The true maiden voyage of the jeep occurred later that spring when we went camping over on the peninsula at Steve's grandparents property. Carter drove with me, Rich drove his CJ-7, and Al drove the Landcruiser. We made it down to the ferry, then over the sound to Kingston, and drove over the hood canal bridge and camped near SR101. Carter, Rich and I drove around the next day exploring backroads. We didn't find anything all that challenging except this big puddle which we ended up each going through a couple times. When you hit the puddle this big wall of water would go up over your hood, over your windshield and come crashing down on your head. It was great!
The biggest thing I was afraid of while exploring was running out of gas since I only had the 10 gallon tank under my seat and a 5 gallon jerry can and got 10 mpg. Well, the problem wasn't running out of gas it was running out of oil. When we got back to the camp site I checked the oil and found nothing on the dipstick. I only had one quart with me and borrowed one from Steve but that only just registered on the dip stick. We drove up to Sequim the next day to hike out on Dungeness Spit and I filled up on gas and oil there. The source of the leaking oil was a combination of a lot of things which became apparent later.
That spring I also took the jeep camping on Memorial Day weekend to our Lake Wenatchee spot. We drove around the area a lot, went up to Mad River and messed around but never really found anything challenging as far as trails went.
Later on that spring I went exploring out around Duvall with Dana. We drove around on logging roads much of the day and managed to find a small tight trail that was sort of fun. When we left the Duvall area, Dana mentioned that he knew of a hill down by Fall City that he couldn't get up with his truck. Around this same time I discovered the internet Offroad mailing list and I posted the following "trail report" about our little adventure in Fall City that afternoon.
My friend Dana wanted to come along with me in my jeep to go exploring. He knew of a hill that he could not get up in his Toyota pickup near Fall City. We headed down that way and turned off SR203 onto a small dirt road.
The first thing we encountered was a big mud puddle about 30' long. We locked the hubs and put it in 4WD just to be safe. Dana said it was not that deep and that he went through it with his pickup. So we drove ahead. About mid way through we started slipping to the right a little deeper (1' panic right?) so I stepped on the gas and plowed the rest of the way through, no problem. Big boost to my ego.
The next obstacle was the hill. It did not look that tough and might have been about a 20-30% slope with some ruts in it near the top (that is where dana got stuck). I started at the bottom with no running start and just crawled my way up to the top, no problem, another boost to my ego. I am unstoppable! (ya, just wait).
Once at the top of this hill we came upon a powerline. The road went straight up to a railroad grade Dana said and also went left down the powerline right-of-way. We went left. The road turned into two deep ruts so you had to drive on the middle and right or left to keep from dragging something (my jeep has some clearance but not that much and I didn't want to break anything yet). We bounced around on this road for a bit, going through some small mud holes where some water was running across the road. Then we came down this gentle hill and turned to the right and ahead we saw the two deep ruts go underwater into a grey mudhole.
Well of course I did not want to go in there, I would be stuck for sure and it was just us and nobody to pull us out if we got stuck. There was room to go around this on the left.
We started to go around the mudhole when suddenly my right front tire slipped down into the left rut and my right rear followed. Panic set in since we were now at a 45 degree angle and I hit the gas thinking we better get out of this and not stop or we would be fucked. We made it to the other end of the hole (15-20') and stopped but were not out. Dana looked at me and said "Do you want me to get out?" He crawled over me and hung out the left side to make sure we would not turn over. I put it in reverse and backed almost all the way out getting my two rear wheels out but then just started spinning. We turned the jeep off and got out to assess the situation.
It was not good. The rut I was in was about 2' deep. My right front was down in the rut causing my left rear to be almost off the ground. My right rear was in mud and would not get any traction. My left front would not spin. We tried putting sticks and logs under wheels, in the ruts, etc. to give us more traction but nothing worked. I could not pop my front right out of the hole. At this point I started to panic and thought we would have to walk out, leave the jeep there and come back the next day with my roommates Landcruiser and winch and pull me out.
By now I had already been in the mudhole and was covered with mud from spinning wheels. The middle of the hole was a lot higher than the two sides and Dana suggested that we go back forward but put the right side in the middle where it was not so deep. I said "Go back in there, ya right" but that was the only thing left to try. So I got back in and plunged forward into the mudhole again. This time I almost made it to the other side but slipped around at the end which ended up turning my jeep around perpendicular to the mud hole at the other end. There was room to go directly backwards and I wasn't listing nearly as bad as before so I could get better traction. With a few more tries we finally popped out of the hole and by this time I was turned completely around facing the direction I had already been.
We made it safely back down the big hill and through the big puddle again and back home it one piece. There are several things I learned from this experience.
1. Always have a camera with you. I would love to have pictures of this.
2. Always go offroad with another person (vehicle) and have a tow rope or winch.
3. Don't get overconfident and think you can go anywhere.
Till next time
This area had a lot more little roads and hill climbs to explore and I went back there many times with different friends but mainly with Ted in his basically stock Blazer. Around this time I repainted the jeep again, this time "Vista Green" (avocado). I was trying to find a olive drab in a spray can and this was as close as I got.
Holley carburetors suck offroad. That is my opinion because I had a Holley and it didn't matter what I did to it, it just did not like hills. Down wasn't bad but going up anything moderately steep was impossible. I finally decided the best thing to do was replace it with something else. I asked around and everyone seemed to have their favorite including some who said Holleys were great offroad. I ended up going with a Rochester Q-jet and to this day it has worked perfectly. I think it is probably one of the best things I have bought for the jeep.
Next: Trail Jamboree