The NC Trail Outlaws Off Road Club kicked-off its summer in the backcountr­y of North Carolina’s Uwharrie National Forest.

- By Thomas Stebner @NC_JK_Crawler

When the weather starts getting warmer and the days start getting longer you know summer is right around the corner. For many off-road enthusiast­s, this is the preferred time to kick-off the wheeling season.

Garages are the beginning of new ideas and for our off-road club, this was no exception. At our monthly meetings, we discuss future wheeling trips and decided we wanted to take a trip to North Carolina’s Uwharrie National Forest. This trip is taken a few times during the year and would be the first opportunit­y of the year for many of the rigs to test their winter projects and to spark new ideas.

This year, we planned the threehour, one-way trip from Greenville, NC in May and do a shakedown run before we took any longer trips. During our meeting, while eating pizza and having a good time, deadlines were created for builds and the final touches were in order. One member had spent years building an LS-swapped K5 blazer rolling on 38.5 in Super Swampers and the project was finally beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.

When May came around, everyone was ready to go, including the K5 Blazer. We departed in the late afternoon on Friday and arrived at the Bojangles in Troy, NC around 7 pm. Kenny’s Blazer was having issues with the alternator and it wasn't charging the battery. Lucky for us, the Advance Auto Parts down the road had one in stock and he swapped it out in the parking lot as everyone ate dinner. An hour later, we were ready for the final 20-minute ride to the Offroad Park to setup camp.

A few minutes later, I received a call from Kenny who was rounding out the rear of the convoy saying he was still having issues and he needed a jump. I turned around in my Jeep and found him on the side of Hwy 109. The alternator wasn’t charging, and it was hard to determine the cause in the dark.

I gave him a jump and he took off towards Eldorado Outpost to meet up with the rest of the group.

Once we met up with rest of the group, Marty helped diagnose the issue. They changed some of the wiring in the Outpost parking lot. We all fueled up, bought our trail passes and grabbed a few trail maps.

Our club had chosen to do primitive camping, which is first come, first serve. It was around 9 pm and we were unsure if our usual spot would still be available. We drove into the forest and an hour later, we had camp setup in our usual spot just off one of the trails.

As we sat around the fire that night, we planned what trails we would run in the morning. There are trails here for everyone from easy to difficult, including a Jeep Badge of Honor Trail, Dickey Bell. The trails here change very frequently due to storms and usage, which make for an eventful weekend even if you have been coming here for years. Dickey Bell and Daniel are the two more difficult trails at the park now. We decided not to do those as this was just a shakedown run and nobody wanted to risk breaking anything anymore than necessary.

On Saturday morning, some made breakfast at the camp while the rest of us went to the Outpost for some good southern cooking, consisting of bacon, eggs, biscuits and gravy. Another one of our members came up that morning so we met up with him and headed back to camp to start our adventure.

Following breakfast, we went to the trails to begin our day. The first carnage of the day came a few hours later. Kenny had put a dent in his passenger door by going through an off-camber obstacle with a large clay wall on one side. After breaking for lunch some of the group decided to head back to camp to just hangout the rest of the day while the rest of us continued wheeling some of the other trails until late afternoon.

The temperatur­e was 35°C (95°F) and crawling around was producing some major engine heat. Jesse’s XJ kept getting hot and after pulling over, he discovered the fan wasn’t working. Following a simple bypass procedure, he was good to go. Awhile

later, one of the other member’s JKU started to overheat as well. Everything was working normally, so they let it cool down and removed the aftermarke­t grille to allow more air to get to the engine for the rest of the trip.

Marty’s CJ-7 began to vapor lock and he had to let it cool down before he would be able to start it back up and drive. This happened throughout the day and fortunatel­y, he had trailered the CJ to the park as did Jesse with his XJ. The rest of the day went unscathed and we headed back to camp for the night to cook burgers, steak, and fish. We settled in for the night and hung around the fire talking about the day.

We awoke Sunday knowing it was our last day to wheel and with the issues the day before, Marty and Kenny decided not to wheel their rigs anymore this trip. Marty rode along with Thomas in his JKU and we left to hit Saw Mill, Rocky Mountain Loop, and Dutch John. We had a great time spectating some other groups taking on obstacles before we had our chance. Nobody had any issues and it all went very smoothly for our final day of wheeling. Even though a few of us had some challenges with rigs, we were able to capture some incredible photos, video and memories of the trip.

If you’d like to learn more about our club, check out our Facebook page at NC Trail Outlaws and for photos and video check out Instagram and Youtube @NC_JK_Crawler.

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 ??  ?? A JKU making its way along the trail.
A JKU making its way along the trail.
 ??  ?? Marty going up the chute on Dutch
Marty going up the chute on Dutch
 ??  ?? Hanging out waiting for vehicles to cool down and trail repairs to be complete.
Hanging out waiting for vehicles to cool down and trail repairs to be complete.
 ??  ?? Kenny's K5 on Poser Rock.
Kenny's K5 on Poser Rock.
 ??  ?? The entrance of scenic Uwharrie National Forest.
The entrance of scenic Uwharrie National Forest.

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