It always seems we end up in or around the same areas. We started this trip off the Beeline and made our way back into Sycamore Creek. After an easy drive, we turned and headed up another creek that flowed into Sycamore; thus began our battle with FR 98 (yet after a long day, we couldn't help but wonder if "Forest" was truly what the "F" stood for).
Okay, Desoto is rated a 4.0 and this trail was supposedly a 3? Good luck with this trail. If you should ever feel the need to do some good old fashioned manual labor, this is place to be. Even if your vehicle sits high on 33's you will still rub it's bottom raw on the obstacles at the trail's beginning. There are only a couple of reports on this trail (except for the one that said they turned around because it was impassable. I may have left that part out when I pitched the idea of this trail run to the guys) and they say that it's a little tough and will challenge a stock vehicle. That information paired with the pics we've seen of other 98-runs leads us to believe this trail is currently shot to crap. The main obstacle took an hour to get one Jeep through, with lots and lots of rock stacking to fill in the voids beneath the tires. We even solicited the help of the Hi-lift to build up the trail to get even a little clearance for the differentials. While we were trying to get Chris out, Jared was getting antsy to try his way through. They both remained cool, and Jared laughed and said, "If there wasn't a chance of getting stuck and we didn't have to work for it, what fun would that be? It'd be like a regular road." That's mainly because he wasn't stuck yet and plus as far as I could tell with the sweat in my eyes, he wasn't working for it (I kid, SJ). But I digress.
With the main obstruction, we'll call it Sidewall Alley, there really is only one line to be taken and it consisted of driving your wheel on a almost vertical rock face. You can hug it pretty good for a while, as your other front tire is being wedged in on the other side, but inevitably it will slide off and control is key if you want to keep any bodywork on your driver's side. They both managed through it well and somehow abstained from even tapping their rockers even though they got dangerously tippy.
The rest of the trail turned into a baby FR 42 and was a breeze even though pin striping was part of the deal. After the easy climb, you get a great view of Bartlett. Closer to the lake you meet up with the power lines and FR 393. I recommend going straight to check out the lake. There's plenty of photo ops on the water's edge, plus it's fun to show off for the bewildered boaters. How often does anyone get to this secluded part of the lake by land?
We took the power line road out (right if coming from the lake), but if you choose this means, I can't promise you you'll make it out. The only way out this direction is by crossing the river. We read about leaving this way, but again this must have been some old information. After a while, there is a trail that leads towards the river. What we couldn't find, was an actual crossing. We found some trail leftovers on the other side and convinced a small tree on our side to let us by. However, the river here was pretty deep- deep enough to fill Jared's doorless Jeep, have things float out, fill his cup holders, and piss off his E-brake. I was too busy taking pictures but he swears that when he hit the deep part, his Jeep actually floated for a couple seconds before hitting the bottom and regaining traction. They did make it out nevertheless so we were able to take the Carefree Highway home. We were all happy we didn't have to run the 98 all the way back. Even though we had fun, we agreed we'd just rather not spend it all in one place and just save some for another day.