The group had limped into Glen Allen as wheel speed sensors had plagued us again as well as a driveline issue. It was going to take some serious ingenuity to get the JK from Tactical Jeeps back the road…luckily Mel has some of the best wrenches in the nation on these trips. Kelly Carter from Low Range 4×4 and Russ Huff took a look at the situation and found that the JK would need a new driveline and as luck would have it there was one on the trip but it was going to require some serious fab work to convert it from an Atlas transfer case to the stock JK case. A local CAT service trucked pulled into the hotel parking lot about the time they realized that Russ had brought every tool needed for this fix in his JK. The driver graciously gave us his service truck and everyone went to work. It would require milling down a flange to fit the stock t-case and then re drilling and tapping the part for bolts. It was going to take some real thinking and backyard machining to make this work.
When it was all said and done the part worked flawlessly and the machine work was even balanced and didn’t vibrate. With the repairs complete, we had our last drivers meeting of the trip. Mel told us to expect to use the snorkles and that we’d be doing some roads miles to the next wheeling place and then from there back to Anchorage where the group would be attending a meet and great for locals to come meet the MFG’s and the drivers and see the rigs of the JK Experience.
We pulled out of the parking lot and all of us had that overwhelming feeling of almost sadness. We’d been on the most amazing adventure and covered almost 2000 miles in seven days and worked through the harshest mechanical and weather conditions. No one wanted the journey to end but if it had to end we knew it was going to be amazing. As we reached the parking lot of the Knik Recreation area everyone aired down for high speeds on gravel and mud and rock. Eric and CJ decided they were going to make the trek up river in a burned out Subaru instead of their built JK’s.
Once everyone was ready, we had a quick drivers meeting to talk about the river crossing and that we’d be going up the river 25 miles to an ending location and then back down. We turned out of the parking lot and headed up the vast valley of the Knik River.
As we forded a river channel after a mud bog, we were slowly making our way toward the 25 mile goal. You couldn’t really see what was on the other side of this earthen dike, but you could see snow over the top and everyone started motoring!
Once the Jk made the final few feet to reveal what was not the other side, we were all blown away with the beauty nature had placed in from of us. We were at the foot of the Knik Glacier, and how fitting and cool that this spot was the end of the JK Experience. Mel had told us from day one that he had worked his ass off to find the best locations for us to experience and this was the culmination of all his and his teams hard work.
As everyone got out of their rigs, they were almost speechless at the vast beauty that we were witnessing. There are very few places like this on this great planet and were considered ourselves so lucky to be able to be apart of such a grand experience.
Randy Byers, who has been on every JK Expense since day one, said it best “there have been some amazing locations but this moment I will remember for the rest of my life”. Mel had started the JK Experience to showcase what could actually be done in a JK but the trips became so much more than that, the became a platform to blow people away with the beauty of our great country. It became a place for like-minded individuals to get together and became life long friends. It became a place for Sponsors and MFG’s to be on the same playing field as their customers, and it became a place for the inexperienced to be educated by the best the wheeling world has to offer. We covered right at 2000 miles and ran some of Alaska’s toughest terrain, its most dangerous highways, and saw some the most beautiful country we’ve ever witnessed. From the bottom of Alaska to the top, this trip has been amazing.
We, as Northridge 4×4, became a sponsor of this great event to let you know what the parts you buy from us can do, we also wanted you the customers and fans to know we are serious about understanding our parts and not just the part numbers. We set out on this 2000 mile Alaska JK Experience in probably our least built JK, in comparison to some of our other builds, to prove that we carry the best parts from the budget based builds to the most extreme built JK. Its been an honor to cover these events for the past year and we can’t wait to see what Mel Wade has in store for the JL Experience. Thank you for following us on all of our local feeds and look out for the video’s we have coming in the near future!