Wednesday, January 7, 2009

How I spent Mother's Day, 5/18/06.

Editor's note: This story is a long one. It was a great learning experience that didn't thankfully cost much. Since that day in 2006, the Jeep and it's driver have changed dramatically. I am more experienced and it is better equipped. Enjoy the story and the pictures. -CA

Ok, so Mother's day, 2006. Great weather in the Seattle area so as such we (Erik, Cortni, and myself) decide it'd be great to get up into the mountains for a little bit of R&R. Little did we know that it would be quite the opposite! It started off simple enough, just some hill climbs, some puddles and great scenery.

It was a good 65-70 degrees out and the top was off the Jeep. Definitely a great start to a day. I however did not take any pictures of some of the small towns we drove through on the way up. One was Greenwater, a small town with maybe 3 stores but some camp grounds and cabins you can rent. Oh, I should say it was out Highway 410, Chinook Pass. It is still closed at the summit due to snow, but we weren't aiming to go over the pass, but rather just have fun on a forest service road or two.

Most of the stuff we saw was pretty cake. What you can't see in this pic is that there is a HUGE hole up on the left that if I had a winch I'd probably work my way through it. However, being completely stock it wasn't for me. Nor would I even try and risk it. So we ended up backing down this hill and heading up another route. A route I will call, Forest Road 72. That road will forever be etched in my memory. It had some GREAT scenery though. I mean it was absolutely amazing.

As you can see from the pic above, there were hidden gems around just about any corner. The higher we went in altitude the better some of the pictures got. Below is being still fairly low and finding Mount Rainier peaking around a corner:

You'd think that was awesome, but well, it gets better, see:

That's right up near where things got.... fun? Crazy? Or rather, insane. We come around this bend and see nothing but snow. No more dirt, gravel or road. No big deal, we're not going to go anywhere so we'll just mark the snow and back out and head down another trail. Erik heads up with his Chevy (no pics there, sorry) and then I follow with my Jeep after he backs out. After reaching my stopping point, we stop, get out and take some pictures.

After having so much fun, why not go ahead and just back up the rut I made and hit some more hills!

Looks good still! No problem. But you will notice there that my front end has started to slide down out of the rut. What the ... ?! So it's time to get out and see what I'm dealing with.....

Hmmm, doesn't look too bad, should be able to just turn the wheel and get back on track.. But then my front wheel hits a soft spot with the mud and rocks and decides to shift that over.

Our thoughts have shifted into "Oh, no biggie, let's just tow it out, who cares. Ha ha ha, be sure to take pics, the Chevy gets to tow out the Jeep."

Can't be that hard to do. I mean, really. Hook, tow, move on.

Soooo, let's hook the Jeep up and get out of here!

But once we start pulling, it doesn't want to get back up on the level ground, rather just kind of slide towards a very steep drop-off with rocks and trees. Never fun.

Wait! Craig! Put on your seatbelt, it's safer that way, you do not want to die!

I wish you could have seen my expression when I realized there are no seat belts. No seat belts you ask yourself? Yup! That's right. At a certain angle, Jeeps will lock the seat belts. Great idea, if you're rolling or in a dangerous spot. But when you take the belt off and it goes all the way in, it should still be able to unlock the belt to put it back on. Or well, be smart enough to realize that it's locked because it's at an angle where you shouldn't be getting back into the Jeep! I am not quite that smart yet (at that time. I'm currently smarter after this day. That's what they call experience!) Using the term "Pucker factor" doesn't even apply in this situation. There is no feeling like this in the world when you literally do not want to get back into your vehicle for fear of death being likely shortly after you get in & shutting the door.

Thankfully a couple guys stopped off to help us out. 3 actually. 2 were really helpful and we did a lot of brainstorming, digging and rock moving. There were many moments like the following where we discussed the best way to do things.

Unfortunately, none of it helped. Well, I can't say that. We did get it moved back, but we just couldn't get the rear-end to get up on level flat ground again, no matter what we tried.

From inside the Chevy:

We just about had it. One more pull and we'll have those wheels up on the flat part in nothing flat! You can see the tension in the tow line.

Figuring all we had to do was just unhook it from the truck and attach it to the tow hook on the other side to better the angle on the pull, Erik pulled forward to release the tension. What happened there nearly made me faint. The back right tire of the jeep decides to just go up into the air, with the three tires on the ground being the ones pointing it down the hill.

It was at that time I made the executive decision that it was time for a tow truck. So one of the gentlemen who stopped to help took me down to Greenwater to call a tow truck from there. Unfortunately I tried to have my roadside assistance cover the tow, but I guess I messed that up when they asked where I wanted it towed to and I advised them "About 20 feet?". I guess that's a "winch" and they don't cover that. Gonna have to work on my skills to get that covered next time. Maybe "the nearest town" would have been a better answer? So anyhow, stuck up in the hills, I had cell service. Down in this tiny town? NONE. I had to buy a calling card to use the payphone and then wait for the tow truck. Erik & Cortni being the loyal friends stayed up with the Jeep, Chevy still attached because we didn't want a wind breeze to blow the Jeep down the hill, given that without the tension the rear was up in the air.

That will hopefully be the only picture you will ever see with the Jeep being towed anywhere. The driver was extremely nice though and a good guy. Told me about winches I can get for the same price I was towed for and other places we could go and everything. A+ to Fred's Towing in Enumclaw. I would recommend them to anyone. So on the way down we found a hill climb and go figure, a tree just jumped right up in front of the path I wanted to take!

Side note, no I didn't hit the tree. To top off my night, we stopped off at Carl's Pizza in Bonney Lake. AWESOME pizza. Played softball with the owner and he's a great guy. So we ate, laughed and were glad we had all vehicles and people with no injuries, deaths or roll-overs. During the ride home however, one of the pizza's decided it wanted to try and fly! (Yes, that is upside down)

Needless to say I was VERY careful about what I did the rest of the day. I was not feeling all that lucky. But isn't that how they say you gain "valuable" experience? Is when things go completely south?? Well, I can tell you that I will not be in that situation ever again.

Thanks to all that helped that day and to all for the humor that it now is. I did a lot of prayer that day, hoping the Jeep would not go down, praying that if it did, let me not be in it and the truck doesn't go with it. Now that it's said and done with, I'm ready to go climb some hills. No more of this snow.

1 comment:

~E said...

Remind me not to go off roading with you ok?