Last: Winter Repairs
Opps, lets back up a little. This was all not done in January, in fact, I think most was done in February, but anyway, in-between there we went on a run down to Elbe Hills ORV area. Back in January some people from the Offroad mailing list were making some noise about going on a run in the end of February. It looked like it might be a big thing, with people from Canada, Oregon all meeting up at Elbe Hills for a weekend of four wheeling. Well, things sort of fell through, mainly because of long drives and the possibility of camping in crappy weather. But anyway we went through with the run ourselves and actually the whole Cliffhanger's club went (well, all four of us). We decided to just go down for the day since it was only about a 2-3 hour drive down and there was only about 8 miles of trail. How long could that take. Some people said it would take us 8 hours. Ya right. Boy was I wrong.
We meet at Dennys in Ballard. John Gunderson and his kids in his CJ-7, Don and Jeff, Dale and a friend JD, and Ted and me. We finally got out of Seattle at about 8. After a few gas and potty stops and a wrong turn we arrived at Elbe hills about 11ish. We really didn't have a map of the trails so we aired down at the first good looking trail we saw. A map would have been a really good thing later on as you will soon see. Anyway, I took the lead followed by Don, Dale, and John.
The first part was pretty basic with some roots and stuff for about 100 yards. It was winter and had been raining so things were a little wet and slick. We came out of the first little part into a logged off/replanted area and the trail smoothed out a bit. Then we came to the first goo hole. It looked pretty solid, and I started through it, not even stopping to check it out first. Once I got in a little it was readily apparent that it was not solid, in fact it was pretty deep and thick. I started slowing down, then stopped completely. I backed up a bit, the gave it some gas and slowly bounced and plowed through to the other side, about 40 feet later and let out a victory yelp on the CB. Thank God for my BFG Mud Tires. They were caked with goo and I'm sure with my old AT tires I would have been stuck for sure. As Jeff put it, this mud was thick enough to throw a pot with. Don went next and immediately got hung up on a big rock that was buried in the mud. He was having more clearance pro
Ted and I ran up ahead a little where the trail entered the woods again. It started to get pretty hairy and there didn't seem to be any chicken way out. I switched places with Don and let him go first since I was without a winch. We progressed forward slowly through bigger and gooier ruts about another 50 yards. We then came upon the first little "dropoff". The trail dropped off some roots about a foot or so down into a mud hole. We looked further along and there were two more of these dropoffs that each got progressively worse. Dale and John stopped to let Don and I go ahead and check things out. We had to use the Hi-Lift jack and winch to get Don through a couple places but I made it along without any problems. Meanwhile Dale was checking out a possible bypass trail along the hill on the right. It was taking a long time to get through. Maybe those people were right about 8 miles in 8 hours. Don came up to the last of the dropoff's which was about a 3 foot drop into a big hole. He cra
It was my turn to make a go at the last dropoff so I eased down off the roots and into the hole, that's when my usual luck kicked in. The hole was so deep the water came up to my radiator fan which was one of those thin flex fans. Yup, the fan bent backwards in the water like a propeller and dug into my radiator. We got the whole thing on video and even got some good pictures of it. You can hear my fan chewing up the radiator. I kept going out of the hole and stopped behind Don who was parked on a small bridge over a creek. In very short time all the water had drained out of the engine. John went down into the hole and caught up with the rest of us and Dale came down along his trail to meet up with us.
We pulled open the hood and checked things out. It didn't look good. We tried pinching off damaged rows and using radiator plug stuff but it didn't look like things were going to hold. Jeff, Ted, and John's kids hiked up ahead to see if there was any easy way out further up ahead. Well, there wasn't (this is where a map would have helped) and it was decided that the best way out was the way we came but up and around the dropoffs on Dale's trail. We filled up my radiator with the stream water and I was able to drive almost all the way out before things got hot again. We stopped at the first mud hole and had lunch and let my engine cool down.
The only other thing that happened after that was Dale got wedged between a root and a tree and couldn't move in the first part of the trail coming down. I don't know how it happened but we came up on him and his bumper was square in the middle of this tree and there was a big root right behind his rear tires. Some liberal use of the Hi-Lift again and we got him pointed in the right direction. 3 hours and we only got about a mile. Both Don and Dale said they had never done some much winching in one day. This was definitely a place to come back to and camp and hit the trails early in the morning. Once at the bottom I dropped my tow bar and hooked up to Don and he towed me home. A $35 radiator fix and a $20 very firm steel fan and I was back in business.
The jeep actually towed pretty well and I plan to borrow my brother's Cherokee to tow it up to Canada for a Jeep Jamboree in June. Driving a long ways cramped in the Jeep is really wearing, plus, I never know when I'm going to break down and need a tow home.
Next: Swap Meet