Chuck's Annual Winter Trail Ride.
A Snow Run With The Minnesota Four Wheel Drive Association Short Cuts

By: John Nutter - 3/2000

Winter 4 Wheeling in the Midwest

Winter Wheelin', what else woud you expect from the Minnesota Four Wheel Drive Association? This year we were blessed with temperatures hovering near freezing, but had less than the usual amount of snow. There was only about a foot of the slippery white stuff on the ground, with a layer of ice beneath.

Paul Stelzig took the Hard Luck award for the day. This was only the first obstacle.
Our host, Chuck, tries out his new TJ. He had owned it for less than two days.
The author with his 258 at the red line. Photo courtesy Paul Stelzig
A close up of the carnage.
Scott Jones broke a rear driveshaft trying to escape from the valley between the hills.
Here's why Doc needed the pull.
Dave Buczinski at the tight spot on Two Falls.
Dave Jacobs starting to drop down the access trail to two falls.
Putting Paul's wheels back on the ground.
Mike Knorr tries a fresh line.
More bad luck for Paul Stelzig.
Mike Sullivan (Jeep) and TJ Peters (S-10) tried to work together to pull a broken vehicle up the hill. Eventually a winch was used.
Dr Dangerous gets a pull from Mike Sullivan.
Dave climbing the first falls.
Dave at the tight spot.
Dave winching out of the tight spot.

The trail area is located in some non-tillable valleys between farm fields. In the summer the ravines are rock strewn and can provide a real challenge. In the Winter it's even more fun. Chuck has provided us with access to this playground for several years now. He preferrs not to have the location published for several reasons and the event is always limited to members of the Mn4wda becuase of the land owner's wishes.

The day started with a steep drop and a sharp turn at the bottom to get into Dang Gulch, one of the more challening ravines. In the Summer, especially if it's wet, this ravine is difficult to climb out of. There is a tree that seems to be amost strategically placed to grab windshiled frames and rear quarter pannels right in the center at the bottom. A little side hilling is in order to avoid theis tree. Paul Stelzig did a little more sidehill than his Grand Wagoneer could handle and managed to put it on it's side right at the bottom. Reed Styve ran his winch line down and soon Paul was on his way down Dang Gulch again. About half the party took a bypass around Dang Gulch and we met up with them again at the bottom.

At the bottom of Dang Gulch is another ravine called Sandstone and Mud and some broad steep hillside to play on. There are several different ways to get up this hill, ranging from passable by stock vehicles to challenging for those with big tires and big engines. The first broken parts occurred in this area with Mike Sullivan's starter motor going bad and Paul Stelzig losing a lower ball joint, both on the first big hill. Unfortunatley, when Paul's ball joint broke the wheel dropped the steering knuckle was damaged and the axle shafts were destroyed. Paul ended up driving an hour back to the author's house for a new knuckle and ball joints. By the end of the day he was able to drive out under his own power in three wheel drive.

Once at the top of the first hill we were able to stay outside of the tillable land and drive around to the hills on the other side of the bluff. The hills here were just as challenging and there were even more ravines. One of the challenges of this area is that the only way out is up one of the hills or to climb one of the ravines. More play and more broken parts ensued. Several front axle shafts and a rear driveshaft were sacrificed in the name of fun in this area. Eventually we were ready to leave this area and play in the most challenging ravine, but even escaping this valley proved a challenge for most. All but a few came up to the top of the bluff on a winch cable.

The last area we played in that day was a ravine called Two Falls. Getting to the bottom of this ravine is a challenge itself with a steep, twisty, off-camber downhill through a heavily wooded area. More than one person used a winch to pull themselves off a tree and there was a fair amount of body damage just on the access trail. The climb back up two falls presented challenges of it's own with a three foot water fall, a steep climb with a turn in a narrow section of the ravine and finally some boulders to drive over. Dave Buczinski was the first up and made it look fairly easy. The trucks following Dave had a bit more trouble thanks to Dave uncovering all the ice, but all made it and only a few needed a winch.

Thanks to Chuck for hosting this fun event.


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