The Loop - A True Story


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Posted by Farmer Dean on May 19, 2004 at 12:27:30:

After hearing so many stories and acutely aware that a thunderstorm could render the Loop impassible forever, I decided the time was now to do the Loop. It had become more than just another beautiful drive. It was now to be more of a right of passage; being able to walk the walk and talk the talk. Its mid April 2004. I'm done reading posts and plan my trip. I've decided to go up South Park and down Pleasent.
I bring my 11 and 13-year-old kids as I figure they don't have enough life experience to be afraid. We stop at Briggs and have a wonderful lunch. I pour over the guest book checking recent makes and models, which have completed the Loop. I walk up to the offending point and measure the width of the road. I measure my wheel width. I'm ready. I have the right vehicle, a Jeep Cherokee with the proper tires, lift, suspension and drivelines. I've decided I'll let fear be my guide - if it's too scary I won't attempt Chicken Rock. I love Death Valley, but I don't want to be buried there, if you know what I mean. I send my 13-year-old daughter to the top of the hill before we start to prevent the remote possibility of meeting another traveler mid-way.
We reach the obstacle. I hug the inside edge of the mountain and squeak through. Made it! Navigated Chicken Rock! My son and I high five it and continue on. I must admit at this time I'm feeling a little smug - no make that cocky. This wasn't so bad. All this cyberchat had unnerved me. I now begin to question the validity of all the tales I've read about....enough, I think, enjoy your trip.
We cross the Bridge and continue on several hundred yards to - you guessed it - the real Chicken Rock. Holly S--t. Are you kidding me? That last obstacle wasn't Chicken Rock, you idiot, it was a bend in the road. Now I've really done it. I can't back down this road! I'm committed to the Loop now. I study the road base like an impressionalist painting. I plot my course. My thoughts race; if I slide off the cliff I'm doomed. Should I belt in or is there a slight chance I could be thrown clear as the Jeep rolls down the cliff.
I assign my 11-year-old son the job of spotter. I start the Jeep and put it in low - thank goodness for automatic transmissions. My son's hand signals look like a Navy flager in the wind. I have no idea what he's telling me to do. I ease on the gas. Before I make one millimeter of foward motion the front tires break loose and slide two inches closer to the edge (seemed like two feet). I back up a foot and decide to approach six inches closer to the inside despite the fact it increases my tilt even more towards the cliff. Once again I ease on the gas. This time it walks right over the outcrop and through the obstacle. Thank God I sprung for the good tires!
Thanks to all previous posters for your accurate trail descriptions, and my apologies for that moment I doubted you. We had a great adventure which we will remember forever. Farmer Dean


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