When you think of a Jeep club, the first thing that probably comes to your mind is a bunch of shirtless dudes out wheeling in the mud without doors, while also talking about how they’ve recovered everything from a Honda Civic to an MRAP.
The Triad Jeep Club was founded in 2010 and originally consisted of Jeep owners from the Piedmont Triad area which includes the cities of Greensboro, High Point, and Winston-Salem (hence the name, they have no relation to the Chinese organized crime). They’ve since expanded substantially and now have members from across the entire state of North Carolina.
My first interaction with the club was through their president Matt Wishon who I had met while down in Uwharrie for the I4WDTA Training for Certification. He was kind enough to invite me to camp with the club during the Uwharrie OHV Jamboree, and let me tag along for a night ride on Uwharrie’s OHV trail network.
The Dustiest Ride
After getting settled in with the group, I grabbed my gear because the club was going out on a night ride, and anyone who’s spent any time around me knows I can’t say no to a night ride.
For this run thought I parked the JK because
I had a 300 mile ride home and didn’t want to break anything I wanted to get some photos of the trail network, and be able to shoot everyone else’s jeep in action. So I rode shotgun with Cody in his 2 Door JK, without doors, in what was easily some of the dustiest trail conditions I had ever experienced (by bad I mean 5 ft of visibility in front of you, but a coal miner from the 1800’s would probably consider it par for the course).
The first thing I noticed when we hit the trail was how crowded it was even in the evening. We were rolling at least 25 trucks deep, but we were also passing people every few minutes because as I later found out, Uwharrie’s OHV trail network is open 24/7. Throw in unlimited dispersed camping and it’s really a 4-wheel drive paradise (hint hint if you haven’t gone what the heck are you waiting for).
Although what really stood out to me during this ride (besides all of the people, rigs of every kind, and the sheer awesomeness), was that repeatedly I would see members stop their rigs to pick up discarded beer cans and other trash that had been carelessly left behind on the trail. I later learned that clubs have the opportunity to adopt trails and are responsible for a substantial amount of the maintenance on the trail network, so they have a personal interest in keeping the place clean.
Everything else that followed was your typical night ride out on the trails, which means we hit some fun obstacles, had an impromptu dance party, and rolled into camp 4 hours later. Looking back I’m pretty sure I still have the black lung from all of that dust, but on the bright side I’m confident that I still have some of Uwharrie still inside me.
The Morning After
After spending the evening sharing stories around the campfire, I decided to stick around to get breakfast from the most awesome chuck wagon I’ve ever seen. Let’s be honest, anytime someone sets up an entire Army Field Kitchen to cook all the meals for a group, you’re going to stick around and eat. After breakfast I found out the club was headed out for a trail cleanup, so I tagged along because I really wanted to see Uwharrie during the daylight hours and spend some more time with this great group.
The Triad Jeep Club has adopted the Falls Dam Trail and the Art Lilley Parking Area, and they spend a lot of time working on keeping the place clean. As we walked around the area we picked up numerous bottles, pieces of garbage, and we even found a cooler. It quickly became pretty clear to me that without these organized cleanups Uwharrie would be overrun with garbage and other crap left behind by
assholes careless visitors.
You see, the Triad’s (as I like to call them) really place a heavy emphasis on Tread Lightly, and Leave No Trace principles. They require all members to complete the online Tread Lightly 101 course, and spend hundreds of man (and women) hours each year picking up trash and maintaining their trail network. It was clear to me from their dedication and from the conversations I had with members, that their main goal was to ensure Uwharrie’s trail network remained open for generations to follow. I hope they remain dedicated in their mission, and that other clubs and organizations can learn from the positive impact they are making in Uwharrie.
I just want to give a big shout out to all of the members of the Triad Jeep Club for letting me tag along with them for the weekend. It was a pleasure to hit the trails with all of you, and I hope you guys keep up the good work. Everything you’ve done has not gone unnoticed and guys like me in the off road community will always be grateful.