Walker Valley Feb 2021

There was a lot scheduled for Walker Valley this day,  so I thought I would get up there and help in any way that I could. Now being a 2nd shifter the meeting time was a bit early for me so I set my alarm. Casey decided it was going to be too early to cold and too snowy so she was staying home..LOL I really didn’t think we would see very much snow. Oh how wrong I would be.

I woke up before the Alarm went off. Got loaded up and headed out. I got up off of I-5 over to highway 9 and headed North. Right before I got to Lake McMurray area I noticed a little blue Isuzu behind me. I hit the mic and sure enough Matt had his radio on and it was him in his little blue Isuzu Amigo.

He followed me into the staging/parking area. Where Dean soon followed and a couple guys from Rainier Ridge Rams. We got aired down hubs locked in for us old timer rigs, lol. By now others were showing up for the work crew to do the excavating work at the south end. I got to talk with Kevin and others from RRR and got to talk with Gary Bellows the DNR guy. And even Jacob from DNR Reiter foothills ORV area was there. Apparently, Reiter  Foothills ORV had lots of snow and Gary Bellows had the side by side that Jacob needed. So they were there to exchange the side by side for Jacob to use that day. Whoa Lots going on today in Walker Valley.

We figured we could do an E & E run stay clear of the excavator work and still get some hours logged into DNR and help some members get their candidacy requirements filled. I held a quick Drivers meeting and got us all signed up on the volunteer sheet and as we drove by where Gary Bellows  and Jacob were parked I handed off the sheet to him out the window of my rig.

I decided to go up to the North gate keeper to keep clear of the work being done on the south end. We had a tough time getting Deans new JL through the gate keeper and while trying to spot him through Chris L showed up. With all of us spotting and then deciding to have Dean go through backwards we got him through with minimal fender flare scraping. We also discovered a plastic bumper in the creek or ditch by the rock quarry entrance and pulled it out of the ditch and set it up alongside the road. I would call DNR to report and hopefully they could pick it up and throw it in the back of their truck and get it disposed of.

Onward up to the mainline trail. As we got close to the trail head Dean called out on the radio to Matt and tell his mud flap was dangling. As Matt is getting his mud flap cleared, I called DNR to report the bumper we had found and left a voice mail. This was when Chris L said he was going back to get Jeremy and would catch back up with us. As we started up the trail I heard Jeremy calling out on the radio for any Timber tamers. I radioed back Chris was on his way to the parking lot to meet him. We made our way up with little trouble and once I got the top I waited and … waited. I called back on the radio. Everyone ok? Matt had got hung up a little bit was back moving forward.

It had been a while since I had been to Walker so Chris had advised us to stay to the right and so we crawled along the mainline. We got up to just before where the top of where expressway joins the mainline and twisted around and wound thru the rocks. There was a spot to the right I figured the Amigo could make it through. But it proved to be quite a bit of a step on a rock. I backed down to give Matt a tug and Chris and Jeremy had caught up with us. We cleared the mainline and traveled up the logging road towards Around the Sound Trail. As we proceeded there was snow on the ground… Then more snow on the ground. Then more! I made the decision that I would lead Matt and his Amigo around the logging road and meet the rest of these guys at the other end of Around the Sound trail. Matt thought he could do pretty well in the snow. And seeing what he had accomplished already I had to agree. But with the hill at the other end of the Around the Sound trail I knew he would not make it up that hill with this much snow.

Matt and I took off to meet Dean and Chris and Jeremy at the other end and that trail. On the way the snow just kept getting deeper. I kept an eye in my mirror and sure enough Matt was doing very well in this deep snow. We parked and got out just in time to take some video of Dean making an attempt to get up that snowy icy hill. It took him about 3 tries but he made it up and out. Chris was next and he had seen Deans difficulties and it took him a couple tries. Jeremy also had to hit it a couple times but managed to make it up that sick steep slope

I told Matt he would have his chance in some deep snow figuring maybe he could go up the long steep upper end of humps and bumps. We all motored our way to that spot and I really didn’t think Matt would get very far, so I pulled past the entrance and radioed Matt to go ahead and take that turn to the hard left and go for the hill climb. I popped out of my rig and walked over expecting to see him spinning and stuck. But watched him just motor up the trail.. What??? Geesh I had to get after him to keep him out of trouble. Back in my rig I headed up the trail. Up and Up, Geesh this kid is doing great. Then I saw him, spinning, backing, hitting it again gaining some more, then repeating his movements. Now seeing this going on, it reminded me of over a decade ago on this same hill with very similar circumstances with a fairly freshly broken in motor in the wife’s MissCreant.  I was trying to get up this hill in the snow and ended up spinning a rod bearing in #3 cylinder back then.

