Purgatory:1. Rom Cath Ch. A place or condition of temporary
punishment in which the souls of those who have died
in grace must expiate their sins 2. Any place or condition of expiation,
suffering, or remorse
That my friends is what Webster's has to say about Purgatory. So the Black Hills
4-Wheelers decided that this was a good name for a club run in late June 2000. So while wheeling with them over Memorial Day weekend they convince me that this run is going to be killer and that I should make the trip out and join them. So after being badgered by event conspirators all weekend I tell them I'll think about it. But that was really code for "not likely." After all I was supposed to have my own club run the following weekend to the Badlands of North Dakota. But one by one my other club members called to back out until it was just me left going. So it became apparent that I was destined to spend 30 hours in Purgatory in late June.
That is just what the Black Hill's 4 Wheelers had planned. In addition to their sadistic little trail ride, I also had to make the drive back and forth from Minnesota in a four day weekend. So Friday I hit the road with the Jeep loaded on a trailer behind my F-250 and start the 660-mile trip to Rapid City from my home. The ride out is uneventful and I arrive at Tim Nevadomski's house around 7:00pm. Then we hit a local brew pub and grab some grub. Then it is on to the local Country and Western Bar. At this point I am pretty sure I am already in Purgatory. Did I mention it
was raining like an SOB. Through the night we have a heavy thunderstorm roll through. I am sleeping in the basement at Tim's house and I can easily here the hail coming down. The next morning I wake up early and off-load the Jeep and run to the market to get supplies for the next thirty hours.
When I get back to the house Tim is packing up supplies and getting ready to go. Thankfully he has coffee brewing. The rain isn't so bad and we are hoping it will let off but the weatherman isn't so optimistic. It looks like we will spend the next 30 hours being soggy. I luckily have my top but as we will soon find out many of the
others did not. So we head off to the first rendezvous spot and meet up. It looks as if it will be a fairly good sized group. We then head back out to the second rendezvous to meet some guys that slept out near the trail head. Once there we get to hear about last night's weather as experienced from inside a car. Seems as if the hail was a bit larger out in the hills. Soon we make it to the first trail head and our 30 hours in Purgatory starts.
The first trail we hit is Bikini. This trail was opened up by Jerry Blanks the year before and is a good one. The view from this trail is unreal and it even affords a view of Mount Rushmore off in the distance. At this point every one is in
good spirits and at the first obstacle it becomes apparent that the wet weather is going to make traction difficult. One of the more humorous mishaps of the weekend happens when Brad Riggens drops his gas tank on the very first obstacle. But leave it to the bailing wire king -- he quickly has it back up in place and the Bronco is going again. We immediately lose a Toyota pick up when he decides this is a little more severe than he wanted to be doing. He wisely parks his truck and watches for awhile.
The second section of trail has everyone riding a ledge down to a lower area where you turn around and head back up a little farther down the slope.
Here Brad Riggens fresh from fixing his gas tank makes the descent.
Todd Beutel makes the descent next, in his full-size K5 Blazer.
This rig sports a 6.2L diesel and a camo page job.
Scott Wrigglesworth in his custom-build "Branger" shows us how much
narrower the ledge gets when you stuff full-size axles under your rig.
Or more correctly, when you place a little body on top of what was once
a full-size Bronco.
Mason Thorson in his sweet early Bronco shows us why every one
is a little leery of the ledge. The first drop off in itself
would be a heck of a fall but add to that the fact that if
you rolled here I don't think anything would stop you until
you got to the canyon floor. Which is several thousand feet
The next section, Bikini, is a trail that wanders up and down the canyon face. This requires many descents and then climbs back up the numerous rock ledges. Add in a little rain and wet conditions and your have the perfect recipe to make this trail downright nasty. But when the sun comes out and dry's things off this trail is a rock crawlers delight.
The clouds hover overhead but we are staying dry and the trail is
starting to dry out. Here Jason Paulie in his ultra sick early Bronco
easily claw up a rock face. Jason was the first to take an early Bronco
and narrow it. His rig also sports many cool features like hydraulic rams
instead of shackles that allow him to raise or lower the truck. He even
goes as far as vulcanizing additional rubber on to the sides of his tires
to get more sidewall traction.
If this doesn't look like fun to you, you're looking at the wrong page.
Cory Kittle's shows us how well his early Bronco can side hill. Check out
Cory's cool front bumper. He designed it himself and has been making them
for many of the early Bronco owners around the country.
Well by late afternoon we had finished Bikini and had moved over to Tim Navadomski's newest trail, T-Back. Are you starting to see a a theme with the names here? This new trail is located very near Bikini and features some similar
obstacles. Some of these obstacles are insane-looking when you first see them. But Tim says they have all been driven so on some, it is best just to take his word for it and give it a shot.
