Trail Time: N/A
Location: Rarrick Canyon, Jerome and the Smiley Rock trail
Scott Brady- 1994 Jeep Wrangler Sahara
Brian- 2003 Jeep Wrangler Rubicon
Brittan- 2001 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab TRD
Jerome is a very cool little mining town with lots of history and areas to explore. I would highly recommend the visit!
I like to go on at least one snow run a year, with technical winching and extraction. The snow allows this activity without damaging the trail. We started off the trip with a camp near Rarrick Canyon, and a visit in the morning to the remote and little known petroglyph site. This site is one of my favorites in the state, mostly for its lack of crowds and unique figures (zoomorphic and fauna).
Camp at Rarrick Canyon
There are no signs or other identifications of the location of the site, which requires a scramble to the canyon bottom.
Attempt at Smiley Rock and Surrounding Trails in Winter
We had all of the adventure we wanted, with multiple 90′ pulls up iced over trails, deep snow, technical driving and accident avoidance. One of the vehicles went into a 100 yard slide before even getting to the trail.
Photo courtesy of Brian Dearmon
The Expeditions West YJ
The trail down to Smiley Rock and Martin Canyon was slick with ice. For safety reasons, we left the Tacoma as a rescue vehicle, just in case we were not able to get the two Jeeps back up the trail by nightfall. The first few turns on the trail were fine, with soft snow still providing traction. However, when we entered the trees at the lower elevation the trail turned to ice, where the runoff had poured down the previous vehicles ruts. My Jeep immediately began to slide in first gear low range, requiring me to up shift to second and tap the throttle a few times to keep the Jeep straight. I knew this would be a challenge on the way back up!
We traveled for another mile towards the creek and stopped short of a very dangerous section with ice and a sharp turn at the bottom. We turned the two Jeeps around and started back up the hill.
From my previous slick surface driving experience in Idaho and Alaska, I knew I would need some momentum to make the climb. The narrow (33×10.5) BFG MT’s were providing good traction to that point, so I made an attempt. In second gear, low range I applied smooth throttle at about 2,000 RPM’s and made good progress. I felt the Jeep start to lose traction about 20 feet from the soft snow ahead, and I locked the front ARB. I continued forward for another 10 feet before the tires broke all traction and started spinning. With the tires still spinning forward, the Jeep came to a stop and then slowly started to slide backwards down the hill. I quickly unlocked the ARB’s and through the transmission into reverse. I kept testing the brakes, but the Jeep would not stop, slowly sliding backwards down the hill. At one point the front end started to go sideways and I was forced to accelerate in reverse to bring it back straight. After about 75 feet of sliding backwards the Jeep stopped. Time to pull the cable!
The WARN M8000 made short work of the full cable pull and soon had me driving up the trail. Brian was next and his attempt ended in the same result, though he did slide a bit further down the hill, which required setting some longer straps from the tree. Brian is testing one of the new 9,000 lb Tmax winches and it performed well, though considerably slower than the Warn. That is just a result of gearing though and the lower rating of the m8000 allows for faster line speed (same HP).
Image courtesy of Brain Dearmon
We concluded the trip with a nice drive on one of the flatter trails near camp with a great view at the end towards Prescott. The sun was setting and casting a warm glow across the plants and ricks on the bluff. I snapped a few shots and drive back to camp and the warmth of my Jumping Jack trailer…