Tillamook Forest May 2013

Memorial Day at Tillamook. A GSOTBAF “Gray Skies of Tamer Bonding and Friendship” kind of weekend. Not to forget why Memorial Day was invented, a hearty group of Tamers headed out to the great unknown to test their mettle at the Tillamook State Forest OHV area.

Our first ever time to TSF, Ruth, Isabelle and I loaded up the truck, camper and jeep and pointed south from Sultan about 6PM Friday evening. We had everything we needed except for gas for the Jeep. I had an empty 5 gallon can in the jeep and an empty tank. We were raring to get some highway miles behind us and enjoy being stuck in traffic so I decided to just wait and fill up the jeep and can until after we got through traffic. We drove straight through very mild holiday traffic and ended up in Portland around 10PM. After getting out onto RT6 headed towards TSF, we pulled over to have a brief respite and fill up the Jeep and Truck. Completely forgetting that everyone in Oregon rolls up the sidewalks and calls it a night at 10PM and you are unable to pump your own gas, I was in for a treat as the service attendant at the pumps told me that I was SOL as he had already shut down the gas pumps. Miffed as we were, we soldiered on. I stopped at the Shell station in TSF and attempted to pump my own gas, but those crafty Oregonians had shut the pumps off as well. As it was near 1030 we decided to head to Diamond Mill to meet the group of Tamers that we were expecting to already be staged up. We arrived at Diamond Mill around 1130 and found the desolate area rather quiet and only Keith and his wife in what looked to be a peaceful slumber in their motorhome. We quickly found an area to call it quits and headed for bed.

Saturday morning I got my ladies breakfast and we had to head into Tillamook to purchase much needed fuel for the Jeep. John and Gina showed up, we told them of our plans and headed to town to get gas. On our way towards town, we saw Anthony and Curt in their tow rigs on RT 6 headed towards TSF. We got to town, and found the first gas station in sight. I handed the nice man my credit card and informed him to fill the truck, the jeep and the 5 gallon can I had brought with. He obliged to the truck and 5 gallon can but couldn’t figure out where to put the fuel nozzle in my jeep and instead handed it to me and said “you can do it, I don’t want to eff it up”. Proving us Washingtonians can pump our own gas, I made a great display of filling up my jeep. After ensuring that I hadn’t turned his parking lot into the next Exxon Valdez spill he sent me on my way. In town we met up with Shawn and Kurt whom needed to purchase OHV tabs. We all got our tabs and were headed back to Diamond Mill to group up and enjoy what was almost looking like a BSOTFAB day.

Back at camp we quickly unloaded and prepped for the trail. In the group was Keith and Kathy, Shawn, Kurt, John and Gina, Ruth, Isabelle and Myself in my jeep. Missing were Anthony and Curt whom we had seen earlier in the day but weren’t where the rest of the Tamers were. I took a spin around the Diamond Mill area looking for them and was glad I did because I noticed the studs for my wheel bearing were loose. After some quick assistance of tools from Kurt we were on our way to find some trails and get some wheeling done.

Heading out of camp we decided to head to JordanCreek. A quick 6 mile jaunt on highway 6. No big deal I think to myself, it was gray out, no top on the jeep as I was tempting fate with the rain gods, my 4 cylinders of fury got out to highway speeds with ease (in 3rd gear pinned). The first time my jeep has been on the road in a LONG time. Cruising along we passed Officer Friendly heading the other way. It took him about 2.5 seconds to turn around and I hear on the CB “Karl I think you are getting pulled over!” Wasting no time, I immediately found a nice spot for a stop and chat with ample room for the rest of the group. It was quite amusing as Officer Friendly walked up to my jeep and stood there mouth agape for about 30 seconds before saying “I pulled you over for not having fender flares….. or flaps………………. And your windshield……………. And hang on a second. He walked back to his patrol truck and I was fearing the worst. About 3 minutes later he returned with a digital camera and I thought he was taking photos of my awesome jeep and it turns out he was taking photos of my 2 year old daughter happily eating chips out of a bowl in her fantastically placed car seat in the back of the jeep. After taking photos, he counseled me on safe placement of children in a vehicle and seemed flabbergasted that I would have her in my death trap with me. Ruth and I pleaded our case. Off he went again to his truck. We waited about 15 minutes for his decision. As we were waiting we were wondering where Anthony and Curt were. The joke was made on the radio that I was going to end up in handcuffs in the county jail right next to those two in their “non street legal” rigs. He returned with my citation for an improperly secured child restraint and informed me that from Diamond Mill there was a much closer trail head where we would only have to be on the highway for about a half mile. He strongly encouraged me to take that route on the way back to camp. Heeding his advice we quickly regrouped and headed for the trails.

