As you know my friend OC and I went to Martinez Cabins and then to the canyon on Monday. First let me say that this is my 4th trip ever offroading while OC is somewhat of a veteran offroader. My truck is a 1990 4runner with a V6, 5 speed manual transmission with stock gears and 35" tires. It has a 3" lift and 1" body lift. Needless to say, without lockers and the gears being stock...it sucks! I have to rev the engine and dump the clutch half the time to get over anything big and then with the tires being deflated and the suspension setup the way it is, it's one hell of a tippy bouncy guttless wobbley death trap and I love it!
Before we got to box canyon I diverted to the diversion dam and while in 4 wheel drive discovered that I had lost a bolt to the bracket that connects to the left side axle mount and was creating a bunch of noise when I was going down hill so we had to fix that by stealing a bolt from my trailer hitch. We flew through box canyon until we ran into some quad riders and one of them had crashed and hurt her head as well as bending the front rim on the quad. We lent them so tools to fix it so they could air up the tire. After that we got under way again and made good time to the cabins.
After a break we took off up the canyon and encountered our first serious obstacle. Now OC has a stock jeep with a winch but no lockers and mild offroad tires, but he decided to go the challenging way to the left. He got about half way up and got hung up on pretty much everything. So while he proceeded to winch up the rest of the way, I took the bypass hoping it would be easier (which it was). However halfway through I started seeing smoke coming from underneath my truck and figured it was my clutch so I shut her down and let her cool off. It got pretty damn hot up there don't know how hot but I was feeling the beginnings of heat stroke (seriously) So I downed about as much water as I could without puking.
We got to Martinez Mine and checked it out while we debated whether to continue on or not. However I was bound and determined to go...so we went! It just got harder and harder the further we went. Like I said before, I'm no expert on wheelin so let me just say that I was a little concerned at some of the obstacles we needed to get up. I was continually amazed at how well OC's jeep performed time and time again while my truck seemed to struggle up everything. Maybe it's the driver? I'm sure I'm fun to watch cause I hit just about everything your not supposed to and basically floor it and bounce all over the place. I can't believe we made it out of there in one piece.
At one point I had turned off the truck to scout ahead and when I tried to get going again, my truck wouldn't start. Turned out to be loose battery cables. By the way, I had a spare tire but no way to retrieve it from underneath the truck cause you need a long crank with a notched end to drop it down (which I don't have). With all the abuse my tires where taking I consider it a miracle I didn't get a flat. You guys should have warned me about how difficult this run is man. I mean it's a real ball buster and for a new guy...scary as hell in places.
At one point I almost tipped over and rolled down the mountain which my wife wouldn't have liked much, but we managed to get a strap on the truck and pull it back down to earth. Several places where the trail switches back where difficult to negotiate being that my turn radius isn't that great and the trail was washed out enough to where I just said a prayer and gunned it. The point just after the luge I almost rolled again cause my back end started to come around on me and I got sucked into the little gully that rain has created on the downward slope (I'm sure you know where I'm talkin bout).
After catching my breath from that little death slope we proceeded up the final ascent which I call Point of no return cause I sure as hell wasn't going back the way I came. The first part was basically a mad dash up through the first turn to the left and then mid way thru encountered big rocks off camber dips and protrusions all the while climbing at a 35 degree angle with a nice steep cliff like drop to your left. There was a V shaped step like obstacle after that and OC's jeep had a very hard time getting up it. Took like 3 try's for him to finally get there and it wasn't pretty. So I was worried that I wouldn't be able to make it at all. So when I got there I basically floored it and got my front tires up but then lost traction. I let it roll back and my rear wheel ran into a big rock which gave me a nice bounce so I used it to give me the momentum I needed to make a out-of-control scramble up the obstacle.
While my heart was still pounding in my ears we eased around a right hand turn and up the hill to discover yet another step from hell. We were very near the top of trail at this point. I won't bore you with the details but I think it was here that I developed a leak in my rear end diff cause once again I hit everything (2 or 3 times) while trying get up. Going down was uneventful except that one point where you have to go thru a narrow drop off and my truck slid into the wall which caused some minor paint damage. Going down that section I kept stalling my truck cause I was somewhat disoriented from the heat and stress from the whole ordeal. I was trying to just ride down in first gear but my truck was trying to slid sideways so I'd hit the brakes, stale the engine and then with the engine off the brakes weren't nearly as effective nor was the stearing etc....Needless to say there was a lot of swearing goin on.
OC did high center one more time and I had to tow him backwards to get him goin again, but after that it was pedal to the metal most of the way home. Over all a great trip and I'm glad I didn't take my wife cause we'd be signing divorce papers by now I'm thinking. As it is she want's me to get rid of the truck just hearing about the trip lol. If someone asked me if lockers are necessary on this trip, I would say, "depends on how much damage your willing to sustain on your truck." I mean come on man, that trail is crazy! I'm sure there's far more dangerous and difficult stuff out there, but I haven't seen it. As far as comparisons with the coke ovens run...there isn't any. Martinez is by far more difficult, even the bypasses are difficult. Of course that's just my opinion. Enjoy the pics