I did NOT want to repeat that scenario and I know they had just rebuilt that motor.  I had Matt back down to a point so could get in front of him thinking if we get to the top we should be good to go for the rest of the day. I got in front of him and tugged and jerked and pulled. At one point I had to look out the side of my window to see if we were making any progress. My little samurai in LOW LOW was working hard to get us both up the hill. We finally made it up and around the corner. And now I realized we were breaking trail and this snow was not nice snow and it was deep too. I radioed Matt to follow my ruts and go slow but don’t stop. Tree branches were hanging low and I was clearing the snow off them as I went by making tracks for Matt and others to follow. I asked if anyone else wanted to break trail and got a response that it was ok I was doing fine. I had to stop and get out and swing a heavily snow weighted tree out of the way for us to get by. The I got to what I know was a big puddle. How did I know it was big. Cause I remember my Wife revving her engine and flying thru it on warmer days, LOL.

I entered into it and Geesh it was deep and I was breaking ice too. It was Matt turn next. He didn’t make it and in fact he couldn’t even open his doors and he was DEEP. I told him I go this and we once again hooked up his strap. One tug,, two tugs,, three tugs. Wowzah. I had a little better kinetic style strap so I hooked that up and gave a good tug. Something let loose that time and it wasn’t the Amigo. I walked back and where I had hooked my strap to Matt’s strap. Matt’s strap was stripped ragged and had given way. Wow. I Hooked my strap directly to his hook, grabbed my shovel and we had to break away a chunk of ice under his rear tires that was at least 1 foot by 8 inch chunk that was wedged hard. Digging the other 3 tires out we finally got him tugged out of that mess. As me and Matt moved on I had confidence the others would be ok. It turned out Jeremy had to winch thru the puddle and even later when Travis came after us he too had to winch thru that puddle. We got the end of the trail where it dips down then back up a hill to the top of the skills area but still on humps and bumps. I told Matt to hold his position and I tried the hill and couldn’t make it up. I tried a couple times but I just dug in. I finally went into my “ker chunk” mode. Where my low tires basically “ker chunk” on every revolution of my gearing. I crawled up slowly and around that big rock to face downhill again. I told matt to give it a shot and try to keep momentum. He didn’t get too far. So I had to crawl down and cable out A LOT to winch him up. Then free spool as I backed up for more cable. Then repeat, then repeat. I think we did that 4 or 5 times. Thank god my winch was working well. As we did this, we heard someone shout out someone was coming up behind us and I heard honking going on, oh Geesh. Then I think I heard Jeremy say it was Travis joining us from him helping with the excavator crew at the south end gatekeeper. The other’s had to get some momentum going down then up the hill but they all made it. We headed straight out humps n bumps and I had to tug Matt again from being high centered, but no big deal. We headed over to the upper rock pit for lunch. We lined up and got some pics, had a bit to eat then headed on down towards Ridge Ram trail. I had to tug matt again real quick once he plowed enough snow to get stuck again. But as we traveled down more the snow level decreased.

We made it to Ridge Ram trail and with little snow it wasn’t too bad. We came down thru the 180 turn to give an idea of direction we were traveling. Right at the top of the 180 turn, Matt got high centered again. A quick push and some rocking by hands got him going this time. I couldn’t remember how many tow fees he actually had at this point but I know he had at least the minimum for a trail run. Luckily, he had purchased one of Casey’s infamous Tow Fee coupon books (6 tows for the price of 5, transferable, and make great stocking stuffers). We got back out on the main road and headed towards Easy Valley connector trail. Then one last trail thru the lower Timber Tamer trail. We made it to the South end Gate where they had made improvements. Everyone made it through pretty easily and the Amigo actually bottomed out twice getting thru but made it thru pretty easily. I had hoped we would have made it to this point a lot earlier to touch base with the work crew that had been there. But that snow really put us behind. While we were getting thru the gate a couple guys were asking about getting access into the park and I clued them in on how the gatekeepers work and what we do in the park to help volunteer and educate people about how the park works.

We all made it back to the parking lot aired up secured our rigs and proceeded to head home. It was a good day for all and lots of things happening that day in Walker Valley. Thanks to all for showing up, helping out and making it a good day.

Please forgive my typos, long winded words.
Gary M