Spring Break Soft Road Meet 2015

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March 14th 2015.

Our second annual Spring Break Soft Road meet, this time organized by the North American Soft Roaders and sponsored by Auto Science, was held at Northwest OHV Park in Bridgeport, Texas.

Weather was forecasted to be in the 70s for that Saturday, and we had all been watching the rain the weeks before. We’ve had a history of rain before our events but I think this time we were spared. It still doesn’t mean there wouldn’t be any water hazards, because Bridgeport is littered with them.

This meet was going to be special because we had a good number of people coming from out of town. We had people coming from South Texas, Oklahoma, Minnesota, and Nevada.

My role in the event this time was to be a floater/overwatch/admin. We had designated five trail leaders with groups of six to ten so that it would prevent clutter on the trails that day. In the last meet we had a group of 23, it took over an hour to get through some obstacles at times.

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Here’s our latest trail map of the park

The Group Leaders:

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John – Team Phouey

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Josh

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Ron – Red Team

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JD – Team Fah-Q

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Fernando – The Nomads

Since I arrived solo, I had Kevin partner up with me in my Forester to go around the park taking pictures and helping out. Kevin’s Forester was recently damaged in a bad weather incident so he didn’t get to bring his out and test his new tires.

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This is a picture of Forrest taken by Steven

6:45 AM

I met up with Mike and Fuji in a dark Dairy Queen parking lot (sorry guys!). I assumed they would have some sort of lighting there but I was wrong.

7:15 AM

We met up with Evan, Josh, Matt and Stacie at the Chevron(?) station down the street from the OHV park. A couple of more pulled up and it was starting to look like a Subaru dealership. We gathered up and rolled out before the local PD were able to come over to see what was going on.

7:30 AM

Arrived at the gate, we received a $10 discount because we had a group of more than 20. I think we were able to get almost everyone on the list.

After getting into the gate we entered our waiting period. John was there passing out NASoR hats paid for by our wonderful event sponsor Auto Science. Ryan and Jessica (Auto Science) have been participating in our meets since day one. Great people to be associated with.

8:00 AM

Getting a little bored waiting for people to arrive, we decided to go scout Mino’s to see if John and JD’s group with be able to do it. John and friend were in his Tacoma and I brought Evan along in the Forester. Along the trail into Mino’s I drove into a mud puddle and proceeded to rip my front mud flap completely off. We went to check out the trail and I think they put it on the maybe list. Mino’s bypass is very narrow and they had a couple of full-size trucks in the group. On the way out of the entry to Mino’s I picked up my mud flap and threw it in the back of John’s Taco to dry out.

On the way back to the entrance the wife called to chew me out about leaving her home alone to deal with the exterminator. Sorry Evan for the uncomfortable moment, lol. Back to waiting for our attendees to arrive.

Josh’s team were all there early so they left promptly.

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John’s team almost ready to go

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JD’s team lining up, Cody was point with his F250, a great depthfinder

East Quarry

The first team I was going to follow was JD and John’s, so Kevin and I hopped into the Forester and hurried our way into the East Quarry to catch the groups coming down the big hill.

The fun part about the big hill is that there is a drop near the top where you’ll only see your hood and nothing below it. It gets really slippery when it is muddy also, but we didn’t have to deal with that this time around.

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Fuji’s Forester

 

Johnathon’s Liberty

John and JD’s group were headed to the East Perimeter road on the edge of the park, the trail in that area was an intermediate trail so only the ones with lifts, skidplates, and the big trucks went on that trail.

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JD’s Trailhawk

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Rick’s Tacoma

 

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Kyle and daughter’s Pro4-X Titan

 

 

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Cody spotting people at the top of the hill

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Evan and the Zebaru

After watching the first two groups pass by, Kevin and I decided to go catch up with the beginner Subaru groups to see what they were up to. They were in the South Loop in the center of the park along with Fernando’s group.

North and South Loops

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Josh’s group arrived at the North Loop using the perimeter road on the North side of the park

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Muddy entrance into the South Loop

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I think someone splashed Nicole somewhere on this part of the trail, haha!

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Josh playing in the Five Hills, X-Mode!

