Beckler Dec 2020

In recent years the hang over run has been the most attended run of the year. We normally have between 20 and 30 rigs on the hill. This year was no exception. This year however would be different. With this many rigs we clog up the trail and make it hard for others. As a result this year we decided to hold a night run.

The meet up location was at 7 sharp with a full tank of gas. Gary took a group up toward the staging area, Chris took the trailers to the ranger station and I took the last group. The road to the staging area had a little snow on it which was fun. After consulting with a few board members we decided to break the group into 3 groups. The heaviest built rigs would head up the hill, another group would follow them and lastly I would lead a group up the river valley and to the top of a low level pass. Considering how many people we had this worked pretty well.

John V took the first group. This group would include such big dogs like Steve Yeager’s in the Super Sammi, Stevens camo cow and Anthony’s completely stock Ultra 4 Humvee. Jeremy took the second group up the Hill in his competition rock crawler cleverly disguised as a CJ7. Note it is a real CJ7 but someone forgot to tell Jeremy. Have you seen him drive this thing?

I took the group who would head up the valley and to the top of the pass. I would be taking the group with newer wheelers and those who did not like big drop offs. What was really cool was that we were able to stay in contact with the other groups as the CBs had pretty much a line of site to the other location. I had a pretty good smile on my face as I heard what group one was going through. Breaking trail and lots of snow. We had a large group with some new comers, some candidates, some old friends like Heather and backing us all up some veterans like Chris, Shawn, Gary and Joe. Our group did amazingly well and we made it to the top of the pass without much of a fuss. At the top there was a group with a fire and 4 or five rigs. They were the ones that broke trail ahead of us. Shawn headed up the hill towards a lookout on a completely fresh trail and Joe took after him. I too followed to while Gary opened up a small bowl on the other side of the pass. From where I was at, I could see Shawn breaking trail. Funny how I could not see his face but I knew exactly what the smile on his face looked like. I wanted to check on the rest of our group so I started backing down the hill until I found a spot to break through a turn around. After my 50 point turn I got the Jk back down the hill and started up towards the bowl. At the bottom of the bowl there was a bit of a line up and the makings of a small cluster. Infront of me was one of the candidates in his 2015 JKU. I thought I maybe able to walk around him but quickly gave up after it was clear that my skid plates were dragging. I managed to get back on the track and reversed back out of the bowl and back to the pass. I hung out for a while until the white JKU came back down. Meanwhile I checked in with Shawn and Joe. It sounded like they were having a great time. I figured I would just stay put and I was in a good spot if either group needed a hand. I did start to play a little and managed to get stuck. And of course then the whole group comes down to a stuck run leader. With a little winching and a spot from Gary the JK came free. By the way if you don’t get stuck snow wheeling you are not trying hard enough.

It sounded like Joe and Shawn had a good time. Shawn broke trail for a while until they decided to turn around. While turning around Shawn dropped into a ditch. Joe thought no problem. I will just pull him back. Fail. No problem I will just pull him forward. Fail. I am not sure exactly what happened next but I do know that Shawn needs new fender flares and Joe’s tire came off the wheel. They were able to self-recover and made it back to the pass just after the group from the bowl did.

On our way back down the hill we heard that Jeremy did a Dana 35 impression and had his axle come out. The 4 bolts that hold the axle in, completely sheared off. Some how using the bolts that hold his hardtop on they were able to get the CJ back together enough to bring it back down the hill. Oh did I mention that he now had no breaks? The good thing about a club like this is that there are so many people that step in the load gets shared. Other than waiting for Jeremy to get back down the hill I really did not have to do anything. Dave volunteered to trailer the CJ back home while Jeremy drove his jeep. Hats off to you Dave! Although I have never heard of a CJ7 breaking this way it is a CJ. Some of you think I am kidding when I tell you that you can’t even start a CJ without losing a bolt. See I told you.

Back on the highway heading home. On 522 Shawn was behind me and Heather was behind Shawn. Shawn comes on the radio” hay you okay back there”? Heather had pulled off the road and we did not know why. Shawn and I pull onto the side of the road and waited a minute. I tried to reach Heather on the CB but as I would later find out she had the volume turned down. I had Shawn stay put and we circled around to find Heather. Heather was fine she just was trying to figure out how she could get back to 405. Moving again we headed home. I am glad it turned out to be nothing.

The prizes for the night were…..
Tow strap went to Steven for the best decorated Rig.
Compressor went to Travis for the most recoveries
The tow fee page went to Evan for getting stuck the most times

Apparently Rudi did not understand the rules to the contest and thought it was first to be recovered got a price. On his way to the run his jeep broke down. Tom while not even on the run was able to assist and Rudi was able to get back home. Sorry my friend we will get you out next time. Thanks Tom for the road side recovery.

