Drummond Island, Michigan
Jeep Jamboree USA 2008
Oh the joys of having a Jeep Jamboree right in your home state. The nice thing is that the drive is not that bad and it is very scenic. It is not very often that I get to travel across the Mackinac Bridge to cross into Michigan's Upper Peninsula. My friend Nick and I set off early Thursday morning and by the time we cross the bridge, the temperature had dropped about 20 degrees from when we left the Detroit area.
I had just gotten my Jeep fixed up with a new radiator & fan with the big help of Mike at Mumbly's in Roseville, MI. Much thanks to him for getting it done just in time.
For those who do not know where Drummond Island is, it is located on the Eastern edge of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The location is very scenic and remote, as you have to take a ferry across to get to the island. On the island there are only a few main roads, so getting around is not too hard. A few years ago an off-road park opened on the island, Turtle Ridge, providing many obstacles for people to enjoy.
At the sign-in I chose to go with the same trail leader as last year, Kevin Olmstead, in the red group. It is the stock group, but I find it more fun to see people's reactions as many of the group are off-roading for the first time. Most of the groups run the same trails on the island anyways, so you don't miss out on too many obstacles.
The first day at the drivers meeting it was announced that there were about 120 Jeeps signed up, which is quite a large group and an excellent turnout. Jeeps ranged from the bone stock to the extremely modified. It also provided a chance to meet the people who would be in the red group for the next two days.
Two familiar faces from last year that were in the red group again were Jim and his son Tommy from the Cleveland, OH area. Tommy had brought a new Jeep that he got for a steal from a little old lady in Ohio. Jim brought his very nicely equipped Jeep Rubicon, that he had added some minor improvements to it. Since it was Father's Day weekend, it was only fitting that they were up here together. A couple of great guys; although, we didn't give Jim as much ribbing this year as last.
Some other people in our group that I got to know (only because I was following them pretty much the whole time) was Candice & Ray. They were a nice couple from the Chicago, IL area. It was their first time taking her brand new JK out on the trails. It performed admirably and they did quite well. I also ran into my friend Derek from Minnesota. He had a little bit of an adventure getting to Drummond, since he hit a deer on the way over in the U.P. Good thing you had that ARB bull bar, huh?
Since it had rained most of the week, the trails were very wet and muddy. That makes for more fun though, right? Our first day was spent swatting at mosquitoes that were thick as thieves in the dense woods. I think I came away with about 25 mosquito bites at least from the weekend. The second part of the day was at Turtle Ridge ORV Park. Naturally we make sure to "Tread Lightly" in all areas that the JJUSA's go, so that is rule #1. Turtle Ridge is laid out very well and has some challenging obstacles. The area call The Citadel provided a great challenging in going down and up some of the hills. At the Citadel there are many lines to take that range from the easy to the very difficult. Even the lines that we chose were not very easy at all. Everyone in our group did an excellent job of maneuvering the landscape. The next area we went to was The Ledges. At The Ledges there are again different lines to traverse up the hill. Even though the landscape looked challenging it could be handled by our group. The line I chose was a little more difficult, and if I had maybe a little bit more lift, I could have made it (but isn't that we all think??). So I had to go around as well. Next year...
The second we made our way over to the Marblehead area. This area has to be by far the most scenic view you can get from the island. The Marblehead steps lead to a cliff that overlooks Lake Huron onto Canada. Of course, you have to go down and then back up the steps of solid rock. Going down the steps is not too bad, just have to remember that when you hear the "crunch" underneath you, that is why they put skid plates on Jeeps. Everyone in the group made it down no problems, except for a minor "cosmetic improvement" on Chris' new Jeep Liberty. Going back up, again, everyone did an excellent job in going slow and listening to the trail guides. After Marblehead came the water areas. And when I mean water areas, there were some that were probably four feet deep in some areas. I think next year I'm going to equip my Jeep with a propeller on the back as well as the snorkel! We just had to make sure everyone got through it ok. There were some setbacks, but everyone made it out safely.
Once again, a great JJUSA in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan that gets a great turnout of people from all over. Thank you to all who put the Drummond Island JJUSA on!! Excellent job!!
I'll see you in the trail again soon,
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Podcast (audio files)