Denny Creek Feb 2016

Trail Report – Denny Creek 2016
The Back Story (Prequel) Casey’s Fishin’ Trip

So – at the Thursday night meeting – when it came time to announce this month’s run – Casey went on a little fishing trip.

“Okay – who wants to be the run leader?”

The previously noisy room went silent. I could almost hear the crickets chirping in the back. (Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?)

I knew she was fishing for me – the Bull Muskie Moose – to hop up and snap on the line. Hey – this Moose wasn’t born (or entered the club) just yesterday. She was going to have to spend a little more time compelling me to raise my hand.Oh my goodness – she broke far too easily.

“Okay – Gary and I will lead.”

A stray voice inquired – “What time do we meet?”

“Safeway in North Bend. 10 AM.” (CST – Casey Standard Time.)

Now was the time to infuriate the angler. I rose to the surface, and with a leap implored, “How about 9:30AM meet and we can get rolling at 10?”

“Okay Moose (exaggerated, exasperated BIG sigh) – meet 9:30 AM and we’ll leave at 10.”

Yesssss!!!!! Perfect! Once again my Moosely wiles prevailed, as I assured her I would indeed be on site by 9:30 AM. But – I would be happy to provide immoral – errr – I mean moral support – to the trail bosses.
Trail Day – 9:29 AM – Dateline North Bend, WA

A text hits my phone – from Casey – “Ssssoooo where the heck r ya????????”

Which – being a law abiding Tamer – I could not pick up – since I was driving – and just turning into the Safeway parking lot – due to arrive somewhere between 9:30:00 and 9:30:59. I think it was about 9:30:13 when I pulled in – and seconds not being stated as a condition of arrival – I think I technically was totally on time.

“Where ya been,” Casey harangued. “We’ve been here since 9:05!” (Which makes me wonder – where does this 10’o’clock thing come in anyway?)

And you have to know – this is the Tamer camaraderie which has endeared this club and its denizens to me for lo these many years.

It was a lovely morning in North Bend – and the weather did not disappoint. Sunny, not windy, neither hot nor cold and above freezing – it promised to be a lovely day of wheeling. We eventually ended up with:
Casey and Gary in “Miss Understood” – Gary’s ‘Zuk. (Gary driving since mud, and not snow – is Casey’s thing.)
My coworker and copilot Rick and myself in Moosenstein (a 1972 Jeepster Commando that has been running trails since 2003.)
And not being the trail leader – I didn’t necessarily have to write down all of the names of the rest of our happy band. Our beloved trail leaders (dear leaders) will have to fill in some of the other names that my brain cells did not quite latch onto…
Stretching my gray matter –
Steven and (?) in the white and gray camo’d JK.
Chris and Jillain and their dog (did I hear Hercules?) in a Toy – I think a 4Runner.
Derek was it – in a JK.
A guy in a new generation Toy FJ.
Bruce in his “Gotta have hearts” TJ
Michael in his XJ.
And a guest – a guy (Joe?) that found us on the web – in his JK.

Okay – I will give Casey one thing. I was yakking so much as we were gathering – as the clock struck 10 – I hadn’t yet run into the store for the most important Tamer ritual items (Hostess Donettes – “It’s not a trail run without a donette!”) that I indeed delayed our departure just a few moments while I scored the sacraments to be offered up later on in the trip – that would indeed sanctify the proceedings as a real Tamer trail run.

But quickly – we hit the road, pulling off at exit 47, and airing down the other rigs and unloading Moosenstein (yes – he has tended to become quite comfortable with his transition to a trailer queen.) As Moosenstein excels at snow, but has been a little cranky on his last few outings – I had my fingers crossed that I indeed had sorted out his ills and that he would be a rock star all day long. And by golly – he did not disappoint.

Gary and Casey led out (after a well presented drivers meeting on expectations, trail manners and etiquette) with the rigs ordered out to make sure we had enough winches and radios interspersed in the line to avoid any major mishaps. I was tail gunner, as typical – since I tend to go at the “speed of Moose” (which velocity-wise is just a hair above standing still…)

As we hit the snow before the bridge and shifted down into low range – I was highly amused to see an AWD Beamer (no – I am not making this up) tuck in right behind me. Not even the taller SUV type – but I think it was a 328i Sports Wagon. I was waiting for him to stop, and became highly entertained to see him following right along. He was up so close – he could not have seen what he driving into – but even when he should have figured it out – just kept on coming.

Well – for about another 80 feet. He actually did get over the first few ooties (highly technical term for bumps and dips) in the snow where the berm was pushed up but by the third one – he high centered and was done. The worn street tires weren’t really helping him much, and neither was his lack of ground clearance. And the front spoiler was really keeping him glued to the snow. (I guess that WAS working!) Just a little farther in than AAA would be interested in rescuing, but not yet quite to the bridge.

