11th Annual 4Runner Jamboree
|Explore Your World!||Short Cuts|
|Rigs Lined up for Jamboree Trail Runs|
The so-called “4Runner Jamboree” started out more than a decade ago as a way for a loosely knit group of Toyota-driving web-wheelers to meet face to face and do some real wheeling. For whatever reason, it originally started out as a 4Runner-only event. However as more and more pickup and occasional Landcruiser owners started tagging along, it became more of just a Toyota-only event, and even that requirement is getting more and more loosely defined. However, the “4Runner Jamboree” name seems to have stuck.
As the event has grown over the years, so has the need for organization. For the last several years, All-Pro Off Road has stepped up to the plate to organize and sponsor the event as a thank you to their customers (and anyone else who wants to show up!). In addition to the actual trail-riding, All-Pro has made a free evening meal and also a large raffle a regular part of the annual one-day event.
This year was the first year I was actually able to spend more time at the event than on the road driving to and from it. My two previous years ended up taking two days driving and one day wheeling. Definitely not ideal, but at least I got to go. This year was two days driving and three full days of fun.
Thursday morning we left Auburn at around 10 AM for a long, leisurely drive to Johnson Valley with a few stops along the way. We arrived at Means Dry Lake at around 10 PM and there were already a handful of people there. There was also a strong desert wind blowing which made putting up the tent quite a challenge. So I set up the bare minimum of camp, anchored the up-wind side of the tent down, and crawled into my sleeping bag for a very noisy night's sleep.
|Day 2: Clawhammer|
|The View from the Top of Claw|
We ambled around in the desert flats for a half hour or so and finally decided that we would be able to find Clawhammer if we backtracked a bit. So we did, and that’s what we ran. It took our group of 5 vehicles a few hours to get through. Some of the drivers were somewhat inexperienced and that, in combination with a few breakdowns, added a lot of time.
|Aaron Near the Top|
A short while after Aaron's breakage, we noticed that Kurt’s (aka Genshie) front Toyota E-locker was not engaging, so he had to run the trail with an open front diff. As if the trail wasn’t one already, this made for quite a challenge. However, with a few rocks thrown under his tires in the tough spots, he made it through OK.
|Ed Negotiating a Tight Spot|
When we reached the top, we met another group finishing up Wrecking Ball and stopped for drinks and chit chat before heading back to the lake bed. Once back at camp, Kurt ran into another poor soul with a dysfunctional front e-locker and together they were able to figure out how to get their e-lockers locked manually. I also helped Aaron get a spare axle shaft set up and ready for tomorrow's wheeling. Then after some relaxing, a short dirt bike ride around the lakebed with my son, and finally, dinner, we crawled back in bed for some rest before Saturday’s Jambo.
|Day 3: The Jamboree, Jackhammer|
|Rigs Begin to Gather|
I had signed up to run Jackhammer, so I pulled into the end of that line. Jesse Quiroz of All-Pro was our trail leader. He introduced himself and quizzed the drivers in our group to make sure our rigs had the minimum requirements for this trail (35’s, dual lockers, and a crawler). He also let us know what to expect of the trail to be sure we were ready for it. A short while later, we were on our way.
The trail was a very steep, rocky climb, just like all “The Hammer’s” trails are known for. The bonus on Jackhammer is an off-camber climb up a very narrow ridge with a huge drop on either side. To give an idea of just how long a drop, it would probably be measured in fractions of a mile rather than yards or feet. The ridge seemed bother some people a whole lot more than others.
Jack Left, Sledge Right
|Steve Needed Some Counterweight||Erik Tries to Flop||Got Rocks?|
After climbing the ridge, Jackhammer drops back down and meets up with Sledgehammer at the infamous mailbox that marks the top of the first section of Sledge. Here we met the Sledgehammer group just as they were coming up. From the mailbox, there is one more short boulder field to get through, and then there is an escape route up a large sand dune. The Jack and Sledge groups headed out up the dune, but Greg, Sam, and I of the Jackhammer group opted to bypass the sand dune exit and kept going up through Upper Sledgehammer. This section is short and mostly uneventful except for the one super gnarly part right at the beginning. Greg made it through on his 38.5” Swampers without too much trouble, however Sam and I both got stuck pretty good running 35’s. We had to use two Hi-lifts to get the front of my rig up and back over to where I needed to be to make it through. Sam made it through a little easier than I did, but ended up breaking a front main spring leaf on the way out. A ratchet strap held things together enough to get him back to camp. And just as we arrived back at the lakebed, Greg’s rear driveshaft separated from his transfer case. Perfect timing, I guess.
|Heading up the Ridge||Looking Back Down the Ridge||Rob Making use of his Exo-cage||"Garbageman" Dave Posing Near the Escape Route|
Overall, the trail run went pretty smoothly. Little, if any, body damage was inflicted on anyone. The only mechanical breakdown I know of that occurred was a ripped brake line which was repaired fairly easily. However, even though the trail was only a few miles long, it still took us all day to finish it. Every rig on the trail had some trouble getting through at one point or another. Nobody “just walked it.” These trails are just that tough.
|Sam, Upper Sledge|
The raffle marked the official end of the one-day Jambo and it was basically time to hit the sack and get some rest for more wheeling on Sunday, so that’s what we did.
|Day 4: ARCA Course, Outer Limits|
|Camo "Gettin' it" on the ARCA course|
I can see why this one was named Outer Limits. Its waaaaaay out there in the desert compared to all of the other Hammer’s trails. Our group was just mine, OOP’s, and Locrwln’s rigs. This trail was awesome. It was long and challenging the entire way. Obstacle after obstacle, boulder after boulder, it kept us constantly on our toes. It took us a good 6 hours to get all the way through and the second half of the trail was at night which made things even more interesting. None of us could even imagine taking a large group through there as they had done at the Jambo the day before. I can see why that group got back so late.
|Custom Desert Tundra at the ARCA course||Driving to Outer Limits
Are we there yet?
|OOP's Stops for a Picture||Locrwln Climbing a Waterfall|
|Winching at Night|
When we finally got on the road back to camp at around 8 PM, we found the lakebed dark and deserted except for two tiny camps. The desert wind had kicked up again and was fairly miserable, so we wolfed down a quick meal (thanks Mrs. “Chartdog!”) and hit the sack. I can’t wait to run that trail again someday!
A big thanks goes to All-Pro Off Road for hosting this event, as well as everyone else who showed up to participate. I think its pretty safe to say that a great time was had by all!
Click here for the 11th 4Runner Jamboree Photo Gallery! (100+ pics)
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