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Bear
11-19-2007, 02:20 PM
Nestled in the Picatinny Mountains of Northern New Jersey................

................ was my destination for a Saturday trail ride with the N. New Jersey Jeepers Club. I left about 4pm Friday afternoon. As I entered the main highway a major accident had just occurred and the traffic was backed up over 8 miles heading west, I was heading east. I arrived at hotel, in Rockaway,N.J. about 7 pm, only to discover that my reservation was lost. I brought my confirmation along and after a short while made it to my room. After dinner I called Mike Saccente, president of the club, to find out what where and time we were gathering in the morning.
Morning came, I grabbed a cup of coffee from the hotel and went to top off my gas tank, the thermometer read 52 at 7am, and then headed out to the cabin. As I left, I thought to myself a nice day for a ride. Wrong, by the time I arrived at 8 the temp had dropped to 46 and rain set in. Along the way I noticed many vehicles were parked aside the "Rockaway River", I was greeted by Mike and found out that this day was also the first day of Trout fishing in NJ. A few moments later a small convoy of Jeeps pulled into camp. This was a CJ8 trail run,but, we had a mix of new rigs among the old. Brian Graham of Kinnelon,NJ. was driving his 05 Unlimited Rubicon, the other Unlimited "Rubi" , driven by owner Chris King, was a very special rig, this was Rig # 269 of 1000 produced, of the " Sahara" movie edition. Chris stated that this will be the only trail run this Jeep will see this year, he has two other Jeeps he runs and this is his daily driver.
Mike Werner trailered in his 83' Scrambler from Richmond,Va. Mike still had some wrenching to do to get on the trails and before long he had the brake line replaced and was ready to go. A good friend of Mike Saccentes' and club member Andrew O' Toole arrived in his Ranger. Andy is Mikes right hand man in maintaining and cutting new trails on this private land. Andy was not joining our group as he and club member Jay Thompson, in his doorless 02' TJ, were going out to test a freshly cut trail for the first time,( Toll booth). About an hour into the ride we came across Andy and Jay on the " Tollbooth" trail, ,( a wicked, proverbial, rock and a hard place). The rock cropping that you pass thru resembles that of a toll booth on the highway. While we stopped to watch Andy work his way up and thru, Mike and I were standing beside his 84' CJ8, told me that Andy has a Atlas transfercase and the Ranger was locked front and rear. " Rea-Ranger" is the rigs nickname after Andy bobbed the bed and made other " trail" body modifactions.
The trails we were on this day definately required at least one locker, with the addition of rain, they were even more treacherous. Then you factor in the " Bear" droppings on this section,( no I went before the ride), it made for an interesting ride. We had to stop and clear a tree and my rig " Smokey" ,(a 1987/93 Comanche), was parked right next to the "Bear Cave". Walking was just as treacherous as there were mounds of droppings everywhere. Someone yelled" hey Doug, we're at your place, coffe ready? " Belly laughs erupted from those within ear shot.
Kurt Rosenzwetg, along with daughter Brittany, were in Kurts' clean Blue Scrambler. This rig was nicely done and performed as pretty as it looked. Chris Read of Hammonton,NJ., was in the "sleeper
" of the group in his 81' CJ8. The stock looking exterior was just that, as there was a 305 tbi Chevy tucked under the hood. He aslo swapped out the stock rear for a Dana 44 and had the Jeep sitting o 33" tires. There were a few guys that we were waiting for while we were on the trails and they caught a cell signal and got word to us that they were here. This was just past noon, so we had to make a turn around an a very narrow trail with no room for forgiveness. Damon Hahn, Chris' passenger, spotted me on this maneuver, thanks Damon, and we made our way back to camp.
We made it back to camp and shortly after we did a snow storm quickly engulphed us, snowflakes the size of half dollars,the group decided to break for lunch and I decided to head back home. I said my goodbyes and hit I 80 west . It wasn't long on the highway and my decision to leave early was justified. I said to myself, " I just spent the last 5 hours on some tough,wet,gnarly trails, with Bears, and the only damage was a fender flare on the Ranger, I'm on the road an hour and pass 9 accidents and people say that the trails are dangerous". I had a great time and am looking forward to a returning with this group, as they made it a very enjoyable time for such a nasty weather day.
Until next time Happy Trails and as always, "Tread Lightly"

Doug "Bear" Updyke