Day 5 of Ultimate Adventure

Day five, and we woke up feeling more chipper than in some time. Even though we’d only been on the trip for a workweek, we (like everyone else) were working day and night for many days prior to the trip; trying to get our vehicle ready, and trying to make up for the absence from home and work for the next week (plus however long it takes to get back home).

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Off-Road Illinois

by Jerrod Jones

Day five, and we woke up feeling more chipper than in some time. Even though we’d only been on the trip for a workweek, we (like everyone else) were working day and night for many days prior to the trip; trying to get our vehicle ready, and trying to make up for the absence from home and work for the next week (plus however long it takes to get back home).

The weather couldn’t have been better for a July Illinois morning. A storm had come through just days before, keeping down the dust, and the humidity was mild.

After another driver’s meeting, we all got in line and left the winery via police escort. It’s like we were a big deal or something in Pittsfield, Illinois…maybe we were! We were with the world’s largest 4×4 magazine, accomplishing one of the more grueling vehicular trips ever attempted.

We arrived at our first set of off-road trails that were cut on bluffs outside of Pittsfield. The trails were both muddy and rocky, and unfortunately that kind of terrain invites potential disaster.

And so Shaughn Reid found that out all too well. Five days into the Ultimate Adventure 2014, and his K5 took a mighty tumble on one of the first obstacles—this very steep hillclimb with a couple sets of tall and tricky rock ledges that would make an already off-camber vehicle hop. With a week’s worth of camping gear, tools, and spare parts, Shaughn’s K5 was just a little too top heavy. With all the determination in the world, Shaughn worked the obstacle until his Blazer reared up and over, sending he and co-pilot Mario Albor for medical attention.

They were back later that day, though, to watch the rest of us thrash our own vehicles on the second set of trails and steep valleys Rick Pewe planned for us that day.

In true Ultimate Adventure fashion, the Reid/Albor team hopped rides with others and lent hands when needed. These guys typified the ultimate Ultimate Adventure attendee.

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While this climb may not look bad, the BDS Liberty definitely had to work to make it up this rock ledge. Many vehicles did not conquer this and chose to go around instead of risking a rollover.

But Shaughn Reid and Mario Albor, in the olive drab K5 Blazer, unfortunately took a bad hop going up this and rolled the Blazer backwards, crushing much of the truck and sending the two occupants for medical attention. We wouldn’t see it until the next day, on a trailer in camp, but it was mangled.

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Banks Power
Not knowing yet that Shaughn had rolled, we started to wonder what the hold-up was after a couple hours of sitting in the next canyon on the trail. It was slow-going, winch-requiring progress in the muddy canyon no matter what, but the lag time made a lot more sense when we got word that two of our Ultimate Adventure crew had flipped their ride.
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Camera crew chauffeur Rocky Dorame passed the time by taking selfies on other people’s phones that were left unattended in vehicles.
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Bryan and Bryce Schlagel drove out in their ’78 Bronco, outfitted with both front and rear winches. Front winches are for fun, and rear winches are for recovery. You should not count on a vehicle behind you that can pull you out; being self-sufficient is key. When Bryan wanted to back out of the nose-deep situation his Bronco was in on this muddy drop, the rear winch was the perfect tool. Jeremy Ayers of Nitro Gear and Axle lent a hand running the cable and tree strap to the top of the hill.

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Banks Power
Speaking of Nitro Gear and Axle, here’s their Grand Cherokee, equipped with a custom solid axle conversion done by Build It OffRoad and 37-inch Trail Grapplers. This pass was so rough it actually tipped the Grand Cherokee onto its side a bit. Luckily it had nowhere to go and didn’t even make a dent.

 

Pacific Fab built the official Ultimate Adventure vehicle; Fred Williams’ 1992 Dodge W200 truck with 40-inch Trail Grapplers, linked suspension, and a Banks-modified 5.9L Cummins diesel engine.

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Pacific Fab built the official Ultimate Adventure vehicle; Fred Williams’ 1992 Dodge W200 truck with 40-inch Trail Grapplers, linked suspension, and a Banks-modified 5.9L Cummins diesel engine.

Kevin Stearns of Pacific Fabrication and his co-driver, Jason Howerton, came out in Stearn’s heavily modified ’83 Blazer.

Pacific Fab built the official Ultimate Adventure vehicle; Fred Williams’ 1992 Dodge W200 truck with 40-inch Trail Grapplers, linked suspension, and a Banks-modified 5.9L Cummins diesel engine.

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The smaller size and lighter weight of our Wrangler, combined with the aggressive sidewall traction/protection on the Trail Grapplers, allowed us to get through most of the gulley under our own power. Eventually, we did have to break out the cable on our Warn Powerplant winch and pull our Wrangler the last few feet.
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Remember that smaller size we mentioned? Unfortunately the Schlagel brothers’ Bronco was not so small, and it didn’t fit through the gulley like our midsize Wrangler Unlimited did.
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It was nothing that a winch couldn’t cure, and luckily the soft mud and steep walls didn’t leave a dent on the Bronco.
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Eventually out of the muddy gulley, we hit a trail that dropped us down to a rocky riverbed. The combination of tight, off-camber muddy trails and rockcrawling made for a true wheel-spinning, axle-straining day that encouraged a lot of drivetrain groaning and hub clicking as we all tried to creep our way through.

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While the BDS Liberty slipped off this tricky ledge initially, Dave DeVormer made an excellent course correction and was able to recover the line while his co-pilot, Carter Reed, got it all on video.

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Mel Wade, driving the Nitto Tire-sponsored M37, was not so lucky up this climb. A self-learning fuel injection learned not to work in this particular rocky section, leaving Mel’s M37 twisted up and in need of a tow. Once we got back up to flat land, the M37 started right up.

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Banks Power

Banks Power

If you missed any of the earlier stories in this series, check them out here:

Part 1: Becoming the Official Turbocharger of Ultimate Adventure 2014

Part 2: Building the Banks Sidewinder Jeep for a 4×4 Marathon

Part 3: Getting There is Half the Battle

Part 4: Exhausted, and It’s only 8am on Day 1

Part 5: On the Road Again—Iowa or Bust

Part 6: Illinois or Bust

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