You'll never know until you try...

That must have been this trip's basis. In fact I think it may have started out as a dare, I'm not really sure anymore, it's all become a blur. It started harmlessly enough- Hey, you want to go camp overnight and run some trails in Florence? Good friends, a camp fire, and a moonlit campground was Friday's after work setting. We slept to the owls hunting the canyon in tandem and woke to quail chattering about a few feet away. In the morning it was clear we had no penned out plan on where to go. We decided if we did Highway to Hell it could be second in the line up since we had done it a couple months before. On the list of trails we hadn't done was Axle Alley, but no one was 100% on the entrance. All we knew was that we were looking for this obstacle.

 

After driving a little ways down our chosen wash, we found it. It's one of those waterfalls that you can't even fully grasp until you're standing at the bottom looking up at someone or visa versa; it is a vertical 10ft wall of solid rock. Needless to say, everyone tied off as they went up. Bob and Geoff just needed a little tension at the bottom and then their winch line stayed slack the rest of the way up. The Yellow short wheelbase needed it a great deal more as it slid it's way topside.

After everyone was up, we continued on upstream to the other obstacles. Many offered a little extra challenge since sand had gotten deposited not only at the bottoms where the rear tires needed to find purchase, but also at the top, working against the front traction as well. A little bump went a long way getting past the silt, and then it was back to crawling the steps. At some point Bob's axle shaft gave up a U-joint in a bad way, all but destroying the yoke side of the passenger shaft. It was noticed a little later on an easier section so we stopped and Bob got to trail fixing. He pulled out the shaft but since his spares were forgotten, he three wheeled it lightly the rest of the way. We took the opportunity to eat lunch there while there was still a little shade left. During this time wildflowers were also sought out and three mule deer were spotted.

 

With still plenty of obstacles left, Bob had a bit of challenge on his hands, and an extra tug was sometimes needed. One of the last obstacles was another great almost vertical climb and plenty of Jeep bellies were seen in the pics that ensued. Besides the wounded phoenix, only the first main fall saw cable or rope though- with a little extra spotting here and there, it was a very successful run.

At the last climb for the up and out, Bob's starter suddenly gave up its ghost as he waited in line. No amount of gentle coaxing or violent hammering could resuscitate it. Fortunately Geoff and his brother came to the rescue, popped the starter out of the Cherokee and was able to get Bob turned over and going again before they bolted it back up. The climb on rope was successful and we hit the top and the view before dropping back down onto the main trail back.

Definitely a successful trip. The trail claimed another axle, but no one backed down from any of the challenges and new limits were pushed and set.

 

 


 

 


 

 

 

 

 

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