Thank you all who were able to make this a great way to end 2020.

Curt Brady

Thanks, Curt–for the report and the video!! Based upon what we experienced in Group 1, I suspect the tow fees made for a lucrative night for our dear treasurer!

As Curt said, we broke into three groups. Since we’d driven this road about 5 weeks ago and I still had the track in my GPS, I offered to lead Group 1. So, Steve Y in his Super Sami, Steven and Rudy in their camo “Cow Jeep”, Travis in his red JKUR, Anthony in his Ultra 4 HumVee, and Evan in his tried-and-true LJ. We took off ahead of Group 2 that Jeremy was leading.

Group 1 first came across a couple of trees about 80′ apart that had fallen mostly across (or over) the roadway, and we all just barely squeezed under them–but mostly by channeling our “inner Travis”, and getting into the ditches right off the bat!

Now, we have to describe the snow, just to give an honest report of the situation. The temps were close to 32-33F, and the snow was wet, slushy, heavy, and turned to a very slippery icy surface with almost no wheelspin at all. Almost none. Add in a bit of gravity on the steeper grades, and you have a recipe for a lot of “fun”! And also, since “momentum is your friend” when going up steep slipper grades, it’s necessary to add in hairpin switchback turns just to take the edge off that momentum.

We had turn after turn like this, and as the leader it was my responsibility to show the rest of the group which lines not to take through the hairpin turns! So, it was inevitable that I would come to that first of several turns where I’d lose traction. Problem is that you get exactly ONE try to get the line right, and once you duff that one, you slide to the inside of the turn and into the snowbank, the tires spin a little as you lose traction, and BAM–there you are stuck in the icy holes you just dug in that slushy snow! The other thing is that once you’ve done that, virtually any attempt to take a different line just won’t happen because the holes simply suck you back into them no matter what you try. So, after showing them which line not to take, Anthony and Steve took the proper line to the outside of the turn, and motored past. (Ultimately, they did get to the top of the mountain, and took the gorgeous photos of the mountain vistas I think most of you have seen!) Well, this was my first of a series of tow fees, as I had to winch to the one tree that was fortunately and conveniently where I could hook up, and that was the only way I could get myself out of the holes I’d dug on the inside of the turn. (Score 1 for Casey.) It was about this time that someone radioed that it was 12:07, and wished everyone a Happy New Year! I finally got motored around, pointed uphill, and was beyond the holes I’d dug, so we were off and making headway up the mountain again. Along the way from here were some really, REALLY deep water-filled holes that seemed to go from the top of the snowpack all the way down to the surface of the roadway. They really seemed to just about completely swallow any vehicle driving through them!

We then passed the point where we’d stopped 5 weeks ago–the place where Gary broke his driveshaft. Since we had radio contact with Group 3, I radioed Gary to remind him of that–and to tell him we’d made it to that point–finally. Shortly after that we were stuck in another turn, just we had been before. With some help from Steven’s winch, I got unstuck, and then a couple of hundred yards later at another very sharp hairpin to the right (that also looked like it was going straight up), I got stuck again! It was getting ridiculous how the inside corners of those sharp uphill turns just sucked my Jeep into them!! Well, more after thrashing and pulling from Steven’s winch I finally got mostly out of that, but we decided this was a good point to turn around, even though we were still some distance from the top. Steve and Anthony radioed that they’d been to the top, and that they were starting to come down. Steven was able to get past me, and positioned himself into the wide corner uphill of me to pull me up and out of the deep snow where I was turtled. With some more thrashing and more of Steven’s winch work, I got turned around–and into another snowbank at the side.

Travis was also able to get past me so he could turn around, then he pulled Evan up. Actually, Evan had been having a really challenging night of snow-wheeling, and Travis had been pulling him up most of the steeper sections, which is really unusual for Evan. In the past, I’ve always seen him rollicking through the snow almost like it wasn’t there. However, then I remembered that he now has Casey’s old tires from the Miss Creant–and knowing how allergic Casey is to snow and slopes, it made sense to me! I’m sure had this been mudholes instead of snow, there would have been no problem at all!

Steve and Anthony arrived during this time, then we all turned around and headed back downhill. All those steep slopes and turns were pretty easy to navigate on the way back out, and we had almost no stops the rest of the way down. It’s always amazing how much easier it is to travel downhill in snow when you have gravity helping you instead of holding you back!

Finally, we drove under the fallen trees and got back to the staging area to meet the remaining folks from the other two groups who were finishing airing their tires back up. We then aired our tires back up, too, and we all headed back toward home. (After I paid Casey my several tow fees from the night’s wheeling!) Another wonderful expedition into the snowy wheeling wonderland of the Cascade Mountains in the PNW!!

John Vandergrift