Riding with JJ’s Crew

Distance = 46 Miles

Rain was in the forecast the entire weekend, but I never trust the weatherman, and basically go by the radar map, and what I see outside. We have been having alot of really bad looking overcast days here, that end up being fairly nice. This morning looked like it would be one of those days, so I loaded up the ATV, and headed out to Jeff’s.
Sure enough, by the time I got there the sky was clearing up and it was starting to look nice out. Jeff, and I were discussing where we wanted to ride today, when a few guys Jeff knew went riding by, heading up to Hells Hollow. One of the guys was JJ, someone that Jeff had mentioned before, and said that he knew alot of other trails around here. So we jumped on the ATVs and chased them down. We followed them up into Hells Hollow, where we stopped and talked, getting to know each other.
One of the guys had a brand new 06 Honda Foreman 500. Basically just like my 05 Rubicon, except it doesn’t have a continuously variable transmission. He had a set of new black rims on it, with a set of what I think were 26″ Mudlites. They made it look like a totally different ATV. It had a much wider stance, with the tires sticking out about an inch past the fenders, and it sat up about 3/4″ higher than mine. I liked the look alot, but it seemed the tires would rob him of too much power. He had them put on when he bought it, so he never got to compare it to stock. They seemed rather interested in my Rubicon, I think it was the first one they really checked out. It was rather difficult trying to explain the continuously variable transmission to them. Which is understandable, it is rather complicated. The Rubicon does not have any conventional gears. Even though when you are in the push button ESP mode, which has 5 “speeds” or “gears”, they aren’t actually gears. They are actually 5 preset positions for the swash plate in the tranny. I don’t fully understand it myself, but basically, the swash plate is hydraulically controlled, and will change its angle of engagement. That, in turn, somehow changes the gear ratio, that is the part I don’t understand very well. But, it works absolutely fantastically, and that’s all that matters. It is amazing how smooth it “shifts” in ESP mode. You cant feel it “shift” at all in full auto mode, it just sweeps up through the ratio as you accelerate.
After hanging out a bit, we headed up into the top of Hells Hollow. We ended up on a couple sections of trail I had not been on before, or at least don’t remember. JJ took us to am old Civil War site that we had heard of before. It was a rock wall where they had made a strong hold. We have heard that this is where they had cannons setup along the rock wall. We had envisioned more of a chiseled out rock face, from other stories that we had been told. But, in rapacity, it was a wall made of stacked stones. It is very hard to see from the photos, there was alot of under brush grown up around the entire area.

     After that we headed further up the hill, eventually stopping at a dead end that all of us had been to before. The trails end up looking the same to you, and you can get lost pretty easy. But the guys still made sure to give JJ hell about leading us there.
Drew called Jeff to find out where we were, and rode out to meet us. We eventually made our way along the hill side, to yet another grave. This one was just one large head stone, with two children on one side, and the mother and father on the other. There were a few metal stakes still in the ground where a fence and gate used to be around it.

     We were passing through an area behind an old trailer that is stuck in the middle of Hells Hollow. I had seen it before, out offroading in the trucks, and riding the ATVs. Sam and I ran into a guy out there once. He was really nice and didn’t mind us being there at all. We weren’t sure if he owned the land, or was just sorta making it his home. Right before we dropped down over the hill to the trailer, we noticed brand new Posted signs up on the trail. Jeff had talked to the guy just the other day. The man said that we didn’t have to pay any attention to those signs, that he had only placed them there so that the DNR and game warden wouldn’t come onto his property. I am not sure if that would actually stop them though. We all dropped down over the hill to the trailer, and saw the man standing out there doing some wood work. We all stopped to talk to him and make sure it was ok with him for us to pass through. He assured us that we were more than welcome to ride through there any time. He was a really nice guy, we gave him a few beers and talked with him for a while. Turns out that the old stone basement across from the trailer was his mothers. He was building a one or two room house on top of it. You could still he had been working on it for quite a while, it already looked old, and seemed as if it could collapse at any time. I would have taken a picture, but I wasn’t sure how the guy would feel about it, and didn’t want any hard feelings between us, especially after he had been so kind to us.
From there, we headed out to Hells Plato, at least that is what I have named it.

     You can see from the photo why I chose that name. Here are a few of the guys heading up to the top. I don’t know where the kid on the little moped looking thing came from, but he made it up with no trouble.

     I can remember when Ben’s dad first got his ATV, and I was planning on getting one. Ben let me ride it a few times, and this set of hills was one that I looked at and thought, no way, that’s way too steep. Now I go up things way worse than that, in 2WD. Those climbs are fairly flat and even, so they aren’t hard to go up at all. Most the hill climbs aren’t half as bad as you think they are once you go up them for the first time. There is still one hill climb on Table Top that me and Jeff look at every day, thinking about going up it, but we never do. I think I could go up it with no troubles, but the thought of my ATV tumbling down that hill if I don’t make it, makes me think twice.
JJ and a couple his buddies were getting ready to go home, I think they were getting hungry, and expecting their wives to have something waiting for them when they got home. Somehow, I think they were probably sorely disappointed. Though, I am not sure why JJ was so hungry. Him and one of his friend pulled out a bag of chicken on one of our stops to munch on. The rest of us got a big kick out of that. I thought I was special, with my PB&J sandwich I had packed.
We separated from those guys, and rode out to the Pirate Camp. Someone had stapled up plastic around one end of the pavilion. I suppose this would make it alot better for getting in out of the rain, but it made it look rather tacky, and ruined your view from inside.

     At least it seems most everyone is trying to keep the place clean, and fixed up a bit. There’s a big problem with people trashing up all the hangouts with beer cans. Jeff tries to pick some up, or make designated places for them, but not everyone uses them.
Heading back home, as we passed through Indian Creek, we were greeted with an all too common sight. Yet another person stuck in the mucky mud. This time it was a Jeep, with pretty much stock tires.

      We stopped to watch the spectacle, of course. They had neat winch setup with them. It was a large truck winch that was mounted to a set of handles, with a piece of block stock to hook to a tow hitch or some chain. They had it changed to the back of an S10 truck. The truck was having a hard time powering the winch under load, but they managed to get it out eventually.    
     That was pretty much the end of our ride, we headed back through Indian Creek, Jeff and Drew headed home, and I headed back to Ben’s to load the ATV in the truck and head home.