October 13, 2011 (Thursday)
Big Momma Hill @ Lefthand Canyon

A rare day. I don't know when the last time was where I scheduled the day off. Perhaps ten+ years ago. With the day scheduled off I met with two other folks for a Jeep trail ride. The weather for the day was fantastic!  Blue sky, 80F temps, but with a tad bit of gusty wind.

Our plan was to ride up the Lefthand Canyon trail and also ride one of the other loops it connects with, Castle Gulch. We headed up LHC with me leading (and missing a turn). Missed turn corrected we headed up an obstacle, Big Momma Hill. For me, I locked both differentials and set the hand throttle (no foot bouncing on the gas pedal). That section of trail had my full attention but I did notice once the level indicator getting into the 30-40 degree range with the front wheels working to get over a boulder step. Top of the hill attained (with ample, flat parking about) I parked and walked back to help spot and take some photos.

Will was behind me and he and his vehicle made it up without incident. Alec was third and the last step set of boulders posted a block. Will and I worked to direct him on a route we thought would help, but in the end, none were successful. Alec's Jeep ended up stressing the rear driveshaft's universal joint at the differential to failure. A sharp "bang" and uphill motion stopped.

Fortunately, Will had a winch that was put to use. It, and additional straps, worked well but for some reason the winch motor stopped working. It didn't seem to be overheated (we took a break mid-pull) and it didn't reliably work the rest of the day.

With Alex pulled up to the open area at the top of the hill (by driving Will's winch Jeep to pull Alec up) he set about seeing if we could replace the universal joint (he had a joint but it was an incorrect size). In the end, removing the rear driveshaft was the answer. Reduced traction, front wheel drive mode for him for the rest of the day.

We toyed a while diagnosing Will's winch, but in the end, we came up empty. Ready to head out (and down) we had but two short spots where further inclines were too steep for a front wheel drive only Jeep. Will tow strap pulled Alec over those short and moderate slopes. The route down was mechanically uneventful and the scenery was enjoyed.

Aside from the mechanical issues, it was an enjoyable day. Good folks, good weather. A nice "day off"!

Heading up.

The start of the hill

I'm at the top, looking down at Will. A moment or two before this pic, his left front wheel was hanging a foot in the air.

The tough nut to crack. Will directing Alec to yet another line to try.

Unfortunate result.

The bottom lug is missing

The differential yoke straps distorted. I wonder how many foot-pounds of torque it took...

Will's Jeep, strapped to a tree, winch line played out, 30' recovery strap added to reach Alec.

Connected and ready to move.

Trophy shot

33 seconds, 21MB, MPEG2, 720x480@8500Kbps

Our recovery/work spot was on a ridge. Fire burned trees to the west and un-burned trees to the east - this was a division line in the fire.

The view to the east!

Head'n down and out...

A mix of green and burned trees.