|11th March 2009, 16:13||#32|
|12th March 2009, 01:31||#33|
As I cross over the long stretch of rock, I run into Jammy.
So you want to drive? Says he… Hell yeah… says I.
You guys know what this means. It means more driving and less photography. But, do not despair. We had enough stops in between to give me photography breaks.
As I started off, I noticed it was already in 4WD low. And I didn’t find any reason to try 4WD high. It was a very slow trail, at 4H I couldn’t have used anything above 1st gear. Remember what I said in the beginning about this Jeep, it may look like a CJ340, but it has 3.84:1 effective axle ratio.
Initially the trail was full of sand and tall grass. We were after all riding an almost dry river bed which would be full of water in the monsoons. Initially the Jeep behaved as if it was drunk. Even though I was following Prithvi’s Gypsy, I kept going out of track on every side. After couple of minutes of this I stopped and wondered about it. It can’t be a steering issue, I had driven this Jeep just this morning in city traffic. I continued further keeping a very critical eye on the Jeep handling. Soon I figured it out, the steering simply wasn’t twisting back after every turn. I couldn’t trust the steering to swing back even a little on this sandy trail. So I resorted to turning back the steering every time after a turn. It was because of the huge 31x10.5 tyres.
Generally everybody was driving by the edge of the river. But there were holdups and that resulted in long lines. Prithvi who was ahead of me decides to carve a new path and heads into the middle of the river. I had just started offroading that day and I didn’t want to get stuck right away. So I decided to follow the veteran. For people who don’t remember, Prithvi is the guy who pulled my GV out of Muthodi forest. His Gypsy clutch got almost burnt in that effort. https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/4x4-o...tml#post948212
We drive through grass that is almost 8ft high with the tyres swirling through sand. Often I had to sleep flat to the left side to avoid getting hit or cut by thorny bushes and trees. This way we were able to get past most of the waiting Jeeps. One of the waiting Jeeper calls me and I can’t figure him out. Then he removes his cap and I recognize Giri Tirumale, a JeepThrills moderator I haven’t seen since Coorg OTR in July. Finally it looks like our paths are again crossing with the blocked traffic, so we stop.
Here we are looking back, Prithvi is the guy on the foreground. You can see the Jeeps making a beeline along the river bank. The unpainted and sightless Jeep belongs to Sunil Nanjappa. See the path we came through.
Here we are waiting to join the main traffic. You can clearly discern the river bank on both side by the canopy of trees.
A closer look at the Jeep I was driving.
After joining the main line, we again get stuck. Now you can see Tirumala Reddy’s Jeep right behind me, he was at Munnar too. And somehow Prithvi got left behind me.
In an offroad trail with too many possibilities like this one, the relative position of vehicles is very dynamic. I could hardly keep up on who is ahead of me or who is behind me.
Right now Tirumala reddy is still behind me.
Emanuel who was ahead of me was negotiating a rock garden per se. Unfortunately he lodged himself between two rocks, he could neither move forward nor backward. But no need to worry, one of our most experienced veteran Sreeni could be seen here taking charge.
At first we tried to lift the Gypsy with Hi-Lift jack and remove the rocks that were blocking him. But we realised that the rocks were too big. Sreeni decided against winching since the rocks were barring any kind of pulling in either direction. Then he decides that the best course would be to lift the Gypsy and place it few inches to the right. And that’s what we do. About 7-8 of us physically lifted the Gypsy and put it aside. Cleared of the rocks, Emanuel went ahead.
Meanwhile my throat is parched and my water is nowhere in sight. I had 4 liters of water and two more liters of orange juice, all in Sreeraj’s Jeep somewhere. So I had to beg/borrow drinking water from nearby Jeeps.
Now it was my turn to negotiate the rocks. I knew it will be relatively easier for me since I was on a highly lifted Jeep, I had the advantage of both body lift and huge tyres. But driving on big rocks still needs careful negotiation and spotting by others.
Here is the entry to the rocky field.
And I start off, Prithvi graciously offered to shoot my camera, otherwise my camera hardly ever catches me in action.
Then again I stop behind Emanuel who has run into another rock before climbing out of the river bed. Sreeni decides Emanuel needs to backup and try a different route. But I am right behind him blocking any reverse motion.
Then Sreeni asks me cut across and blaze a new path over a stretch of tall grass and then climb the river bank. I am a little concerned over a rock I can see in it. Sreeni checks it and decides it is quite harmless. So I rip through the grass, run over a rock, and climb the hill. My approach line was not perfect, so I go over a rock on the left, and then a mound on the right, but it doesn’t make much difference to this incredible SWB Jeep. However, the Jeep was listing significantly in two planes (rear and left) as it climbed, as a result my bum had slipped from the seat, I was practically in between the two seats hanging by the steering wheel as I completed the climb. This is why I prefer to wear seatbelts while offroading, so I can remain seated, but this Jeep had no such safety equipment. I quickly parked the Jeep and came back for clicking.
Now Emanuel tries to trace the same path. But it goes terribly wrong, I can’t remember the exact reason, but he almost burns his clutch here. He stops after crossing the grassy stretch.
He is asked to wait until the clutch cools down. At first he switches off. Then Sreeni suggests that he keep the engine on, apparently the clutch can cool faster if the engine is on. Hmm, the things one learns just standing next to experts.
Now the others move on. Since the alternate path is blocked, they are all back on the main path. I can’t remember whether anybody else took the path I climbed.
Tirumala Reddy is looking quite happy as he climbs.
