Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska – Day 6 & 7

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

Friday Day 6

Friday’s adventure would start with us winding through a pretty narrow canyon eventually directing us onto a long narrow ridge trail. The ridge at times was just wide enough for the track width of the JK as it snaked along debris covered Castner Glacier in the Red Rock Canyon.

Day 6 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

The ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited traveling on a narrow ridge that runs along the Castner

Eventually the ridge came to an end dumping us on what would be best described as river rock, part of the former path of a the glacier. We drove as far as possible before stopping for lunch.

Day 6 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

Lunch break on Day 6.

On the way back down, we took another route that took us to a cool little unnamed alpine lake where we grouped the Jeeps together for a quick group photo just as the rain started to fall.

Day 6 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

All the members posing in front of a remote, unnamed lake.

Back on the trail for a bit more and we quickly ended up at College Creek, where after a short walk, we were greeted by a questionable suspension bridge that crosses the creek on the way to the Gulkana Glacier.

Day 6 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

A few of the members venturing over a suspension bridge, a footpath to the Gulkana Glacier.

A few of us ventured over the bridge to quickly return after making the trip over the creek. After, we were back on the trail on our way to the last night of JKX in Glennallen.

Saturday Day 7

On the final day of JKX, we found ourselves in the the Knik River Public Use Area. After airing down in the parking lot, we entered the trail system passing lakes with the locals fishing, small sand dunes and crossing several deep waters crossings.

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

Aired down ready for the day’s adventure.

The water level became high enough that we could no longer travel the dry river bed forcing us into tight, winding trails through the forest and brush. Once entering the trail, the trail became very tight and muddy with deep water filled ruts. This section of the trailed seemed to go forever before kicking us back out on the river bed where we traveled until we reached the most spectacular view of the entire trip, the Knik Glacier.

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

Navigating a pretty narrow ridge on the way to the Knik Glacier.

After what seemed like a long time traveling through tight, muddy trails, river rock and crossing several creek/river crossings, we were suddenly surprised by a small bay filled with floating icebergs that were being deposited by the Knik Glacier.

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

First views of the Knik Glacier on Day 7.

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

View of the Knik Glacier on day 7.

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

View of the Knik Glacier on day 7.

We lined the Jeeps up with the icebergs and glacier behind the Jeep and enjoyed one of the most spectacular lunch locations possible via Jeep. What a way to cap off the week long 2016 JK Experience in Alaska.

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

Group photo in front of the Knik Glacier.

After enjoying lunch, we all lined up next to our Jeeps for one last group photo before heading back to the pavement on our way back to where we started, Anchorage. We were greeted by local Jeep enthusiasts waiting for us at the Peanut Farm restaurant and grill where we were scheduled to have one last dinner together before parting ways, aka the “Survivor’s Dinner.”

Day 7 of the 2016 JKX Alaska.

The ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited in front of the Knik Glacier.

We exchanged stories from the week, ate great food and consumed beverages. Then it was time to say goodbye to new friends as we parted ways. What a week in Alaska and memories for a lifetime.

Previous Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska Posts:
Project Quickstand – Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska
Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska – Day 1 & 2
Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska – Day 3
Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska – Day 4 & 5

 

Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska – Day 1 & 2

The trip from Seattle to Anchorage was uneventful. The Jeep performed flawlessly during the 2300 mile, 46 hour trip through Canada into Alaska with just a few stops to torque all the suspension components as required after any new suspension components are installed.

Fueling the Jeep up in Meziadin Lake, BC.

Fueling the Jeep up in Meziadin Lake, BC.

The ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited arrived in Anchorage late on Thursday night with Friday and Saturday planned as free days if anything need to be addressed. The only required tasks for the two days were to clean the Jeep up and replace the cracked headlight lens lost during the trip. After some rearrangement of the cargo, we were ready for the weeks adventure.

Entering the Yukon Territory.

Entering the Yukon Territory.

Sunday Day 1

The information in the morning’s driver’s meeting would inform us that it would be a long day of off-roading and to be prepared for mud. With rain already starting to fall from the sky, we had the feeling that “be prepared” would be an understatement. After a short highway drive, we were topping our fuel tanks off and airing down our 37” Nitto Trail Grappler MT tires in the town of Wasilla in preparation for a muddy trail ride on the Baldy Mountain trail.

Airing down in Wasilla.

Airing down in Wasilla.

Once off the gravel road, the terrain turned familiar to us who are used to the wet, muddy terrain around Seattle. The trail wandered through tight tree sections, subtle rolling hills and elevation changes and then eventually entered clearings or areas similar to being above the tree line. About this time, the climbs became steeper and the rain began to increase making the trail muddier and more difficult as we continued on.

The ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited on the Baldy Mountain Trail.

The ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited on the Baldy Mountain Trail.After the first few Jeeps struggled to make the climbs and required winching all along with the rain increasing even more, it was decided to turn around and head to the night’s accommodation, the beautiful Talkeetna lodge near and with views Mt. Denali and the Alaskan Range.

The ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited waiting to make one of the climbs.

The ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited waiting to make one of the climbs.

With the rain and trail condition becoming increasingly difficult and the first few Jeeps needing winch recovery, it was decided to turn around and backtrack our course to head to the night’s accommodation, the beautiful Talkeetna lodge near and with views Mt. Denali and the Alaskan Range.

But before reaching the lodge, we were detoured on a short drive to the Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry so that any mechanical issues could be addressed and everyone could inflate their tires before hitting the pavement.

Everyone airing up at the museum.

Everyone airing up at the museum.

We were given an hour to address any issues (no issues with the ARB Jeep) and explore the grounds. If you get a chance to visit the museum, makes sure you do. After pouring a hot cup of coffee we explored the grounds littered with old machinery from old snow machines to old Alaska Railroad locomotives and passenger cars to old Air Force jets.

One of many cool vehicles on the grounds of the museum.

One of many cool vehicles on the grounds of the museum.

One of many cool vehicles on the grounds of the museum.

One of many cool vehicles on the grounds of the museum.

If you’re into old iron, the museum is a must stop if you ever find yourself in the area.

Monday Day 2

Monday was a travel day. The plan for the day was all pavement to reach our next accommodation, the Denali Village, a lodge just down the road from the Denali National Park entrance. Along the way we made a few quick stops, mainly to use the facilities and for some photo opportunities with Mt. Denali and the Alaskan Range poking through the clouds. While we were stopped at one of the photo areas, we were approached by a local land owner informing us that he had a better view point that we could line all the Jeeps up for a photograph. Of course we jumped at the chance of a better photo spot and after about 5 minutes on the road, we were lining the Jeeps up for a group photo.

All the Jeep JKs lined up for a group photo. Mt. Denali is hiding behind the clouds.

All the Jeep JKs lined up for a group photo. Mt. Denali is hiding behind the clouds.

Once we arrived at the Denali Village, a short meeting gave us the choice of relaxing at the lodge, take a bus ride into Denali National Park or go white water rafting.

The Nenana River.

The Nenana River.

Most of us, who have never been on a river jumped at the chance of rafting 10 miles down a class-4 portion of the Nenana river guided by the awesome folks at Nenana Raft Adventures.

On our way to do a little white water rafting.

On our way to do a little white water rafting.

Following the awesome rafting trip, we were greeted with a BBQ dinner back at the guide location. The rest of the night consisted of us sitting around a fire and telling Jeeping stories to end a great day with new friends.

Click here for Day 3 of the Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska

Project Quicksand – Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska

Project Quicksand – The speed (quick) in which the new ARB Mojave (sand color) Jeep Wrangler JK was built. When we were contacted by JK Experience about being sponsor of the Nitto Tires JKX Alaska 2016, we jumped at the opportunity to be involved and showcase the capability of a kitted out ARB Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited built completely with bolt on components. This would prove that you can build a capable vehicle that could conquer some very rugged terrain without fabrication or welding skills.

Traditionally JKX information is very limited and 2016 wasn’t any different. Leading up to the event we were given some basic information that would require some planning.

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Fuel was a major concern with this trip. As you can see most opted to bring extra fuel via a Rotopax container.

The first and most important is fuel. We were informed that we would be required to have at least a 300 mile fuel range during the trip. This would require the installation of an auxiliary fuel tank system or the ability to carry fuel via jerry cans. The second important piece of information was that we would need to be self sufficient and be able to pack food, clothing, tools and spare parts for 7 days worth of travel. In the past, participants of JKX would be required to camp several nights of the trip, but because of the uncertainty of Alaska weather and wildlife along with needing spare empty seats for media members, we would be spending every night in a hotel or “hotel like” facility.

May 2015 - Grand Canyon - AZ ARB Photo Shoot - Taco, Jeep

We felt that our our overland themed 2012 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited wasn’t aggressive enough for the possible Alaskan terrain were might encounter on the trip.

We already had two JKs in the ARB fleet, a very capable 2010 2-door at our Seattle location and an overland themed Unlimited at our Florida location. Obviously the 2-door’s storage capacity would hinder the ability to carry all the required items of the trip as well as having an open seat for a media member. Our red overland themed 2014 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited would easily meet the cargo space requirements and with the already installed Rhino roof rack, securing fuel containers would be an easy task.

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Our 2010 Jeep Wrangler was plenty aggressive enough to conquer the Alaskan terrain on the trip, but was not a viable option due to the lack of interior cargo space.

