Several years ago at the annual Fall Crawl I attend in Harlan, Ky one of the guys in our group gave us all a wake up call to the dangers of off roading.
Adam and “Red” had been riding the trails together all day. The group had been at a section known as the Lower Rock Garden at the Black Mountain Off Road Adventures Park. It’s a popular area that our group goes to nearly every time we are there in the Spring and the Fall.
This time though while most of the group had been playing at the LRG, Adam and Red decided to venture off to a trail nearby. My best friend and his daughter in law had ventured off too going on a trail up on the mountain overhead. As the group finished up playing in the LRG and started to head out to our next adventure we all heard something over the two way radios each rig had that no one ever wanted to hear.
The crashing and clanking of metal, tools and two guys screaming was horrifying. Those in our group frantically started running towards the trail Adam and Red had been on (which has since been closed). As I got to the trail my heart sank. Adam’s 1992 modified Jeep Cherokee was upside down. Two of the tires were off the beadlocks, his tool box, tools and some clothing strewn everywhere. Adam and Red were both sitting on rocks with bloody, busted up heads as some of the guys assessed their conditions. Both were okay, just extremely shook up. For that matter, all of us were shook up.
Neal, our usual trail leader worked with some of the guys to determine what to do about Adam’s rig. Mike decided that they would use Neal’s air compressor to air up the tires while it was still upside down so they could get them to seat back on the beadlocks much easier and without damaging them. Once that was done, they started to winch Adam’s rig right side up to assess the damage to the top. Luckily for Adam, he had chopped the top of his rig off and built a roll cage.
The only visible damage was that his windshield was shattered and his tailgate that used to be a hatch was busted up. They rolled the rig down to the bottom of the trail where there was a flat area and they checked the fluids and let it sit there for awhile. Scrounging up enough engine oil and transmission fluid, they filled up what was needed and then started it.
Amazingly it started just fine and even with a little smoke (from the fluid that had leaked out) it was running fine. Adam was able to drive it back to camp for the time being. He dreaded taking it home and his wife seeing it. A lot of us thought that would be the last time we would get to see Adam driving his rig. Not so much though. The next time around he had fixed the damage and added more things to his rig, including a helmet.