Thursday, April 26, 2012

Crapped Out and Shocked

As I said earlier, the weather in the desert at this time of year is a crap shoot. This time we rolled the dice and crapped out. Our friends who have been going to Ocotillo Wells for years, said that this was their hottest trip ever.

I can say that we had a great time, except for a thirty minute period that I spent under my jeep and for the oppressive heat that we endured for the whole four day period. As I have previously stated, Ocotillo is not my favorite part of the desert. Friends and it's proximity to more enjoyable spots still allow me to enjoy going there.

As the heat was oppressive, very few people were in the Off Road Vehicle Area. That almost made the heat worth it.

 We arrived on Thursday, at the hottest time of day. Setting up camp was a real joy for me, trying to save labor ended up making me have to do some things twice. After we were done with camp, it was kick-back time for a little while before going on an evening run.

I tried to get artsy-fartsy and photograph this tree while on the 
evening run. Boy did I get some grief from my friends. 
They should have known, it's not like they haven't traveled with 
me before!

As the jeeps were air conditioned and the desert was not, we opted to return to camp at dusk. Though the sun was down, the temperature was not.
 Taken a mile from camp, just after sunset. It was still in the high 
nineties. Our temperature control strategy, though helpful, 
wasn't perfect.

There were two types of off-roaders in our camp: jeepers and quad riders. Though we did some riding together, the different equipment and preferred types of riding caused us to go on several different rides. We jeepers preferred longer rides in a more trail-oriented environment.  A/C made the long trips that much more enjoyable.

On one of our trips, we a drove up South Coyote Canyon, a mostly easy trail that ends up at a bighorn sheep preserve. Way back in the day, the road used to go all of the way up to Sage, a community located near Hemet, CA. Some time ago, a three mile section of the trail was closed off for the bighorn preserve. This created two separate trails, the North and the South. I have never done the North, but completing the southern section makes me want do the North. Maybe in a week or so.

The jeeps go up. Much steeper than it looks.

Near the top of the South Trail is a primitive campground called Sheep Canyon. A few ancient picnic tables and some pit-toilets would actually make this a nice place to camp - in cooler weather of course.

Even though the facilities lacked a roof and flushing mechanisms,
apparently they did the trick. A bouncing jeep is tough on a
full bladder it seems.

The Jeeps go down. It was shortly after this that one of my lower
shock mounts broke.

Yeah, that's me under the jeep. As The Saint I Am Married to and 
my friend's wife were standing right there, I swapped out my usual
expletives for: Golly gosh darn! My blasted stinking shock mount broke!
How annoying, I'm sure that this sand will be much cooler under
the jeep, as will the doggone exhaust pipe that I will be forced to work
around! It's all about self control.

After 30 minutes or so, the offending shock was removed and
we were back on our way.

Examination of the shock mount revealed catastrophic failure of the passenger's side rear, lower mount. Detailed examination indicates the failure resulted from damage received in an earlier, unknown event. Continued stress placed on the mount during subsequent off-roading expeditions caused damage to evolve into a crack, expanding until failure occurred. 
Actually, this was an easy trail repair, removing the shock allowed us to continue the trip. I am looking for replacement mounts, my brother-in-law will weld them to the rear axle for me. I will likely replace both lower mounts and both rear shocks while I'm doing it, it might save some work later.
In a future post, I will cover some more highlights of the trip. Due to the high temps, it will likely be our last trip to the desert for the season. It's mountain and beach time now!
Thanks for reading,



  1. The artsy-fartsy pics are very enjoyable. If you have any more, please post them.

    Okay, tell you what. If you'll post the pix, I won't rag on you about shock mounts, safety inspections and how much fun it is to change out a part on a hot engine in the middle of August. Deal?

  2. Mad JAck - Deal, I'm glad that you like them.