Thursday, December 11, 2014

Foxford Run a Muck Rally 2014 Review

There are a couple of Saskatchewan ATV rallies that have a reputation for not disappointing, and the Run a Muck rally in Foxford SK is one of them. Foxford is a tiny village of only a couple of houses located just 45 minutes east of Prince Albert. I'm not sure how this tiny place can host one of the provinces largest ATV rallies, but they do it and do it well. This year I was told they had 291 ATVs registered.

My video of the ride

Foxford was the first ATV rally I've ever attended, which is weird as I've been ATVing most of my life. Most of my riding has been on 2 wheel drive sport quads which I figured weren't really rally friendly, and in the case of Foxford that is absolutley correct. Being that it was my first rally I had no idea what to expect. I did know that Foxford is not know for being dry, it is known for tons of water and muskeg, and I wanted to see what all the hype was about.


I picked up my 2009 Can Am Renegade 800X in January 2014 and it was bone stock. I knew I needed to get prepared for mud, so I wired up a winch, added some 30" Silverback tires, chest waders and even got it snorkeled.

Picking up my machine from Mad Mechanics in Martinsville
I have never owned a snorkeled ATV, in my mind that was just way too hardcore. Besides I was a trail guy, not a mudder. But when somebody explained to me that snorkels were cheap insurance compared to an engine rebuild I decided to get it done. 

I took my machine to Mike at Mad Mechanics in Martinsville to get the snorkeling done. I almost didn't get it done in time because of my procrastination but Mike managed to get it done the night before leaving to Foxford. Talk about cutting it close.

A panoramic of the parking area when we arrived in the morning, even the parking lot was muddy. By the time we got back this area was plugged full of truck and ATVs.

The Experience

I drove up with my friend Jonathan who was not only a rally newbie, but also an ATV newbie. I let him use my Yamaha Bruin 350 with the intention he would go on the dry trails and I would go on the wet.
I met up with an old friend at the rally that I rode with when we were teenagers, it just so happened that we both had Can Am's and were both heading there so I asked to ride with him and his group as he had been to Foxford a couple of times and knew what to expect.

It had rained for a number of days before the rally on June 1st and without a doubt it was going to affect the conditions. The organizers said that many of the smaller water holes had filled up and joined with other smaller holes creating even bigger holes. At this point I was very thankful I had snorkeled my quad.

We registered and got our tags which are used to monitor who has made it back safely, and if they need to send someone out to search. The organizers mapped out 3 routes and put them into the following categories; Dry, Wet and Extreme. In our opinion, they should have been more like;Wet, Extreme and Completely Retarded.

The group I was going to be joining with my friend was planning to ride the Extreme trail, ugh.

Ostacruiser was one of the guys in our group. That should tell
a lot about the kind of riding we were in for

I cannot express enough the shock I was in once I saw what we were in for. I had been in some deeper water with my Renegade but they were just water. I had never experienced anything like the sticky thick gumbo muskeg (skeg) in the stinky sloughs of Foxford.
I very much felt in over my head, but when your with a group of guys you put on your game face and just do what you need to do.

My new Kolpin jerry can adorned the rear of my machine, by the first
mud hole it was gone.
The first big mud hole our group approached was a gong show, there was a line up of no less than 50 machines waiting as in the mud hole there another 15-20 machines stuck. Most turned off their machines and chatted with the other guys, some stood at the edge of the water and strategized the best route through the hole and some wandered in to assist the guys that were stuck.
Lots of comradery with the groups. Even if you didn't know the other guys you were riding with they were all there to help. You had a rough idea of how many guys are supposed to be with you and when you were through the hole you waited until the other guys made it through before you contining on. If they needed a push or a winch, you did what you could and the other guys did the same. Even though everybody was helpful you still didn't want to be the one holding everybody else back, or worse being the one that was always stuck and needing help getting out of pretty much every hole. On this ride unfortunately, I was that guy.

A sample of the thick gumbo muskeg we encountered

Waiting for the rest of the group, thankful to have made it through

I was not at all prepared for the Foxford experience, it was a hard exhausting day. It was fun, but just a little overwhelming. It was hot that day, my new chest waders made me confident I would stay dry but they sure didn't help to beat the heat. I actually appreciated it when I got sprayed with some nice cool mud when I hit the water a little too fast. When you do get stuck and have to get off to push every step in the sticky muskeg is a struggle, your boots almost get glued into the stuff so you have to point your toes up and pull with your calf muscles....ugh it was exhausting.

By the half way point the crowds had subsided, I think a number of people had turned back. We didn't run into any more traffic jams at the mud holes but we would see the odd smaller group of maybe 3-5 guys making their way through.

Somewhere under this water there is, or was a trail
Stuck and winch pulled off its spool

One of the hardest parts of the rally for me was the fear of swamping my machine. It was mentally exhausting. We were nearing the end of the extreme trail and our group had reduced in size down to only a handful of guys. For the first time I got left at the very back of the pack and got stuck, and there wasn't anybody behind me. I got off and started pulling my winch cable out to the nearest tree, but the nearest tree was pretty far. As I pulled the line out father than I had ever pulled it before I noticed the tension dramatically decrease, and to my dismay I realized I had pulled the cable right off it's spool. I went from being a little stressed, to being right out afraid for my safety. The rest of my group wasn't too far ahead and were waiting for me, but I didn't know that. To make matters worse I was down to the last bit of fuel. Pictures of camping out in the swamp over night flashed through my mind.

The fear got my adrenaline kicked in and I found new energy and strength to get myself unstuck. Finally free, I was now presented with another problem, I didn't have other ATVs ahead of me to help me determine how deep this water hole was. And this was a huge water hole. I slowly creeped my way ahead and half way through my left side wheels slipped off an underwater ledge and the quad tipped over to that side. I jumped off just in time as my snorkels were only inches away from the surface of the water. How much more of this can I take? It was at this point I said I am done! I had my adventure and I was ready to go home. I was taking my first exit back the truck. I met up with the rest of my group who were sitting around, gabbing, and eating their sandwiches with little knowledge of the physcological torture I had just endured. We continued on and I found the exit I was looking for, the rest of the guys continued on and I headed back to the trucks by myself.

Ironically, I wasn't done yet. To get back to the trucks I had to go through the "wet" trails, which I thought would be a cake walk compared to what I had just gone through. Nope, more water, winching and boots getting stuck in the mud.

Eventually I made it back to a gravel road where things finally were dry. I headed to my truck where I met up with Jonathan, he reported that the "dry" trails were not at all dry and that he was pushing through deep water and winching as well with my little Yamaha Bruin. He had quite the adventure as well. 

Me, very weary from a hard days ride, happy to be back in one piece and
that my machine made it through


I wasn't prepared. I was a mud virgin and I didn't know what to expect. Honestly I don't think anybody could have described to me what I was about to get myself into. I think it would be a little bit like trying to explain so someone what war is like if you have never been in one. At the end of the day I was tired, physically exhausted and I kept asking myself "what was the point of that?" If ATVing wasn't fun, why would a person do it? This is medieval torture. But now that I have had some time to reflect and experience more deep mud situations my opinion is changing.
The trails at Foxford were a crazy challenge, but I rose to the occasion and completeld the task before me. Of the 291 registered riders I am one of the few that can say that I completed the extreme trail, and that feels pretty good. I learned a lot about mud riding and have been able to continue to use that knowledge.  Thank you Foxford for challenging me and being great hosts, see you in 2015.

Click here to see the route on EveryTrail

Here are a couple other videos that I came across that I just happen to be in

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