Ok, so we had some good fun today. I got a good feeling for how this Jeep is and also realized some of its deficiencies.
For starters, We have had tons of snow this winter. Snow followed by negative temps, followed by snow, followed by negative temps ... repeatedly for the past two months so the snow had not had the opportunity to melt away. With last nights snowfall, the trails (comprised of packed and repacked snow/ice) were covered with 6 inches of semi-fresh snow and were flanked by 12-24 inches of untouched snow.
There were some points where the jeep tracked toward the deeper ruts and there wasn't anything I could do to prevent it. In the open fields, I was able to play around, sliding and just having fun. I was dragging the belly through the snow and all was well.
4LOW made the day doable. I tried some areas just using Auto or Snow mode. I wasn't really making any progress. After dropping to 4Low I was able to get around pretty good. I climbed a few hills and came down the other side; again, more fun.
I tried to climb one that was steeper and see now how the the approach angle of the TW makes the difference. I made it about 3/4 the way up when the front fascia began snowplowing and I couldn't keep moving forward. I had to back down and take a different path.
Through the day, I did get stuck twice where I needed assistance getting free. Other times, I was able to rock it out. In snow areas deeper than 10 inches, I had to be really careful. The Cherokee, even with the added inch that the ADII or AD Locker provide, needs at least 2 more inches of clearance to be perfect out there.
What have I learned from today? I am not going out again without recovery hooks and the stock tires are not quite aggressive enough for off-roading in the snow (though they are awesome on the road in the snow). On the straight-a-ways, I had a rough time keeping it from tracking to the pre-existing deeper ruts.
On the inclines, I felt like the Cherokee was losing its footing. At one point, I was climbing an incline with about 6 inches of semi-packed snow covering it. At the top, I broke traction and found the ice under the snow. My Cherokee slid backwards down the path about 20 feet and about 3 feet off the trail. When the jeep came to a stop, the RF wheel was off the path. My wife was staring down a gully through the passenger window and the LR tire was hanging in the air.
This is where the RF tire was hanging off
Needless to say, I needed assistance getting out of that situation. It was an interesting experience, to say the least. At least she didn't freak out too bad.
Will I go back out? Oh yeah! I'm going to figure a way to get hooks on it though first. Second, I will either have different tires or will hold off til the snow is gone.
Got some videos loading as well ... hopefully, I can add them in later.