January’s Premier Jeep Destination
The Winter 4×4 Jamboree, held at Sand Hollow State Park in between the growing towns of St. George & Hurricane in Southern Utah, is a fantastic event held each year in January. The weather can be unpredictable and a bit harsh, but what else are you gonna do? Sit in your garage and just stare at that Jeep? Nah, if you’re looking to wheel this time of year, this is the place to be! The perfect industry event to start your new year off chillin’ out with old friends and shaking everything down after last season’s breaks and refinements before King of Hammers just a few short weeks later. If you’re a real Jeepin’ addict that just doesn’t get out enough like the REVKIT crew, you might even extend the stay and spend some extra days toying around in the desert before or after the event. Might as well get maximum value out of that cleaning fee for the Airbnb, right?!
The Journey Out West
The drive in from Denver was a bit arduous. It was a powder day on a Sunday which meant stop & go traffic from Golden, CO to the other side of Vail Pass. Once we managed to make our way past the ski traffic, things sailed along smoothly until we hit the Wasatch Range in Central Utah. From there to Hurricane, weather was kinda rough and we saw several spun out vehicles on the sides of the snowy roads. None of that stopped the lads from getting right into the nitty gritty upon arriving at the rental, just minutes from the entrance to Sand Hollow. It took under a half hour to unload the trailer of the Jeeps, and then the Jeeps of all the food, tools, and spare parts. Just a few minutes more were taken to air down tires and hoist the REVKIT flag up at home base. Then off we went into the cold black night to see what kinda dirty fun we could get into before the park closed!
Into The Dark
No time was wasted in working our way up and around the backside of the chute, where things got spicy quick. The first thing the guys all noted was that they had never seen it so wet out there. The sand and rocks were just absolutely saturated to the core, making things interesting to say the least. Add in a smidge of overexcitement from not wheeling in a while; plus a whole slew of new rig upgrades, and we were bound to cause some trouble!
There are a handful of optional lines to choose from above the chute. One of them in particular had denied Mike & Jeremy already. Dan mashed that Hemi down hard at just the wrong angle and we all heard a loud, metallic click from his front right. “thaaaaaat might’ve been my U-joint” groaned Dan, as he calmly backed out of the obstacle he had been ferociously attacking only moments prior. Around that time, Jeremy had also sprung a curious transmission leak. We had officially, and quickly, wore out our pent up energy and it was time to limp back to home base with Reverendkit in 2wd and RdinLJ taking it extra easy on the gears.
An Eventful Exit
Mike found himself leading the charge to try and navigate us all back down the rocks to safety before we all found ourselves with one last relatively gnarly obstacle between us and the gentle, sandy path to the exit tunnel. The obstacle was the entrance to Double Sammy, only we would have to run it backwards. Dan & Jeremy smartly chose to avoid this one, and to continue trying to find a better way around. Mike, with myself as co-driver, pushed forward down the rock ledge with a precarious drop off along with a large, pointy overhanging rock formation to our left. As we dropped down and out, there was an awful crunching sound. Like a mouthful of dry Wheaties being chewed in a loudspeaker just behind us. See, this was Mike’s first time wheeling a fully built Party Wagon with a hard top on it. He had borrowed the hardtop off Dan’s project LJ for the potentially cold, wet week ahead. Well, now it looked like he was buying this hard top! In an alternate universe, that pointy chunk of sandstone would’ve just kissed the roll cage behind Mike’s seat. However, rock crawling is a game of inches. The stone scored the heck down the side of the glass, miraculously not cracking, before crunching in a dent just behind the window.
After smashing the hard top, we worked our way down to the staging area with slightly deflated attitudes after that. Dan and Jeremy had somehow got turned around and ended up heading way out in the wrong direction. We filled the time awaiting their return by baking up a fresh, hot dozen of donuts in the sand with the sweet new LX3 from Bruiser Conversions. We both took a few turns getting sideways which inflated our attitudes quicker than a Powertank!
