A father, son, and the open road are already key ingredients for adventure – add in a fully built ARB rig? Well, that’s icing on the cake! Last year, ARB offered Stan Wright and his son, Keagan (8), the chance of a lifetime to borrow the company’s Jeep JKU for what would become an unforgettable, spontaneous father-son adventure.
“It had been a long winter for both of us. Keagan shattered his heel in a sledding accident and had been through two surgeries,” Stan shares. “I took a bad fall out of my Land Cruiser and hurt my back badly enough to require surgery.”
Their destination evoked Stan’s own childhood as he’s been visiting the Treasure State since he was a boy. “The lure of cutthroat trout in pristine Montana rivers is more than any fly fisherman can resist.” To him, there’s nothing better than fishing under Montana’s famous big sky.
They headed out from home in Colorado toward Cooke City, Montana and the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park. Stan and Keagan were ready for whatever the world threw at them.
“I’m a spontaneous traveler. I don’t like rigid plans and set schedules.”
The ARB JKU was outfitted with nearly everything ARB offers for the Wrangler model. The ARB Outback Solutions drawer system held tools and recovery gear. Air Lockers® could be engaged at the flip of a switch and the Safari snorkel and differential breathers were pleading to be used. For a good night’s sleep, the company topped off the build with a Simpson III rooftop tent. The father and son merely had to pack clothes, personal items, and an emergency kit.
Pulling into their destination, they discovered that local campgrounds had a no-tent requirement due to a bear attack in 2010. Headed toward Silver Gate, a nearby town, they stopped at a general store and got a lucky offer from the store owner to set up camp behind their store—for as long as they wanted it, free of charge. Armed with an acceptable campsite, the duo headed to Yellowstone National Park to get great glimpses of wildlife.
The following day they headed in the opposite direction of tourists, in search of exceptional alpine lakes and the trout that swim within them. The Goose Lake Jeep trail is nearby, with a sign that reads “High Clearance 4WD Required.” While that deters many travelers, it excited Stan and Keagan.
“For you and me, that sign is a welcome mat on Mother Nature’s doorstep!”
It was time to check out the ARB Jeep’s capability.
After airing down the tires and disconnecting the front sway bar, they were ready to tackle the trail. “Overall, the Goose Lake Jeep Trail is only moderate in difficulty. High clearance is required; the Safari snorkel and ARB differential breathers got a good workout crossing some of the deep streams.” However, there aren’t any oversized obstacles and Stan used the ARB Air Lockers just once.
The trail conquered, it was time to decompress. Successful fishing ensued at the secluded Star Lake where a moment long-in-the-making materialized.
“Ants are a staple of any resident trout in high mountain lakes, so I tied on one of my favorite ant patterns. I simply flopped the line onto the water to hand the rod to Keagan when a beautiful cutthroat trout rose from below and inhaled the size 14 ant. I was not expecting it to be that easy!
“And then it happened, Keagan took one false cast and laid the fly line out on the water. Almost immediately a small cutthroat rose to his fly and he set the hook like a seasoned pro. After a brief fight and me frantically telling him to strip in line, he was holding his first fish caught entirely on his own, on a fly rod.
“It was a defining moment for me and one that I will never forget. It trumped my own memory of my first trout on a fly rod by leaps and bounds.”
They popped the rooftop tent open and slept along the banks of Star Lake that night, far above the hustle and bustle of Yellowstone. “The beauty that surrounded us was too much to walk away from.”
Overcoming injuries prior to the trip made their time together all the more special. It wasn’t just because Stan was piloting a fully-built Jeep.
“Lifelong memories transcend vehicle types or fancy modifications. I’m lucky to have a family that loves adventure and I’m thankful we live in a country with so many beautiful places to visit.
“The best adventures may not be on the treasure map, but on the road less traveled. The riches may not be found in the treasure chest, but in the front seat right next to you and in the memories made along the way. This is one trip we’ll both remember forever.”
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