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Phoenix Hummer Happening - January 17, 2004
The first (dealer sponsored) Phoenix Hummer Happening of 2004 was an interesting and fun filled trip. Over 60 vehicles were registered by Friday and the parking lot at Arizona Mills in Tempe, AZ were filled with 6 rows of H1's and H2's. Lee from New Mexico came out for this Happening (the furthest one to come out to one of these dealer sponsored events), and everything seemed to go as planned.
There was an interesting twist to the whole planned trip. On the evening of January 16, 2003, a local radio station (KTAR-AM 620) and a local radio DJ (Preston Westmoreland) mentioned on a live commercial bit for Lund Hummer the number of vehicles registered for the event. Well, the Arizona Bureau of Land Management contacted the dealer organizers that night and put the kabosh on going out to the original site of Box Canyon and beyond in Florence, AZ.
So, the decision was made by the dealers to go (diametrically opposite from where we were presently at) to Bartlett Lake (northwest of Phoenix in the Tonto National Forest) and tackle Fire Road 42 (known by the locals as FR42). After getting our snacks, UHF handheld radio, and doughnuts, the group began their convoy.
I ended up in a group of 9 (8 H1's and 1 H2) led by Clarke Ferber and Michael Bates. It seems that our group of 9 made great time - we ended up almost an hour ahead of the rest of the pack. When we got to Bartlett Lake and the FR42 turn off, a yellow H1 joined us, making the total 10 vehicles.
Attempts to reach the rest of the convoy failed, so the decision was made to press on and see if we could meet up later on.
FR42 is one trail that is a lot of fun, with some areas providing some interesting driving for owners of TT4 based H1's. There were also a few times that going down some steep hills were very interesting for some drivers in both the advance group and the main pack.
The trail itself is mainly decomposed granite, with a lot of gulleys, switchbacks, and plenty of opportunity for water crossings. The vehicles in the group I was in had many chances to get our trucks wet up to the hood (those who did not have a snorkel extension of any kind were very careful to prevent any bow waves from killing engines). Clarke demonstrated the utility (even in a desert!) of having a roof level snorkel by splashing into the water a few times to clean the trail dust off.
We never got a chance to see anyone in the main pack. We waited for them between two of the water areas in a small pseudo-island while having lunch, but we saw no sign of the main pack during the break. Radio chatter showed that they were at least in radio range.
Once moving, a water crossing allowed us to get all our trucks wet at the same time, so we took the time for a brief photo op, and continued on towards the end of the trail.
Overall, this was a very good and enjoyable run. There were lots of first time drivers, along with many familiar faces. From the radio chatter that I was able to listen to, I would be very curious as to how many new owners would be willing take their rigs out again on a trail like this (2.5 out of 5.0 in my view). Some drivers tackled the trail and voiced their enthusiasm, others were scared out of their wits (and voiced it on the air as well) but were able to overcome their trepidation and ran the trail.
If anyone is able to provide a report from the main pack perspective, please add your comments to this thread. I'd love to see what you thought of the trail along with get some stories about what happened in the main pack itself.