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Troublesome Pass Loop

May, 2004

Quicktime Movie

Michael's Photos

Phil's Photos

I was planning to "once over" the truck from last time, check fluids for water, etc. Didn't. Checked oil and rolled out this am. Then forgot my camera, had to turn around, and was behind about 45 minutes.

We had a lot of fun. But it turned out not to be an easy trail... due to all the snow! :) There were 3 vehicles including mine and we kinda figured why not be a little brave, so we did plenty of snow bashing, much of it uphill, lots of revs, mud, momentum, flying snow, getting stuck, etc. Lots of fun!!

I think we made it about 1/2 way down the rather long 26 mile loop (the first 8-10 miles were snow free) when we finally got halted by a huge tree across the trail. Good thing as the snow was only getting deeper and more frequent. The XJ was stuck and my winch didn't do squat, and just as a little muscle from the others freed the Jeep it started snowing! Yeah, definitely all the signs were there that the day was done.

The other two vehicles headed back, and I decided why not drive the extra 5 miles to Rand (not much to see) and anyway got back in one piece without the truck exploding. Kind of beat on the truck more than usual, but it held up ok.

Morry schooled us all in the art of snow bashing. I also learned that my winch has a hard time pulling dead weight uphill through snow. I also learned my fancy snow chains don't fit my tires. (sigh) Fortunately the only damage currently visible is the squished winch cable (mental note, break in winch cable some time in the 3 years before you use winch), mushed cb antenna because the spare tire worked loose and slid forward on the roof rack, and a bit o' pride (see Moral)

Moral: test and prep yer crap out before you have to rely on it off-road. Otherwise you look like a chump when all your pretty toys don't work. :D

Other Moral: doesn't matter if you goof up, I had a super blast of a time!! Plus, can't make yer rig solid for the trail without the snafus to see what doesn't work. We're probably going to want to relocate the June run; it's likely to be snow covered and difficult or impossible to traverse (the Wells book says wait until July or later).

Michael Shimniok


Whew! We had a blast today. It was myself and my Dad (Ken) in Gwen, my neighbor (Dan)and his father-in-law (Morry? Maury?) in Dan's XJ, and Mike in Troubled Child (read kick-a$$ rig). As Mike said, when we turned off of Hwy 125, my stomach just rolled. The road was a beautiful, crowned dirt road that you could have taken a Bentley down without fear. We kept on driving and the entire time I was thinking 'I drug these guys all the way out here to drive on a dirt road that was better than most of our driveways?'

Then, we turned onto the trail. It was narrower, more dense forest (although the Willow Creek and Beaver ponds on the way in were awesome) so things started to look up.

Then it got a little muddy with patches of snow on the shady sides of the trail. We went down some pretty nice whoops and threw some mud going up the other side. The snow just kept on getting deeper, more plentiful, and more hard packed. I made it up a few of the obstacles, then, we got to a steep incline with a pretty good left turn and deep snow across 80% of it. I tried it a couple of times and then Gwen just died. It turns out the regulator wire from the alternator had broken and the battery was dead.

So Dan pulled up next to me in his XJ and we hooked up the jumper cables and let her charge while we discussed how we were going to attack the hill. After the left was another turn, also deep with snow and mud. We decided that Mike should tackle it (his rig was by far the most prepared out of the three of us). You should have seen the snow and mud fly as he pounded the snow. I should have brought the video camera. It was awesome seeing that wag with the locker in back in four low chewing through that stuff. But alas, he was able to get up the first section, but the second section just kept sucking him into the deep snow.

So, with Gwen charging herself at the bottom of the hill (The 1405 was loading up badly and refused to run on the incline). Maury (sp?) decided to try it in Dan's XJ. Well, in flurry of pure RPMs, with the clutch smoking and a horrendous crunch from the tranny, he made it up both sections. It wasn't pretty, but it was effective.

Not too long after Dan couldn't break trail anymore, so Mike took up the lead again. We went through some more deep stuff and some easier stuff before coming to a really nasty two foot deep hole? ravine? Ditch? followed by a packed left hand turn. Mike had made it up and was parked in front of a 40', 12" diameter lodge-pole across the trail. Maury had buried the XJ up to the rockers in the ravine and was high centered and Gwen was high and dry bringing up the rear guard.

We had been on the trail for 2 1/2 hours and weren't even 1/2 way around the loop. We had no way to cut the tree and remove it. So, we decided that we had a fabulous day of snow and mud bashing and headed for home. With a little digging, Dan got back in action. Mike was turned around on the hill before I was on the flat, and we bashed our way back to the dry road, posed for a few pictures and headed home.

What I learned:

  1. My Jeep actually made it somewhere and home under it's own power!
  2. Lockers and MTs are very nice.
  3. XJs can hang.
  4. The company you keep makes all the difference. What a great group of guys!

Phillip Van Why