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Hollister, California

June 14, 1997

I got off to a late start on Saturday; that was my first mistake. The crews of 3 other Hummers and a Jeep rendevoused and got to the park at about 8:30. I arrived at about 11:00 with a couple of friends in the passenger seats. Unfortunately, my third passenger arrived at Hollister on time (10:00). When I got there I had just missed him and was unable to find him. I hope he didn't ruin his Mustang trying to find me in the park.

Finally got on the slopes at about 11:30. I headed for the obstacle course because I thought I might find the others there, and because it's a cakewalk where a lone and winchless Hummer has little chance of getting stuck. The others turned out to be elsewhere, so I drove around the course by myself. First I went into the tire pit, a 100-foot-long trench full of ordinary tires. When I got throught it, something felt funny so I got out to check it out. Turned out I had picked up two tires, jammed in my exhaust-side wheel well. After a good laugh, backing up a little took care of them. Yes, we got a picture. I did not realize at the time that I had lost my license plate in the tires.

Next, I went through a rocky/muddy/woody stretch where ground clearance is everything. The rocker panel protection took a few hits, but I couldn't even find the spots on inspection. Then I noticed a bunch of Jeeps and similar vehicles pondering whether they could take the "stairs," where the Bronco I mentioned on the previous Hollister trip report had blown out his engine. I motioned them out of the way and cruised right up.

We drove around the trails for awhile, in search of the group. The most interesting thing we encountered was a little right turn that was not on the map. After a few hundred feet of bad ruts and steep climbing, I found the trail ended with a couple of trees. So I had to turn around (annoying reverse beeper) in about 10 feet of space, avoiding the plunge on each side.

We climbed the hard way up to the highest point in the park and had lunch. A little bit beyond the main "parking lot" there is a road which ends up in almost a sheer drop, 70+ degrees down. Even a Hummer couldn't make it, and I would never try it, but the interesting thing is that something had to make that road, which goes ALL the way down. Our theory was that some crazy person had crawled up in a caterpillar at some point. My hat goes off to that guy.

After lunch we headed back down the steep route we'd taken to get there. It's amazing how low low lock and first gear really is. On the main road we met someone who had seen the rest of the Hummers down at the obstacle course. So we made our way back and found them. When I entered the course I had to make sure they noticed me so I skidded around in the dirt for awhile before stopping. There we met Tom Fritz, Turbotim and Midmuff. We sniffed around each other's trucks (Tim's was no longer yellow, it was very brown both inside and out). Then they told us where they had been earlier, on some trails I would not have taken without another Hummer to pull me out, which of course they had. Their story explained the huge smash in Tom's roof rack, and I mean a big smash: he had hit a wall or something on his side and the rack basically saved the left side of his truck's body.

We rooted through the tire pit and found my license plate and frame in there and in better shape than the others' plates looked to be.

We then convoyed over to Truck Hill, which is the steepest passable trail at Hollister that I know about: I'd guess 45-50 degrees. When we arrived, a Toyota was trying it. The problem with Truck Hill is that there's a pair of grooves near the top that is murder to get over unless you take exactly the right line. The Toyota just couldn't do it. At this point Midmuff and crew had to leave, and the Jeep left as well.

I was elected to pioneer the hill, and headed up in LL and 1. When I got to the grooves I tried several times, taking different lines. The grooves were definitely deeper than the last time I had been there. At one point I almost made it but then slipped back into the rut, with my front right wheel about 5 feet off the ground - not such a big deal except that that added to the already fierce angle and I would swear the truck was at 60-70 degrees for a minute. It was like a rocketship takeoff and must have looked really scary from the ground. I hope Tim got a picture. I have seen photos of some of your trucks at that angle, like in that sand pit, but remember that if I had tipped over backward I would have either rolled or slid at least 400 feet down that slope.

I rolled back down a bit to try again and heard Tom on the radio telling me to use more BTM. So I jammed my foot on the brake and went for it, also taking a different line then before (way left, with one wheel on a ledge next to the real trail. This time I made it all the way up, and drove out of the corridor with a sigh of relief.

