Tillamook May 2017

The run started 3 weeks before the actual days of the event this year when we discovered that the preferred campground was closed for improvements. After much back and forth we decided to try Cedar Creek which worked out since Rick and Jennifer were going to be there on Wed and could work on getting an area for the group.

Unfortunately on Thursday we got word that Cedar Creek was already full. Rick and Jennifer looked around and talked to the Rangers and discovered that our best bet was going to be Jordon Creek which was a little further from the trails but it was not going to be open till Friday at 6am so they could be there early and get spots for the group. So it was that at 6am Rick and Jennifer were at Jordon creek along with Jason (camped with Rick and Jennifer on Thursday), Heidi, Jon, Christina, Jason, and Jordon waiting for the ranger to open the gate so they could secure spots for the group.

Melissa and I decided that we could get up really early and try to be at Jordon creek to help so we left at 4:40am and made the drive in 4 and half hours. A little after 9am we came around the corner of the dirt road to Jordon Creek and found Jennifer, Jason, Heidi, Jon, Christina, Jason, and Jordon all still waiting for the Ranger who appeared 15 minutes later to open the gate about 9:30. Rick had gone back to his and Jennifer’s camp from the previous night to pack up there stuff and Ricks Mom so that they could move to Jordon creek and be with the group.

With sites secured for the group we got down to some serious socializing for a while until people could not stand it and had to run some trail. So it was that a few people took off to run the couple of trails that were nearby and a few people stayed in camp to watch over things and lay in the sun which was shining bright causing temps to reach the high 70’s. Perfect!

As the day ended the people that ran the trail came back and the rest of the group rolled in a few at a time as we all sat by the campfire. Apparently a bunch of people decided to drive down together and so Mark and Tammy, Jake and Jenna with Posse, Cindy and kids, and Evan all arrived at the same time. Steve n Jamie rolled in after dark and were shortly followed by Kurtis with Christine.

I have to back up a little bit. The first person to actually arrive after we secured a site for the group was Jake Bradley who is living in Portland now and came out with his friend Quin to go wheeling. On the way though their trailer ate the wheel bearings and Jake needed just a little help to set things right. I offered to help and so drove with Jake back to the trailer where Quin was guarding it from a hammock on the side of the road. We quickly took apart the remains of the hub and figured out what was needed so that Jake and Quin could run into Tillamook and get parts which they were able to do and get the trailer rolling again so that it would make it to camp and home again.

On the second day the part of the group that was staying in town arrived on time and ready to hit the trail. No one in camp was 100% ready to go though so in traditional fashion it was a pretty late start. As Mark was having fuel issues but was just a few minutes from getting it fixed we decided that I would stay back with him as a guide and meet up with the rest of the group on the trails. We worked out a plan as to what trails would be run in what order and the group left to navigate their way to some four wheeling. From what I understand there were some navigation issues so it took a little longer than planned but they did get to the trails they wanted and were able to actually go 4 wheeling.

Meanwhile Mark and I were working to fix he fuel issue on the Jeep and after an hour were able to get it working and headed off to meet up with the group. With Melissa as my navigator reading the map and using the GPS to confirm position we were able to make good time and were within radio communication with the group in about 30 minutes which is great because it was about at that time that Marks fuel pump stopped working again. With Marks fuel pump being down for the count we decided that the best thing to do was to let the group know that we were heading back to camp and for them to continue on without us. So became into being the Little Red Jeep Tow Service.

Using a long tree saver strap I started to tow Mark back to camp. We did pretty good on the flats, keeping speed in order to be safe but it was a bit of work on the hills to get Marks Jeep up them given we were on loose gravel roads. The first hill required that I down shift to first and put it in 4 high with the rear locker on so that I was not spitting gravel all over Mark and Tammy. After that we hit the hills a little faster to ensure we did not get stuck in the middle of one. This worked out pretty good until we came around a corner  at 15 MPH to find two rigs blocking the right side of the road with a third moving to block the left side on an uphill stretch. Not slowing down I hit the air horn and as the blocking truck moving out of the left side of the road I down shifted to 1st again hit the rear locker and blasted through the hole in the ditch on the left side of the road past the group of people with the whites of their eyes showing. In hind sight I probably should have made a different decision but then again I did not have the luxury of time to actually think about the choice before me.

The rest of the trip back to camp was pretty tame compared to that one event. Mark used compression and high gear to be the brakes going down the steep hills and setting up for blind corners. There was just one more incident of note on the way back to camp. Not too far from camp we came upon oncoming traffic and the first truck made it past us just fine but the second one got too close to the ditch and we had to help pull him back on the road again.

While Mark and Tammy ran to town in order to get parts Melissa, Cassidy and I just hung around camp visited with Sharon and enjoyed the Sun. When Mark and Tammy got back from town there was a half-gallon of Tillamook mint chip chocolate chip ice cream delivered as a thank you for getting them back to camp in one piece (Thank you it was delicious). The rest of the crew rolled in about 6 or so and we all got dinner then settled into a really nice campfire for the rest of the evening telling tales of the days run and past runs.

We had problems getting started again on the second day but I’m pretty sure that we rolled out of camp at least 30 minutes sooner than the previous day. We took about the same route up and over the hill and we’re heading for Lyda camp so that we could warm up on a few of the easier trails before hitting Fire Break Five. About halfway to our goal Mark started having fuel issues again and decided to turn back while he could still make it back to camp under his own power. With only one TT Turn Around the rest of the group made it to University and Powerline trails before making our way to the bottom of Fire Break Five.

Firebreak five was a fun trail for everyone to run as there was a little bit of everything. The bottom of the trail was a good grade with a lot of well-set rocks. The middle was a little steeper with a few bigger rocks and offered a little more challenge. Up around the corner from where we stopped for lunch there was a section for the lift locked and big tire rigs to play. There was even a right and twisty section in the trees for people to test the bumper/fender depth perception. The end of the trail comes out by the Crushers and there is an overlook above them on the hill where we took a break for a few minutes to look for buggies before heading out again this time towards camp as it was about 3 in the afternoon.

With the intention to head back towards camp we decided to hit a couple of trails in the process in order to “shorten” the route. This is about the time of the second TT turn around and while this one was a little longer than the first we did get ourselves sorted out and heading the right direction. The short way turned out to be the long way as there was a little spotting that was needed for a few people. There were a couple of tire lifts and tight spots but nothing more than some rock rash was received then we were back to the roads and heading to camp. The rest of the trip back was largely uneventful and we all got there. Back at camp Heidi and Jon started to help Jason repair his transmission line (unrelated run damage) for the trip home the next day while everyone started to make dinner which was followed soon after by a  ripping fire where people told stories until the next day before calling it and heading to bed.

As a long drive with a lot of traffic was expected for the trip home we all opted to pack up and head home a little earlier rather than later in hopes of missing some of the bumper to bumper road crawling. It was a pretty good trip home and we lucked out on traffic as it only took about 30 minutes more than the drive down.

Here is the list of things that I learned this trip:

  • I now know very well how the fuel system on Marks Jeep works.
  • Navigation at Tillamook is best done with a GPS and a Map.
  • The Tillamook Ice Cream Store is not closed … just under renovation.
  • Sometimes it is best to hit the brake rather than the throttle.
  • Tamers can find some of the best camping spots and are willing to go to great lengths to camp as a group.

See ya on the next run