Wheeling in the Kawartha’s
By Lynne Rabak, Photos courtesy LAJOC Members
Anticipation and excitement fills the months leading up to the first weekend in August. For an event that has become synonymous with good times and great wheeling – Trailfest.
We gladly exchange our familiar urban and suburban environments for the more remote wilderness, enjoying its sights, smells, sounds and being surrounded with other people who share our passion for getting off the asphalt and away from our regular lives for a few days. And, let’s face it, we want to see how our “grocery-getter”, winter project or latest upgrade will perform on the trails.
The seventh annual Trailfest, hosted by the London and Area Jeep Owners Club (LAJOC) had a solid turnout with almost 300 people of all ages in 147 vehicles and a high level of camaraderie. People from as far away as Massachusetts, Western New York, Quebec and naturally, all over Southern and Central Ontario converged near Bobcaygeon, Ontario to test their skills, learn new ones and contribute to the Club’s annual fundraising efforts for this year’s chosen charities: Galway-Cavendish and Harvey Firefighters Association, the London Food Bank, Scouts Canada and the Soldier On Fund.
The weather, although a bit cool and wet while people were registering on Friday night, cleared up to the perfect temperature and amount of sunshine for the next two days of wheeling. Wet ground on Saturday morning upped the ante for some of the steeper climbs but that also created the perfect opportunity for the lucky few to get bragging rights when they made it up unassisted. Everyone got cheers and shouts of encouragement; no matter the outcome, smiles were in abundance the entire event. Nine trails, from the introductory “101-Bumps ‘N’ Bruises” up to the aptly-named “Lunatic Fringe” provided the right amount of challenge of technical, off-camber, climbs and descents on limestone ledges and granite slabs, for stock to heavily modified vehicles, with most being in the mid-level category. For 2013 we added another mid-level trail, “PJ’s Waterfall”, to provide a new experience for the many faithful participants who support our event every year. The “101-Bumps ‘N’ Bruises” session on Saturday had a great turnout where “newbie’s” to our family of enthusiasts learned 4-wheel-drive basics including vehicle specifics, trail etiquette, the “code” of some wheeling jargon, and most important, the essentials of driving off-road through hands-on practice – foundational skills that were put to good use on Sunday’s trails.
After a great day on the trails, events at Base Camp added to the fun, with games like the kids’ Scavenger Hunt, Turtle Race, Stop on Eh Dime, Blind Driver, and challenges like the RTI Ramp and Teeter-Totter. Saturday’s evening’s Soldier On Fund Charity BBQ raised $2022 in support of rehabilitation efforts through sport and recreation for our wounded or ill Canadian forces personnel. Since 2011, the BBQ has raised $6259.50, thanks to the support of its sponsors and the generosity of those participating at Trailfest.
Special moments this year included having fallen soldier, Marc Diab’s Commemorative Jeep on display showcasing the generous donations from over 20 sponsors to make his dream Jeep a reality and an acknowledgement to our patriarch Trail Guide, “Popeye” who is retiring at the age of 85, thanking him for his many years of dedication to the Club and Trailfest.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of participating in Trailfest, watch for updates on the www.Trailfest.ca and LAJOC (www.londonjeepclub.org) web sites in the New Year. Spaces fill up quickly so start planning now to join us!