Tom came up next, following the leftward route, and made it in one shot, as did Tim. I'm sure I must have filled in those grooves for them...heh heh. We all watched a normal truck try it and he couldn't make it either. I guess they should rename it to Hummer hill.

We took the steep route back to the high point and hung out for awhile, then headed down. We dropped by the gathering spot next to Five Fingers, which had been rendered totally impassible during the recent tough truck challenge. We looked at the mud pit that Jeep had been burined in the last time, then headed home. I found that my alignment is a bit off, my blinkers are acting up (probably due to dust inhalation) and I may have a diesel leak in my rear tank. Not a bad tally for a rough day.

My next road trip is to Rod Hall to get my winch and spare tire fitted.

That's about it. RG

Hollister Hills SVRA is located in Northern California just an hour South of San Jose. For more information on the site you can look at:

USGS California Map pg. 36121
Delorme Southern California Atlas pg. 19
Thomas Brothers California Road Atlas pg. 54-55

I picked up Mike Jasper and Tim from around the corner at 6:45 to meet the group at Turbo Tim's shop.

At Tim's shop we meet:

 Black Bronco		Nick Triantos
 Black Jeep CJ7		Rocky
 White Hummer		John Weston & Mary
 97 Fly Yellow Opentop	Tim Hildabrand and Chris
 96 Blue Wagon		Tom Fritz ( with Mike J. and Tim )
 96 Black Wagon		Robert Grypton (*meet later around 12:30 at Hollister Hills)

We talked for a few minutes about the rigs and headed down to Hollister. We took highway 101S to 152E. We made a little pit stop for food and gas about 5 minutes from the park. After a few turns we made it to Ricky Rangers toll booth. I started to deflate me tires down to 20 PSI.

After a few more minutes we all paid our four bucks and went to the four wheel drive section. We needed to find a level place to unhook the Jeep from the Bronco. I choose to take everyone to the camp sites where the lavatories are located.

In five minutes the Jeeps was ready to be driven and the Hummer drivers and passengers were anxious to start. Since we were on the trail that lead to a hill called Five Fingers we went there.

Five Fingers is on of the nasty hills in the park. It is very steep and made of powdery silt. The Tough Truck Challenge had placed major whoopies on this hill. I climbed this hill on foot to see if a Hummer could safely. This "could" make it up the hill, but would high center on every whoopee (named from the sound you make when you hit them fast). With that in mind, I did not feel it would be safe to rock off it at a 35+degree angle. We skipped it.

Right next to it, was some more whoopies (also known as tank traps) that led to an "interesting" small hill. In the middle of the hill is a U-turn to go down the other side of the trees. We climbed a hill in the area that would good for some practice and have some safe fun with the passengers. The U-turn takes us to a 15 degree side angle. On the down side, there is a 1.5 foot drop off. Like a good driver we took it slow, but it was still bumpy. My passengers kept saying "ah this is so cool"!

Next we went to the obstacle course to meet Robert G. I shifted back to HL because the road to the obstacle is made of packed gravel. As usual, if there is a fun path, I took it.

At the obstacle was many areas to play. There is a dug out water ditch, full of mud. Several piles of dirt that stood about five foot high. There is also concrete sand pit full of muddy water (nice place to wash up after the mud ditch), tire trap, frame twister, concrete hill, and a mini Rubicon Trail.

I took the mud ditch first, since I am hard to keep away from water! We (Mike, Tim and myself) hit it about five miles per hour and got about fifteen feet across the mud. I asked Tim H. to pull me out of the mud. With some work from both Turbo Diesel engines I was free again. I chose not to try this one again.

Next everyone climbed the large mounds of dirt, and I went to the frame twister. I have done this obstacle many times, so I did not have a problem with it. John Weston and Mary tired it next, and made it over a few logs and high centered on one. The GSA's just did not have the grip to pull them off, so I hooked up and gave it a tug. I did not hear people telling me that they were clear, so I ended up dragging them with their brakes on over the other logs. OOPS!!!! Sorry Mary and John!

