Updated: Jun 10
After such dry weather recently we’d been hoping for some rain before the weekend trip to Woodhill for the first Safety Patrol of the year, and in the early hours of Saturday morning the rain gods answered our prayers, with a good Auckland downpour.
With our off-roader currently in about a thousand pieces, and getting a much needed rebuild, the 70 series Land Cruiser had been prepared and ready for the journey to Woodhill, with the Simex’s safely stowed in the trailer. We made a quick tyre change on arrival, and met up with the rest of the Safety Patrol team. Jarrod had reversed his awesome Nissan Safari off his trailer, and Chris was also ready in his stunning Jeep Wrangler Rubicon. Lawrence (Fish) had called in to help get everything organised, but without an off-road truck at the moment he unfortunately had to head home. Along for the ride with Jarrod was Nick, and the kids in the back.
We headed off to check that a few trails were still passable for vehicles of a shiny nature, and it was good to see that the overnight rain had packed the trail surface down nicely without any obvious washouts. Before long we were joined by a fourth club member, Will in his very nice silver Jeep Wrangler, and so we all made an attempt at the steep sandhill off Inland Road. Last year with our bigger Simex’s the 70 series didn’t make it, but this year with smaller Simex’s the Toyota ate it up no problem, so sometimes bigger might not always be better. Chris got his Rubicon lockers on and flew up the hill. Jarrod with lockers engaged sent it fairly hard, but those big Silverstone’s just wanted to eat that sand, spit it out the back and sit the Safari down in the sand. Will’s Wrangler just couldn’t quite get the traction.
It was a fairly quiet day at Woodhill with only 17 paying vehicles all day, and most of the trucks we came across were in small groups, very capable, and with their own recovery gear and winches, so as it turned out, we didn’t need to make a single recovery all day, and got plenty of opportunity to play in the mud, which Jarrod certainly made the most of.
We headed up into the area between Rimmer Road and the lookout, and then the rain came back with a vengeance. A heavy downpour made the three clay hill climbs here very slippery, and this is where Jarrod’s bigger tyres really came in. After ourselves, Jarrod and Chris had cracked the middle climb, Jarrod sent it up the much steeper and more slippery left route, and he showed that hill who was boss. We gave it a good crack in the 70 series, but with only a rear locker and heavy rain turning the trail into a stream, we couldn’t quite get over the final clay section, and so we elected to winch, and we winched for a while to get out of that clay, with Louis, Jarrod and Nick (in the heavy rain) doing a great job to help avoid some right-hand panel damage from a couple of precariously located tree roots.
While the rain was still pouring, we ate lunch tucked up inside our trucks, and after a couple of wet t-shirt changes, we found another nice muddy area to play in, and Jarrod really showed the difference between an electric and PTO winch. Jarrod’s PTO pulled himself and then our 70 series through some seriously sticky mud holes, and for one pull we secured the Safari to a tree using an extension strap. At least I now know what my son Louis has his eye on as our next 70 series upgrade, a PTO winch!
After calling at the lookout, and another play in the mud in the area near Selwyn Road that gave us more opportunities to practice our winching and recovery skills, and putting that PTO to good use again, we got the call from the lookout that all the visitor vehicles were now out of the forest. What, at ten-past-three, everyone was out of the forest, no broken CVs or drowned trucks to recover as can be usual at the end of a Safety Patrol day! We made our way back to the lookout, and headed home after a great day out four-wheeling with a great group of people. What an excellent way to spend a wet Saturday in April.
On arrival home I informed my wife that the money in the holiday savings account had been reallocated to the PTO winch fund!