Here I am suffering a TKR (technical roll over).
As you can see both drivers tires are off the ground, I fell about 6
inches and then just stopped.
So I just backed up and tried a better line. Soon
I was up and over.
Following me was an ultra simple rig. Of course he walked right
up the obstacle.
Something about the next 100 yards of trail just kicked our butts. The next section looked just unreal but was driveable. First Scott over-extends his front end and pulls out his coil. A repeat of Montrose, but then it is discovered he has other damages as well. Scott gets to spend some quality time with a welder and soon has his truck fixed. Not more than 50 yards down the trail Todd loses an oil cooler line on his diesel. After much head scratching and removing and reattaching of various pieces
of the oil cooler assembly we are able to make up a trail fix to let Todd finish the trail. But while Todd is working on his rig Travis decides to try a go around in the CJ and soon is greeted with the sound of a U-joint letting go in his front axle.
Getting our butts kicked by T-back.
Cory gets a little high centered on this next rock ledge.
This section of T-back took precise tire placement. If
you were off just a little bit you were greeted with the
sound of screeching metal.
Nightfall comes while we are on T-back and with the climbing on many of these obstacles your lights became useless very quickly. The group somehow just slid into survival mode once nightfall came. At this point we had been on the trail for about 15 hours. Some of the toughest obstacles on T-back came under the cloak of darkness. You often had to get your spotter's instructions before hand in the form of, "go up
five feet then turn left." They would usually holler at the moment you needed to turn. This trail absolutely kicked butt and I can't wait to get out to try it in the daylight.
The night also saw us lose one or two more rigs to either driver fatigue or vehicle failure. Scott lost a U-joint, I started to lose my CV in my rear drive shaft,
and several other people suffered similar failures. Some people managed to catch a few winks of sleep whenever they could. We managed to finish T-back around 3:00 am and had to set off from there over to Twisted, the next trail we would run, a distance of about 40 miles. Of course about the time we hit the road a new line of thunderstorms blew into the hills. In forty miles of driving we braved freezing cold rain, hail, and wind gusts of around forty miles an hour. While running down the freeway to Sturgis an 18-wheeler passed our little convoy. It was raining so hard that when he would pass the rigs they would disappear in a rain cloud. Like I said luckily I had my top but both the rigs in front of me did not. When we got to Sturgis we stopped and got fuel, some coffee, and food. The group had split-up as some needed to get fuel before heading to Sturgis so we agreed to meet at the station in Sturgis. I took the chance to get a good half hour nap while we waited. I was zonked out that they had to come open my door and wake me up to tell me we were hitting the road again.
We started Twisted in the dark but the sky quickly started to lighten (the run was held on one of the weekends with the shortest nights of the year. We quickly lost Scott Wrigglesworth when his Detroit blew up for the second time this year. People were incredibly tired as many of us had been up for 24 hours at this point. Many people caught quick catnap's between obstacles on Twisted or when people had to make repairs. But spirits definitely improved once daylight showed itself. Although the rain never did stop on Sunday it would lighten at times. Of course Twisted is so tight that if you wanted to keep your top you had to put it down. So we were all pretty soggy by day's end.
Hey Jerry, notice that rock?
It was raining again and the rest of the trail saw motors
getting caressed by the go pedal. Even the easy climb up became challenging when drenched beyond belief. Finally though we reached the top and aired up. There was discussion about going on to do Hangman as it had been originally planned. But at that point we were only two hours short of the 30 hours on the trail and by the time we got back to Rapid we would be at 30 hours. So the group decided we had enough and said our good byes.
Jerry Blanks makes the climb out of the creek
bed back up to what is normally a nice drive out to the
gravel road above. Jerry really revved the snot of his
little Toyota on this obstacle.
Soon after getting out on the gravel road it became apparent that my rear CV had been completely toasted on Twisted and we had to pull over so I could remove
the rear shaft. The rest of the way I ran back in front wheel drive. Not exactly fun in the Black Hills on all those curvy roads. But we made it back to Tim's house and loaded the Jeep back on the trailer. We went inside and decided to make a copy of the video I had shot. So we set that up and proceeded to start
watching that. I nodded off and woke up several hours later to see Tim sleeping as well. So I left the video taping and went down to sleep. The next morning I woke early after sleeping for 14 hours or so and hit the road back to Minnesota.
What a weekend! The Black Hills 4 Wheelers put on another killer event. Tim Nevadomski was gracious enough to let me spend the weekend at his house. Thanks Tim. The rest of the guys, as always, were a blast to wheel with. Would I do it again? Well I guess if they Twisted my arm........