|Hackett in January
Well it’s January and once again our minds are on Hackett Gulch. Typically this is the last major run
of winter before the serious snows hit. So off to Sedalia we go for the meeting point. I got
there a little after 8 am with my son Joseph. With no one else there yet I switched on Channel 4 and
waited. Soon I heard Bruce Minney calling for all Rising Sun rigs on their way to Sedalia. Bruce was
the trail leader after Rob blew his head gasket and had to bow out. Turns out it would be Bruce and
myself that day.
We left for Deckers where we would pick up my cousin Bruce Luer. Yes there is more than one of us in
town. He moved out here more than 25 years ago and his first ‘wheelin rig was a ’72 FJ-40. Bruce had
listened to my stories of this club I belong to and finally got a chance to come along. He says he still
loves to wheel just as long as he doesn’t have to drive anymore.
So having picked up my cousin we headed for the main access road to the trailhead. While airing down to
the usual 10 - 12 lbs. a group of 4 j**ps passed us by. As the day went by they would affectionately
become known as the "Poodle J**P Club". Dubbed this by my cousin from his observation of a dog in each rig.
The access road was icier than usual and we had to be more careful. When we came to the first long uphill
climb Bruce Minney had to stop on his way up. The last member of the "Club" had lost traction half way up.
Bruce finally got him to understand that airing down was a good thing. He eventually made it to the top
where the rest of the "Club" was waiting for him. We took note that no one came to help him so we vowed
to stay in front of the "Club" the rest of the day. Boy I like wheelin’ with the Rising Sun folks.
We take care of each other. The only way to wheel.
At the trailhead we checked air pressure and headed out just as the "Club" drove up. The trail, as was
the access road, was also icier than usual so we took our time. Bruce had jumped in with Bruce by now
to see how these rigs work versus his old stock unit. Big difference. The first obstacle was the
rock and we conquered it easily all three times. Pictures and video you know. The next obstacle is that
deep holed uphill portion that the ARB’s made short work of. My cousin true to his word still did not
want to try this section by himself. We took a short break at the top.
I was headed downhill when Bruce came on the CB and said he had a bad rattle. Turns out his right rear
shackle had broken the mount point and was hanging free and clear. So that plastic coated cable he had
been carrying for years and years finally had a purpose. We used it to tie the shackle to the mounting
bracket and off we went. So now I’m trying to decide how much of this cable I should carry. Boy you
can drive yourself nuts on this stuff.
We got to the Platte River with no further problems and crossed on the ice to the bottom of Widow Maker
for lunch. There is now a pipe and cable fence across the bottom of that obstacle. So after the Widow
Maker stories and lunch were over we backtracked to the point where you go back downhill to cross the Platte
again on your way to Longwater Gulch. Just as we left our lunch spot I cut a sidewall on a tree root of
all things. Being we were aired down this let the sidewall get under the root and a pointed finger of the
root hooked on the sidewall. Because I was rolling forward it had to catch and tear it out. Now I
have to buy new tires. Worn down tires with a brand new full size spare. ARB’s don’t like the
difference in circumference.
When we got back down to the river I watched Bruce drive on the ice again to go around the open
water and promptly drop his front end through the ice to where water was over his hood. I guess 2"
of ice will hold up a team of horses and a load of hay but not a ‘cruiser as my cousin and I related
back to our grandfathers old farm stories. With nobody else around and Bruce's winch under water and ice
that left the 3500 lb. Cheeseman 4runner to pull him out. It took many full power hits but finally he
came out. The engine hadn’t ingested any water so we were ok but this was our finest hour.
We then crossed Terryall Creek which was not deep at all and the trail was dry for the most part.
At the last crossing of the Platte Bruce did get out and check if there was enough ice for that team of
horses and load of hay. Only then did he hurry across the ice. Then I new it was safe too.
Longwater was a quick run out as we took our last views at the magnificent scenery of the Platte River
valley. This truly is a beautiful area and a wonderful place to camp and fish.
Our last treat was of a picture-taking affair by some people on the side of the trail. One guy had the
left front tire of a Cherokee up on a one-foot high pile of rocks. This was obviously a mighty obstacle worthy
of recording on film. We very politely joked of nominating him for poster boy for 4 Wheeler of the Year.
And so we aired up and drove off into the sunset after another day of awesome wheelin’ Rising Sun style.
Greg (Cheeseman) Luhr