Red Eye Nov 2009

The run started out around 9:30 Friday night from the Safeway in Enumclaw with 3 rigs:

Doug in his YJ
Steve & Mike in Steve’s Suzuki Samurai
Scrambler Mike his brother Dave in the CJ8 (aka ‘the bus’)

We headed up 410 it began snowing as soon at the first sign of elevation change…turned off onto the 70 road where Steve unloaded his Sammi a few miles up. There was already a slight dusting of snow on the ground there.
All three rigs headed up the snow covered and icy 70 road to the trail head. About a 1/2 mile from the rest rooms ScramblerMike gets a call from Doug saying he is sliding backwards down the road. Assuming it was just high air pressure as we hadn’t aired down yet. Scrambler Mike and Dave went back, and after first airing down and trying to get going it was determined that with no power to the frontend something in his transfer case went south. Unfortunately that was the end of the run for Doug so we got him turned around and headed home. Steve and Mike waited up at the “Y” until about 23:00 when Scrambler Mike and Dave showed back up after getting Doug back on level non-snowy ground. Better luck next time Doug, thanks for showing up anyhow! The incident brought back a not so good memory of the year Scrambler Mike didn’t even make it to Enumclaw before turning around and going back home due to rig failure.

Steve, Mike, Dave & Scrambler Mike got to the trail head and made it up the first section very easy, but that was the last of “easy” for awhile…

We got to the first meadow and found a group of Broncos we had seen in Enumclaw earlier that evening. They had camped for the night after they had tried to make the first long hill with the stump in the middle, but it was too icy and they gave up. Sage advice had we taken it…

Steve made a few attempts and demonstrated to Mike the true meaning of the term “toboggan run” which is sliding backwards in the pitch black unable to see out due to the Sammie being packed to the gunnels with gear (which isn’t a whole lot of gear in a Samurai).

Mike jumped out and began pulling cable…accompanied soon by Dave. They teamed up winching the Sammie up in about 6 or 8 pulls (lost count after five). Yes indeed it took pulling lots of cable. At around 0200 Steve’s Sammie was finally on stable ground, and about that time Scrambler Mike has an epiphany…”We could go around” (ding), but since Steve was already up, he decided to go for it.

After many VERY hard attacks on the hill, Dave finally had to grab the winch cable and head up the hill so that the winching the Scrambler to the top. In retrospect he should have pulled cable a bit earlier or went around. Why you ask? It turns out that he had snapped an inner passenger axle during his assault on the icy hill.

Being very late & cold our weary bunch continued on, passing by Government Meadows opting to then take the road rather than the trail, so as not to demonstrate once again the true meaning of “toboggan run”. Travelling through a constant snowfall eventually ending up at the Jamboree site around 0500 and setup camp for the night , all four dropped into a deep sleep quite quickly.

Rising at 0900 having some food and coffee (bacon grease fried hash browns are simply amazing by the way) Scrambler Mike pulled both sides the front axle of the CJ8 apart to fix the broken axle. He was able to get the broken piece out of the carrier by poking it through from the drivers side with a tool fashioned from one of the steel handles of his BBQ grill. With the tough part of disassembling behind him, the replacement parts were taken out of the box only to find out that the spare axle joint was really a driveline joint. No spare axle joint, this is looking real bad at this point. A short while later along comes a brand new Rubicon JK with ‘Longfield Super Axle’ stickers on it driven by none other than Bobby Long himself! We’re thinking,” Man that’s damned good service, campsite parts delivery!” Well…our hopes were quickly squashed when it turns out Bobby and his wife were just out for a drive with no spare u-joints on board. That sure would’ve been a story for the campfire if he did!

So Mike puts rig back together as best he can and decides to and run into Yakima for a spare joint. Leaving camp at around 1:30pm it was pretty clear it would be nightfall before he and Dave returned. The trip to Yakima involved the use of the bypass on hwy 410 created by the massive landslide a few weeks before. They appeared to be working 24×7 on the new road on the other side of the river. After a couple trips to the parts counter to get the correct joint it is decided it’s best to pull the rig apart in parking lot and fix it there.

Arriving back to the camp site just after sunset where Steve and Mike had been attending the fire all day, we used the remainder of the evening enjoying some beer, BBQ and good company, swapping stories until an early bed time.

Sunday morning we’re up early anxious to hit some trail.
The campsite fills quickly with the smell of bacon cooking thanks to Scrambler Mike and Dave putting on a breakfast feast of bacon, eggs, and yes more of those bacon grease hash browns (Hmmmmmmm).

We break camp load up all our gear in the rigs and head back up the trail running it backwards towards Government Meadows. It is nice running the trail in the day light with it covered in snow. As we headed up in elevation, ran into an inch or two of new slow creating some really slick and icy spots. There were some quads and side-by-sides on the trail also. Scrambler Mike had to pull one of the quads up a hill as his tires were pretty bald. Steve gives this same hill a try and backslides 20 feet down the trail (yep some more reverse toboggan running in the Sammie).

Once again time to pull cable. Mike backs up and had Steve hook his winch to the Scrambler to winch his way up. When it appears Steve was not moving, Mike tries to drive up the hill to help out. Mistake! Next thing we know both rigs are sliding down the hill the vehicles attached to each other with a winch cable. (Tandem reverse toboggan run…wooohooo!) Slipping backwards Scrambler Mike tries to restart the Scrambler to grab traction. The starter stuck and then started to make a horrendous grinding sound. Thankfully both rigs finally get stopped while still in the middle of the hill and without colliding into each other. We run out the winch on the Scrambler and get tied off to a tree. The Scrambler starter would not engage and instead just click so under the rig goes Scrambler Mike. The starter was pulled, disassembled, and nothing was found inside but pieces. No way to fix that. While all this is going on Mike and Steve dine on some engine warmed burritos.

The Sami was winched back down the hill and then the Scrambler. Then doing a several point turn involving the winch line, snatch block, and a high lift (and barely enough battery to run the winch), we got everything facing the right way back down the trail. The Scrambler was bump started, not an easy feat on an icy snow covered trail, and then back down the trail we go.

Once we arrive at the last road crossing it is decided that it would be prudent to just run the 70 road back over Pyramid Pass instead of the trail. We came upon several snowmobiles along the way and also an abandoned Ford F350 crew cab slid almost completely off the road somehow barely hanging on by the two tires somewhat still on the edge of the road. A push on the side and away it would have gone tumbling down into the ravine. I’m sure there were some soiled seat covers in that one.

Travelling along the 70 road we traverse Pyramid Pass moving quite slow due to the snow and slipperiness. It was snowing all the way making it breathtakingly beautiful, it actually made for a nice Sunday drive.

After getting back to the West side we headed down and passed a few rigs with kids sledding. This is where Steve found out it’s not wise to unlock hubs until you are out of the snow. There was a quad coming up the middle of road dragging a sled behind. Steve got too close to the ditch and ended up in it, once again having to relock his hubs to get back out. After that it was it was just a slushy drive back down the hill. We aired up, loaded up and headed back to town.

It wasn’t the Red Eye we wanted, but it was the Red Eye. Unexpected things happen and you figure out how to continue and get back safe. It was nice that it was cold enough for snow the entire weekend, no rain.

The teamwork of the drivers Scrambler Mike and ‘should-be Tamer’ Steve accompanied by the untiring efforts of the co-pilot/winch witches Mike and Dave, made for a great weekend of camaraderie and a much needed break from the concrete jungle.

All’s well that ends well.
Mike J.