And this is the first morning. In the afternoon, you learn recovery techniques. AM General covers the factory equipment tools and instructs on the tree strap, clevis, and snatchblock, and the beauty of a standard pair of work gloves. Myriad factory-approved winches are available for the H2, but, as we learn later, those cool-looking permanently mounted front-bumper winches inhibit approach angle.
The afternoon culminates on a nice, long run through the trails of deepest, darkest Mishawaka. The densely forested plot of land is surreal, as you make your way through trails that seem barely wide enough for a mountain bike while traffic whizzes by on a highway close enough to hear passing cars. On "Upper Donner Pass," student Jeff Crooks, of Provo, Utah, takes a yellow H2 where it can't go. Instructors put the tree-strap training to good use, and he's winched out, back onto a trail of big, muddy ruts. "I'm having the time of my life," Crooks says.
Then we learn rockcrawling, "walking" the H2 along a cobble of stones that exist for the purpose of scraping the underbody and ripping out differentials and for teaching a guide's hand signals to help avoid damage. By the end of the first day, the small class is convinced this stuff is what their SUVs should be doing. "It makes you feel that, if you don't take it off-road, you're not using it right," says Bob Dikman, of Tampa, Florida, who uses his H2 to show his commercial-real-estate clients various tracts of land.
Day two begins with instruction and a brief competition that teaches how to use the Garmin GPS. There's a rock-climbing exercise, again requiring a trusty guide with good command of hand signals. Approach the steps at an angle, raise one wheel at a time, and apply torque. The exercise has its perils: one student destroys a differential (not guilty). In the afternoon, we're led into steep, muddy, high-articulation trails that make yesterday's off-road run feel like a walk in the woods. It involves lots of mud and water, muddy, technical articulation trails that call for the tow strap, and a broken tie rod (again, not guilty). The second day ends with a set of off-roading games designed to test students' abilities. Paying participants are pleased. They'll take their own Hummer H2s off-road in the next few weeks, will wear them in with a patina of trail mud and wear, and make their way home without breaking anything or getting in trouble. We're pleased. Like anything else that involves automotive fun (otherwise involving speed), this studied instruction on how to play in the mud is another way for adults to act like kids. Jeep and Land Rover drivers, beware: Hummer H2 coming through.