The Trooper's First Trip - Santiago Peak

So things happened, and we didn’t get to do the overnight trip to Big Bear we had planned. As a consolation prize, we did a day trip over the spine of Saddleback Mountain. It’s not very technical, but there are some pretty incredible views. P.S. The sky is not blue.

The week leading up to the trip allowed me to perform some final prep. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t have enough time to get the 4WD working. The broken speed sensor wire from the spring dislocation last trip remains, and one of the CV axles is still, um, not there. I got a quote from a local shop to replace both CV axles; they want a G-note since the front diff has to come out as well during replacement.

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Accepting this setback, I replaced the upper ball joints so a wheel wouldn’t fall off on the trail (like it did on my first 4Runner), installed spring retainers and rear sway bar links, and got it aligned. Inspired by SWITAWI’s response to my last entry on O&E, I found out that Whiteline makes cut-to-fit sway bar links for under $60. Jackpot!

The sway bar links help limit down travel, which has been a problem for me. Not to be bitten by the spring serpent again, I fashioned some metal zip ties as a second measure to keep the break venom at bay. Some of you may cringe at the following picture, but know that it worked.

Metal spring retainers take jerry-rigging to a whole new level.
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The Trail

My brother, his wife and kids, my wife and I all spontaneously headed out at 2:30pm, confident that we would reach the peak by sunset. If I haven’t mentioned it before, my brother has a FZJ80 on 35s he affectionately calls the Sand Cruiser. We’re both Toyota guys, but I went off the reservation this time and got an Isuzu hoping it would be more interesting. It has been interesting to say the least, and my brother takes every opportunity to remind me. I always respond to him that “reliability is tedious,” and I’m beginning to believe it.

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On the descent, my brother radioed that his power steering was going out. Such a shame, as mine was working just fine :) In fact, nothing broke on the Troop the entire trip. The thing just hooked up and went without a struggle. The ride wasn’t the best, and it makes some creaks and rattles I’m going to have to remedy, but the thing is a beast. I would put it up against the best rigs out there, that is, once it has 4WD again.


Halfway up facing Lake Elsinore
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Shrubbery

Best Rig Spotted on the Trail Award goes to:

Comanche Unlimited?
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Goodyear Duratrac Tire Review

They’re awesome. Best hybrid since the mule. Would recommend over anything at any price.

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Dusty bottoms.
Shades of Green
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Santiago Peak
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Unsurprisingly, the boys wanted to ride in Unc’s Trooper. I can’t be sure, but I think we created a couple Isuzu fans. I’m not sure there’ll be any good examples left on the road by the time they’re old enough to drive :/

Hopefully, there’ll be at least one.

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Goodnight.

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