Whitechuck Feb 2020

We all started off the day with 10 rigs meeting at the IGA in Darrington at 10am. I am not going to name everyone there as I can’t seem to keep all the names straight anymore. By 10:18am I figured we better get moving as we had to hit the staging area (White Chuck Boat ramp/parking area) and get the one rig off the trailer and everyone else aired down. Once everyone was ready to roll, we had a quick drivers meeting with Casey reading off our queue card. Safety reminders, trail etiquette etc. Everyone was pretty well equipped and ready to go with exception of a pretty stock Ford Ranger. We made sure he at least had a GMRS radio and someone in front and rear of him with lockers and winches.

Up the mountain we went, winding around fallen trees and tree trucks that had been cut out already. It looks like someone had been up here lately and this was a good sign.

We had snow for a bit and then it went away, hmmmm. Must be the south side of mountain with some sun and warmth from the last week? Onward we went, with everyone keeping up pace and following each other at the intersections. The snow really didn’t seem to be on the trail much until we hit about 2800 or 3000 feet. Then it got deep pretty fast. It was a very difficult snow to get thru for the first few rigs as it was soft and my rig was not packing down real heavy. I had Dean in his Jk running behind me and he was doing real good till we hit a soft off camber spot and he started sliding to the side. This was a switch back and with a little coaxing and a quick tug from Steve behind him we got him around the switch back. By then things were packed down a bit better and the rest of the rigs were able to motor on thru with keeping their momentum up. At one point my rig needed to be pulled up and I radioed to Casey to pull my rig up to make room for the others to follow in behind and she responded with “I am already on it”. It is nice when your codriver/spotter can read your mind. With everyone now thru the switch back. We continued onward and upward. We made it around a couple more corners and then came to an off camber soft spot. Poor Dean in his rig, just could not stay in the ruts with gravity pulling at his rig it slid sideways. We tried numerous times without hooking up to get him out but just sliding down further. We then hooked up a Kinetic strap to him, (thanks to Joe for the Christmas present the year before) and gave a few yanks. We almost had him out, but gravity was not on our side. We finally had to get my Samurai plowed to the high side of the trail and then winch him up and out and back onto the trail. Next up was Steve and he too slid down into Deans ruts and we had to winch him out using Dean as an anchor. Next up with a Red JK was chris who we had met at the previous meeting. I had him go real wide and high on that corner to try to make some new ruts to get us out of the slick packed down icy area we had just created with the two previous stuck rigs. He made it round and made some nice high ruts for the rest or everyone to follow. The stock Ford Ranger made it thru keeping momentum going and not stopping.

Dave Fassett in his Jeep had expressed an interest in trying to break trail. So I figured the next chance we get we would see if we could get him out of number 5 spot up front to try breaking the trail. We didn’t make it too much further and I was having troubles breaking trail. You could barely make out where previous people had broken tail but the snow was pretty deep covering the tracks. If you didn’t stay right on their previous tracks you would sink and spin. I had to back out and get myself back up onto their tracks several times. We rounded a corner and saw a spot we could get two lanes going. I figured this would be a good spot to try to get Dave up front, and also make a turnaround for everyone to get turned around pointed down. I called for lunch break as it was about 1:30 or 2pm ish? As everyone got out and mingled and ate their lunches me and Casey went back and forth trying to pack down some spots for passing as well as a spot to get others turned around. The first was to get turned around was Dean. We had some trouble with getting him turned around but managed and then got him to back up the trail where I had broken trail. Steve was next and with a few points of the turnaround we also got him backed up into the trail. We had to work with everyone to get all the rigs turned around, with except to the stock Ford Ranger. We ended up breaking out Dave Cooks new winch line on his New Yellow Jeep and winched his rear around to get him facing downhill. We also had to cut off the Ford Rangers mud flaps to keep them from getting ripped out and/or interrupting out reverse movement.

