So, I've had my '14 GC Overland EcoDiesel with ORA II for about 10 months now, decided it was time to get it dirty.
So far the only things I've done with it is add Dom's DEF injector plate (thank goodness! I needed it on this run!) and swap the tires for some GoodYear Wrangler Kevlar Adventure ATs (seriously nice tire, and really Jeep... Michellin Lattitudes? Seriously?)
Decided to do Cleghorn ridge, since I had read it was solo-able and not too challenging, I figured it would be a good first time run. We left Big bear, took the 18 over to Silverwood lake and started from there. I should mention, it was raining, and had been raining for two or three days. But, the rain had stopped by the time we got to the trail, and was replaced with thick fog. So, I figured we could handle it. The worst I had heard was that the trail became "more challenging" in the rain. Bit of an understatement.
This trail is VERY TREACHEROUS when it's been raining heavily.
We started out on the Silverwood end. The trail was pretty mild for the first part of the drive from there until you start hitting the higher elevations. So, with confidence building and the Jeep set to mud and Off Road 1, we continued on. However due to the rain it was pretty washed out. The Silverwood portion of the trail is more rocky, so it wasn't too slick. The Jeep had no problem with getting over the washed out rocks and muddy sections. Once you get to the top of the ridge and start heading down though, it gets real slick, and gravity is not your friend in a 5000lb SUV.
Mud Terrain tires would have helped, my Wrangler Adventure tires soldiered on bravely, but the mud on the trails is extremely slick. It doesn't look that bad, but after a steady soaking it becomes a two or three inch deep layer of silt and decayed sandstone grit that's very slippery.
Fortunately the locking ELSD diff and low range gearing got us up the ridge. Had to go into low range for a steep washed out incline, and it was pretty challenging from then on out.
Going down we were basically skiing.
We were very lucky that the one time we slid off the line completely into a ditch we were a. surrounded by fairly gently berms instead of the sheer cliff edge common on the rest of the trail, and b. we happened to get stuck right in front of a group of Jeep Wranglers who had stopped for lunch and could winch me out of the rut.Awesome guys, wish i could remember their names, but I was kind of focused on getting down the mountain in one piece.
Going down the ridge we had a couple of scary moments where the back end wanted to swap with the front going around switchbacks in the slick mud. Like drifting in slow motion. On the edge of a cliff.
Fortunately we made it down safely, and we were able to hook up with another noob in a Wrangler Rubicon about halfway through, so we at least had some backup.
Definitely a memorable trip! And I will for sure go back, but I think I'll wait for it to dry out a bit. I can see how the trail would be a fun and moderate challenge in dry weather, but it was pretty dangerous in the rain. I'd not do that without very good mud terrain tires and a group to winch you out if need be. On the other hand, I got to use every feature on the ORA II package I insisted on getting. lol. Everything from the skid-plates to the locking Diff, all the way up to the recovery hooks got a workout!
I think with MT tires this would have been a less hair raising trip, but since this is my daily driver I need a less aggressive tire. Still, I was impressed as hell with the Jeep. Put it in low gear, and the Diesel just idles on up the side of the mountain.