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BFGoodrich Hits Fordyce Trail with $4000 Grant
Story and Photos by Charlene Bower

The words "Land Use" have become like an STD.  As soon as somebody says those words or has it in the title of an article, heads turn away and mouse clickers bypass the information.  Why?  I think I know. Most Land Use information and articles have huge words that we don't use on a regular basis or have any clue what they mean. It seems like it doesn't directly affect us, and quite frankly its just plain depressing to think of our trails closing, so if we don't think about it then it won't happen. How did I do?

So lets not use big words, instead lets hit the Fordyce Creek Trail with Gary Enterline from BFGoodrich Tires and a rock star crew.

The BFGoodrich Outstanding Trails Program recognizes multiple trails each year with grant money to assist with preserving the trail and continuing conservation efforts.  Since 2006, BFGoodrich has recognized 19 trails throughout the US and Canada, granting over $70,000 to keep your tires in the dirt!  This year, they recognized the Fordyce Creek Trail, and we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to show Gary Enterline the uniqueness of the trail they chose.

Most of the star studded cast rolled out of their beds between 4-5am to make it to the Fordyce Creek Trail by our 5:45am meeting time. This cast of characters would make any man drool to be on the same trail at the same time: Guest of Honor Gary Enterline - BFGoodrich Tires; Jason Scherer - Cabin Host & 2009 King of the Hammers Winner; Jeff Mello - Over 100 Wins to Date; Jason Berger - Co-pilot for Scherer at KOH and host to Disabled Sports trail rides; Lance & Camo - from the one and only Pirate4x4.com; Robin Stover - Four Wheeler Magazine; Myself and Cousin Kristen who was on her first trail ride ever!

We left the staging area a little red-eyed, but ready to rock and roll.  With the Thursday Sierra Trek trail ride on our tails, we scuttled up the first rocky obstacle and waited for the whole group to arrive.  Gary Enterline addressed the group of off roaders and let them know about the $4,000 grant that BFGoodrich was going to present at the Saturday night dinner to Friends of Fordyce to assist with maintaining the trail.

As we climbed back into the rigs, Enterline took the drivers seat of Scherer's King of the Hammers buggy, where he remained securely planted all day.  Enterline smiled while remarking to the group "the power and crawling ability of this rig is unmatched to anything I have driven before."  But he is no rookie to the rocks.  He owns a 1997 TJ that he has done almost all the modifications to himself, which sits in the garage alongside his other toys which could include dirt and street bikes.

The next stop was at a Gabion.  Don't worry, I didn't know what the technical term for what I was looking at was either.  A gabion is similar to a retaining wall.  The Fordyce Trail had been washed out in this particular section and was impassible to vehicles. The Friends of Fordyce and Webilt 4WD Club came in and created a wall using rebar, fence and large rocks to re-create a surface and re-open the trail.  These are the types of projects that the BFGoodrich money will go towards.

We continued along the trail, all of us chatting and having a great time within our rigs.  We crossed over the spectacular water crossings that have stories of being class IV rapids, but they were calm and mellow for the Sierra Trek weekend.  The winch hills were easily climbable with the exceptional rigs that Scherer, Mello, Berger and Lance brought out on the trail that day, but would certainly be reckoning for most as these climbs are classified as among the most difficult in the Sierra Nevadas.

As an off road enthusiast, I think the greatest part of my trail riding experience isn't necessarily the bumping over the rocks, but the exploring and fascination with the rock formations and the history that is buried under the overgrowth of bushes and trees.  This is something that we as off roaders understand and respect, but few on the outside who are trying to close our trails can comprehend.  We pulled off the trail around 11am and started out on our hour cardiovascular hiking portion of the day.  Leave it to Mello to have us hiking through the woods at 7000ft elevation, and Camo to give us the history lesson on all the different rusted artifacts and mine tailings.  The city of Carlisle laid up in these here hills, and we relived through our best reflections how they got all of the massive mining equipment and supplies to this remote area.  We awed at the chiseling and digging into the crevasses where they searched to find their fortune, and stared up at the main mine still so far up the mountain that we knew we would never make it up there without some serious 24hr Fitness preparation. 

As we all climbed back into our rigs we reminded ourselves how lucky we are not to be hard labor workers as those that lived in this area in the 19th century. Then the high Sierra weather spoke up and let us know that mother nature was always in charge.  In the middle of August, where there is supposedly Global Warming, the sky broke loose and the rain and hail stormed down on us.  The sweet smell of rain on the tall trees, soft dirt and warm rocks is something that many so-called "enviromentalists" sitting behind a desk in a big city probably have never smelled. 