As mentioned above, information is very limited leading up to the event and pretty much a need-to-know basis. We would not know what kind of terrain we would be encountering until each day of travel. The day could be all paved roads, it could be all dirt roads or very technical off-roading. We wouldn’t not know until the drivers meeting the morning of travel. Because of this, we determined that our overland themed JK would not be aggressive enough for the Alaskan terrain.

So the decision was made to purchase and outfit a more aggressive but overland capable Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited for the trip. After scouring the classified ads for a clean, used Wrangler Unlimited it was determined that it was more cost effective to purchase a brand new vehicle.

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Our brand new 2016 Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited Sport as we were picking it up from the dealership.

After a week of deciding on a color and searching the local dealer listings, we found our Jeep, a basic, no power options 2016 Mojave Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport. And with that, project Quicksand was born. The Jeep was purchased on the late afternoon of Wednesday July 13th with the departure deadline of Monday July 18th to arrive in Anchorage by the event’s check-in date of Saturday July 23rd. In other words, this was going to be a very quick, but doable build.

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Dana Spicer Ultimate Dana 60s were provided to us for this project seen here with the ARB Air Locker installed.

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Dana Spicer Ultimate Dana 60s were provided to us for this project seen here with the ARB Air Locker installed.

First things first. Dana Spicer sponsored the build with front and rear Dana Ultimate 60s which we had already loaded up with a couple of ARB Air Lockers in preparation of being installed under our new Jeep. With these new axles, we would need to different length driveshafts that were sponsored by Tom Wood’s Driveshaft. To order the correct length, the suspension and Dana 60 axles would need to be installed to measure for the correct length.

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Factory axles out, Dana Spicer Ultimate Dana 60s ready to go in.

With the new axles (bolt pattern) and the mud that we new we were going to encounter, new wheels were required. Our friends over at TR Beadlocks donated a set of their beadlock wheels. These wheels mated with Nitto Trail Grappler Mts proved to be a perfect combination while in Alaska. To make sure we had enough clearance for the new Nitto Tires, MCE Fenders were installed front and rear.

The Jeep was purchased on the Wednesday night, this meant that the factory axles and suspension would need to be removed and the new Dana 60’s along with the Old Man Emu 4” suspension with the new BP-51 Internal Bypass shocks would need to be installed by the following morning (Thursday) to ensure that the driveshafts could be made and shipped overnight for the installation and differential gear break-in over the weekend.

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New front and rear driveshafts were provided by our friends over at Tom Wood’s Driveshaft.

The Jeep teardown started at 4:30PM, the suspension (springs, shocks, control arms) and axles were in and the Jeep was on the ground by 10PM that night ready for driveshaft measurements.

Checking suspension clearances after rolling it out of the shop.

Checking suspension clearances after rolling it out of the shop.

After several days of hard work, the Jeep was completed that Sunday morning and was out on the local roads adding a few miles to the new differential gears.

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Ready for the day’s test drive and differential gear break-in.

With the build complete and the differential oil changed, it was time to hit the road in our completely bolt-on ARB accessorized Jeep Wrangler JK Unlimited for a 2200 mile journey from Seattle to Anchorage to the official Nitto Tires JKX Alaska 2016 checkin.

Special thanks to Mike at MCE Fenders for coming down to the shop on his day off to install the MCE Fenders and work on other parts of the Jeep.

Complete build included:

ARB Product:
– ARB Front Stubby Bar
– ARB Intensity LED AR21 lights
ARB Under Vehicle Protection
ARB Rock Sliders
Rear Bumper and Tire Carrier (modified for 8 lug wheels)
– OMEJK4BP51 4” suspension system with OME BP-51 Internal Bypass Shocks & ARB Control Arms
– Front and rear 35 spline ARB Air Lockers
– ARB Twin Compressor with Manifold
– ARB Inflation Kit
– Safari Snorkel
– ARB Breather Kit
– ARB 50QT Fridge Freezer with Loom
– ARB Recovery Kit: RK9, additional winch extension strap, ground anchor
– IPF H4 Headlamp Lenses and IPF H4 LED Bulbs

Non ARB Product:
MCE Front and Rear Fenders
Front and Rear Dana Spicer Ultimate Dana 60s (8-lug)
Tom Wood’s front and rear drive shafts
TR Beadlock wheels
37” Nitto Trail Grappler MT tires
Rhino Rack Backbone roof rack
Rotopax w/lockable mounts
Maxtrax w/mount system
Grab Bars
Cobra CB C75 WX ST
Teraflex under seat compressor bracket
AEV Procal

Click here for Day 1 & 2 of the Nitto Tires JK Experience Alaska