I first met Aaron, AKA The Arkansas Maniac, back in 2018 at Hundreds in the Hills 8. I immediately realized that we had more than a few things in common. Two things really stood out to me though: the fact that we both love Cruisers and we are both nutjobs. We've been close ever since, and he's become one of a few guys that I trust with my life.
Aaron can come off as a slightly strange bird. His background is working on fighter jets in the Air Force but he sometimes struggles with the nuts and bolts of his Land Cruiser. When I was first getting to know him, I thought that was the craziest thing ever, but I soon realized it's just the methodical way that he approaches wrenching. He's a bit of an over-thinker and that's the exact opposite of me. I think that's why we get along so well; sometimes he slows me down and makes me think about something I would have missed, and then sometimes I'm the guy that finally just pushes him over the edge on a project he's been over-thinking for a week.
Over the years, I've run a lot of trails with the maniac. From Colorado to the Ozarks to Windrock, we have covered a lot of ground and gotten out of more than a few crazy situations. We've seen mud, rocks, heat, cold, snow, and rain. Aaron was by my side during what I consider one of the defining moments of my life when we faced abandoning our trucks in the snow or winching down a mountain covered in ice backwards. We made it out though, and learned a few things in the process.
Aaron claims he has social anxiety and that he's an introvert. I think he's full of crap! I've never seen Aaron meet a stranger. He always seems to be the life of the party. On top of that, he's gonna be the first guy to stand up for what he thinks is right. Basically, he's that guy you know you can call on when the going gets heavy. He will be there even if he has to break his back on the way.
When the planning for COTR first started, I knew Aaron would have a big part in making it happen. I knew I could rely on him to help plan, pre-run, and lead any trail I asked him to. I knew he would be the guy to give the hard tasks to. From starting a fire with wet wood to pulling cable up a rock wall, I knew he was our man.
When you're thinking about which trail to sign up for at the next COTR, make sure you run one with Aaron. I promise you will have a smile on your face at the end of the day.