Then it is Prithvi’s turn.
Finally Emanuel pulls out and takes off through the main path.
The Baleno Willys
After crossing this stretch, we run into a plateau with no visible trail to go on. One Jeep tries to venture into an impossible ravine crossing, but soon needs to be towed out by Utkarsh.
The Jeep is parked against the Savandurga hill looming behind.
Slowly the word comes to us. There is no way out, we are to return in the same trail.
As we turn back, people are searching for new ways to get into the river trail, and find a pretty steep slope to slide back into the river bed. I follow and take the Jeep down, but before I could turn, the Jeep stalls and switches off. Before I took over the Jeep, it had lost diesel because of a leak in the fuel line. It was already running on borrowed diesel. Looks like it again ran out of diesel.
First Jammy thought the diesel is not reaching the engine because of the angle of the Jeep, we were stopped at about 30 degree tilt. Then we borrow diesel from Sreeraj’s Jeep.
Once the Jeep is on level trail, it starts and we are off again. But all this takes about 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, Chandan’s wife who was stuck behind our Jeep reversed and tries another detour. It turned out to be a much bigger adventure, which I learnt later.
Now we continued back on the trail. Since I didn’t drive all the trail in the onward journey, I get confused about the trail and soon find ourselves on the wrong side of the river. I also got scratched by thorny trees, ending with a bloody cut on my left ear (not right ear, imagine that) and my shirt got torn below the collar as I discovered that night. So we had to find a new place to cross the water and get back to the correct side of the river. But climbing out of the river bank was not that easy.
Remember the slope where everybody did the 3-legged jig, that appeared to be the only place to climb back on. Now, that climb looked almost impossible. How did others go back? We were told by Shakir (who was on the river bank) that others climbed elsewhere.
Jammy is quite confident it can be done. So, I make a run at it in slow speed. The last part defeats me and I figure this one is beyond my skill level. So I get off and let Jammy tackle this one.
While Jammy is at it, you can see Sreeraj discovering a manageable path.
This last part on the right tyre is the catch.
Now, some of you may look at this photo and wonder what the big deal is. If one comes up with a little momentum, it should be able to make it across. That’s right, but there is a problem.
Let’s look at an earlier photo, reproduced here.
Do you see the tree right before the slope? That is the problem. If you come up with even a little momentum, you will run right into that tree. There is no avoiding that. Even if you have power steering you can’t turn in time because the wheels will be still in air. Therefore, this hill has to be climbed slowly, may be Shahnawaz’s Gypsy could have done this using the crawl gear, lockers and MT tyres.
Jammy tries some more before giving up, one can only eat so much dust.
The path discovered by Sreeraj is not easy, but not impossible either.
Now we drink some water and juice and try to bring our temperature down. We are now almost out of the trail, near the place where the Beetle was stuck. I once again drive the Jeep and negotiate it out of the famous ditch and up the hill and get out of the offroad area. It was time to stop and switch to 2WD drive.
As we got out, we had to stop since Santosh was having wheel wobble. So Sreeraj gets down and dirty to tighten the bolts.
Our next destination was Country Club for the after-offroad lunch party. After some 45minutes drive we reach there. Don’t remember much about what we ate, but the company was great. Nearly 50 offroaders including ladies and children in big room. Many speeches were delivered until the food was ready, by the event planners, veteran offroaders, first time offroaders, visiting offroaders (that was me), etc.
Event Commander Dwarak is Kush (sorry about the bad indoor lighting) after a hugely successful 37 vehicle OTR event.
All in all it was a great experience, meeting lots of my offroading friends in one place.
Let me conclude this travelogue with a high-res image of Savandurga Hills, if you click on the image and expand it, you can see the fort on the top of the hill.
Last edited by Samurai : 12th March 2009 at 01:41.
|12th March 2009, 11:56||#35|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Jan 2009
Thanked: 729 Times
Super report Samurai! "Applause Applause"
Thank you very much for taking some time out and sharing this report with us.
|12th March 2009, 17:35||#37|
Distinguished - BHPian
Join Date: Aug 2006
Thanked: 7,891 Times
I cant even see Jammy in the half the snaps,...heh heh heh, hilarious!
|13th March 2009, 00:35||#38|
Join Date: Sep 2008
|13th March 2009, 13:52||#39|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Feb 2006
Thanked: 227 Times
Hi Nice to meet you here. How can I miss you and your gypsy. keep in touch
Great story board and conclusion. Thanks for the photo treat.
|13th March 2009, 14:33||#40|
Join Date: Feb 2009
Thanked: 163 Times
|13th March 2009, 16:26||#41|
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Kochi, Bangalore
Thanked: 73 Times
BTW whoz is this KLQ 3830? need to get some info on the Lightforce headlights on the Jeep.
I drive a verna and would like to go for light force headlights. Suggestions please... It would be great if i can get the model no and the price....
|13th March 2009, 19:33||#44|
Senior - BHPian
Join Date: Jul 2004
Thanked: 666 Times
The light force lights are the 240 Blitz. They cost about 25K through the distributor and 12.5K if you ask someone to bring it for you from overseas.
|13th March 2009, 19:33||#45|
Thanks everybody for your kind comments. It is exactly this kind of appreciation goads me to write such detailed report every time. Moreover, I have realised that such a report helps me relive the experience again and again. I have found myself going back to old travelogues once in a while to relive them, like my longest report here: https://www.team-bhp.com/forum/trave...ngri-trek.html (Few days close to Heaven: The Dzongri Trek)