I don’t usually get to run two big trails in two consecutive months, so this is a bit of a treat. I met up with the AZWJ group for another run before it gets too hot down off of my mountain. Just outside Payson is a really cool trail called, you guessed it, Pyeatt Draw. It’s not a difficult trail by most standards, but definitely leave the RAV4 at home for this one… It’s a river wash bottom with a good mix of bouldering and shelf climbs (my favorite!) so that you can pretty much create your own adventure.
As usual, we had to endure a dreadfully ugly drive to the trail…
As soon as we hit dirt, it was straight to work. I like these kinds of starts, because I’ve usually already been driving a couple hours just to get to the trailhead… I’m ready to go!
Back when I first started wheeling, I HATED this kind of terrain, with the rocks and the bumps and the other whatnot… It really beat the crap out of me, the Jeep, and all my passengers. As the Jeep has grown and evolved though, soft springs and good shocks (and long arms, if I’m honest) have turned this kind of trail into a cushy Sunday ride. What I mean to say is, if your Jeep is getting thrashed around on this kind of trail, take heart! With a few mods, this stuff is eezy-peezy. In fact, just try disconnecting your sway bar to experience a huge gain in comfort and performance. Disconnecting the sway bar allows the axle to flex independently of the body (exactly what the sway bar is designed to prevent!), which will help to soak up all the rocky terrain. Bam. Fo free.
So, bit of a surprise (unless you recognized the rigs in the banner pic), I had the great fortune of running this trail with Bradywgn71 and theksmith, both of whom are kind of internet famous for their Jeeps. Bradywgn’s WJ is on a 6″ Clayton lift and 33″ tires, and theksmith’s WJ is also on a 6″ Clayton kit on 35s, and also has axles swapped in from a Rubicon JK (2007-up Wrangler) with electric locking differentials and tons of other e-wizardry. You should really check out their rigs if you haven’t before.
I haven’t mentioned it yet, but this was actually a test run for some new limit straps I installed on the rear axle. You see, when I built the 4-link, it allowed everything to move further in its range of operation than it could before, which rendered the bump stops and limit straps I had on there useless (read: I never installed them, and like an asshole, I used my shocks to limit travel. PROTIP: Do not do this.) At any rate, the straps are dialed in, shiny new shocks are installed, and all the moving parts are safe and happy. I’d like to say I’ll post the build for them soon, but you should know how this goes by now…
Bradywgn with the silver and black. I had these colors on my last ride, and it’s one of my personal favorites. Also check out those Protofab bumpers. They’re a local company and are made right here in Arizona! The rear bumper has a dual swing-out carrier, so you can swing out your swing-out while your swing-out is swung out. Dawg.
This is where we decided to end the trail. It does actually continue through here, but not for those of us on 32″ tires like me, so we backtracked to the last spot where the dirt road crossed the wash. While we were there, a couple buggies tried taking a line up though the middle here, but even they weren’t able to make it up. The second one to try broke an axle shaft.
The trick to getting up over here (on the left side of the waterfall) is to hug the wall as tight as possible to get the passenger wheel up on the point that sticks out in the middle, then to turn hard to passenger to get the driver’s side up. They tried doing the opposite, and ended up winching themselves up, after almost taking a spill into the water…
I don’t know what they did from there because by then, we were ready to say our goodbyes and head back up the mountain.
One of my goals with this blog is to rationalize or explain the investment that I (or rather we, as gearheads) make in our vehicles. The truth is, we do it because it’s what we love, and that’s really more than enough for anyone who matters. Dollar numbers, for most of us, are hardly a blip on the radar. We don’t tally what we spend, because it wouldn’t matter even if we did. We understand the sacrifices we make, we understand the consequences of giving up other things to make room for the automobile. It is who we are. And as far as I’m concerned, we’re all the better for it.
There are painters and writers and architects. Engineers, and machinists. There are runners and gamers, and people who just sit around. There are even people who pay a lot of money for shoes that are red on the bottom. If it improves you as a person, take it and never look back.
Is it a valuable investment? What is value to you? Dollars?
On the drive down to Payson, we talked and laughed and celebrated my lady’s new job. We even planned some new things to do. No cell phone reception means no Facebook or Instagram, and of course no Reddit for me. Value: Relationship up three points
We got to meet up with old friends, and eat lunch outside without hearing any sounds of the city. We were in beautiful scenery, and our dogs were all ecstatic. Value: Quality of life up four points
running_nona even took a turn behind the wheel for a chance at a different kind of trail running, and did some serious crawling, all while still looking gorgeous. Value: Making other people smile up three points
But for me, it’s the personal take-away that I really want to focus on. This is the value I derive from my… “hobby”
Wheeling for me, especially as I tackle ever more difficult trails, has become an allegory for every day life. Each rock shelf that I come up against is no different than any other hurdle I may encounter in life. Some obstacles are bigger than others. Sometimes in life, you just have to back up and try a different line, and some things are simply impassable until you come back more prepared.
As my skill on the trail and in the garage has improved, I found that I looked at those challenges differently. On Rug Road a few years ago, I was white-knuckled and stressed the entire trip (haha, just a mewling kitten, bashed against the Arizona desert rocks). When I returned home afterward, I assessed the situation, identified the shortcomings of myself and my vehicle, addressed them, and have since run way more difficult trails with one hand on the wheel and the other making sure I don’t spill my Dew. Instead of looking at a huge obstacle as one to overcome, and I’m speaking about both life and the trail here, look at it as an opportunity to improve; to level up, if you will. And soon, those giant staircases will instead start to look like easy individual steps to take, one at at time.
I don’t want to drone on any longer here, as I’m pretty sure I’ve beat the dead horse to death. So, on one final note, I’d like to leave you with a bit of Hemingway that seems relevant here. (I caught it from The Kingsman, which I watched the other night. It might be my new favorite movie. Watch it immediately if you haven’t.)
“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”