With John and Gina in the lead we bravely sauntered into the best of the TSF OHV system. “Quickly” finding Archers firebreak we got to wheeling. I must say that the trails in Oregon are well done. Each section is very well marked as to difficulty and the maps are very well done. After only 3 or 4 Timber Tamer Turnarounds we were on our way up a black diamond trail section on the firebreak. One by one we attempted the “V notch” as I was told it was called by the heckling local club at the top of the trail. The trail was a vertical climb about 100 yards with a 2 foot water runoff ditch under your passenger tire. Not to mention a large rock obstacle in the middle of the climb. I got up the gumption to attempt and slid way off camber at the top. The more you tried to fight the off camber by steering to the “flat” side of the trail, the more you slid into the notch. I quickly figured out that wasn’t the way by the ladies in the rig squealing in fright, so against the grain I went and we came up unscathed. The rest of the group came up pretty much uneventfully except for Kurt in the stock TJ needing a helpful cable pull up the hard section. Once up the rock obstacle he drove the rest of the v notch un-unhindered.

After the black diamond section the rest of the trail was rather mild. We all drove for about an hour or so just enjoying the scenery and easy wheeling. We eventually got to a section of trail called the “can opener”. Not being one to back down from a challenge I attempted the obstacle with the whole family in the rig. After some expert spotting advice, and some brow beating from the wife, we elected to get off the obstacle and let others have their chance. Taking the bypass proved fun and we parked at the top waiting for another group at the bottom to have their try. After watching the group come up, I gave it a more robust try and just couldn’t get up the obstacle due to the absolute slop underneath. It was like baby poo and provided no traction.

Everyone getting tired, we moseyed back to camp taking the Ben Smith road to avoid erroneous highway travel and arrived at about 5pm. John and Kurt went out to cut some firewood and we applied the old method of “cover it in gasoline and stand way back” method of starting a fire. John and Gina received a note from Anthony and Curt informing that they missed us and would be back Sunday morning. After dinner, Isabelle and I went on a mild hike to a most enchanting waterfall and found a really neat suspension bridge which she played on for a bit while mommy took a nap. Once back from our hike we cracked a few cold ones and enjoyed stories around the fire. Only then did it start raining and we called it quits for the night anticipating more trails to run the next day.

Sunday awoke with a nice drizzle and the full contingent of Tamers parked at camp. Wasting no time, we headed out in pursuit of the crushers. We ended up running about 20 miles of trails and 20 Timber Tamer Turnarounds. But eventually got to some trails worthy of consideration. We all arrived at the “TRIPLE BLACK DIAMOND EXTREME SPONSORED BY MONSTER ENERGY” obstacle called 7up. I obliged and drove down to the main rock face but wasn’t about to attempt it with a sleeping child in the rig. I turned around and headed back up the hill. Next we got to Airplane hill there was a very nice rock obstacle that we all got to play on. Notably Gina’s rubicon piloted by John made short work of it. About halfway through it, the normal group of SCAB wheelers came through in the opposite direction. So we had two opposing groups on either side of the obstacle. One of the rigs pulled the REAR driveshaft apart on his Toyota (something I’d never seen before, I’ve seen fronts but never rears). I obliged to help him fix his junk but only if they let me put on a clinic of awesomeness in the rock pile. After making quick work of driving through, I was on my way to fixing his truck while the rest of the groups meandered through. Kurt pulled a smidge of winch cable, Keith drove through unscathed, Shawn very timidly picked his way through, and Anthony and Curt drove it like a walk in the park. Nicely done for all parties.

After the upper rock pile, we headed down the main obstacle, everyone taking the bypass. At the lower rock garden it was more of the same. Finesse from John and Keith, Kurt on the cable lacking the required lockers and ground clearance. To his credit he made it look simple once on the cable. Driving where he needed to, and using the winch where he lost traction. I remember myself in a stock TJ bashing through and looking silly the whole time. He performed admirably using winch and driving ability seamlessly. The rest of the group had little trouble in the rocks.

Getting late in the day, we decided to head back to camp. Some of us had warm hotel rooms and hot tubs calling, some needed to head home, and some decided to sit around the fire and enjoy libations. Around 5am Monday morning it started raining HARD. Those folks that were tent camping chose the exact night to head home as they would have been in 6 to 8 inches of water in their tents.

Monday came with only Keith and Kathy, Ruth, Isabelle and I at camp. We packed up camp said our goodbyes and headed for the ForestCenter. Let me tell you, that place is COOL. All sorts of stuff for folks to do both young and old. Isabelle had a blast running around discovering new things including the “big fishes” which she still wants to go back and see.

A great GSOTBAF weekend and great time had by all. Maybe had better with a smidge better weather, but at least it wasn’t raining cats and dogs. Just good stout PNW weather with good stout people.

Till next time.