Last Look at Lamentation?
by Bob Blair
Photos by John Cinquegrana
We met, in the usual Park'N'Ride, on a cool, damp September morning. Intending to run two groups through diferent trails, we divided the line up. Jim asked me to lead the "regular" trail while he led the hard core group through "Dangerous". I admitted that I didn't have a clear mental picture of the way. He gave me written directions and I copied his hand-drawn map.
I led twelve 4x4s, of wildly varying capability, slowly through the country roads and gravel paths to the trail head. We traveled slowly so as not to arouse the wrath of the local populace. They had only recently calmed their understandable objections to overuse of the trail. Looking for the left turn shown on the map, we saw a "Posted" sign on an offshoot on the left even before we locked into low. Uhoh. Let's not go that way. You can see where this is going; the wrong way. When the Dangerous crew caught our tail (How fast were they going?) we knew to double back.
Luckily, new member Eric knew the trail and was glad to share his knowlege. No more wrong turns. At least not by the "regular" bunch.
As the head of the line approached the water crossing, the CB carried warning of trouble. Abe's YJ was stuck in 2WD. I hiked up the hill and applied the usual fix with some borrowed vacumn hose. No go. Rather than turn around or park and passenger the rest of the day, Abe elected to risk the possible consequenses and continue on in 2-Low.
One of the best features of this trail is the obstacles seem to all have go-arounds. On a wet day that is a pretty handy feature. The obstacles also are also wide enough to have 2 or 3 different lines. Oddly, the left always seems easiest. After two tries on the right side of the first rock climb I crawled up the middle and parked 12 lengths of the hill.
Running down, I see Alan, on his first run with LIOR, powering through. Tiny street tires and low-rider stance didn't slow down this YJ. I only hope he didn't pop through the right side that stopped the double-locked Howler. The rest of the group tried the middle or left line and made quick work of the rock.
The next obstacle is called the cigarette lighter because of a sharp knob in the middle that used to catch transfer cases with a spark. Wear and erosion have extinguished the 'lighter but it can still be a formidable obsticle. For the toughest way through, drop into the tire-sized hole just in front of a blunt-faced two foot wall over on the left. Since all four tires are on the dirt as you start to climb, it's easy to get half way up. Once the fronts hit the shiny wet rock face though, it's slip'n'slide city. Once again Alan picked the line he could run and popped through.
Trying to add some excitement, I guided the other locker boys to the hole & wall. All met the same fate; half way up OK, then no grip. The right line looked easier but a seemingly magnetic tree attracted a few Jeeps.
Chen found a new use for rear-mounted spare tires. His 'blue ox' updated the American folk-lore tale of Paul Bunyan by knocking down a 30 foot tree. Oddly enough, he never touched the tree that fell; he backed into one that swayed over to the victim. No damage to 'Babe', so that tree must
have been standing dead.
Even though the sun was peeking out occasionally, it was still wet on the forest floor. The rock here is slick and polished. Just the opposite of the 'slickrock' out west, this stuff can be like ice. Treacherous to walk on but fun to play on. Abe, still in 2WD, had trouble of course, but powered through using a conservative line.
I think it was here that I deceided Ruark needed to learn a little more about his new lockers. He'd been enjoying his new ability to creep over stuff that would have been tough unlocked. After he walked through the easy line, I cajoled him into trying a harder line. His ear-to-ear grin after he clawed over the rock made me sure I'd done the right thing.
A couple of us got turned sideways on the "Articulator", but all continued on under their own power.
Yours truly added some comic relief by wedging the Howler into the right-side exit from the 'Bathtub'. That re-injured the quarter panel fixed just the day before. Marc taught his Tan Whale the same trick, at the cost of a genuine Toyota taillamp.
Being a wet day, the holes and ruts folloeing the Bathtub were intimidating enough to make everyone behave. The run up to the top was uneventful partially because no one wanted to risk a stuck in the chilly water.
The view from the top of Mount Lamentation, a rare panorama in the East, almost always adds to an enjoyable lunch break. Even at 2 pm. We made up for missing the 'The Jaws of Life' by getting to watch the hard-core boys slip, slide, crash and break their way through. After winching a few of them through, and waiting while they saved the hide of a hapless local, we made a quick descent.
didn't know at the time that this was our last look from the peak. Lamentation
joined the growing list of closed trails in the North East shortly after
our run. The only way we are going to slow the erosion of our access
to trails is through political action. Each of us, not just the club
officers, not the 'other guy', but each of us has to get involved.
Write letters, make calls, attend hearings, fight for your rights.
four wheeling will be a memory instead of a hobby.
Fixing Mr. Ed's bridle
The view from Mt. Lamentation , CT
We didn't know at the time that this was our last look from the peak. Lamentation joined the growing list of closed trails in the North East shortly after our run. The only way we are going to slow the erosion of our access to trails is through political action. Each of us, not just the club officers, not the 'other guy', but each of us has to get involved. Write letters, make calls, attend hearings, fight for your rights.
four wheeling will be a memory instead of a hobby.