While that was happening the CJ7 went into the tire course. It did not have the clearance to handle crawling over full sized tires. Tim H. went over there to winch him out of the tires. Tim H. had to use the winch because there was not enough room to use the Hummer's drive line.

Tim's H. took the tire course next and had no problem!

Tim H. then went into the same mud ditch that I had tried to cross. Tim's stopped about five feet away from the mud, then gave it the gas. His first try got him about five feet into the mud ditch. Tim's second try he started about ten foot away from the pit, with his foot hard on the gas. This try pushed him about twenty feet into the ditch. Tim's third try got him about thirty feet into the course. This time he went more then three quarters of the way through the course. Tim's fourth trip into the mud took him all the way to the other side of the pit. His rear tir The CJ7 then took the frame twister, and got hung right where John & Mary stopped. I hooked up again, and the owner of the Jeep told me to hook up to his tow ball. I told him it was not a good place, but he said it was. Well his whole bumper got bent 90 degrees (sorry, Rocky) We used the Hummer jack from John & Mary's Hummer to place some rocks under the Jeep. Tim had already spooled out his winch so he hooked on, and pulled him off. Tim went into the frame twister with no problem. Those MT's do help with off-road use!

At 11:30 we went on a short trip. My passengers talked about a hard trail. I took the bait, and the convoy was off! Later we found out the name was called Tank Trap Road. The Bronco owner did not want to go into this trail, so I think he rode with Tim? This trail goes up a hill's gully with 10-15 foot high whoopies. On the back side of the whoopies was two foot deep mud. The tail is also pretty narrow, in some places. The best place to park and wait your turn (or people to catch up) was high centered on a whoopies! We (lead Hummers) got over about four of them and the fifth was a killer. This killer had a vertical fifteen foot high rock and dirt walls (above the 10-15 high whoopee). Pa With that we backed out of this tank trap trail. I will be back with a shovel!!!!!

Backing up through the traps was very interesting! At one point I looked under the Hummer to see 5+ feet of air under the center of the Hummer!

We drove back to the obstacle course for lunch. This fifteen minute trail trip took about an hour!

We ate and chatted about the last trail.

Shortly after Robert showed up in a large cloud of dust for us to eat too! We chatted with Robert about our activities thus far, then showed off the gizmos some of us installed.

When lunch was over, we headed to Truck Hill the long way. All right, I got lost without my map! We got the right path and headed right to it.

Robert was the first one to make the try for the hill. Tim H. and I watched real close to find the best path. I noticed that his brake lights were not on when he really needed BTM. I went to Tim H. Hummer to call Robert to apply more BTM and up he went. I think Truck Hill is about ++50 degrees angle. While Robert was working on the hill, Tim H. and I discussed not going. The angles looked just a little too extreme for my taste.

Well the pressure was on and I went for it. I stood on the brakes and gas hard and started the climb. No problem since Robert filled in the holes!;)

Tim H. was next and he too applied mega BTM and made it with little problems. We stood over the top of the hill watching the dust clear. We saw an International Scout try it next, and he made it up to the place that Robert G. had some trouble with. The scout backed down and we continued on the ridge to the main mini mountain.

On top we parked and looked at the landscape. Some of us ate some more and most of us had a few drinks of soda/water. We climbed over some whoopies and looked at a trail made by a large tractor that laid the fence.

What a trail to take with a Hummer but it looked close to 70 degrees!

We left and went back to Five Fingers Hill. We went there to look at the place that another Jeep got stuck in the mud on another trip. It was totally dry and little to look at.

We left for home each with a large smile on their faces. We meet a Range Rover on the road that dropped two motorcycles on the asphalt road. They did not have it tied down I guess. We all got out and helped the man and woman put their dirt bikes back on the trailer. They did not look too damaged. The owners pride was damages most. We got back on the road and I was home around 5:30pm.


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