After we passed through the last creek crossing and approached the final obstacle, it happened... Lance ran out of talent.  Without one backup all day, his "score" was close to perfect, but with the blink of an eye his front end was completely hung up and he had to go for the backup.  With Camo as the passenger, I can only imagine the commentary from within the cab as the Toyota moved backwards...yet not quite far enough to be correctly lined up for the obstacle.  It was slow, somewhat motionless, as the Toyota slowly rolled onto the passenger side door and luckily settled in the least rocky section of that trail.  The group quickly assisted with uprighting the vehicle and preparing it for re-start. Two people grabbed the empty chip bag from our garbage and started filling it with some broken glass and debris until there was no proof left on the ground of such an incident.  A couple others worked on pulling the plugs and grabbed a plastic bag to lay on the ground so there was no oil spill into the dirt.  This is not only a star studded group but a rock star group that is 100% respectful of the environment.  One person's trash can cost us our trail.

We headed off the trail and did a quick drive by of Fordyce Lake, the rain had started in again, and it was time to get the heck off the hill.  It was explained to me that the dirt road/trail that we were on was going to be shut down to all OHV green sticker vehicles in the next couple of months.  Only plated vehicles would be allowed.  When did this happen?  How did this happen?  How could an access road be closed?  Pretty simple folks: most of us aren't paying enough attention and those fighting to keep our trails open need YOUR help.

There were smiles all around.  And Cousin Kristen (who, remember had never even been on the trail before) had the biggest smile of them all.  A rookie to the dirt (with very limited driving experience and no clutch experience) had the master Jeff Mello teach her how to crawl up two of the extreme winch hills.  "All we have to do is get people out on the trail.  There is an 100% acceptance rate once they see what we see, and experience what we enjoy with our families," said Mello.

This particular weekend the Fordyce Creek Trail was host to the California Association of 4WD Club's Sierra Trek that base camped at the Cisco Grove Campground.  Gary Enterline, the Scherer family, the Mello family, Robin Stover, Cousin Kristen and I all headed to the event site for Saturday night dinner and the Outstanding Trails Program presentation.  Enterline  was joined by Todd Ockert from the United Four Wheel Drive Associations to grant the $4000 check to Friends of Fordyce President Bret Preble to assist with the continued preservation of  the trail and conservation efforts while encouraging responsible use.

Earlier in the day I had the opportunity to talk with Bret Preble from Friends of Fordyce who told me that the first project on the list is completing the mud bypass.  They have workdays starting in September that everyone is encouraged to show up for and participate in.  These work days "are like yard work, you don't want to do it, but you can't believe how much you get done, and how good you feel for participating," said Scherer. 

As I grabbed my last load to take down to the truck on Sunday morning to make the journey home I asked Gary Enterline what his final word was, "It was a great weekend, I am so upset that my wife couldn't be here to experience the beauty of the Fordyce Creek Trail that I guess I'll just have to come back!"

It was a great weekend, and well worth the trip.  Never a dull moment with this cast of characters!  Take it from the Pros on how to be genuinely respectful of the land by picking up trash, assisting with trail programs and supporting the local clubs.  And with BFGoodrich's support, they are helping us keep our tires in the dirt on the Fordyce Creek Trail and 18 other trails across the US and Canada!

Congratulations, you just made it through an entire Land Use article.  I knew you could do it! 

Let me be blunt.  Trails are getting closed down across the US and it is time to take note and do something about it or we won't have a place to take our rigs and enjoy the weekend.  This IS reality and YOU need to do something about it!  Please participate!

www.fordycetrail.org

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Tread Lightly!
Tread Lightly! is a national nonprofit organization whose mission is to proactively protect recreation access and opportunities.  Tread Lightly!'s strategic educational message, along with its training and restoration initiatives are designed to instill an ethic of responsibility in outdoor enthusiasts and the industries that serve them.  The program is long-term in scope with a goal to balance the needs of the people who enjoy outdoor recreation with the needs of the environment and it's leading the way to help remedy current and future recreation issues.  Tread Lightly! is proud to be recognized by the USDA Forest Service and its partner actively engaged in collaborating to implement solutions to the problem associated with outdoor recreation. www.treadlightly.org

United Four Wheel Drive Associations (UFWDA)
United Four Wheel Drive Associations is the world's leading representative of all-brand four wheel-drive enthusiasts.  UFWDA benefits, developed and tested true over the past 30 years, include four wheel drive safety and awareness education; user ethics programs such as adopt-a-road, conservation volunteer, and volunteer trail patrol; assistance with new club formation; education seminars to aid four wheelers through complex state and federal programs affecting trail access; Internet forums designed to connect members globally and instantaneously; and unrestrained member access to its full-time legislative advocate and nationally-recognized attorney working exclusively for four wheel drive enthusiasts to protect access and prevent road and trail closures.  For more information on the UFWDA log on to www.ufwda.org or call toll free 1-800-44-UFWDA (800-448-3932).

BFGoodrich Tires
Using motorsports as a proving ground for more than 30 years, BFGoodrich Tires is involved in every type of racing, including oval, sports car, drifting, drag, desert, dirt, rally and extreme rock-crawling.  BFGoodrich Tires combines technological expertise with vast motorsports experience, delivering a high-performance tire for every type of vehicle.  Visit BFGoodrich Tires online at www.bfgoodrichtires.com