out.
I pulled around in front of Jeff to winch him out. We had the same problem with his, the winch was pulling me forward, and he wasn’t budging at all. Finally we hooked one of their ATVs to the back of mine, so that we had double the tires digging for traction. Even that didn’t make it very easy to get Jeff out, but eventually it worked.
We were extremely thankful for those guys helping us out. I think Jeff even offered them a few bucks for their trouble, but they wouldn’t take it. We would have truly been 100% SOL if they had not seen us, and stopped to help.
We had about two hours of light left, and Jeff’s ATV had been acting up alot today, so we figured we better head back home. His right front wheel is trying to lockup, and causing him to have to fight the steering. It tries to pull him to the right. The worst part is that is does it at completely random times, so it was making it rather dangerous to go very fast at all. Though, I must admit, it was quite entertaining to watch him weave all over the road heading back, but it almost through him off a couple times.
Drew was supposed to meet us at Table Top on his dirt bike. I was riding ahead of Jeff at this point, so I could meet Drew, he had been waiting quite a while on us. Since Jeff told him we were heading back his way, before we got stuck. I got to the end of Table Top, and didn’t see Drew, and I had also noticed Jeff was not behind me now. I was a bit worried he might have wrecked, due to his ATV fighting him so much. So I headed back, and found him sitting at the bottom of Table Top Hill Climb, sipping a beer. He had a huge smile on his face, I asked him why he was so happy. “I climbed that bitch!” he exclaimed. “It aint nothing! Nothing I’m telling you!”
We look at this hill climb just about every time we go out riding. You don’t see many people try it, and when you do, they are sport quads, or dirt bikes. I was glad he went for it, I didn’t want to be the first utility ATV in our group to try it. I took out my camera, and Jeff climbed the hill again. He didn’t seem to have any trouble at all. Well, I wasn’t about to be out done, so I climbed it also. I didn’t have much trouble at all, never felt like I was going to flip, but the Rubicon did bog down quite a bit at the top. Which I was kind of disappointed in. I had it in 4WD, and full automatic mode. But it still bogged rather hard at the top. I have only noticed it do this a couple times, when I am on a real steep hill, and in 4WD. Other than that, it always seems to have pretty good power. Running out of power at the top could be very dangerous, so that concerned me a little, and I will have to be conscious of that in the future. You have to carry a good bit of speed when climbing these hills, so I am not sure if low range would be geared high enough. I will have to do some testing, and see how fast I can go in low range. There is plenty of power an torque in low range, but I am worried that the top speed would be too low.
     Here is a video of all of us climbing the Table Top Hill Climb.     conquering_table_top_hill.wmv
     After conquering the hill, Jeff and I headed down toward Indian Creek to find Drew. He was sitting down by a small pond. We only rode around for a short while before it started getting dark. Drew has no lights on his dirt bike, so the riding was pretty much done for the day. We went back to the Island to talk for a while. Jeff was a bit drunk by this time, and started going on about how he could boil water in a brown paper bag. That is was an ancient trick done by ninjas, samurai, monks, or some crap like that. Drew and I got a laugh out of it, and Jeff started to get defensive about it. Saying if only we had a brown paper bag, that he was prove us wrong. Well, it just so happened, that I had one in my ATV box. Jeff said, fine damnit, get a fire going, and I will show you. A fire? Damnit, now I have to make a fire? It had been raining all week, and everything was wet. I gathered up what little dry leaves and sticks I could find, and we finally got a small fire going. Jeff laid a few wet sticks on top the fire to act as a grill. Jeff had Drew get some water form the nearby creek, and dumped it into the bag. We were laughing our asses off as Jeff went to place the bag onto the fire, water pouring out of the bottom of the bag, nearly putting out the fire. I told him it was going be rather hard to boil water in a bag, that cant hold water. By this time the bag had practically fell apart, leaving Jeff disgusted. Jeff blamed it all on our pitiful fire, and inferior bag. We all got a laugh out of it though, so it was all worth it.
I do understand Jeff’s concept though. If you found a paper bag that would hold water, you could probably place it on a grill, or suspend it over the fire. The bag shouldn’t burn since it is saturated in water. While I think this may be possible, it would have to be under perfect conditions, with a rather sturdy paper bag. Still, I would be surprised to see it actual boil. I will go as far to say, you can heat water in a paper bag. 😉