Manastash July 2019

What better way to celebrate the birth of a nation than by practicing that freedom in the forest of the PNW. So it was that Cassidy, Melissa, and I planned to go camping at Riders Camp and perhaps do a little exploring of Manastash in the Jeep. The invitation to join us for all or any part of the planned 5 day excursion was sent to some friends and the Tamers which resulted in a few taking us up on the offer. So it was that early in the morning on 7/3 Melissa, Cassidy, and I left the house heading out to Riders camp in order to hopefully secure a good camp site big enough for everyone that said they were going to join us.

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Liberty June 2019

It had been about 19 months since the family and I were able to get away on a weekend camping trip. It was my fault really since I wanted to build the Jeep, but with that mostly done it was time to reap some of the rewards of that effort. So it was that Melissa, Alex, Cassidy and I left about 9am Friday for Liberty and the Williams Creek campground in an effort to secure a good camp site for the weekend, but it was not soon enough because when we got there we found just one spot that would work for all of the people we knew were on the way. We made the best of it and because we had great campground neighbors it all worked out in the end.

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Tahuya May 2019

Another trip to Tahuya, and only a mere 7 months after the trip here! We had wonderful weather for today—partly sunny, comfortably warm without being hot—and no rain for today. After the trip we had last October when we found Tahuya to have really upped its game in challenge, we had a lot more rigs come along. In October we just had 4 rigs on the trail. This time we had 10! Gary and Casey were there with Miss Understood and Miss Creant; Troy Messick in his no-longer stock Blue TJ that he was using to seek revenge on the trail “challenges” he had in October when it was bone stock; Christian Leger and his father Lynn were in his Samurai buggy (now with his game upped with Dana 44s and brand spanking new Iroks—literally with only 5 miles on them at the start of the day); Michael Levine and his friend John riding shotgun in his silver FJ; Travis Butterfield in his ever growing and impressive red JKU; Candidate Dave Cook in his green YJ (which we discovered later is actually a formerly RED YJ—just what we need, another red YJ!); Even Pauls in his LJ; and the best ever addition to any trail—Moose in Moosenstein. We were also privileged to have Ron from W.E. Rock join us for the first half of the day. Ron is one of the people who helped build the Tahuya trail system up from the “2WD Leaf Run” status it used to be into the really good and amazing place it is now. We had the added benefit that he knows the Tahuya trails, and was able to lead us to the good stuff right off the bat! (It also may be noted that although I was technically the trail leader for this trip, I didn’t have my white JKR there. It’s currently sidelined with a very wobbly left front unit wheel bearing that I just didn’t trust not to eject the tire and wheel on I-5 on the trip to Tahuya. Gary very kindly agreed to let me ride shotgun in the Miss Understood—quite the privilege to ride in his fantastic rig with one of the best drivers in our club!

With recent rains, we expected to see a fair bit of “wet” on the trails, especially as this is late spring after the winter rainy season, but such was not quite the case. We found there were a few patches of shallow mud (more wet dirt), but no mudholes and only a very few areas on the trails for Casey to make “mudnados”. Otherwise, it could hardly have been better weather for this trip!

After the obligatory meet-up at the Safeway where everyone topped off fuel tanks, made a pit-stop in the Safeway and got the lastminute supplies, we headed out to the trailhead at the Elfendahl Staging area to air down, have our drivers meeting, and then hit the trails!

