10th Annual 4Runner Jamboree
By: Tim Stucky - 4/2002

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The 10th annual 4Runner Jamboree was held April 12-14th in Johnson Valley, home of the famous Hammer trails. Sponsored by All-Pro Offroad, this year's event drew nearly 200 Toyota trucks, 4runners, and Land Cruisers. The event was open to all Toyotas and featured organized trail runs of all levels during the day, a BBQ and raffle on Saturday night, and lots of truck talk!

The Campsite

On Friday afternoon I left the Los Angeles area around 3 p.m. enroute to Means Dry Lakebed where we'd setup camp for the weekend. After fighting with Friday afternoon Southern California traffic, we arrived at the lakebed around 6 p.m. and saw that many people had already arrived. Many were sitting around shooting the breeze while others were working on their rigs in preparation for the coming days' wheeling. You can camp virtually anywhere on the dry lakebed, so I chose a spot in the general vicinity and setup camp.

After setting up camp and eating an unhealthy amount of pizza, my co-pilot and I assumed places around the already raging Tin Bender campfire to talk trucks with many of the familiar faces as well as new acquaintances. With all the talk of the trails, rumblings of a night run up Sledgehammer began to take shape and at 10:30 p.m. a half dozen vehicles were getting ready to head out. Having limited experience on the hammers, I opted not to drive, but to ride along instead, so I hopped in with Todd Steele and we fired up the rock lights and decided to run Claw Hammer.

The spring desert night couldn't have been better for wheeling. A 68 degree night without a breath of wind made it great for wheeling. The trail, while semi steep, loose, and extremely rocky was rather uneventful thanks to the skillful driving and capability of the 2 trucks on it. The only slowdown we encountered was Todd losing a bead on one of his 35" BFG MT's and rather than trying to reseat it, we just mounted his spare on and continued to make our way to the top of the canyon. Following a short winch pull up the last 15 feet of trail, we shifted back into 2wd at about 2 a.m. and drove back into a quiet base camp.

Lining up
Lots of trucks!

Saturday morning we awoke to a perfect spring desert day that must have been meant for wheeling! The typical desert winds were calm, people were doing final tweaks and preparations on their rigs, and trucks were starting to gather in the staging area according to what runs they were signed up for. This year, All-Pro had plenty of runs setup to accommodate the masses. Trails included, Big Johnson, Jack Hammer, Sledge Hammer, Claw Hammer, Wrecking Ball, Outer Limits, Aftershock, 2 intermediate trails, a new and unnamed trail, and an SUV run for stock rigs. To be safe, I removed the taillights on my bed and also removed the doors to take full advantage of the great weather.

By 9 a.m. we were enroute to the Claw Hammer trail while other runs were also heading to their desired trails. Following a short jaunt, we stopped to lock the hubs and were immediately greeted with rocks, rocks, and more rocks! Claw Hammer is around a mile long and winds up the canyon until finally you make it to the top and it's over. However, it never lets up and 'easy' sections are virtually non-existent. Our group of 16 rigs was making surprisingly good time up the trail until it claimed it's first victim of the day. A sharp rock had sliced a BFG tire a few trucks behind me, but the owner had a full size spare on before any of us realized what had happened. Shortly thereafter, a pickup near the back of the pack bent and broke his tie-rod and was stuck. The previous day he had bent it, sleeved it with a hi-lift jack handle, welded it up and continued on without a problem. The stock but modified tie rod gave up the ghost once again and needed to be rewelded. Luckily, the trail leader Jay King had plenty of rod on board so we hooked up three batteries with jumper cables and welded it back together. The total fix took about two hours and the rest of us took the opportunity to eat lunch, check out the other trucks, and relax in the shade under the now hot sun.

Locking in and gearing down
Paul Ryun and Joel Prather on Claw Hammer
Tim Stucky watching closely
David Fritzsche's truck parked for a break

Following the fix shortly after we were making forward progress, I heard the hissing sound of air coming from somewhere behind me. Assuming it was the truck behind me unlocking his ARB air locker, I blew it off. Seconds later when I realized it was still going, I jumped out to see that a rock had ripped off my valve stem on my left rear tire and was rapidly losing air. Not happy about having to put my worn spare on, I asked if anyone had any spare stems and David Fritzsche produced one (thanks David). It took less than 10 minutes for my co-pilot and I with the help of another guy to break the bead, change out the valve stem and reseat the bead. We aired the tire back up and were ready to go before the truck in front of me had made it through the next obstacle. The rest of the trail was uneventful and I crested the top just before 5 p.m. Not a bad day's work! I headed back to camp without waiting for the rest of the group because my ice chests no longer had any ice in them so I wanted to get more and be back in time for the BBQ.

Eric Zite walking over the rocks

After replenishing the ice in my ice chests, I cleaned up and headed over to the All-Pro camp for the festivities. The Inland Empire 4Wheelers had a great all you can eat BBQ going with all the fixings, chips, and beverages provided by Pepsi-Co Inc. By this time the All Pro camp was looking like a concert venue with fireworks, food, and lots of people. Everyone was anticipating the raffle with great prizes being given away including a set of 37" Goodyear MTR's, a set of Bobby Long Super Birfields and a slew of All-Pro equipment. I did my best to consume way more food than I should have and looked forward to cleaning up in the raffle! I ate a lot of food, but didn't fare so well in the raffle, nonetheless it was great to see vendors giving back to the community which supports them.

Sunday morning we got up, packed our stuff said our goodbyes and hit the road by 9:30 and were back in the L.A. area by 12. A big thanks goes out to All-Pro Offroad and the Inland Empire 4Wheelers for putting on this great event. Stay tuned to 4x4wire for future trip announcements and reports.


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