Reiter Aug 2018

Seven Timber Tamers in five vehicles visited the Reiter Foothills OHV area for a club trail run on August 18, 2018—the famous date of 8-18-18!  Joe was in his white TJ, Shawn and Justin in Shawn’s teal TJ, brand-spankin’ new member Travis in his red 4-door JKR, candidates Steve and Jodi in their while YJ, and me in my white stretched JKR.  It turned into an eventful day!

Some of us met for breakfast, then all of us ended up meeting by chance at the Chevron station at the round-a-bout in Sultan, and drove from there to the parking lot at Reiter.  After airing down and having our drivers meeting, Joe as a group decision we kind of decided I’d lead the group through the trails, and Joe took the tailgunner position.  We decided to start on the Green G9 “Boulder Alley” trail because, well, it starts right there at the parking lot!  Little did we know that this would be our only trail of the day…

We went through the opening couple of boulder-obstacles with no problems at all.  Steve and Jodi in their relatively stock YJ did a fantastic job of getting through these, even though they only have stock-sized tires and an LSD in the rear diff with an open axle in the front.  (Steve has changed to 4.10 gears, though!)  After the first four of us made it through the first big obstacle that had a tight tree on the right side, Joe lunged in and climbed half way up the tree with his right front tire!  Then he bounced off, dropped down and had a huge smile on his face! 😊 The rest of us agreed that Joe had just shown us the most spectacular way to drive this one!

However, my own nemesis came with the second or third obstacle, where I got turtled on the first boulder of the obstacle.  (Shawn was “kind” enough to capture this one on video, and he posted it on Facebook before I even got home!!)  Travis gave me a gentle tug backwards off that boulder as I collected my first (and only) tow fee of the day.  (At any rate, I felt it was only proper to keep Casey happy…)  After that tug, I cleared the obstacle with no problem, and everyone else chose a better line on it than I did.

We passed over the next several obstacles with little drama.  We benefitted from Joe’s great spotting, and managed to survive with some less exemplary spotting from me on some of the obstacles—with only a couple of tow fees for Casey.  (I won’t “out” those folks, but will leave it to their consciences to come clean with Casey…)
Then came what was to prove to be the most challenging obstacle of our day.  A high stack of very large boulders that had a right-hand turn in at the top—but at least it has a decent bypass around the left side.  With Joe’s spotting, I managed to sail right over this.  Then Travis made it over with some spotting, as did Shawn.  Steve exercised the good judgment that the rest of us lacked, and opted to take the bypass.  Needless to say, Joe couldn’t pass up an “opportunity” like this one!  He climbed up to the top, then was turtled and stuck just before cresting the top at the right-hand turn.  It was at that point that his Cherokee steering linkage decided to bend and snap just at the threads where it links to the pitman arm.  Since it’s a Y-type steering linkage, the Jeep went pigeon-toed right away.  With the pitman arm no longer connected to the rest of the steering linkage, there was no moving at all with this, and he couldn’t even steer to get off the rock pile.  It quickly became crystal clear that the only way Joe’s TJ was coming off that rock pile was by fixing the steering linkage right there on the rocks.

Joe thought through this very quickly, and made a quick phone call to Olympic 4×4 (who indeed had a replacement linkage), then Shawn and Justin drove to Olympic to get it.  As soon as Shawn left, we started taking off the old steering linkage to be ready to install the new one as soon as Shawn and Justin returned with it.  Since the tires were pretty severely pigeon-toed, we knew we needed to lift the passenger side to turn the tire straight so we’d even have a chance to install the new linkage.  I pulled out my Hi-Lift Jack Lift-Mate to hook Joe’s Hi-Lift into the holes in his wheels to lift the tire so we could turn it over the rocks—and then we wedged the tire in place with some logs.  (I think I “sold” a couple of Lift-Mates with that!)  With a combination of pickle forks (which we just happened to have along (it’s always amazing to see what tools we have along on a trail!!) and a BFH (Big “Funny” Hammer), the old linkage was off in short order.

Then as we waited for Shawn and Justin to return, we had our lunches and watched as one Toyota drove past us on the trail from the opposite direction.  (It was a true Toyota through and through: huge tires, a rear driveshaft bent like a hunting bow that barely cleared the fuel tank as the bend spun around—and of course, the required square front driveshaft.)
Finally, Shawn and Justin returned.  Shawn decided to walk through the woods from the parking lot with the new linkage rather than drive around on the trail.  (Shawn said that Justin needed to burn off the extra energy, but I think it was actually Shawn who needed Justin to burn off the extra energy!)  Joe had the new linkage on in a jiffy, but was still so severely turtled that both rear tires were 8” off the ground, and there was no way he was driving off that rock!  He had to pull cable to drag himself off of it, and he did this all in the great mood, and said that he didn’t even mind having to hand a dollar off to Casey!

The other amazing thing is the attitude Joe displayed for all of us.  Despite destroying his steering linkage and being stuck for a while to fix it, he had great presence of mind to immediately phone for parts, and was genuinely happy and accepting of the damage.  He never got angry, never once yelled or griped—and he actually smiled throughout the experience.  To me, that speaks volumes to his great character!!

Then we were quickly off to the rest of the trail as we next drove through the broken lava field that reminded me of the Rocky Saddle Trail in Manastash.  We all made quick and easy work of the next couple of obstacles until we got to the last obstacle on the G9 trail.  Each of us tackled this with no problems, and since it was now after 5:00 PM, we decided to call it a day.  We headed to the parking lot to air up and head home.

At the end of day, our tally of the damage was Joe’s steering linkage, a pair of folded rocker panels for Steve and Jodi, and a “massaged” passenger rear fender flare for Travis.  (We still think that will buff right out… 😉)  And, of course, what trip would be complete without a few tow fees for Casey!!

John Vandergrift