Rovers in Kansas - Kansas USA
by Chuque Henry
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The trip from Lincoln went without note and the weather was wonderful for open motoring. We knew it was going to be hot that day, but it was hard to believe while traveling at 70 mph with the top down on this wonderful 78 degree morning. When we got to the ORV area near Manhattan we pulled off when we say the other Lincoln Rover, a 1970 IIa 88". I was really looking forward to seeing it off-road since this particular vehicle used to be mine. It was Rod's first time doing trails, and he had brought his son with him. After hooking up with Rod we continued on to the ORV area and ran some of the easy parts while waiting for the other Rover's led by Tre McCroskey in his Defender 110, to show up.
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One of the first parts of the trail we went up is called Driveshaft. It's generally considered one of the most difficult parts of the ORV area, and we all made it up with little fuss. The loose rock and shale shifts quite a bit so you never know what you are going to encounter on this trail, and when wet it can become dangerous and nearly impassable. At the top there are some optional ledges that offered a great deal of challenge to even the most capable rigs. I had been up this trail once before, and that same day a Jeep slipped sideways and rolled to the bottom. I was a little concerned about some of the less capable rigs making it to the top, and expressed as much on the CB. Now I'm ashamed for my lack of confidence with all the vehicles making it to the top so easily. Our group of drivers as a whole were quite good, and showed great skill overcoming everything in their path. I tended to bash my way along the trails with my usual head-banging style, but I'm learning from running trails with groups like these.
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Here are some of those aforementioned ledges. You can see just how large these steps are from this photo. Kyle Caskey in his formidable D-90 made it through this area without much trouble. Gus Seyffert, in his Range Rover, was the next most capable vehicle and was the only other one to make it over this ledge. We had to build a ramp for him out of loose rocks lying around. After some scrapping and some expertly engineered ramp building, Guy made it over with little trouble. This teamwork got all of our vehicles past all of the obstacles with only one tug needed the whole day.
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Here is another series of ledges that were fun to play on. Kyle is going up some of the more extreme steps, I have been to this trail many times and seen very few vehicles make it up this obstacle. Look at that articulation! The ORV area was scattered with many such ledges and there never seemed to be an end of things to try. Even after being there all day we didn't manage to cover nearly all of the trails. The area was flooded at the time, but even with many of the trails covered, there was plenty to do. There were hardly any other vehicles on the trail that day, the only other one being a new Jeep TJ. The heat kept anyone sensible inside, which would explain why we you could find so many Rovers out on the trails!
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This seemed as good a time as any to take a break. The temperature had rising well above 100 at this point and it was hot! I decided that I was going to look into getting AC installed in my D-90. Seriously,
dehydration was a concern in the extreme heat, and we were all taking precautions to drink as much as possible. Brian, in the one Discovery in our group was running his AC all day, and I took a break to sit in it during lunch. It sure was plush compared to my Defender! I normally scorn people who ride trails with the AC on and the radio playing something soothing, but after sitting in his Disco in that heat, I think he had the right idea!
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Well, what's a day of Rovering without something going wrong. This Defender 110 belonging to Kermit Krantz was missing under load. We weren't able to discover what was causing it, and decided to just leave it for the time being and return to the trails. Also Tre's 110 had bent a track rod on one of the other obstacles. He was able to keep going, but his wheel wasn't pointing straight anymore. Still, no real major damage, and that's always a good thing.
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One of the last areas to play in was this culvert area with a creek winding through it. I had never seen anyone attempt this particular hill before, and when you approach it, it appears to go straight up. One again Kyle was able to do the impossible and I had the pleasure of watching him do it. With both axels locked and the Super Swamper's griping the earth, there were very few places his rig couldn't go. I had to leave for Lincoln at this point, while many of the others stuck around to explore more of the 180+ acres available. It was a great day with great people. I hope to meet up with this group again, and seems how we are all so close, I imagine I will. If you ever find yourself in the Kansas/Nebraska area, look me up. It might surprise you to find the type of four-wheeling Kansas can offer.