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Wheelin' in the Santa Catalina Mtns

Sunday, 20 May 2007

This passed weekend I went off-roading with some of the Tucson Off-Road club members, and had a fantastic time! We drove up the backside of the Santa Catalina Mtns to Rice Peak, then we went up the back side to Mt Lemmon. The trail is rated as moderate, 3.0+. Word is it used to be rated at 4+ but since the fires a couple years ago the road is a little better. The road had to be cleared a bit for fire fighting. Oh well, so it goes. Below is the trip report I wrote for the club about the run. Here is a link to the photos of the trip.

Attendees: Kyle, Scott, Austin (with Jake), Chip, Brad, Jamie, Tiffany, and Christine.

Turned out to be a perfect day for wheeling up to Rice Peak and Mt Lemmon. We had 6 rigs - my Ranger, 4 Jeeps and a Quad. This was my first run with TOR and I really enjoyed the trip. The trail wasn't any harder than what I'd driven back in central WA state.

We all headed out from Peppersauce and proceeded without mishap or misdirection, which is always a good thing, until the quad decided to have a front spring/shock mount come apart. This happened just before the looonngg uphill climb where the trail is mostly level. Probably the best place on the entire route for this sort of thing to happen. After much work and the use of my rachet strap to compress the spring a bit, the quad was back on the trail. Of course there was some uncertainty about its completing the trip without further mishap, but surpisingly enough, it did!

We all got up the long steep climb and proceeded along just fine, until - we hit a dead-end. Yep. Turns out we missed a reverse fork in the trail and kept going straight. This fork is at the bottom of the final climb to the peak. The trail dead-ends, what was it, a mile or so? We had fun getting turned around in the tight spot. Made it back to the turn-off to the peak and stopped to consult and send the quad up topside to see how many rigs were up there already.

I thought it prudent to not drive my Ranger up that last stretch, the rear-end is only a 3.73 limited slip. (I'll have to try it again after I get the rebuild done.) So I rode up with Christine in here Rubicon. At the top there were two guys there already, plus our 4 jeeps, it was a crowd, my Ranger would've had a problem getting turned around anyway. The view from up there is incredible! If you haven't done this run you've gotta do it, well worth the time.

We had to give one of the other guys a jump start as his battery was dead, he'd been running his AC. Turned out he was grounding out where he had connected his amp to the hot side of the battery. Then after he left we noticed his rig was leaking something that we thought was brake fluid. Jamie rode down after him on the quad to tell him he was leaking something. A little while after that we headed back down.

The trip down was uneventful, everyone made it fine, we regrouped near the campground, and Austin and Brad(? the other new guy), left for home and work, the rest of us headed up the backside of Mt Lemmon. This was a nice run, quite a few other vehicles on that stretch of road. Again, no mishaps, thankyou very much.

At the top we went into Summerhaven for pizza and dessert. It was a very good day and very fun run. I'm looking forward to more wheeling with TOR.

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