Ultimate Adventure 2021 Presented by Rugged Ridge
Four Wheeler|March 2022
In our Part 1 coverage of Ultimate Adventure 2021 Presented by Rugged Ridge, we had just arrived at the new Katemcy Rocks K2 off-road park’s campground just outside of Mason, Texas, after beginning in McAlester, Oklahoma, and meandering through the backroads and scenic byways of the lower Heartland.
By Christian Hazel. Photos by Rachel Speir, Josh Walker and Fou Wheeler staff

By now, many in the group had made repairs that ranged from minor to substantial and had overcome many challenges to remain a part of Ultimate Adventure. But fun and glory comes only to those who go grab it, so when the sun broke on Day 5 of UA2021, it was met by a full complement of participant vehicles and attendees ready to air down and grab some granite!

Yes, it's true that with the exception of running the Rubicon trail twice (first in 2001 and again in 2016) the Ultimate Adventure doesn't retrace its steps. So, although UA2007 did technically visit Katemcy Rocks as one of that year's trail days, it wasn't this Katemcy Rocks. Randy Kruse and Shain Chapman, the same great people who started Katemcy about 20 years ago, found this new location after their original land lease expired. In our opinion, the new Katemcy Rocks, which they playfully refer to as K2 is a much better location with much better terrain. How good is the terrain? Well, the majority of us all agree that Katemcy Rocks K2 is now one of our all-time favorite rock crawling spots in the entire country.

The new K2 Katemcy Rocks is a fantastic property sprawling over nearly 700 acres of Texas hill country punctuated by super-grippy granite that gives traction like almost no surface you'll have seen before. And as for trails, there's a level for everybody. We hit the upper-medium levels for the entire group, like Katemcy's Fence Line, School Bus, and No Name trails as well as others and tossed in many, many optional obstacles Ultimate Adventure participants could choose to attempt or bypass. Naturally, this being Ultimate Adventure most gave it the old college try. The gnarliest was Smokin' Butthole, a super-steep off-camber notch climb with a really stiff penalty for failure. The only two who tried to make it were James Ryder in the green Tacoma on 42s and “Dirthead Dave Chappelle in Mom's Spaghetti rocking 38-inch Falkens. Two very different trucks, two different lines, same success story. But what Katemcy gave in terms of fun, heroics, and beauty, it also charged a price.

Early in the day, Dave Hamrick popped an inner axle shaft in his Dana 60. It took out the U-joint, but Dana's Zack Heisey had a brand new Spicer in the Dana Gladiator and Dave got it back together in no time. Then, returning reader Travis Farmer snapped a tie-rod end in the ice cream van. Travis was up and running in no time but then almost immediately after, the ZR2 Colorado snapped another front CV 'shaft. Blake Allen and Tyler Rosenhagen brought it back to camp to install their last spare CV 'shaft. We came back to camp to buy burgers and other lunch grub at the Katemcy camp area, then headed back out until nightfall. The rest of the wheeling was intense, but with the exception of the steering in the Rugged Ridge Jeep driven by Ian Johnson bending the factory tie rod, we more or less made it back unscathed with just enough time to cook dinners and air up tires for the next day's early drivers' meeting.

DAY 6: National Museum of the Pacific War

It's unusual, but not every day on Ultimate Adventure is a head-bashing slugfest through the gnarliest terrain or the most brutal conditions imaginable. Like Day 6 of UA2021, for example. On the surface, it was little more than a road day in which we'd drive from Katemcy Rocks in Mason, Texas, to Fredericksburg, then on to our hotel in Ozona where we'd be wheeling the next day. But diving a little deeper into the day's events proved that UA is also a game of cumulative stress on both vehicles and drivers.

It started early before the sun came up when invited Reader David Hamrick shut off the idling engine in his '78 Ford F-150. After the drivers' meeting when we were about to pull out of camp for a preset appointment at the incredible National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg, Texas, the truck wouldn't start. As the rest of us fell in line, David continued to crank the engine over in vain. Ultimately, he and co-driver Robert Keller diagnosed a dead electric fuel pump so crony Chris Durham stayed behind to help them swap it while the rest of us motored down the road in the cool Texas morning.

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