Past Trail Rides of 2-Big Broncos 4x4 Club

Farmington, New Mexico
December 16-17, 2000

Rocky Mountain Chapter


Farmington, New Mexico

Click here for a map

Directions

Farmington is roughly 400 miles from Denver, or about an hour south of Durango.  The rock garden area is around ten miles east of the town of Aztec and Choke Cherry canyon is only a few miles northwest of Farmington.

Overview

Farmington, New Mexico (16-17 Dec 00) Written by: Chris Gzybowski

Participants

Those attending included. . .
  1. Keith Lawyer- '90 Bronco, 33's, rear locker
  2. Steve Bulloch- '96 Bronco, 35's
  3. Virgil Chavez- '84 Bronco, 33's, rear locker
  4. Andrew Gzybowski- '84 Toyota, 34's, front and rear lockers, dual t-cases
  5. Chris Gzybowski- '88 Bronco, 36's, front locker

The Details . . .

After some promising last-minute weather reports for the weekend, Andrew and I headed out early Friday afternoon for the 7-hour drive down to Durango where we planned to stay the night at Keith's house.  We reached Keith's place a little after 9 pm and finished the evening watching some video footage of one of the numerous rock crawling championships that have been held in the Farmington area.  Needless to say, we were psyched about hitting the sandstone in the morning.

We met up with Steve and Virgil at 9 am in the little town of Aztec, New Mexico, and followed Virgil out to the rock garden.  The rock garden is a large area of "recreational use" BLM land and has many miles of trails that wind through the sandstone outcroppings.  The weather was fairly mild, around 45 degrees, but the wind made it feel much colder.

The majority of the obstacles in the area were sandstone accents and descents.  Some obstacles proved to be just smooth sandstone, but most of them had ledges of all sizes thrown in for added measure.
Virgil leading us into the Rockgarden
Virgil leading us into
the Rockgarden
Steve powering up one of the many accents
Steve powering up one
of the many accents
Keith dropping off a small ledge
Keith dropping off a
small ledge

It very quickly became apparent that this type of wheeling required its own special technique.  It was easy to get the front tires up onto the obstacles, but it was much harder to get the rear to start climbing.  Virgil and Steve, who live in the area and are used to this type of wheeling, made it look easy.  But Keith, Andrew, and I took a little while to get used to the technique of bumping the rear tires into the rock hard enough to get them to climb, and yet soft enough to avoid any excessive momentum.  It also quickly became apparent that a rear locker is far more valuable than a front locker when tackling the sandstone.  It seems that the front becomes too un-weighted when it's up on the rock and it doesn't really do much to pull the vehicle up.
Keith getting ready to climb
Keith getting ready to
climb. This section was
unbelievably steep
Andrew descending a small ledge
Andrew descending a
small ledge

Andrew and I decided to try the Toilet Bowl obstacle in the rock garden.  This obstacle is a large bowl, about 30 or 40 feet deep, with fairly steep sides.  My attempt ripped my spare tire off the tire carrier, due to the Bronco's poor departure angle.  All worked out well though, in that I ended up needing to use the spare tire as a "ramp" for one of my rear tires to get up and out of the Toilet Bowl.  Andrew was able to simply enough drive down and out of the bowl without any problem.  The combination of his extreme crawl ratio and front and rear lockers proved to work very well on the sandstone.
Getting my spare tire ripped off in the Toilet Bowl
Getting my spare tire
ripped off in the
Toilet Bowl
Trying to climb out
Trying to climb out
Andrew making it look easy
Andrew making it look easy

Next up was the Jeep Eater obstacle, a very steep ten-foot climb that is brutal on short wheelbase vehicles.  Virgil was first up, and made it look easy.  He had Steve hold onto a tow-strap hooked to his front end just in case the Bronco decided to roll end over end.  Andrew also made Jeep Eater without much trouble at all.  I tried it too, but wasn't able to make it.  Once again, the rear locker seemed to be the key.
Virgil  coming up Jeep Eater
Virgil coming up
Jeep Eater
Andrew walking right up it
Andrew walking right up it
I tried, but just couldn't make it
I tried, but
just couldn't make it

Virgil and Steve then showed me a route that would allow for a great picture opportunity, and I willingly took it.
Catching some air
Catching some air
Seriously wishing I could see where the trail is
Seriously wishing I
could see where the
trail is

For the remaining few hours of the day, we followed some more of the trails around the rock garden and generally had a very enjoyable time.  We adjourned for the day at about 4 pm after heading back into town to air back up.  Sunday morning we all met at Steve's house and headed out to Choke Cherry canyon.  The weather was a little warmer and the wind had stopped. For the middle of December, it was a very nice day.

After playing around on a few smaller obstacles and looking at the start of the Intimidator trail, we made our way to the Cobra trail.  Virgil made short work of the first two obstacles, but broke out the side glass on the right side of his fiberglass top when he slid into a sandstone outcropping on the third obstacle.
Virgil cresting the second obstacle
Virgil cresting the
second obstacle
Oops...
Oops...

Keith and Andrew crawled right up Cobra, but took the bypass where Virgil had run into trouble.
Keith on the second obstacle
Keith on the second
obstacle

Next, Steve gave the first obstacle a very valiant attempt, but was halted when his rear driveshaft decided to destroy itself.  The ears of the pinion-yoke cracked off and took the U-joint with it, but his wife caught it on video, so not all was lost.
Nearly the exact moment that Steve broke
Nearly the exact moment
that Steve broke
That don't look right...
That don't look right...

I then tried Cobra, and made the first obstacle after a few tries, but just wasn't able to make the second (I think I need a rear locker and a roll cage, not necessarily in that order).
Doing the two-wheel thing on the second obstacle
Doing the two-wheel
thing on the second
obstacle
Good thing I brought a change of shorts
Good thing I brought a
change of shorts

After making it off of Cobra, we headed over to the Playground, a small area jam packed with various smaller obstacles.  After an hour or so of playing, and after reseating a broken bead on one of Andrew's Swampers, we headed back towards town.  A short stop at the Stair Steps finished out the day. After airing up and filling up with gas, we parted ways and vowed to return…..

Chris Gzybowski - gzyboc@rpi.edu
1988 XLT Bronco