CLUB: JAMMING WITH THE NOVA SCOTIA JEEP CLUB
Every year, Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley buzzes with excitement during the popular NSJC Jamboree.
If you have quality ingredients and a proven recipe, you can make great jam. In early summer throughout Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley, orchards, vineyards, and gardens cover the fertile valley that has been farmed for nearly 400 years. With so much agriculture, there’s never a shortage of ingredients for this savory spread. Ask any hardcore 4x4er, however, about the best jam in the area and chances are likely they will recommend the Nova Scotia Jeep Club’s (NSJC) annual Jamboree.
In its 12th year, the NSJC 2018 Jamboree attracts enthusiasts from across the Maritimes and beyond, to the Fox Mountain Camping Park on South Mountain, located just outside of Aylesford.
As the event takes up to almost a year to coordinate, the NSJC Jamboree’s organizing committee consists of Jessica Patey, James Chisholm, Marlene Walsh (co-chair), and myself (co-chair). For the 2018 Jamboree, planning meetings started just after the 2017 event and continued throughout the fall and winter. Early bird registrations began from midNovember to the end of February and the regular priced-registration was open until late May.
A crucial ingredient of “the Jam” is reliable and knowledgeable trail guides. We reached out to the the guides in late January and once they were selected, determining the trails was the next phase. In the Annapolis Valley, there’s many to consider and we had two days of trail runs that ranged from ‘Stock Doable’ to ‘Extreme.’ Plus, John Cranfield and I instruct a Jeeping 101 program on Friday and a moderate stock trail run on Saturday, which is also open to non-101 participants.
Come spring, the association was kept busy with choosing t-shirt colours for guides and participants, swag for the goodie bags, booking the entertainment, and coordinating the guides and trails. One of the last tasks is pre-running and clearing the trails for the Jeepers. A considerable duty, this usually takes a few weekends ahead of time, as well as throughout the event.
This year, the event kicked-off June 21 – the first day of summer – and throughout the day participants took their Jeeps through the tech inspection (to determine what level of trails they are best suited for) and chose their desired trail to run over the weekend.
To make things more interesting, there’s always friendly rivalry between trail guides
as they try to convince participants why their trail is the best choice. Trail selection is not just about the vehicle, but it’s also about the driver’s capabilities. The higherend trails include extreme rock crawling (where under armour is a necessity) while others consist of pure mud where huge tires and winches are essential.
As Thursday drew to a close, a trail guide meeting was held to review the basic rules of the event. In addition to no alcohol or drugs, drivers must tread lightly and ensure that no one gets left behind.
The next morning, on Friday, the Jeepers enjoyed breakfast and after a few late comers arrived, a participants’ meeting was held followed by the start of the main event.
At 9:30 am, all groups, except Jeeping-101 participants, headed out for a full day of fun, challenges, adrenaline rushes and camaraderie. The Jeeping-101 participants stayed behind for a PowerPoint presentation, safety demonstrations, lessons on how to use a trail jack and winch, plus a trial run on a small trail to put their new-found knowledge to the test.
By late afternoon, the campground buzzed with happy attendees. As we gathered for dinner, stories were shared regarding the experiences of the day and many enjoyed this down time after a long day running in the wilderness. By 7:30, the RTI ramp was set up so the drivers could test the flexibility of their rig. It’s always entertaining to see how much (or how little) some of these Jeeps can flex. Even though David Webber won with the highest score, he overdid it on Saturday and flopped his TJ on its side. Other events also included a skills competition, which consisted of a couple of activities including ‘blind folded’ and ‘turtle’ racing.
At 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, there were six lineups for trail runs and you could pretty much determine the trail level by the size of the Jeeps. A lot of drivers lined up for Cranfield’s Revenge, which is the mud trail and designated for Jeeps with 37” tires or larger. Another exciting trail is High Voltage. This is a rock trail for Jeeps that are equipped with rock rails, skid plates and good-sized rubber.
Tia’s is also popular, and is named in memory of Tia Aulenback, an avid Jeeper who passed away of Cystic Fibrosis. This was her favourite run as it consists of very tight, technical spots, mud, and steep grades. Two more great trails include Half Moon and International. These are ‘Stock Doable’ trails and while they entail mild stretches through the forest, they still offer a few challenges such as flooded areas and rocky sections that always require special attention.
Johnsons Settlement is another ‘Stock Doable’ trail but has a very challenging rock garden that stretches a few hundred metres. With the direction of the trail guides, a beginner Jeeper can get through it, but it may take a bit of time. The trail guides often remind the drivers not to be alarmed if you hear a frame rail or skid plate bang on the granite.
Black Rock is the designated 101 trail and is another favourite among attendees with its series of challenges, beautiful scenery of the Annapolis Valley and Bay of Fundy coastline. The real highlight, however, aside from lunch at Halls Harbour Lobster Pound, is the teetertotter in the woods, graciously built for Jeeps by the land owner.
Later in the day, back at Fox
Mountain, the closing ceremonies were held where more than 50 participants won prizes, which included a range of impressive gear including lift kits, winches, tires, bumpers, LED lights, recovery gear, and much more thanks to all the great sponsors and supporters of the event.
In fact, the first winner won a set of Toyo MT tires, graciously provided by Peck Auto Performance and Off Road. A first for the Jamboree was a tie for Trail Guide of the Year between Jason Despaties and Jonathan Murphy with Jonathan being the ultimate winner. After the ceremonies, it was time to enjoy some live classic rock performed by Brass Knucklehead.
On Sunday morning, the fog was thick as participants emerged from their tents and trailers and prepared for the journey home. After such a great weekend, the feedback was incredible and many commented that 2018 was the best Jam ever.
So, after a few great days on the trails, it’s only natural that with the right ingredients and a proven recipe, Jam can be successful. Be sure mark your calendars for next year’s event scheduled for June 20-23, 2019.
Lots of granite on Crusher.
Lunch break at Halls Harbour, the Black Rock Trail group.
Alan Justason gets blindfolded.
Lots of mud on Cranfield’s Revenge.
Jeff Hurlburt loses a tire.
The Bay of Fundy Coastline while trail clearing.
David Webber wins RTI on Friday, but fails on the trail Saturday!
Tia Aulenback’s memorial plaque.
Jonathan Murphy named Trail Guide of the Year.