Big rocks and sandy washes make a perfect playground for four-wheelers. Such is the terrain surrounding the Phoenix area. Each year as the summer heat subsides and the fall season nears, the Arizona State Association of 4WD Clubs holds its annual Jamboree in the Arizona desert. The October 2000 event was the 27th annual gathering for this long weekend of 'wheeling.
From novices to veterans, stock to highly modified, daily drivers to purpose-built rock buggys, they all found a place on the trails. The four-day event featured four trails in the New River area north of Phoenix and another 17 trails in the Florence area, east of town. With 21 trails, there was plenty for everyone. Several easier runs took participants across 4WD roads, offering scenic vistas and a chance to glimpse a bit of mining history or perhaps some Native American pictographs or petroglyphs. For those yearning for a greater challenge, hungry boulders awaited to provide plenty of challenge.
This year, the weather was cooler than in the past, with highs hovering in the comfortable 70s. However, the usually dry desert was hit with thundershowers during the weekend, and a flash-flood watch was posted for the area. The inclement weather made the runs a bit more interesting. Rainwater and dirt carried onto the rocks by vehicle tires reduced traction and made all the obstacles more difficult. The rain persisted, but so did the participants.
Every year, the desert weather can make each trail just a bit different from the previous year. Here, the seasonal rains fall onto the desert soil until the ground is saturated, then the surface water starts to flow toward the nearest wash. This cumulative water flow surges and carves the sand and rock wash bottoms, letting nature rearrange the roads and the trails.
This year was no exception. Trails, such as Axle Alley and Terminator, and obstacles, such as the Luge on the Martinez Mine Trail, had been affected by previous weather the past year. Rocks had moved and the wash sands had shifted from place to place, giving new character to a number of the trails.
With the variety of trails and participants, breakdowns and mishaps were inevitable. Along with minor body dings, scratches, and dents, some vehicles suffered mechanical failure due to broken axles, tie rods, suspension components, and so on. However, with many of the four-wheelers well-equipped with tools and spares, most all broken vehicles were fixed on the trail and driven to the finish.