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We caught up to Josh, Ron, Fernando’s groups in the Five Hills area. (You can see Forrest at the top of the hill playing overwatch)

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The Five Hills is a popular photo spot/hangout for us

The Subies playing in the Five Hills:

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TE-37’s on an off-roader! Robin’s 4Runner next to Francisco’s Tundra and JR’s Cherokee

These groups were wanting to do the Ridgeline trail before lunch, so Kevin and I hopped into the Forester and tried to get there as quickly as possible. I think we flew past Josh’s gang slinging mud in the most dramatic way possible.

Exiting the Five Hills area, I got caught on video!:

Josh’s and Ron’s group exiting the Five Hills area in the South Loop:

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Nicole’s XT

Footage of Nicole’s XT:

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Matthew, Stacie, and family

Footage from their day at the park:

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Mike’s XT

Footage of Mike’s XT:

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Ron’s XV

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Mike’s XT

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Chris and Family in the Audi Allroad

Footage of Josh’s group in the early AM, plus footage of the Asplund connector at the end of the video:

Spiderwebs – Southeast side

We decided to intercept John and JD’s groups down in the Southeast corner of the park, it was quite flooded down there. We ran into an FJ Cruiser group that warned us not to head the direction we were going.

Cody at the front of the pack

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Evan taking the safe way

 

Fuji, following one of the Jeeps, took the right puddle from the previous picture and had water coming over the hood and onto the windshield. He was supposed to take the left trail, hahaha:

 

 

They lived.

JD was having some terrible luck in the puddle, it seems that his skidplate was hung up and he couldn’t get any forward movement:

 

On our way headed to Ridgeline, we got stuck in a mud puddle also, I think the skidplate was hung up on a rut and we weren’t able to go forward. I was trying to hug the edge of a puddle, but ended up backing out and going through closer to the center of the puddle, water was to the bottom of the doors but we didn’t have to call anyone for an extraction.

Ridgeline – High traffic

Of course, we got to Ridgeline before everyone else did. It seems that everyone else wanted to get some of Ridgeline before lunch also, that created somewhat of a traffic situation. Some excellent photo opportunities, though.

Josh and Ron combined groups and were questioning the water puddle entering the Eastern side of Ridgeline.

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It wasn’t too bad:

Fernando’s group and my coworker group were close behind.

Robin and Fernando from Team Nomad

 

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JR’s XJ from Fernando’s group

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Coworker Mike’s Dodge Ram

In the middle of Ridgeline there is a section we call Mai’s Little Death Valley. This section is known for taking out bumpers, the smaller vehicles always have to approach with caution. There is a 40 foot dropoff to the right of it and when there is mud, you will slide just a little bit to unsettle you.

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The vehicles with larger clearance have the option to take the left side:

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Bryan’s lifted Grand Cherokee

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Dan’s lifted ZJ

The exit to Ridgeline is a rocky downhill that the crossovers needed to go down at some interesting angles:

 

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That’s me showing everyone how it’s done

 

Josh’s turn

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Tire’s a little low there Josh, haha

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Chris traversing the exit in his Allroad

 

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Mike in his XT

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Nicole’s XT

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Mike’s XT

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Stacie’s XT

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Ron’s XV

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The other XV, I didn’t catch the guy’s name

JD’s Group before lunch

Some footage of JD’s group before lunch:

Fuji working the locked diff:

Inside view from Fuji’s Forester:

Evan getting some assistance:

Lunch

Lunch was designated to be 1 hour around noon. Some people ate at the Pavilion while others left the park for gas and food.

 

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Either Josh or Ron wanted to know how the trails were in the Spiderwebs, so I hopped into Dan’s ZJ and we went scouting.

The group picture was planned after lunch, but we were late to the party because Dan had to recover two vehicles out from the Little creek in the East side of the Spiderwebs. They should mark that trail, we’re always finding people stuck in there just about every trip because it is marked as a level two, not a level – you’re going to flood your vehicle no matter what you’re driving.

This was the only video I took for the day:

The results from the scout trip, Don’t go into the Spiderwebs beginner groups.

Group Picture

After lunch we decided to coordinate a group picture in the West Quarry. We also passed out pecan pies because it was 3-14-15 (pi). We sent Kevin and Steven to the top of the hill and gave them radios to communicate with us down in the quarry.

