Doe Run Jul 2004

Doe Run or The Running of the Does ……..

I couldn’t tell you about the start of the Doe run, as I wasn’t there. I was home doing a few other Tamer related repairs to Moosenstein – trying to make the passenger compartment a little more livable on what likely was the hottest day of the year thus far. These activities included closing up the temperature door in the heater, opening the vent (none of which could be accomplished via the now long rusted and useless control cables still attached to the slide knobs on the dash.) That plus going from a 195 to a 160 degree thermostat promised to make this a more temperate trip than the previous weekend. While I think Jeepster Commando Moosenstein is a much better trail rig than the CJ 5 Moose that preceded it, there is still a lot to be said for no doors and a folded down windshield. I do miss them, sorely.

So – between that tweaking, plus the fact that I really should have gotten some diesel appropriate oil for the ‘Burb at the same time as I picked up the filter, kinda put me a little behind schedule. It pushed that 6:00AM oil change back a few hours until the auto store opened up. But eventually – all the chores got done, and ‘Burb with M-Stein on trailer rolled out the driveway, hoping to meet up with the Tamers doing the Doe Run on the Naches, just about the same time as they rolled off the trail. Oh – and did I say it was turning out to be the hottest day of the year so far?

That little fact had me meeting not only Chickup on I-405 – but also her faithful canine companion, Frostbite. Kinda tough to be an Alaskan Malamute at 90 plus degrees, but it helps if your mom plants you in front of the A/C vent on high in the front seat of her truck. Rumor has it that if Jana shaved down Frostbite, she’d actually only be the size of Rowdy, my 6 lb. teacup poodle (a.k.a. my hand held attack dog.) I really didn’t want to take the time to find out, so Frostbite remained entirely hirsute for the rest of the trip.

The trip over had a number of high points – a temperature of 103 degrees in Yakima; watching my temp gauge in the ‘Burb climbing to new heights over both Snoqualmie Pass and the east AND west Umptanum Ridges. Best entertainment was seeing Frostbite’s dried drool on Chickup’s pillow, after chowing down on some of the excellent jerky obtained at a quick Cle Elum stop at Owen’s Meats. (An aside – if you like jerky – make it your sworn duty to stop there any day but Sunday, and pick some up. It is SO good, if I had to choose only 1 vice, I might even choose it over my beloved cigars and bourbon.)

But I digress. As I pretty much expected, I looked for the Tamers in all the places they said they could be found, and didn’t find them. I knew one place wouldn’t be it, as it was a fee camping area – and in 8 years, I have YET to see Tamer’s paying for camping. Jana, Frostbite, and I hung out in the stream for a bit, literally cooling our heels, and me trying to figure out where the Tamer’s REALLY might have gotten to. Finally – I figured they must have gone a little farther up the road then we thought. So – we pushed another 5 miles up the Little Naches River Road, and started to hear some familiar voices chattering on the CB. Turns out, there had been a few troubles and slow going over the Naches, as the Doe Runners hadn’t gotten into camp much earlier than I had. Finding camp brought a number of types of relief with it. First of all, with the altitude gain, the temperature had slid down to a very livable 85 degrees. Second – it was just nice to see everyone. And third, but most importantly, I didn’t have to explain to the lovely Mrs. Moose how I came to have a little one on one personal camping trip with one of the Tamer ladies! So – finding camp was indeed an event of good fortune.

The evening brought the usual hijinks – dinner, drinks, telling tales – and the best part – the campfire!!! Well – okay – truth be told, due to fire danger, campfires were verboten by the ranger station, but we were able to do things maybe even one better. John Lane plugged the old power inverter into the cigarette lighter – and then in a stroke of pure genius, plugged the bug zapper into it. The bug light provided a comparable romance of lighting levels of a campfire, without all that bothersome heat. However, as night’s shadows lengthened, and the bigger bugs began to show, there were still many showers of sparks, and clouds of smoke to be enjoyed in the circle. Instead of stirring coals, we did have the duty of dumping dead bugs out about every 20 minutes, in order that the entertainment could continue. We had quite the stack of dead bugs by the time everyone turned in. If we’d had the Olympic scoring cards, I’m sure we would have been giving ratings both for flames generated, along with a secondary score for artistic interpretation. When some of the larger bugs started taking an inordinate amount of time and energy to expire, some of us were secretly hoping for a short circuit that might result in a ‘1BADCJ5’ power inverter explosion that would have rivaled fireworks at Mike Grecula’s house on the 4th!

Well – in usual Tamer fashion, the plan had been to get up early, and take a short run up and back to Funny Rocks. However, being that Jana and I were the only ones up by 7:45AM, I began to sense the futility of that plan. Some folks were actually planning to get back into town by 2:00PM – so some elected not to run any trails, and the rest elected to do a short 2 hour loop on Kaner. This 2 hour Kaner run turned into a Tamer’s version of Gilligan’s 3 hour tour.

