Once again The Queenstown 4x4 Association enjoyed a day out in the country with fellow 4x4 Enthuisiats.
We all met in front of Excelsior Motors, Cathcart Street, at 10h00am, the drivers being Danie Nel and his family in their CJ 2 Willy's Jeep, Aubrey Ferreira and his family in their newly restored CJ 2 Willy's Jeep, then we had Lionel Waters and his family in their Mazda double cab 4x4 and they also brought their 250cc four wheeler motor bike, which his children enjoyed riding, Leon Senekal and his children joined us in their Toyota Hilux 2.2 double cab 4x4 bakkie and last but not least my wife Miche'le, joined me in my 1982 Datsun Tracker 1800cc single cab short wheel base 4x4 bakkie, This vehicle is well known around Queenstown as,
The Mountain Tortoise.

We all then left in convoy with Simon Morris leading the way, once we had all reached the start of the Trail Head of The Rocky Mountain 4x4 Trail, Simon told each driver that this is when they must lock their vehicles front hubs, this is done by turning a type of round knob found in the centre of each front wheel, with your fingers, some vehicles do not have these type of locking hubs, they have a centre diff that is locked instead from inside their vehicle, by pulling a lever or gear knob.

It was a brisk fresh morning, the symtoms of the previous rain shower that we had a few days before were still present, making the trail just that more interesting, if you do not like your 4x4 to get mud on it, then just do not join us, this trail is not for sissies, once we had crossed the first small stream safely, the trail then then opened up in front of us with jaggered cliffs on our left, we even saw an Eagle floating high above the cliffs, most proberly looking for some prey to eat.
We all then moved onto bigger and better obsticles consisting of crossing the Widow Makers black rock, which consists of driving up onto a large rock shelf, then through a nature hole in the middle that normally fills up with rainwater. For those drivers who are not used to this water crossing, we always tell them to first walk through so they can determine the depth of this water hole, as different vehicles have different wading depths and thus the driver of that vehicle has to be careful of where he crosses a water section, otherwise water can enter through the air intake pipe and cause engine faliure.

Give me the real stuff, Lionel in his Mazda was really having fun trying to cross Bigg's Hole, due to all the mud and steep sides, Simon ended up helping Lionel out by using the Kenetic Strap, what an experience to see how this strap works. Just like a big elastic band. Big kids need toys too, Aubrey and Danie in their Jeeps did not have any problems, nice short wheel base vehicles, each of them have these new Warn Winches mounted onto the front of their vehicles, never been used before just looked like show pieces. We all then drove through the cross axle section, this section consists of just enough space for a vehicle to drive through, it has these steep sides with a narrow deep section in the middle, the driver has to keep his wheels against the sides to prevent his vehicle sliding down into the middle, its all in the rubber.

We then stopped for a few refreshments, a chat and to enjoy the surrounding nature, scenery, gras covered plateaus, even saw a Mountain Reed Buck cross the trail in front of us, must have got a freight from the sound of us approaching through the veld. At least it is great to know that there are still wild life left in this area.
But soon we were on our way, some of the guys wanted to get to Danie's water crossing, this route has an escape option for those drivers who wish to not drive through this section, we make the escape options available to respect those drivers and their vehicles, as any vehicle that drives through water can cause damage to the wheel bearings, diffs and gearbox, the reason being, when a vehicle has been driven hard all the working parts that run in oil heat up and then with the sudden cooling of water when a vehicle enters water, water is sucked into these components through their breathers, that is why I always check for contamination of water mixing with these oils, after each trail when I have driven through water, water can cause some costly expenses if the oil is not changed with new oil.

Well, Danie and his family were once again stranded in this pool of water, not because they lost traction, but due to the fan throughing up water onto his ignition system, this section of the trail has in fact got a solid rock base as the floor, thus he did try and drive his vehicle out using the starter motor and his vehicle in gear, but he was unlucky as a steep hidden obsticle, maybe a rock that was moved down the river from the last storms we have had, stopped his vehicle from any more forward motion. Well out came the glooves, the control units for the Winch and once Danie had worked out how the free- spool operates we soon had the cable connected to a large rock to use as an anchor point and a length of strap wrapped around the middle of the winch cable, in case of the cable snapping or coming loose from the anchor point, we could have used another vehicle but decided to use somthing more natural. While Danie was using his starter motor I told him to stop, but maybe he could not hear me, well his winch did pull his vehicle out.... but just, as his battery was already nearly flat. Once Danie had sprayed some Q20 dewater spray onto the electrical coil and spark plug leads, we used a tow strap and Leon's Toyota Hilux and pull started the Jeep.

We all were getting rather hungry by now and then decided to return back to The Weir, this is where we always enjoy making a fire for a braai, safe area from the possibility of veld fires,normally if it was warm enough the children would enjoy themselves in the dam that has been made from the weir wall, but due to the cool conditions they just drove the four wheeler and enjoyed themselves. Even some had brought their catty's and were shooting stones at some tin cans.

Soon you could smell the meat on the braai grid, out came the chairs, refreshments and it was a blast, new friends were made and to those families who did not join us, you missed out on another fantastic day wheeling on this unspoiled trail, good times, good laughs, whenever Simon organisers a 4x4 trail, you can bet that he makes it enjoyable for all. For those people who do not know, this trail is in fact part of an old wagon route that The Voortrekkers used to use.

If you own a 4x4 vehicle and it has low range, please join us on the next trail, or contact Simon Morris if you wish to join The Queenstown 4x4 Association.
tel 082 499 1924 or email [email protected]

This is one of our best 4x4 trails that we drive often, it has a rating of 2 to 5 come drive it and go home knowing that your vehicle performed at it's best.