During the last day of the 2016 Lonestar Toyota Jamboree, the decision was made to put the 2017 event on our calendar. During one of my many conversations with Mark from Metaltech 4×4, I was asked to represent them at the Jamboree, as Metaltech 4×4 is an event sponsor. I was honored by the proposition, and on May 3rd, we left SW Florida for Gilmer Texas, with the EvilFJ and Expedition Trailer loaded with camping gear, tools and parts and Metaltech Swag and handouts.
The week prior to the Jamboree, eastern Texas was plagued by heavy storms and even some tornadoes. As we were setting up our overnight camp in Mississippi, we were hit throughout the night by the heavy thunderstorms and rain departing the Texas area. Our camp held up good, though the top of the extension on our CVT tent filled up with a lot of water.
After a coffee and breakfast stop in Hattiesburg, MS we were on our way to Gilmer.
We arrived at Barnwell Mountain in Gilmer, TX on Thursday afternoon. After signing in with Chris and getting our Sponsor decals, we settled down on a campsite, and set up camp. Dinner was provided that evening by Long View Toyota of Texas.
The next day, I had signed up for some guided 3 to 4 diamond trails. With a group of FJs, Tacomas and a very nice Landcruiser 200, who happened to be our campsite neighbor, we hit the trails. They were some technical trails, with big ledges and drops, off camber sections and close trees.
The first day was a successful day, no issues on the trails, no breakages on EvilFJ or others in my trail groups.
In the afternoon my friend Charlie came up from Ft. Hood to hang out with us.
Him and I set up EvilFJ in the Sponsor/Vendor area and punched raffle cards and handed out Metaltech Swag consisting of a variety of stickers, patches and nifty folding wallet knives. The stuff was well received and we got to meet and talk to a multitude of awesome folks.
The day ended with Jambalaya provided by the Louisiana Cruisers, and ended for us at camp with a nice fire, live music and adult beverages.
Saturday started for us with some trails, and again, 3 and 4 diamond trails were selected.
Towards the last part of the first trail, EvilFJ had some difficulty getting up on a ledge with the rear tire. I got a winch up from the trail lead, and was able to get to the top without any difficulty. The problem was the fact I had not aired down enough, I had some reservations about going too low with my wheel and tire combo, but it proved to be unfounded and counter productive as far as rock crawling ability goes. I quickly aired down to 18psi and had no more issues.
The next trail up started good, but ended with a pretty good trail break: the 2007 FJ Cruiser in front of me, experienced a broken rear ring gear and pinion.
The truck bounced in the rocks a bit, and made a terrible grinding noise.
We spent the next hour and a half winching the disabled vehicle to the top of the very steep, rocky and off camber trail.
After the trails, it was group photo time. A large number of vehicles were staged and lined up carefully. As we were representing Metaltech 4×4, we were able to have EvilFJ on the front row with the other sponsor vehicles.
After that, the Stampede race and the rock garden race took place, always good crowd pleasers, and an excellent way to do every damage to a truck if not prepared and built properly.
That evening was a catered BBQ dinner, and the big raffle. Many big prices ranging from complete bumpers, roof top tents and sliders to recovery gear and labor gift certificates from Baertrax in Dallas for gear installs.
Sunday unfortunately meant we had to pack up camp, say goodbye to old and new friends we made, and head back to FL.
We stopped in the Panama City and camped at a campground close to the beach to recuperate and get a well deserved day of relaxation before heading back to SW Florida.
Overall, a great event, once again. We will most definitely go in 2018, only this time I may trailer the EvilFJ up.