We started out heading into the trails across Elfendahl Pass Road from the staging area, and headed to the right (north), into the Trail 84 area. Ron guided us right to the top of the steep rock climb we’d faced last fall. However, if anything, it was tougher than it had been in October. I don’t quite recall the official name of this hill, but I think calling it “Casey’s Hill” would be appropriate, as she absolutely delighted in having a number of us fill the coffers with tow fees. Only about half of our group attempted the climb (Gary, Troy, Christian, Travis, Evan and Ron), and all but Ron and Evan contributed winching fees. However, Evan decided he wanted to try the climb a second time by taking a different route—and then he promptly contributed his own winching fee. (Casey was absolutely delighted with all of this!!) This hill was basically all big bounders with big holes dug out at the bottoms of the rocks, and all the loose “man-sized rocks” (Ron called them this because they are of a size suitable for one man to move) were either gone or at the bottom of the hill. Tough to stack the rocks you don’t have! There are really only three routes through this—the left side next to a tree that’s impossible to totally avoid, or the right side which has huge rocks and deep holes that are perfect for trapping tires and differentials, not to mention putting one badly off-camber and ready to roll. Regardless of which of these one encountered, all virtually guaranteed pulling rope to get to the top. (Oh yeah, that third route was the bypass!)

As we started to leave for the next obstacle, Moose announced that he needed to leave because Moosenstein was taking a leak. Literally—a gasoline leak. However, after starting to head back, the leak stopped and he decided the leak was simply because Moosenstein had been parked off camber to the right, and when he leveled out, the leak stopped. So, Moose decided to do all the rest of the trails, and did fine with no further issues for the day. (This was great, because what trail run isn’t made better by having Moose along!!)

We then drove all of about 200 yards from the foot of this first hill where we’d spent about 2 hours to another rock garden, this time a level one. It looked to be in the same place as the initial rock garden we’d encountered in October, but it’s been rather heavily “massaged” in the mean time! By “massaged”, I mean totally re-worked. Instead of being just a collection of boulders on one side of the trail, this basically covered the entire width of the trail, was surrounded by Eco blocks, and there are now a LOT more rocks in it! As if that wasn’t enough, someone also had fun with an excavator, and there are huge holes dug out to make tank traps on the far side of it now—all of this unavoidable and the sole bypass suitable only for an ATV or a narrow SxS. It was fun getting everyone through this, but we did—with Ron providing quite a bit of spotting. Just after this obstacle, Ron had to leave to attend a prior engagement, so our nine remaining vehicles took off to head south to find the infamous West Loop, using my GPS trail-crumb tracking from October to guide us there.

After a lot of wandering (the 84 Trail where we started is at the northeastern corner of the area, and the West Loop is at the far southwestern corner) through the forested trails with lots of holes dug in the trail, we finally arrived at the northern gate of the infamous West Loop. The West Loop does have a rather imposing gatekeeper, with two huge boulders—and then a deep mudhole on the far side. There was what looked to be an illegal and unauthorized bypass entrance just to the right of the gatekeeper. We judged that Mike’s FJ likely couldn’t make it over the gatekeeper without sustaining significant damage, although the more aggressively built rigs likely could make it through—with some difficulty. While we were studying the situation, two well-built Grand Cherokees (not with our group) came up and took the unauthorized bypass around the gatekeeper. They told us that it had been like that for a month and DNR hadn’t done anything to close it off, so they considered it OK to go through. However, as it did not appear to be an authorized entrance and we Tamers follow the rules, taking the unauthorized bypass wasn’t a consideration. We consider this important to protect the public lands we use for recreation, and good stewardship of this resource involves respecting the rules that are in place to maintain the land. Thus instead of using the unauthorized bypass, we took the standard trails to the south entrance of the West Loop where there is a milder gatekeeper we could all get through.

Interestingly enough, after we arrived at that south gate to the West Loop and after about half our number had driven through it, the two Grand Cherokees arrived there as well. We let them “play through”—but it didn’t go so well for them. In what seemed a stroke of poetic justice for their having taking the unauthorized bypass at the other end of the West Loop, one of the Cherokees gave that demoralizing metallic “snapping” sound of a front axle giving way. As he was already in the gatekeeper and going through it was his only option, he went a little farther where his front end made a second “snap” as the axle shaft on the other side made for a symmetric matched set of broken axle shafts. Bummer for them, but indeed poetic justice for cheating on the other gatekeeper!