Still getting used to where tire pressure ought to be (everyone had aired down – but probably not enough – evidenced by our having our first stuck just after the bridge) we were stopped for a few. The female of the couple in the Beamer quickly came up to Rick and me to inquire if we had a rope and could we pull them out. (It’s always the ladies who ask for help, not the dudes….) I considered telling her this was my day off for having fun, and that we’d help them on the way back. I think it was Derek from our group, God bless ‘im, was out with a shovel to help in the extraction. (He obviously missed the memo where we are a WHEELING club, not a SHOVELLING club.) And – seeing we were not going anywhere for a bit, I figured on seeing what could be done to help. I did note these folks appeared to be of a local demographic not generally known for acumen in all things automotive (also known as DWC – “Driving While Clueless”) and so I figured this was a good time to assist, so they too could enjoy the rest of their day. 20 feet in front of the Beamer was a patch of asphalt wiped clear by melt – and I planned to get him there – so he at least could get himself turned around. Of course – there is no good place to hook onto most cars nowadays – unless……… Unless they had that little attachment you can screw into the front bumper under a trim plate. Holy Moly – not only did the guy know what I was talking about – but he had it in his glove compartment! I told him I would pull him very slowly to the asphalt, then unhook so he could do his 180. And for Moosenstein – pulling this Beamer would be kinda like bringing down a fly with a salt gun. (No really – look it up .) A very easy task – now that we had a tow point.

And that worked. But expecting a 180 out of this driver was being overly optimistic – because he got about to a 90 – and continuing to watch him flail and not instruct further was getting painful. I had him back to the guardrail, perpendicular to the orientation of the road so I could get around him – over a large berm of snow which Moosenstein crawled over like it wasn’t there – and hooked on again.

I instructed, “Just put it into drive – and don’t touch the gas. I will do all the work.” The driver nodded and agreed. In my mirror – I saw the wheels spinning and snow being flung – but with those street treads – he wasn’t digging down at all. It was more like sled runners – and we got him back to the bare pavement in under a minute. I advised him not to try that again. My partner Rick was also talking with the driver, and pointing at Moosenstein said, “An off-road vehicle.” Then pointed at the Beamer. “Not an off-road vehicle.” I hope the driver captured that as I did my own 180 and caught up with our bunch – who were moving again.

The snow was perfect for a warm late winter day. Thick and heavy enough to stay up on, not cold enough to ice, yet not that granular, ball-bearing, corn snow you find a little later on in the season that supports neither weight nor traction. Oh sure – it had some holes and weak spots here and there, and it was a good instructor for some of our folks a little newer to snow running – that too much inflation and wheel speed at the tires don’t really help much in deep snow. We were able to encourage everyone to find the air pressure that was working for them – and to creep and not power their way through.

The rest of the day was the typical slow and methodical creep up the trail. There were downed trees to climb over, and melted out spots to cross. Occasionally – I did a little showing off by leaving the wheel ruts and striking off on the untrodden snow – just because I could. With the 36’s at maybe 8 lbs, the front and rear detroits doing their duty and the 89:1 lowest gear just chugging me along – I was having a good day with my rig and the rest of the Tamers.

The snow was getting to be about 3 to 4 feet deep – evidenced by the spots where the melt had taken the snow down to the pavement. The drops in and out were fun obstacles for everyone to tackle. But we were still managing a good forward progress and everyone was doing well.

We never did break out into the open just below the interstate to the first hairpin. At about 2:15 PM – we found the end of the trail. A tree had blown down across the road – being too high to go over, and too low to drive under, and too big to winch out of the way. Gary and I both remarked that we should have brought our chainsaws – but it was a wide spot in the road – and a good place and time to have lunch. And not a bad time to head back afterwards.

Hercules played with his yellow tennis ball – alternately chasing it, pouncing on it, burying it, then bringing it back up again. The Donettes got passed around – with the remark “It was just a drive in the woods until now – but now – this is a trail run!”

Michael had dropped (and I do mean dropped!) his front left tire in a hole in the snow. Like it disappeared! He was convincingly stuck until he broke out the winch and got out. The funny thing was Gary and Casey had driven over the exact same spot with no problems – such is fun in the snow. After everyone got turned around – we made short work of the trip back to the road (no more stuck Beamers!) aired and loaded up back at the parking area.

Just another very satisfying day on the trail. Gary and Casey – thank you for being the trail leaders – great job! Thanks also to everyone else who came out.

Thanks for readin’!
And Keep On Wheelin’!