 

Getting bored while setting up the group picture

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Steven’s shot

Some drone footage from Fernando’s brother edited by Ron:

Asplund Connector

The connector is a little short technical section that’s an exit from the Spiderwebs. Since Josh’s group wasn’t going to be doing the webs they entered through the Hatchet Bypass and went out through the connector.

JD’s group by the Connector:

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Entry into the connector:

Thanks Kevin! After a little bumper crunching by Josh’s XT when he assumed Kevin was spotting him because he was standing at the front of his car.

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Kevin and I left Josh’s group after they all made it out safely from the connector. I was hoping that one of the groups would attempt Mino’s so that I could get some pictures and videos. That’s what I’ve been saving my battery for the entire day.

South Loop – John and JD’s group

Unfortunately the groups decided to not do Mino’s bypass due to the terrain and conditions.

We ended up gathering at High Top in the South Loop and swapped stories about climbing that dreaded hill with the huge rock at the top in the way.

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Fuji attempting High Top

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Evan on his way back down

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Cody bring the rig back down

After High Top we continued onto the South Loop in the clockwise direction.

 

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Francisco’s Tundra:

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Ryan and Jessica:

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Fernando:

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Logan:

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North Loop and exit

I parked Forrest in a spot where no one would accidentally drive off that pipe in the lower part of the following picture after coming down the hill:

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John’s truck but he’s not driving:

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They were all giggles coming down the hill in the Titan:

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Evan got a little hung up and was kicking up a dust storm:

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Evan flexing the Zebaru:

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Saying our Goodbyes

We decided to part ways after the North loop. We parked near the entrance of the Darr hole and said our goodbyes. I gave away the last of my Imperial sugar Dr. Peppers and took a couple of delicious sandwiches from Fuji.

Auto Science gave away a goody bag. We didn’t have the entire crew there to decide who would win it, but we determined the award was given based on distance traveled. Evan received the bag for traveling all the way from Nevada to come out here the wheel with us. That’s a road trip, I hope you enjoyed it Evan!

 

But I don’t want to take away from anyone else that attended either. Fuji and friend drove all the way from Minnesota, in addition to fabricating a lift kit and skidplate the night before leaving! Cody and JD trailered a Trailhawk from South Texas, and wheeled both vehicles! Josh came from central OK and Mike drove up from Austin. The dedication of this group to our event was tremendous.

Josh’s group in the Quarry

After seeing some pictures posted later, I finally figured out what happened to Josh and Ron’s groups after the connector. They were out playing in the water holes in the East Quarry.

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Mike showing everyone he’s not afraid of the mud:

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Chris not in the his Allroad creeping in the woods:

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I caught up with this group at the entrance of the park. We bid each other farewell because I had to hurry home from one of the most enjoyable meets we have had.

Until next time

And now we come to the end of my report of our Spring Break Soft Road Meet 2015. We learned a few things from this meet. One of our changes we will make is to put newcomers to the park in a beginner group or an intermediate beginner group. I realized that radio communication with just walkies will leave you in the dark most of the day. The spiderwebs will always be flooded, always. The trails are gradually deteriorating which is creating less trails for the beginner groups. Overall it was a successful event, I hope the memories of this trip will last us until Spring Break of 2016.

I would like to thank the photographers that contributed to my blog, Steven, Josh, and Kevin for helping me paint a picture of our event. I would also like to thank the group leaders, aka the Top Brass, for helping me organize this event and providing hats, pies, and advice. I’d like to thank our sponsors Ryan and Jessica from AutoScience for always being at our events and helping out. Thanks for the hats guys! Thanks to Ron for keeping up with the Soft Roaders Youtube page and editing some videos for us! Thanks to the wonderful workers that run the park, we really appreciated that discount and I’m happy that I’m recognized now. I always tell you guys I’m bringing a small army. And a big thank you to everyone in attendance for taking time out of your busy lives to come out and join us in our hobby of playing in the dirt. Like I always say, it wouldn’t be a meet without anyone attending.

Looking at our upcoming schedule for the year, we will be concentrating on more expedition/backcountry trips in the near future. That’s not to say we won’t make small trips to the OHV to test out equipment.

Stay tuned to our forum and Facebook pages for information on our upcoming trips. See you on the trail!

Vinay