6:45 AM Melissa and I roll into the parking lot of the Everett Mall to see more Tamers standing around and talking in the rain than there were volunteers for NW Harvest setting up for their event. It was a great turn out for the Tamers to do there Rig Parade through the donation line where Dave W presented the Tamers donation to NW Harvest. Funny thingâ€¦ before the Parade the Tamers were asked to help setup for the event because someone thought we were the Teamsters. We did of course help setup but made sure to let the crew for NW Harvest know that we were there to give a donation and not to actually work the event.
With the donation safely delivered into the hands of Mark Wright from King 5 most of the Tamers headed to the Buzz Inn for breakfast before heading out to get a tree. Dave, Moose, Mary, and Ron could not go on the run though and so we said good bye to them until the Christmas Party. The Buzz Inn pretty much all but panicked when 13 people walked in the door for breakfast but they soldiered through and everyone was happy when we left to catch up with GaryTJ, Casey, and Gary who had skipped breakfast.
With breakfast done we headed up the highway (early I might add) for the Ranger Station where the plan was to regroup before heading up Tonga to search for a tree. Arriving at the Ranger Station Melissa, Cassidy, and I found Curt, Wendy, Emily, Cindy, Jason, Melody, Evan, Tim, and Renee just about ready to go again. Tree permits in hand we headed out for Foss River Rd and Tonga Ridge in search of 3 trees. Just after the train trestle an around the corner we found Karl and Isabelle unloading the Jeep to look for their own family tree. With Karl leading the way we all took off up the hill some looking for trees and everyone looking for snow. It was not long until we found snow and a group of full size trucks stuck on the first corner in the snow. Everyone took the opportunity to air down while we waited for the trucks to get sorted and unstuck. Cindy and Jason headed home at this point having to make a previous commitment but the rest kept goingâ€¦ for about a half mile â€¦ when we ran into the next stuck group of full size trucks.
After a about 10 minutes the path was clear and the flood gates opened allowing us all to move on up the hill and regroup at the intersection when the Dirty Thirteen were hold up with a fire going and watching out for the Christmas Tree searchers having vehicles less equipped for being in snow. Karl and Isabelle had been there for a bit and were sledding in the snow while they waited for us. We stopped for a few minutes to visit with the Dirty Thirteen and GaryTJ who was enjoying the company but soon decided to head on down the road in search of trees. We were joined at this point by Keith and Debbie who were late because they figured to catch us at Buzz Inn as the Tamers were never on time.
Away we went up the road covered in snow, around the corner, through the trees and over the ridge and kind of looking for trees along the way. It was a very picturesque romp through the woods everything covered in white and the occasional soft flurry of snow falling to dust the top of the rig in front of you. Do not get distracted though or you will end up like Evan sucked into the ditch and unable to get out under your own power. With a moment to play and a wide spot in the road I started to plow a lane with the intention of pulling Evan out of the ditch. I got around everyone but then proceeded to get stuck in the attempt to save Evan. With everyone extracted we moved on down the road and it was not too much further on that we ran into Gary, Casey, and Ken who were on their way back to the fire. Since snow wheeling is more fun they turned around and came tree hunting with us.
Another mile or two down the road we came to a wide spot and decided that it was time to get serious about looking for trees. With a nice big spot tramped down for everyone to turn around (more tow fees incurred here) we started to look around for trees. This process of looking for a tree went something like this.
Walk to the edge of the tramped down area where the vehicles are and step into the unpack snow. Sink to your crotch so that one leg is straight downÂ in the snow and the other is pointed at 90 degrees straight behind you. Scream with joy and wonder for the experience of cutting your own Christmas tree in the snow then plead for help from the people around you after they get done laughing so hard that they pee’d there pants. Repeat this process several times trying to find that tree that is just right and then give up and decide that the tree right there closest to the road is the one that you want even if it has a bare spot, a crooked top, and is 3 feet tall. Lay down in the snow and roll over to the tree in order to spread your weight out and not sink to your armpits. Get just over to the tree and then disappear from sight in the snow when you sink in to a hole filling every opening of your clothing along the way with soft white refreshing snow. Reach over to the tree upside down backwards and sideways and spend the next 20 minutes sawing at the truck of the tree with the dull limb saw that someone loaned you because you forgot yours in the Jeep. With hands numb and eyeballs frozen make a desperate grab for the tree as you cut through the trunk and save it from falling the wrong way over the bank down the side of the mountain. Now crawl back to the road with the top of the tree firmly clenched in your teeth dragging it with you as you go. Reach the edge of the tire tracks in the snow and fall into them exclaiming with joy how much you enjoy this annual event with the Tamers.
With the process of selecting that perfect tree and cutting it down complete now begins the next stage of affixing your prize to the top of your rig. Karl did this with easy by hopping into his rig and driving over the tree and then rolling it up over the hood and onto the top of the roll cage. Couple of straps to secure the tree to the cage and he was set to go. Obviously he had done this before. Next was Tim with the determination method working methodically to drag the tree to his rig and then hoisting the magnificent catch onto the roof of the TJ and working out the complicated system of straps and rope that is required to keep the tree in place during the 60 MPH highway trip to come later. Finally was the Tamer Christmas party tree. After an initial test and assessment that came to the conclusion that this was just not going to happen on the top of the Brady’s JKU the tree found a home on top of Gary and Casey’s little Samurai. With the tree sticking off all sides of the rig, a red flag on the back of the tree, and branches tied back with bungee cords so that the mirrors were of use, thus giving the State Patrol no obvious reason to pull them over the task of getting the last tree was complete and we all headed towards the exit.
Away we went down the road covered in snow, around the corner, through the trees and over the ridge slowing thawing out in the comfort of the rigs with heaters on full and just plain happy to have the tree capture part of the run done. When we got to the fire we stopped for a minute to socialize but being tired and ready for some hot food we all quickly decided that we should head on down the hill and beat the rush since it was getting dark. Stopping once to air up and discuss the virtues of various compressors while doing so the decision was made for a few to stop at Bubba’s. We hit the highway just after dark making sure that the people with trees on their rigs were in between those without so that the cargo could be monitored for issues. With traffic pleasantly lighter than usual the trip was a quick one to Sultan and without incident I am happy to say. Reaching the turn off for Bubba’s we split up and a few stopping for food and a few heading for home.
Thank you to everyone that was able to make it out for the donation parade as well as those that were able to come on the tree run. This is one of the fun Tamer runs that I look forward to during the year and it is the people that make it one of the best not to mention a little snow wheeling. The tree part is just good exercise and entertainment.
See you at the Christmas Party.