At 10:45AM, those hitting the trail finally got staged (after about 70 minutes of false starts announced by the cry “5 minutes then we’re leavin’!”) Those hitting the trail headed to the Kaner Flats road – where I still had to work a few bugs and tighten a few bolts and clamps on the cooling system. The rest who still needed to air down and turn hubs did so, and after that last delay – we headed up to the trailhead.

I had forgotten how steep the first hillclimb is on Kaner, and had a few moments of concern as the Q-Jet gulped and stumbled briefly, before getting its vertigo under control. In fact – everyone got up just fine – that is – until Staci discovered in the middle of the hill, that her vacuum actuator really hadn’t hooked up the front axle. She had gotten to a precarious angle, couldn’t go up, and wasn’t really in much shape to head down. Just then, like Superman swooping in to save Lois Lane, hubby Scrambler Mike unexpectedly pulled up behind her in his CJ-8, stopping any chance of free fall back down the hill. In the meantime, John Lane had pulled out most of his 175 feet of winch cable to get Staci up to a much less stressful setting on top of the hill, and once on the hook, Staci was seen to be in a much happier place.

Next challenge was the “sidehill from hell” that Dan-O decided to bypass. He already had the cowbell, and really had no need to prove he could roll over a second time in as many months. Depending on whose dash tilt-o-meter you were reading, the sidehill was said to range between 35 to 40 degrees. All I know is that I keep my tire deflators hung on my turn signal stalk, and I had M-Stein heeled over so far driver side down, that the dang things fell off onto the floor. I thought I felt (and a watching Danny confirmed) that Moosenstein had started to lift a front tire off the ground. Figuring I had not much to lose, I goosed it a little, and darn if that didn’t work. I dropped back on all 4 tires, and headed through – making a mental note not to do that again if I could avoid it.

New candidates Adrian and Keith were doing a very impressive job of driving their almost bone stock, 29” tired, open diffed, armstrong steering YJ just about anywhere they wanted to go, while at breaks handing out trail mix and sun chips. You’d think they were running for political office or something. (Hey Keith – stop diluting those M&M’s with trail mix, and you might have a chance!)

Ah – but a small disaster changed everyone’s plans. John and Gina were 1st in line, and true to form, John shrinks from no challenge. On the second really steep hillclimb, there was an extra little challenge in the middle of it – a really thick root with a really deep hole in front of it. John got the front tires up over the root – and even though I know this is really hard to believe, kept at it with at least a little healthy throttle trying to get up over the obstacle. Well – just a few moments before he started thinking about letting off, the suspension started to bounce, and on one of the down parts of the bounce, the rear wheels hooked up, and snapped the rear driveline. Now – I can tell you very clearly – a steep hill is really a bad place to lose your rear driveline. Faster than you can say “SUMBITCH” John was on the brakes, hoping to ride out upright the lower half of the hill like a drunken sailor on weekend leave skiing at Steven’s Pass in January. They might have gotten away with it too, until the rear left tire actually chose to bite in, slide off the bead, causing the nose of the Jeep to neatly pirouette both up in the air and around in a nifty 180 degree pas de deux – dropping in a heap down on the driver’s side, and sliding a little further down the hill. Fortunately – in best James Bond fashion, John and Gina were a little shaken, but not stirred. Except for having a little extra adrenalin on board, they emerged not much worse for the wear – although the contents of the Jeep had arranged themselves along the forest floor looking like a table at the March swap meet. (It was noted that this hill over the years has now claimed 3 Tamer rigs in the El-Rollo Hall of Fame.)

The toll? A tire off the bead (easily reset), a broken driveline (will John really weld it all back together yet again?) and a broken mount on the rear spring (things that make you go “hmmmmmm”.) But with the military eyes he had in the springs, even that was solved easily – with a few prybars to get what was left of the eye hooked around the mounting bolt, and a comealong pulling the rest of the axle and spring solidly enough back into place to get it out of the woods. After finding out that John and Gina were okay, Danny’s next words were, “Oh – its no problem. I’ll bring up the cowbell immediately.” And he did.

We all must be growing at least a little more mature in our older age, as between John’s roll, and Staci’s front end, we decided to backtrack the easy route to the road in order to head back to camp. But even that was done the “Tamer Way” (meaning not the most straightforward route) stopping a few times to check out a scrape-ey noise on Dirtball, and then taking a wrong turn on a road that burned up another 20 – 30 minutes before we figured out our error. Between the earlier donuts, and this turnaround, it was now truly an official trail run.

By the time we returned to camp, the 2 hour loop had turned into another 7 hour Tamer exploratory assault on the limits of mechanical inventiveness. And still – most in the group elected to head home from camp to Enumclaw via the Naches trail, rather than hitting the asphalt. It was after 9:00PM when the folks living in the south end finally started to get home.

It all proves a couple of things – there is almost never any such thing as an easy trail ride; and – wheeling with the Tamers is one of best experiences you can have in a 4 wheel drive vehicle.