Last year I owned a 2000 Mazda MPV minivan. My kids enjoyed it since it had a video player, but surprisingly they were not sad to hand it over to grandma and grandpa.
In fact, all three of them are protective of "Princess." We have named "our" Jeep (XJ) Princess of the Mud.
I practiced off roading at my best friend's 26 acre property. He has created several trails all around his house along the creek.
Practicing helped prepare me for my first real off-roading adventure in October 2007. I was heading to Windrock located in Oliver Springs, Tennessee. It is 73,000 acres that a mining company has leased out.
I met up with several other XJ owners from the Yahoo XJlist, most of them from Kentucky. I managed to show them that a female in a stock Jeep Cherokee can keep up with the souped up XJ's. I made a couple of dents and scratches which is no big deal to me.
When you are off-roading the world's problems are forgotten otherwise you end up smacking a tree, the side of a hill or expect to go off a cliff/mountain. The adrenalin rush is awesome. Watching the XJ'ers in front of you take a challenging climb up a trail is exciting. When it's your turn, the adrenalin kicks in.
At Windrock on trail 39 I amazed everyone by making it up a part of the trail the rest of the group had trouble with in their lifted, off roading tires. At Windrock I had not made any modifications so mine was still just a street, stock Jeep Cherokee.
Then I blew them away on trail 16 making it up an up hill part of the trail on the first attempt while the veterans took two and three tries.
Nine months later we all meet up near Harlan, Kentucky at Black Mountain. This time my XJ is modified from the street stock it had been.
I have also brought along my oldest child, my daughter Shiloh who is 10 years old. After the Windrock trip she was highly upset I didn't take her so this is kind of a vacation for the two of us.
Myself, Shiloh and my best friend Janice meet up with her husband also my best friend, Mike. He had arrived a day earlier just to hang out with the guys. When I say meet up I mean out in the middle of the entire off roading map. Trail 45 looks innocent at the beginning since it is the main trail. But since it had rained there was mud and alot of slipping.
It was fun though to be able to do some trailing by myself without the guys around. Eventually we met up with them at the bowl. The bowl has numerous trails for ATV's and off-roading vehicles. After the guys kept asking me if I was going to go I got Janice to ride with me. I was looking forward to that adrenalin rush. I got it too.
The guys had been joking around with me since I had a chance to practice a few weeks earlier at Coppinger Cove near Jasper, Tennessee. Mike had me try out what looked like a tiny innocent hill. I nearly did a Dukes of Hazard jump which is why the guys were teasing me.
While in Kentucky, it kept raining. The first morning at camp (for us ladies) it rained and rained. Our plans had to be modified because some of the trails were going to be extremely difficult if not dangerous. We had all hoped to go to the Mason Jar area but that had to be cancelled since the rocks were going to be too slick. Mike had mentioned a section the guys had all been to before would require strapping to avoid going off the side of the mountain. With it being slick from the rain the guys just did not want to risk it.
Most of us went up trail 15 when it was nice and muddy. Half way up the first section it was very slick. It was fun though since I ended up being the last person. Neal, our leader and "expert" was in front of me. After the third section I made him look bad since I made it up all three on the first attempts. Apparently Neal forgot to put his XJ in 4 Low like everyone else had done.
One of the things I had the chance to do was try the beginning of the rock garden. Since I didn't get to have my rock rails put on before Kentucky (only one was ready to be put on), Neal decided just to let me try the first part of it. I hope on our next adventure to have the rails on so I can try a rock garden out.
After we got home, some of the guys expressed how they were continued to be amazed by me accomplishing the trails that some of the amateurs had difficulty on. We all had fun which is the most important part of the Spring Flings and Fall Crawls.
Living in the southeast part of Tennessee it is not unusual to see a lifted XJ or really any SUV or truck lifted with bigger tires. To some of us, off-roading has become a part of life. It is a way to get away for just awhile from a world that can be cruel at times. We get an adrenalin rush that tends to build confidence in a positive way.
Normally it's the men that are doing the off-roading. But for them to see a woman doing it makes it even more fun and exciting.
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