So the most recent JGC has been lambasted for being less trail hardened. Creature comforts such as the auto liftgate, anti swamp ass seats, heated wheel, and keyless functions certainly warrant the accusations. Indy suspension, no fixed axles, and no front LSD draw wails from the OR crowd. In a year or so nearly 115k units have sold for the new WK2, many undoubtedly going to soccer moms and street dwellers that will never see dirt. You know the old saying: 100% of Jeep Owners go offroad – in their minds.
Meanwhile, my personal mod list includes a bunch of items that no self-serving trail hog would consider priorities such as upgraded audio, CF bezels, and an underhood BT kit. Even the Borlas and BigWoody Intake are really more street cred than anything. Indeed, thus far, the rig has only seed mild trail, and has otherwise spent its first 6 months largely hauling ass on pavement and blasting through deep snow for some fresh tracks. We also launched the boat effortlessly but have yet to do extended towing, not that the JGC would sweat such an elementary task.
Those bad ass 20” WK2 wheels were anxiously awaiting getting mounted up this spring, but for some reason I dillydallied and ended up leaving the 18” set and AT rubbers on in anticipation of some mud season trail festing, or testing, whichever the case may be. Skid plates didn’t get mounted up yet, but the hooks are on and recovery straps stowed in the rear cubbies. No problem, just stay conservative and close to home: one can just skirt by the gnar-gnar and take the high road when the going gets tough. Plenty of forest service roads in the Colorado backcountry to give ‘er a go without getting too far out on a limb. Besides, the Jeep brotherhood will provide for their own should trouble lurk, right?
Eager to get some trail striping, but nervous that I’d end up stranded with a damaged cushmobile somewhere trailside, I finally ventured out into the wild. It was bright blue skies, with the snowmelt finally giving way to summer approach. Piece of cake for a Jeep.
About 2 miles into a local trail it became immediately apparent that we were at the 200% snowpack threshold this year: tons of snow, melt and mud everywhere. Rocks peaked through with no clue how to navigate the mess. Admittedly, the pucker factor was high in a new vehicle as well, not knowing clearance or capabilities. Despite the above, the WK2 didn’t sweat moderate rock and mud, though I was creeping along not blasting.
Coming to a 5-way Hub in the trail system, a bunch of gear heads in heavily modded and lifted CJ’s, FJ’s, and monster trucks all swiveled around to see what was making so much noise coming up the trail. Big contrast between my shiny new JGC and their dirt rigs. At first, they were all a bit stunned to see a new WK2, not knowing just yet what it was. Then a bunch of green tooth grins broke out, along with some chaw spit, and the laughter started, literally building into a loud guffaw.
As they circled around the WK2 and pressed in like a pack of wolves, I could empathize how vulnerable Ned Beatty felt in Deliverance. Imma gonna get hosed. Then the slurs started: “Hey Boy, you look mighty cute in that crossover!”, and then “Know what we charge to haul you suburban softies outta the ditch?”, to “You look a bit lost their Poindexter, the mall is 70 miles down the hill from out here!”.
I was gonna get violated, and no one would know. It was time to get the hell away from Club Incest. A quick blast of the Borlas sent the hillbillies scrambling outta the way and I was gone. Only problem, was I had to come back through the Hub to get home. Hopefully, they wouldn’t be there on the way back out. A couple hours later and some great offroading, I was still constipated with anxiety knowing they could be lurking at any turn.
Sure enough, ran into the first of ‘em swamped to the belly on a deeply rutted 4X trail that left him with no traction. I hit the QL to highest setting and sailed on by happy to be rid of the first obstacle. Rescue my ass, I was saving my ass first, so to speak. A mile later, a couple other doods were up to their waist in mud and post holing through slushy snow trying to help an old Landcruiser out of a techy move that left him squeezed between a frozen snowdrift and a bunch of pine trees. I just took the easy way around and hid behind the tinted windows. Phew, almost out, just gotta clear the Hub.
Crap, sure enough, the meanest rig out there was waiting for me at the Hub. A crusty old F150, with 4” lift, 34” mudders, snorkel, and roof rack outfitted with gas cans and a long handled battle ax. Mud to the hood. Gun rack. The driver was a bear of a man weighing in at least 280 lbs with a beard that started just beneath his eyes. He was wearin’ a greasy, black, styrofoam hat with Cat Diesel label. His arms were larger than my legs.
He was standing in the middle of the trail, forced me to stop, and ambled over to the window and waited for me to roll it down. I was toast, and somehow managed to find the window button with shaking hands. Grizzly Adams sticks his cinder block head into the driver side window, getting close enough to smell the rodent he ate for breakfast, and says:
Hey man, beautiful Jeep! I got me a White Gold on order, Milous just sent me my build status on Jeep Garage, you a member over there?
Seriously, though, every single time Jeep has come out with a new model, the old timers line up around the block to mock it and claim how Jeep has now gone soft and that the new one can't make it across a puddle, let alone a real trail. On occasion some capability has indeed been lost, but the fact is that modern Jeeps are still very capable off the showroom floor. For hardcore stuff you're still looking at rebuilding the entire suspension, if not the powertrain behind the transmission too, so folks laughing at a stock Jeep when it comes down the trail have forgotten that THEIR Jeep didn't have that kind of ability when new either.
__________________ SCOTT The HARDER you work...the LUCKIER you are!
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