Eventually, Dan and Jeremy found their way back and we all headed back to base for the night. Back at the house, another chunk of our crew had just arrived from Texas. The house was brought to life with old friends having new conversations (mostly strategizing the fixing of newly broken rigs). Jeremy’s leak was easily fixed that night by a trip to the nearest auto parts store. Dan, on the other hand, had gone into the night with a bent ear on a driveshaft which had finally caught up to him. His issue had now evolved and would be solved over the coming days with a little bit of teamwork!
Monday morning we all awoke to a cold, gusty, drizzle outside. In no rush to go suffer in the cold, we all stuck around the house wrenching on some things. First off, the Party Wagon had mysteriously lost its ability to find ‘park’ all the way. After a lot of troubleshooting between us and Sand Hollow Offroad, the solution for the week was ultimately a pair of tire chocks from the nearest parts store, which I had the privilege of shoving under a tire or two each time we stopped on uneven ground for the rest of the week.
Mechanic Dan Goes to Work
Then, of course, there was Dan’s bent drive shaft to sort out. He had a fresh replacement on order from Fusion which was supposed to arrive at some point during the week. However, Billy had a quicker option. Somehow he managed to have with him a matching shaft, in both length and spline, which he was happy to lend. After busting out the used, welded U-Joint from the replacement shaft, and installing Dan’s Yukon Super Joint into it we ran into yet another issue. The shaft wouldn’t go back in all the way, as if it was hitting something. At this point, the rest of us decided to go do a little wheeling with what daylight we had left. We left Dan in solitude to open up his pumpkin and inspect further.
LJ Gang Rolls 3 Deep Into Sand Hollow
We rolled into Sand Hollow with a cold drizzle. We attempted to run Milt’s Mile, however, the trail was quickly lost in the network of streams and waterslides we were traversing. Thankfully the clouds began to break and the rain quit falling not long after we entered the park. We had the park to ourselves during the most gorgeous (and slick) golden hour we could ask for.
Climbing The Falls
Eventually we came up on an actual full-on waterfall that had formed from the storms over a few obstacles, where at one point or another, all 3 jeeps ended up pulling cable. While the guys worked on winching everyone through this gnarly obstacle, the sunset began to light up the previously stormy skies for a spectacular show. I regret having not brought the drone out for fear of it being too wet and windy. Won’t make that mistake again!
Upon making our way out of the slots and up onto the dunes again, we set sail for the area around the chute again to have a little more fun before darkness fell completely. The pond we had driven through the previous night was now a lake. After watching JR narrowly escape one last crazy line, we called it a night.
Another Exciting Exit
On the way back down, Mike’s Jeep lost gear. We began to flat tow it out. After 50 yards or so Mike was able to get it back into gear and get home. Turns out the transfer case was slipping out of gear. We made it back to base shortly thereafter, where Dan had a tasty dinner lined up for us like a true gentleman. Turned out that his inner axle shaft seal to the third member had blown. Now all that was needed was to find a spare Trailgear seal somewhere around town and we’d all be right on. After dinner, we closed out the evening watching Flex, Rocks, & Rollovers on Youtube.
The Calm Before The Storm
Tuesday morning we had some more wrenching and refining to do while the weather was a bit dark. We were able to find the seal for Dan’s third member in town. Later in the week Dan’s 6 (SIX!) backups came in the mail too, so this shouldn’t be a problem again for a good long while! Dan got that all reassembled and then just after lunch the sun began to pop through the clouds. Perfect timing. Off we went to run a cool combination of Triple 7, Joint Effort, and Double Sammy trails.
Tuesday turned out to be one of the nicest days on the trail all week. Weather turned beautiful with excellent light for photos all afternoon. Everyone found little challenges without breaking anything or getting into trouble. I don’t think anyone used a winch that today either. Billy found a couple cool buggy lines to put that rear steer to the test. For the third, and final, time this week we ended our day at The Chute just after sunset. To say that we were excited heading into the official event the next morning would be an understatement. We closed out our evening at home base with another night of good grub and offroad YouTube videos. I think JR made some serious headway that night convincing Dan & Mike to start a race team…tune in for Part II where we’ll begin to cover the event itself in all its glory!