Now we had pulled Dave Fassett and Joe Regula/Morris up behind me in the 2nd lane to let them try to break trail. With lunch being over and with Cosmin leading the pack downhill. Us 3 (Dave, Joe and Myself) decided to see how the breaking trail could go?

I had full confidence in Cosmin in his new Jeep and his tires that everyone would be in good hands and they all headed down.

I tried to move forward but was pushing lots of heavy snow, and while I wasn’t stuck, I could not make any forward movement. Joes decided to back down a bit and we let Dave pop back out onto the main trail ruts and he got up to high point and pretty much spun his tires. He busted thru at one point and got a few more feet than high point he just kept sinking and spinning. He did NOT get stuck and gave it a few tries till finally giving it up and backing down. Joe was next and he actually busted trail and got about 500 more feet and then sank. He tires were spinning both forward and reverse, but according to him he was still not stuck and just playing in the snow. Yea right…LOL I got my rig down into low gear and crawled up behind him and hooked the Kinetic strap. One good yank with a little speed from higher gears and Joe popped right out. I backed down and past Dave as he was now sitting alongside in the second lane. Joe got a little off trail backing down and then decided to turn around at that point. He backed up and pulled forward only to get stuck again. Dave took this opportunity to crawl up to Joe and give him a quick yank to bring his front end around. While they were doing that I decided to get a little air back into my tires. I was down to 1lb in from and 1.5 lbs. in rear. As I aired up a little bit I noticed my rig was rolling forward. Now me and Casey had discussed this earlier about setting the park brake! I was telling her at low pressures the rig would not roll in the snow. This little incident proved me wrong. Not only that but it also ran over my air hose in the front tweaking my airline and fitting at my bumper. Geesh, now I had to jump in and pull my rig back to retrieve my airline. Thankfully the fitting on my bumper was just bent a lil with no major damage. I got things aired back up to about 4 psi and away we went down to join the others. Cosmin had assured me he would wait till we got back in the staging area before he left to make sure we were ok. That is a tamer thing I love and cherish that we all look after each other. I tried to make tracks as best I could back to the staging area to be sure I didn’t keep Cosmin waiting too long. Sure enough mostly everyone was still there and airing back up. Dave got his rig loaded onto his trailer. And I saw people mingling and even saw Dave cook wandering and chatting. I was trying to get my tires aired up mud flaps back on and hubs unlocked etc. as quickly as I could. I too want to BS a bit and mingle. But being I was one of the last to get back to staging area people started leaving before I got all ready for the road. I waved by and yelled at some and even got to tell Dave Cook to be sure to respool his winch cable as we had it out a bit earlier. Everyone made it up and down the mountain with no break downs or any issues so it was a good day in the snow. We didn’t even have a Tamer Turn on this run, YET!! Some of the people decided to stop for a dinner in Darrington others headed home. Casey and I had a dog at home that was going to get a late dinner so we headed straight home. All things running good but tired at the wheel, I made a stop for some mountain dew to keep my eyes open. We got all the way out to the freeway when I spotted Dave Cook in his New Yellow Jeep and his distinctive new KMC bead locks and Patagonia tires. I only caught a glimpse of him but I knew it was him. We went over top of the freeway and down towards the truck stop and made our Tamer Turn and went back to see if he was alright. Sure enough he had not filled his tires completely up at the staging area as he had run out of CO2. And had stopped at an air pump at a convenient store to get all aired up for the freeway. I pulled in front and made sure he was ok and verified he needed air and got out my hose and air chuck. He said he was fine and he could use the pump. I looked over at the air pump..Whoa, it had been a long time since I used an air pump at convenient store. Back then it was .25 cents for several minutes. Now it is $1.50 per tire? Wowza and they take credit and debit cards to boot. Casey and I assured him, he was getting his air for free from us. We got him hooked up and aired up and back on the road in no time. Once again Everyone made it home safe and sound from a Tamer run complete with a Tamer Turn under the belt. Ha!

Thank you for reading, please forgive my typos and mistakes.

Gary M TT256