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I finally got on some winter trails last week. Here's what we found.

A friend was in town, so we tossed our skis in the Bronco and headed to the mountains. Before leaving pavement, we fueled up, and met a guy at the station who used to own an ’82 FSB that he used to cruise the beach with. He couldn’t save it from a mysterious fuel / air issue and bought 3 Bronco 2s after that.

We turned off the pavement and onto a semi-plowed snow road and followed it for about fifteen miles.

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Then we turned off onto a snowmobile trail. Earlier in the week, I had found some metal clips being thrown out that already had a hole drilled in them and that looked like they'd fit over a valve stem. I'd seen something like this done with binder clips before, so I made a set of tools to help air down. They worked great. Go down to about 5 psi over with these clips then finish off with a regular bleeder.

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We found a place to leave Snowbeast for the night and set off for a sunset ski run. We have special skis that we put skins on the bottom of to let us climb uphill before taking the skins off to cruise back down.

The map showed an old logging road that wound its way up the side of a mountain. We were psyched to ski it. It started off as a real road.

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But after a mile, when it turned up the side of a mountain, it turned out that whatever “road” it had once been, it was now growing back with small trees. There was a lot of moose activity keeping the trail open, but the skiing was going to be super tight. We pressed uphill until sunset before turning around to find out how bad it would be. Well, it was terrible skiing, but pretty fun for the challenge! The lower part of the road was a lot wider and gave us about a mile or so of easy gliding back to the truck. Skis & moose tracks in the pic.

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Back at the truck, we built up a fire and made camp. We cracked open a coconut with a drift punch and then made coconut-lemongrass soup and Thai curry.

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Before bed, we took a walk down the snowmobile trail while a storm built up. We didn't use any lights and stayed out there for a good while. It was a new moon and clouded sky. I don't know where the light came from, but there was just enough to see pretty well. We ventured as far off the snowmobile trail and into the forest as we dared, enveloped by mystique. The embers of the fire were a welcome sight on our return to camp.


A storm blew the whole night, but it was mostly just wind. The campfire was like that lamp in the bible that burned way longer than it should have. Once in a while, I’d wake up to see a flame’s light through the tent even though the fire had already gone out. It was the gusty wind that kept breathing the embers back into flame now and then.


The next morning, we went back to the plowed snow road and launched Snowbeast over the snow bank onto another unplowed road. Parked her there and set off for some more skiing.

Crossed a frozen river on the way up:

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And then we entered wonderland:

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Lots more moose tracks. And these from a snowshoe hare:

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The skiing was way better than the night before. Got some really good views near the top, and some turns through the trees on the descent. About 2.5 miles each way plus some trekking through extremely rugged terrain near the top.


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Before this trip, I noticed that the battery was weak, and had tried to change it, but my replacement didn’t fit right (size was good, but the posts weren’t in the right spots). So I made sure to have the “2000A” Audew Lithium booster pack charged up. We probably used it to jumpstart the Bronco half a dozen times over the weekend. That little thing really rocks. No, it can’t possibly be “2000 A” with those little cable wires, but it sure does the job. There are videos on YouTube of that model or the smaller version starting a truck like 50 times.
 

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Discussion Starter #2
Along the way, we discovered that 10 PSI was way grippier than 20 PSI for the wet snow that we were on. I’m sure that lower would have been even better, but I was having fun driving “fast”. It felt like being in a low-gravity moon buggy between the low pressure tires and the soft snow. What would have normally been a jarring road was really soft even though the bumps were often big and the suspension got a slow-motion workout.

The Bronco lived up to its namesake as a wild horse. It was quite a ride.

I learned that my gauge is only good down to 10 PSI. I'd need something better to measure down to say 5 psi.

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Once back on pavement, it started raining / snowing again. There was a thin layer of snow on the ground, so I did an aggressive stop to see how traction was. I expected to slip at least a little, but it bit into the ground like dry pavement. So I kept it slow, but I didn’t feel a need to put it back into 4WD.





Two minutes later, going up a hill, the Bronco started to slide. I recovered. It immediately started to slide again. I didn’t recover this time, but did get the speed way down before going off the road. Snowbeast must have been mad that we were leaving all the fun of the snow roads behind us, and in a protest, she dove headfirst into the plowed snow bank. I said “hey, get out of that snow!” and expected her to protest, but she pulled right out instantly with a grin. With the giant bumper, she left an impressive face mask in the bank.



Once back fully on the road, I got out to lock the hubs and nearly fell on my ass twice from the black ice that covered the entire hill. It was best to keep ahold of the truck while walking around it!



In 4WD, the traction was really impressive. It now went right up the same hill that I could barely walk on and that had bested it in 2WD. Still, I’m almost glad I learned that there was black ice when I did, at 30 mph in 2WD, instead of being fine in 4WD, not realizing the danger, and then pushing it up to 50 where the result might have been a lot worse. Lesson learned. Conditions can change FAST.



4WD adds a lot more on-road grip/stability than I expected. I had already learned that lesson twice before, in a Grand Cherokee and later a Durango. Maybe, this third time, the lesson will stick.


If there was any doubt about putting studs on for the winter, that got rid of it. Next season, I’ll bore out the wheels and wheel spacers that I picked up and put a set of of studded tires on. $500 of rubber and spikes could keep from causing a lot of damage or worse.



A lot of friendly people stopped to offer help or check us out along the way when we were stopped to air up or down, jump the engine, or back out of the snow bank. We returned the favor for the vehicles we saw pulled over road side. But this trip, everyone we saw was having a good time on their own, and no one had any real trouble.

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'95 XLT: 5.8, MAF, E4OD, 4.56's, 6" lift on 33's
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Sounds like a great outing and a perfect "getting to know you" ride with your FSB.
Appreciate you bringing us along for the adventure.

Mind if I ask your location?
 

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Glad y'all enjoy the story.

Mind if I ask your location?
PM'd with details. Generally, New England

Great real world use story. Glad the Bronco got you into and out of the adventure.
Yeah, I'm looking for more places like this that you need 4x4 to get to with adventure at the end. It's tough around here though. Almost everything is paved, and most of the dirt roads aren't that wild to start and get gated for the winter. Another reason to go West, eventually...
 

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Man I'm Jealous. Living down here in Lower Alabama, we dont have that. But I'd sure like to give it a try. Great Post Thanks!!!
 
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