September 2002, Yucca Valley, CA

SoCal Fest 2012, Saturday, Odessa Canyon


SoCal Fest is officially kicked off and it’s time to start getting dirty.  For Saturday I was leading the moderate run up Odessa Canyon, typically this is a fairly easy trail with only a couple of tricky spots for open/open rigs or inexperienced drivers; today it was a bit more difficult than usual.

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The day started with news of a major wreck on Interstate 15 Northbound.  Because of this we chose to delay the start of the trail runs until 10:00 am to give folks time to navigate traffic.  At 10:00 we had all vehicles at the wash road to Doran and Odessa canyons and got the runs together.

We had three runs planned, one high-moderate run up Doran canyon (bypassing the gatekeeper until the afternoon) lead by Johnny, one moderate Odessa canyon run lead by myself, and one stocker run lead by Stephen; all three runs would meet at the old Bismark mine location for lunch.

After the drivers meeting the Doran group pulled out first.  Jeeps kept going and going.  I was rather surprised to see the majority of the group following Johnny.  Stephen had a few rigs for his stocker run and it was looking like the Odessa run would just be my father’s Jeep and mine.

As we pulled on out we noticed the Doran group already having trouble at the small gatekeeper to the bypass, I called out on the radio inviting anybody to join the Odessa group, Julio and Sean joined up and we ran down the trail to enter Odessa Canyon.

Entering Odessa Canyon, click to enlarge

Once we got into the canyon I saw that it was a bit more torn up than usual.  I realized that my little Cherokee on 30s was going to get a workout today.

Myself, my father, and Julio, click to enlarge.

My father working to get his open/open Jeep up the trail.  For the record my much smaller Jeep walked this, click to enlarge.

Julio having no issues with his lockers engaged, click to enlarge.

Sway bar disconnects may be a good investment for this Jeep.  I had to work a bit harder because I kept lifting wheels, click to enlarge.

Sean taking the bearded line, click to enlarge.

At some point Elias and his brother in a ZJ (I’m afraid I’ve forgotten his name) tagged on to the Odessa group after having a difficult time on Doran.  Unfortunately it just wasn’t their day…

Elias accidently overpowered his OEM tie rod, it did not like this, click to enlarge.

Getting the tie rod straight enough to get home, click to enlarge.

At this point Elias and his brother decided to turn back before that tie rod got completely broken, Sean and Julio also decided to head back into camp to grab some lunch.  Since it was just my father and I we called the run, turned around, and started heading back.  In retrospect this was probably a mistake, I should have continued on.

On the first obstacle I got hung up pretty bad on my rear differential.  For the second time in my life I had to get a pull, my dad had to tug me back about eighteen inches.  Another group was heading up the canyon so I pulled out to a clear area and my father tucked into another clear area.

Most of this group seemed to have an okay attitude but a few of them were real asshats.  Take this buggy who wanted to take a more difficult line, no issues other than my dad’s Cherokee on the other side of these rocks completely blocked in by other vehicles in the guy’s group.

Full frame buggy, you always know you’re in for trouble when you see front leafs and rear coilovers, click to enlarge.

The amusing part was the last vehicle in their group, an older guy in a CJ-7, was amazed to see my little Jeep on 30s on that trail.  He asked three times if I drove it up there.

I ran into a trouble spot a little further down the trail.  I started to drop down a small waterfall but was on a poor line.  When the front left dropped down I felt the Jeep get real tippy, I stopped the Jeep before anything really bad happened but I did get a boulder in my quarter panel; if I hadn’t felt it going I’m certain I would have had a completely bashed in quarter panel.  I ended up having my dad get push the roof of the Jeep to the passenger side while I backed up to reacquire a better line.

The large boulder at the rear of my Jeep is the one I got friendly with, click to enlarge.

The mark, click to enlarge.

After that there were no more real trouble points.  There were a few spots that my dad spotted me and I spotted him.  When I got to the bottom I was glad to see the damage was minimal, my wife sure would have been unhappy to drive a Jeep with missing glass to work.

Playing in the caves, click to enlarge.

After exiting Odessa Canyon we bumped over to Mule Canyon, a simple graded dirt road, and joined the group for lunch at Bismark.

Lunchtime, kindly ignore the cheerleader Jeeps in the picture, click to enlarge.

After lunch the group broke up with the Doran group going down Odessa, the stocker group going where they went, and my father and I heading back down Mule to go be lazy at camp.

Mule Canyon, click to enlarge.

Mule Canyon, click to enlarge.

All in all it was a really fun day, this was the most difficult trail my son had been on, I think he enjoyed watching the Jeeps drive over the large rocks although he did admit to it being a bit too bouncy inside.  I really wish I had brought the big Jeep though, although then I probably would have ended up lying broken at the gatekeeper of Lower Doran Canyon.