Trail Dust Days Charouleau Gap North-South Pre-Run

Wednesday September 29, 2004

Leader; Parks Rinehart Tail-gunner Lonnie Paugh


Trader Joe’s to Trailhead in Oracle – 26.5 miles

To TRR/FS Kiosk at South end in Catalina- 46.5 miles

Trail Miles- 20.0

We met at Trader Joe’s parking lot, Oracle and Magee at 8:00am

4wheelers on this trip were;

Tony Jones- Cj5

Dale Enhelder-Samurai

Dave Laracuente-Full-size Bronco

Lonnie Paugh-Tj

And myself- YJ

Someone mentioned going to McDonalds for breakfast…so I went for gas and lunch stuff as the rest went to Mickey D’s. When I sat down at the table everyone was telling war stories…er ah..4wheelin’ stories. Lonnie has a grandson that is quite a 4wheeler at the age of 4! Dave shared some of his experiences after returning 2 weeks ago from Moab. It was a great way to start the day. Friends and Mickey D’s…well Claire’s might have had better food…but we all left happy.

We decided it was time to get on the road and got to the air-down spot just after the gate in Oracle at 10:30am.

We went without any incidents to the step. Just another gorgeous day in the Arizona Outback! When we got to the step, I went up and over on the 5th or 6th try…gotta get those lines right!

Tony and Dale took the by-pass, Dave got stuck on his rear diff and I had to put the winch string on him to get that last half-inch of diff over the step. He did so without problem. Lonnie just walked up it like he does it 20 times a day. We went on to Coronado Camp and ate lunch at the cabin. Where more stories were exchanged. We left the cabin at 1:30 and continued on to the "Gap" Saddle at the Samaniego Ridge where we stopped to admire the area.

We continued onward and I thought what a great day…we are past the Gap without incident, and would be at the Kiosk before dark, cool! (I have to learn to stop that thinking! I’m gonna start thinking like Rheal on the work runs! ;-) ) About the 12th mile on the trail, just South of the Gap, Dave breaks a tie-rod, snapped and twisted that puppy! Both tires where pointed outward of the vehicle. Ah sheesh! We had changed leaders at the Gap and Lonnie and Dale had to be called back for help. They walked back on foot, as most of you know, that’s a tough area to back up on. So Dave pulled the old parts outa his Bronco...most were finger tight…seems it’s a normal occurrence on that beast. And they headed out for new parts. There wasn’t any cell phone service at that point or at that time. This was 5:50pm Wed night. Tony and I stayed with our vehicles and the broken Bronco. Only choice for Tony and I would have been to turn around and head back...turning around oh yeah, that would’ve been fun! Backing up didn’t seem like it would be fun either, we had gotten over a washout not too far back that was tough going forward down hill…We couldn’t imagine going backward uphill! So we enjoyed the sunset and eventually the moonrise after that. We could see Lonnie and Dale’s taillights and they looked like they had stopped. We radioed them and they had gotten cell phone service…cool! The Checker at Oracle and Magee had the tie-rod...the Checker at First and Grant had the other parts...dang! Lonnie called his wife and had her stop at the Checker at First and Grant and bring those parts up to him at Oracle and Magee. Cool! Thanks to Mrs. Paugh! Saved us a whole buncha time that night!

At 8:40pm I grabbed the CB mic in desperation and said, "so, where are you guys?" I actually got a reply from Lonnie, Dale went home and Lonnie and Dave were bringing the parts to us. Cool! Lonnie asked how I knew they were back on the trail and I told him I could smell the pepperoni on that pizza they brought us! Tony and I could finally see headlights coming our way, then they would disappear and then re-appear… the CB did the same thing, we could talk to each other, then we couldn’t. Then we never saw the lights again…no CB contact either...Lonnie was trying to call us on the CB, but he couldn’t hear us trying to get back to him. They remembered they had Tony’s cell phone number and called it. I could hear over Tony’s phone, "busted a spring!" I couldn’t believe it, when Tony got off the phone Lonnie had busted a front coil spring bringing the parts to us! I don’t think they were more than a month old. I thought he was kidding us at first. He tried to fix it up enuff to get back to us, but no luck. So I gave them Judy and Christine’s phone numbers. I knew Judy would have those numbers handy. I told ‘em to call Chris Lesadd as he was the closest. Judy made a few calls and the next thing I hear is Chris Lesadd’s voice calling me on the CB! Cool! He was on his way up. He stopped and grabbed Dave and the parts Dave had to fix his truck. Lonnie’s wife was once again en route from the Eastside to bring Lonnie his old coil springs. What a time! We could hear Chris’ Jeep coming all the way up to us from about "kiss rock" where Lonnie was. He said he was in 2nd and 3rd all the way to us! It’s a mess from the Gap to the Kiosk, nothing hard, but you have to be careful. It’s washed out deeper in some areas.

Chris and Dave arrive…Dave has pizza in his hands! Cold pizza! And he is just eating the first piece! Seems Lonnie didn’t want any and Dave, being the nice guy he is, wouldn’t eat in front of him. Two cold pizza-pizza’s from Little Cesar’s. He also had new parts with him. We worked on the pizza as we tried to get Dave’s vehicle back together. Chris brought some Heineken’s for us, they were really cold and really appreciated! Chris put the parts together under the vehicle and I played with the steering wheel till we got it back together. We were driving downhill at 10:30pm! Cool! Lonnie had radioed earlier to say he was fixed and asked if we needed any more help. I told him to go home! And thanked him for all the help.

We made the Kiosk at 1:30 AM Thursday morning. Finally off the trail!

It was another great day 4wheeling as usual. My thanks to everyone involved for such a memorable day and such a great time.