Well, all our vehicles made it through that southern gatekeeper. From there, the West Loop quickly deteriorated into a really good and challenging trail! In last October’s write-up, I described this area as looking like an excavator operator had been given acid and meth, then was blindfolded before digging out this trail. After riding through this again with Gary at the wheel of the Miss Understood, my opinion hasn’t changed a bit! Up, down, sideways, off camber, drag-the-middle-over berms—all of that was still there among these clear-cut stumps! One nice thing to see was that this time, Troy’s TJ, now shod with 35” tires and a body lift, was able to clear the berms without having to be towed over them like before. (Michael in his FJ wasn’t quite so lucky…) Also not so lucky was Dave Cook in his YJ. Seems that part way through the West Loop his clutch cylinder decided to take a dump. Not just any dump, but a dump where the seals apparently failed all at once. This left him with a clutch pedal that just flopped in the breeze (or, perhaps I should say under the dash), and no way to engage the clutch to change gears—or idle. Yup, all or nothing. With a bit of analysis and then coaching, Dave simply drove with his starter motor. That means that when he wanted to go, he started in 1st gear (low-low), and the just drove it until he needed to stop—when he’d just turn off the key. He really did a marvelous job with this—and not a single whimper of complaint! (Actually, he thanked Troy for suggesting this new-to-him driving technique to help him overcome the adversity!!) Given the late hour at that point (like 5:30 or so and facing a long drive back home through Belfair), we decided to turn around and go back out of the West Loop the way we’d come—especially since we weren’t going to make it over that north gatekeeper! So, back out we went, including Dave powering his YJ out with the starter motor when he needed to stop. Then, at the gatekeeper, Dave kindly handed his keys over to Troy to pilot his YJ through the south gatekeeper on the starter motor. Troy did a masterful job of it, not even once hammering against a tree or damaging anything at all!!

After a bit more wandering to find our way out to a main road (OK, maybe it was a LOT more wandering), we drove on a gravel road back to the north end of the OHV area, found a trail that paralleled NE Elfendahl Road to get us back across from the staging area, and proceeded to air-up tires, hook up tow vehicles, and swap stories about the fun we had!

A very full day of challenging trails, a lot of fun, camaraderie, and reminding each other, “It’s just Tahuya.” Yeah, it’s no longer really “just”

Tahuya!! John Vandergrift TT#308

Rig Check and 40th Birthday, May, 4 19

Our fine hosts the Tenney’s did their legendary thing with the weather – it being a beautiful spring afternoon in the woods north of Monroe. Ed claimed to have been doing a sun dance in the back yard days before – while also claiming no one wanted to see him doing that. (Ed – I may now have to go poke out my mind’s eye – thanks for that visual….)

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Reiter Work Party Apr 2019

The morning didn’t start out well for me…..I accidently changed the time on my alarm clock, one hour forward while setting the alarm to get up an O’Dark am on Saturday. Of course this caused my alarm clock to go off an hour early, which most of you know, is not a good thing for me! Just as I was about to go back to sleep, a HUGE Hail storm hit and rattled the house…..fine, I will just get up, since the universe didn’t want me to get my beauty rest!

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Hefty Haul Out Apr 2019

We started out getting there a bit late, about 9:15 am. Which if you know me is a bit early for me. Lol. Kevin with the Rainier Ridge Rams was quick to ask me who was bringing the fixings for the Lunch bar-b-que, as we had volunteered to do that with our club. I must have given him a deer in the head lights look and answered I don’t know? He just looked back and said.. Your not awake yet are you? Nope I was not awake yet. It took me about 15 minutes to get awake and moving and I assured Kevin that Mike our trusty cook was going to be there to cook up some hot dogs and hamburgers. It was cold and rainy and windy as we tried to get out flags and banners set up. Catch up with everyone and touch base and get signed up with DNR for our days duties.

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Walker Valley Jan 2019

At the club meeting, Thursday prior to the club run, we asked for volunteer to lead the group. No one raised their hands so I said sure I would do it! But seeing though I am a 2nd shift worker we would start at 10am, LOL. I got a few hmms and haws and I double checked if anyone else wanted to lead but no one stepped up.. Ok cool.. 10am it will be.

