This past weekend was a Northwest Overland Society trip that was geared towards familiarizing some of the new 4WD owners with proper recovery techniques and how to use their winches safely.
The trip was designed to get us to an area that would offer enough snow that we would be able to get a vehicle mired, and be able to extract it without causing any environmental damage. Snow is in the woods is great for this kind of thing, as there are generally a multitude of winch points (read: trees!) and a good snowpack mitigates the damage one might normally do while engaging in recovery operations.
The event was scheduled for Saturday, but given the distance I went up Friday night and met Scott from NWOS and camped out for the night. It was a very dreary, very wet evening, but the tarp overhead and good company more than made up for it. I didn’t take many pictures due to the weather, but here are a few of the drive up:
I got into Darrington just after 4 and made my way up to the Ranger Station just north of town. With minutes to spare before they closed, I was able to rush in and get a Motor Vehicle Use Map of the area. These are great resources, especially when combined with a navigational aid like Overland Navigator.
Saturday morning found us both huddled in our trucks, away from the cold and wet day that was working it’s way around us. The plan was to meet Grant and Rus at a bridge about 3 miles from our campsite at 0900. I was up and about by 0700, and enjoyed a good walk with Floyd the Dog down a closed road. I knew he was going to be in the truck all day, so I wanted him to get some energy out early on.
Around 0800, I couldn’t come up with any safe ways to wake up Scott, so I went ahead and fired up my Troopie. The rattle can diesel did the trick, and 30 minutes later we were completely packed up and heading towards our link up spot.
Grant was early, and literally pulled up to the bridge just as we parked next to it to wait for him. Waiting for Rus and Nan, we took shelter in a small day use area and enjoyed some doughnuts and coffee that Grant was gracious enough to have brought out for us. Seeing as how I forgot my hose adapter for my propane tank and Scott and I had gone without any warm food or coffee, this turned out to be a godsend.
Rus and Nan showed up in their super-capable mini truck, and we hit the road. We reached snow around 1700 ft. and Scott found himself good and buried in his Power Wagon around 2100 feet. This provided for an entertaining 45 minutes of photography, winching, banter, playing with the dog, and getting soaked from attempting to jump over a stream to set a tree strap that eventually ended in Scott’s Power Wagon being turned around and pointing back the way we came, able to move on it’s own.
Not wanting to hinder progress, Scott left the big Dodge on the side of the trail and hopped in with me for the rest of the trip. We continued to plod forward with Rus breaking trail with his new 37″ Pitbull Rockers, removing several downed trees from the trail. A few miles past where we cached Scott’s truck and 3 trees later, forward progress stopped and we had some fun getting turned around.
The trip back down the mountain to Scott’s Dodge was uneventful save for Grant pulling some antics in an attempt to get his Toyota stuck. Unfortunately the snow and mud just wasn’t enough to stop his pick up… which means that recovery exercises are much easier with full sized trucks to get bogged down. It seems about the only thing a Toyota can’t be fully relied upon to do is get stuck .
Philanthropist that he is, Scott bought everyone a great late lunch/early dinner back in Darrington before we hit the road.
It was a good time, and I’m glad I got out for the weekend. This was my first night spent in the Troopie, and I’m happy I took this trip, as it’s given me some great mental lists of what still needs to be done for me to fine tune my set up.