MogFest 2009 Part 2


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The Trip

Day 2 started with a group breakfast and then we did a trail ride. There was some damage, but most folks had fun.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

Cooking for a large group, particularly in a remote area, is a challenge so lots of hands are needed to spread the load.

The Calico campground works out pretty well since we had power and water close to our mess hall. We were able to move tables from individual camp sites to form a group eating area and cover them with a camo tarp to provide some shade from the burning desert sun.

The cooks made plenty of food including bagels and cheese, bacon, eggs, pancakes, hash browns and orange juice.

After breakfast, we got the rigs lined up for the trail.

Not all moggers are hairy and greasy; some are very attractive. When we were finished ogling the hardware, we headed out on the trail.

Many of the canyons in the Calico area are lined with complex patterns due to erosion.

Canyon walls were high and steep and many were capped with volcanic rock.

The narrowest part of the canyon was very rough; rough enough to require moving rocks to be able to get the team through the obstacle. Note the size of the lip on the left of the photo above.

The tight squeeze was quickly followed by a large face. Note the rubber on the rocks.

Kai's 416 had no trouble, but it did require precise tire placement.

Eric's 416 had no problems either.

This 6x6 Pinz was the leader of that pack and came through this obstacle without damage. That said, the look on his face says volumes about the difficulty of the obstacle.

The Red Bull Pinz had more trouble because it had extended bumpers on both ends and more "dangle-downs" on the underside of the chassis (tool boxes, etc.).

The passage of the vehicles, particularly the 6x6s, shifted the rocks at the face requiring replacement to allow the balance of the group to pass.

Most of the 712s passed the face without issue.

The 710 Pinz is a bit shorter and therefore the perceived height of the face was higher.

Past the slot canyon, there were many more rugged obstacles. Above, Kai rolls some rocks to make some of the obstacles drivable without damage.

Back in the pack was a Toyota that required Alan's 406 to tow him through the really rough parts.

The lead mogs paused past the first obstacle set to allow the followers to catch up.

We finally got the group assembled, or so we thought. We were sure that the end vehicles were just clearing the first obstacle set, so we moved on to the next set.

Kai went up the waterfall without issue. This obstacle is big and steep and has cliffs on both sides that will punish your sheet metal if you get "off line" during your attempt.

A lot of rocks had been piled at the bottom of the face. When winter rains come, they move these rocks and change the trail, requiring repair actions to make these obstacles passable. Above, you can see the size of the face; even with the boulders, it is still a sizeable obstacle and not all trucks can do it. Note the rubber on the rocks deposited by spinning tires.

The first 712 in the pack made it on the second try. Note the big boulder between the rear wheels; he spun this big rock away from the face. Also note the fluid on the rock. This was not from anybody in our group, but this obstacle surely got it's due from another trail runner.

This 710 tried several times and then made a good decision to take the "strap of shame" to prevent further damage to his truck.

A 712 provided a tow. You should stand well clear in case any of the towing hardware breaks. A snapping nylon tow strap will literally cut you in half!

The kids cheer a successful tow. Above, you can get a sense of the size of the obstacle.

There is more than one line up the obstacle that will work. This 710 found an additional line that worked for him.

The 416 had no problems, but they never do. The bigger tires and very-low gearing make these obstacles easy.

At the waterfall, we waited and waited and waited. After about 30 minutes, we concluded that something was amiss. And it was. We hiked back the 1/4 mile or so to the previous obstacle set and saw an "Oh Shit" party in progress. It seemed that Red Bull had an engine stall at an inopportune moment that resulted in some extensive drive line damage.

When we actually got to the site, we could see the reasons for the long faces. We were told by the owner that his motor was running poorly and he stalled at the upper end of this pile of rocks. When the truck rolled backwards, a large rock was flipped up, breaking the front passenger side axle and some associated hardware. And, the truck was high centered on the offending rock.

The rock broke 2 shock mounts and cut an engine belt in addition to breaking the axle shear pin. Note the bad angle of the passenger wheel.

We tried the simple things first. A straight-line tow failed to dislodge the truck.

We had to roll a number of large rocks to allow passage of the truck. And, the high-lift jack was required to unload the chassis so the high center condition could be removed.

Closer inspection revealed that the damage was not limited to just the front axle. The number 2 axle also seemed out of place. Clearly, it was rubbing against the corner of the tool box, cutting the tire.

The only solution was to remove that tire to see what was going on. Not good; this axle is broken as well. It has rotated out of position and came off the spring stack.

The easy fix for this axle was to suspend it out of the way with a big ratchet strap that was tied to the roof rack. After helping out for about an hour, we had to head on down the trail. We left the Red Bull group to attempt to turn the truck around and head back the narrow canyon. We left at about 1300 hrs.

After dinner, at about 1830, we returned to the scene of the crime. The guys had managed to turn the truck around, but had not moved more than perhaps 100 meters. A gas-powered Unimog 404 came to assist in the towing, but did not have sufficient mass and power to handle the big boulders. Above, the group discusses the next step. It should be noted that despite what the photo above might suggest, it was actually quite dark at this point.

Just past sundown, we got 2 diesel mogs on site. The plan was to put one truck in front to tow and the other in the rear to provide a reverse tow should a turn be tight or fully missed.

Lights on in the dark, we made our way down the canyon into the slot. Note the motion blur due to the very slow shutter speed.

Because of the tight quarters, a "short leash" was required. In the end, we used the front winch on Red Bull to act as a tow line. This is not recommended as it will likely damage the gears inside the winch, but one of the front tow points had already been ripped off so we had no choice. When it was all over, the winch still appeared to work. In the photo above, the light spot in the center is not from a flash, but rather from my headlamp -- I failed to bring a flash for the camera. We slowly worked our way through the slot canyon to the dirt bypass below. Two mogs were tied together to provide the tractive force to pull Red Bull up the hill and out of the canyon back to camp. Estimated total time to extract vehicle: about 9 hours.

Next morning, when it was light, you can clearly see the extent of the "obvious" damage. I am certain that there is extensive additional damage that will not be found until a close inspection is performed.

Because the front axle had twisted, the tire came into contact with the fender sheet metal. The fender was not kind to the tire and we wore it down to the steel belts. If camp had been a bit farther, we would have cut the tire requiring a sacrificial spare to make it back to camp. Luckily, that did not happen.

During the towing, we tagged the front corner pretty hard.

The rear steps took some pretty hard hits as well. I would argue that these attachments are incompatible with hard core wheeling and should they be attached to your vehicle, the trail will "vote" on your logic.

Despite the extensive drive line damage, the owner thinks it will be "easily repairable". The good news is that there was no real body damage. The bumpers got hammered, but they should not have been there in the first place. I am sure that they will be removed in the near future.

In the end, the winch on the truck was used to load himself onto a trailer for the trip home.

As the loading party was finishing, Kurt drove by in his MAN 8x8 camper.

The MAN turns heads everywhere it goes.

MogFest 2009 was fun. There was some carnage, but only a few vehicles were damaged and all damage appeared to be repairable.


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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2009, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.