We’re not greeting this morning well. Tired and still chilled… The drug of choice, caffeine. We shuffled slowly about camp, steam rising from our tin (ok titanium) coffee cups. Breakfast was the left overs from dinner. Sleep still stuck in the corner of our eyes, we are communicating through grunts and groans when from behind the trees we hear, the silence of the lambs.
Cellophane wrapped chops in your butcher’s freezer make a slight squeaky sound as the white Styrofoam bottoms scratch against one another. An entire flock of sheep descending on your camp as the sun rises over the hills makes an incredible racket. Rams snorting as they mingle, the dams grunting and blatting to their lambs who respond with the familiar bleating at the same volume a two year old uses to express their unfulfilled desires at 2:00 am. All around our camp the forest is alive. Sheep everywhere advancing like an army taking the high ground. We’re awake now.
If you follow our adventures… and you’re here so you must… then you know, we may be up early… but get going occurs sometime after 9:00 (ok 10:00) am. That may have to do with not wanting to leave this beautiful spot but more likely it’s the hassle of packing up camp. We keep experimenting with different shelters and sleeping configs looking for the perfect compact, lite weight, easy up, easy down combo that barely separates us from elements. The current Noah tarp, bivy sack, down bag and supper compact cot seems to be easy enough but that’s still 20 minutes we’ll never get back.
Toyota built the FJ Cruiser choosing to use a independent front suspension (IFS). The weak point on the IFS is the CV joint. A CV joint is a collection of bearings and cages that allows significant axle rotation and power delivery on a number of different angles but requires vigilance on an off road adventure. Checking the shafts on the rig’s morning walk around, it became apparent one of the inner boots protecting the CV was oozing lube. Grey joint grease was escaping from the boot because of a loose retainer.
Now we have choices:
- pull the half shaft and replace it with the spare in the rig (don’t wheel an IFS rig without carrying a spare!!!)
- bandage it up and hope the leaking stops
The grease was fresh so we probably caught it early but there was a bunch of it. No chirping sounds indicating metal on metal grinding of the CV. Until Moab we don’t expect too much stress on the CV. Deciding on the first aide approach, we grabbed a trash bag, zip ties and duct tape. The idea was to wrap the leaking area with the plastic trash bag, zip tie it and the boot where the lube is oozing and than secure it all with duct tape. Now keep a close eye on it and hope for the best.
The route this day took us back into the higher elevations. Through the ponderous pines, aspens and up above treeline cresting somewhere around 10,000 feet. Until now the rains had always been off in the distance but as we approached the top, the clouds unloaded. Thunder and lightning announced Mother Nature’s anger as she lowered the boom. The temperature plummeted to 40 degrees. Rain fell like a cow pissing on a flat rock. The sound of hail hitting the rig resounded through the cabin like gravel tossed on a tin roof. Mud immediately took on a consistency of slippery goo as we serpentined along the mountain’s edge. This was the first time we engaged four low to ensure everything stayed under control as we kept going at a snails pace to avoid sliding off the mountain. Through all of nature’s furry we stat dry. The Oher Paul is experiencing this storm in his Defender 90 with only a canvas top for protection as the water blew in the sides. An hour later we had moved off the mountain, left the rains behind and found the Other Paul mostly dry as we took a break for lunch and some free WiFi.
This is why we love Metal Tech 4×4 Somewhere in the eye of the storm I devised a longer term plan for the leaky boot. Having a little cell coverage in a clearing, I quickly sent a text to Metal Tech asking if they could get a half shaft or boot kit over to Ouray, CO where we planned to meetup for their party. A couple of texts back and forth, and Mark was running over to pick up a boot kit that he would drag with him across the country for us… Yeah lots of shops are helpful but I don’t know any shop who truly cares about customer the way Mark and LT do… And we’re not the only ones with a Metal Tech story like this, one includes Mark pulling a shock off their truck and handing over to a customer so they could make it back home a couple hundred miles away.
After we’d eaten, dried off and put a few more miles behind us, the adventure began to transition back into a lazy romp through hills filled with cattle and the occasional dear. The miles seemed to effortlessly roll by as we made our way to where we would call home for the night. The sun was high in the sky and the ground bone dry as we dropped off the route heading down to Currant Creek Reservoir to find a camp site.
Sitting around a camp fire with friends has to be one of the best things in life. With summer in full swing and the fire danger set at beyond extreme (Colorado is on fire) we’ve been sitting around the camp lantern at night. But this evening we were having a fire (approved by the camp host in designed fire pit). Before this adventure, Brad and the Other Paul didn’t really know each other well. However by the time the fire and whiskey were just about done, we were all peas in a pod. I sat by the glowing embers with a smile knowing this off road adventure was already a success, now as the two of them teamed up to direct their sarcastic wit in my direction. Something about my spelling, arbitrary punctuation and random missing words… but they still keep reading the my stories… I personally like to think my “writing style” allows the reader to fill in the blanks and create their own story.
Currant Creek Camp sits right on the reservoir at 8,000 feet elevation tucked into the hillside. Still early in the night, the long day had us ready to hit the bunks. The Other Paul headed into his tent while Brad and I crawled into our bags under the stars. Earlier we’d decided to doubled down and test our luck, deciding to go without tarp above us so we could now drift off under the twinkle of the stars.