03 June 2009

Wheelers for the Wounded, Texas

Well, I’ve been in absentia a bit, but here’s a report that is long overdue.
A few weeks back, B. and I participated in the Wheelers for the Wounded event at Hidden Falls Ranch. For those of you who don’t know, Wheelers for the Wounded was created by Jason Havlik, who plans to cross the United States hosting injured service members on off-road vehicle trail rides. The Texas event was hosted by Midnight Four Wheelers, a really amazing club here in San Antonio.
For the event, wounded warriors and their families were bused in from Ft. Sam Houston and Ft. Hood. Food was provided from an old fashioned chuck wagon that stewed up beans and grilled ribs.
There were about 100 rigs taking families out on trail rides. Some took gentle trips on dirt paths while others chose to tackle aggressive climbs up rock faces or through water holes. Our group had a blast. We started through water that was so deep it seeped into the Jeep tub through the doors and drainage holes. It got as high as the seat tops, but luckily the engine kept pulling. I’m glad we didn’t have to stop because we were sharing the creek with a cottonmouth that was swimming the other way.
I little further ahead, I unseated a bead on one tire and had to jack the Jeep up in knee-deep water, but luckily the snake did not make a repeat appearance.
At the top of the mountain by the radio tower we got an amazing view of the Hill Country, and we could see all the other vehicles scurrying through the trails below.
It was amazing to see the great spirit of the soldiers who came out for the ride, some of whom were in wheelchairs. A lot of troops brought their children and it was very rewarding to help them to have a day relaxing with their families.
We fared pretty well on some tough trails, and the only damage we sustained was a broken front axle U-joint. As is usually the fashion, there were plenty of other Jeepers willing to jump in and help get it squared away.