It had been a while since Casey and I had been up to Walker Valley so we googled the time to get there and it showed about 90 minutes. It actually only took about an hour. So we got there early and found Shawn in his Teal jeep already there with 3 little ones running around have a great time. We got ourselves aired down hubs locked in and as we got ourselves ready others trickled in. We even got to chat a bit with our favorite DNR guy, Gary Bellows, as we waited. We ended up with 10 people in the parking lot with Dave on his way and meeting us a little later. Ed and Katie, Karl VP riding shotgun with Kurtis Messmer and his 3 little ones, Chris G in his new to him XJ, John in his (RocDoc), Travis B in his red 4 door JK, and candidates Marc C and Chris L. and of course Casey in her MissCreant, and me in my MissUnderstood.

We started off heading down to the southern main gate and it is just easier to get the larger rigs thru. Sure enough everyone made it thru just find and we headed up to the Timber Tamers trail. We saw where they had replanted some trees and drained a big puddle and made the trail worthy to crawl thru again. As we headed up to the upper portion of the Timber Tamer trail I just had to try my hand at crawling over the big rock and test my new transfer case gearing. Karl was good enough to spot me after a couple of attempts and got me up and over. A few others went around the big rock but those that wanted to crawl over had Karl spotting for them and getting them over. For the most part, Karl got everyone over it.

We headed up to the rock garden area of the upper Timber Tamer trail and I got a chance to get out and scout which trail to take up and it looked as though they were all about the same. I clunked and banged and crawled my way up thru the rocks and got up high enough to park and get back to spot. There were a few large rocks that were loose and being moved around a lot as each person went passed and towards the end of the line we were having troubles getting passed these rocks… Stupid rocks anyway…LOL Some of the guys opted for the trail to the left and it proved to be a little better. We finally got everyone through that are with everyone pitching in and helping out which was great. Kudos for team effort by all!! We made out way thru the Easy Valley Connector and at which time I could hear Dave on the radio calling for us. He would meet us over by the easy valley and logging road which sounded great. We got everyone parked around the Ridge Ram rock crawl trail and had lunch and watched as people took turns going thru the rock areas and having fun. After lunch we proceeded to Ridge Ram trail and did that without too many problems. Everyone seemed to do fine. We headed up to the Skills area where Ed has HAD to try his rig up the “V knotch” or “Butt Crack” and he gave it a good shot. But just couldn’t get the right traction. There was snow on the ground up in that area and I’m sure having wet tires did not help at all. Next it was Travis’s turn to try and he too gave it a great shot and got some good photos but just couldn’t quite get it. Not to be outdone Kurtis had to give it a try. He had Karl watching the kids as he tried and got SOOO close to making it up, but in the end we pulled cable for him and got him up and over.

We left that area and went along Humps and Bumps to the upper “New play area” where all the big Rocks are. We heard there was a sink hole up there, but we couldn’t find it? Everyone was having fun crawling over the big rocks that they couldm getting poser shots of the rigs etc. I even had Casey pull the MissCreant up onto a rock to check her flex and latest bump stop mod I did. It is a good place to just play.

From there we decided to head down the mainline into the tighter upper gate. No one really had too much of a problem except Travis. I knew we could get him thru with his 4 door JK as we had before. And sure enough with just a tiny scape and about a 10 point turn we got him thru. We all headed back to get aired up, loaded up and back home at a decent hour with light still available. I think it was a good run with total of 11 rigs it went VERY well and we kept a flow going.

Thanks to everyone who was there. And thanks for the helping each other out..

This truly is a great Club!

Gary M TT256

Hangover Run Group 1 Jan 2019

There were two groups for the Hangover Run for 2019—the “Big Dogs” and the rest of the folks.  The “Big Dogs” were the people who were foolish enough to get up too early after New Year’s Eve to try to be the first (or highest) up the mountain in the snow.  The rest of the folks were smarter than us, and took a more leisurely time about getting out of bed.

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