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.

The 2019 Hangover Run was planned for White Chuck Mountain, which is a little east of Darrington.  For this trail run today, the plan was to use National Forest Road 22 and Forest Service Road 2435.  First, we met in the lot out front of the IGA grocery store in Darrington.  We waited and waited for Jake Alexander (who was to be our fearless leader for today), but then got a phone call form him that he was delayed.  (Something about a blown-out tire on his trailer…)  So, our group of six intrepid vehicles headed out to the trailhead to get started.  Evan Pauls ended up leading our group to the trailhead.  The “Big Dog” group was rounded out with Ron Mader, Anthony Arreola, Candidate Shan McArthur, Candidate Brian, and John “Rock Doc” Vandergrift.

After airing down, we headed up the roadway and started seeing snow at about 2000’.  It was just a light dusting, but then it gradually got thicker and deeper as we ascended the mountain.  We had slipping and sliding a little bit, but for the most part found that hitting the steeper hills in a little higher gear got us up them without much trouble.  From the steeper hills, we finally drove over a little rise and dropped down onto a saddle that was a little narrow with nice drop-offs on both sides.  Across that saddle was yet another steep hill that we could see had what looked to be a narrow shelf trail on the left side of the steep slope.  Again, a bit of speed and momentum was needed to get up this slope, too—and we then found the trail there to be wide enough for our vehicles.  Also, since it is actually a Forest Service Road, it ended-up not being off-camber—just a bit narrow.  As I drove across its summit, I found Evan “playing” in a modest-sized steep uphill turnout on the right (uphill) side; he dropped in behind me, and Anthony was now leading with me behind him. 

After driving steeply downward to the floor of the valley, we then drove up (of course) another steep uphill.  At the top of this hill was a fork in the road.  We weren’t quite sure whether to go right or left with this, so we decided to turn left.  It wandered on for about half a mile or so, and we found ourselves driving downhill.  As we got to a group of Toyotas that had been ahead of us, we surmised that this wasn’t the route to the high point.  So, we did a Tamer Turnaround and backtracked to the intersection where we took the right fork that headed more steeply uphill.  (Of course.)  In about 1/3 mile we came to the end of the steep road, and here the road took a truly serious uphill slope—far steeper than even any of the prior hills!  However, as this was the end of the road, we kind of guessed that this was where we needed to claim our title as winning the trophy for the high point!!

Well, since Evan was leading, he took the first attempt to conquer the extremely steep slope.  (In reality, I think it was close to 30 degrees—and covered by deep snow.)  Evan made it up about 3 car lengths, but then abruptly stopped.  We thought it was due to the deep snow and steep slope, but as Evan backed-down, we saw a log that had halted his progress.  Another attempt really got him no farther, so it was now Ron’s turn.  Well, Ron first tried crawling up that slope with his major crawler gears, but that didn’t really get him any farther than Evan had been.  Another attempt or so with more speed sadly didn’t get him any farther.  Now it was Anthony’s turn, and he got up a little bit farther, likely assisted by the snow that Evan and Ron had flattened.  A couple of attempts by Anthony netted him about 2 feet farther than Evan.  However, as Anthony was backing down, he drifted to his right and his back end got stuck on a tree.  Since he wasn’t able to get off that tree behind the rear of his buggy, Ron pulled forward and winched Anthony’s rear end sideways as Anthony tried going uphill.  This pulled Anthony’s rear sideways and away from the tree so he could get back down.

At that point, I gave a try (I was already there!), and got just about as far as Anthony, but not quite as far as Evan in my one attempt.  Well, as I backed-up, I ended up right against the same tree Anthony had.  Ron pulled forward again, and pulled my tail end sideways like Anthony’s to get me off the tree—and help further please Casey (with a tow fee!)  At that point, Candidate Brian in his very nicely built TJ on 40” tires took a couple of tries—and he ended up going farther uphill than any of the rest of us did, so Ron gave him the Trophy right there on the spot.  (We also told Brian that he’s now committed to following through in joining the Tamers—and that he’s responsible for safekeeping the trophy for the next year as well as bringing it back for the Hangover Run of 2020!!)  Finally, Candidate Shan took his nicely appointed JKUR up the hill, and got about as far as I had—but discovered he’d not had his front locker engaged!  So he took a second shot at the high point (with both lockers this time), but again got no farther than he had the first time.

It was then time to eat our lunches, line up on the hill for photos, and chat among ourselves.  (We had to do all of that before heading back downhill!)  We drove back to the intersection, and then started hearing from “the rest of the folks” on the CBs, and it sounded like they were just pretty close to getting to us.  Evan had to get back home to Gig Harbor, so he headed back out the trail while the rest of us waited for “the rest of the folks” to get to us at the intersection.  Well, we waited and waited.  And waited.  And waited…  We used the time to do a little sledding, watch a couple of groups of Toyotas drive out past us, and of course shared an air compressor with one of the Toyotas that had a nearly flat tire.  After all, we’re Tamers and we help!  (Of course, we also used the time to shoot the breeze…)

Finally, we saw “the rest of the folks” cresting that last hill with the narrow trail that was across the valley—and got some nice photos of them in the process!  They quickly joined us.  A couple of “the rest of the folks” headed up to the high point to check it out.  Once they returned, we all decided to head back out toward the roadway.  Halfway down all of us decided to make a stop to partly air back up since most of us had aired down a whole lot (to “snow numbers”) at the top of the mountain, but needed more air to safely continue descending.  The rest of the trip down was completely unremarkable.  We arrived at the parking area after dusk to complete airing up, and then we each departed home.

A really great way to spend a New Year’s Day!!
John Vandergrift