Join Date: Jul 2007
Location: , Sane's Ville
Great day snow wheelin, Andy!
Andy's idea was to find the way to go from Hwy 12 to Hwy 410 over the mountains. His research concluded that FS Road 1500 would be the ticket. He was right!
To get to the starting point of the 1500 road off of Hwy 12, we went though Elbe. However, instead of going over the bridge towards Randal, we went left and passed the entrance to the Elbe Hills 4x4 area. Several miles ahead was a right turn onto Skate Creek Road. This ultimately came out in Packwood at the Shell station near the east end of town! A total savings of about 25 miles as opposed to going through Randal! Not to mention at least a 1/2 hour or more each way, there and back. From there it was up and over White Pass to just past the Rimrock Resort area/restaurant. The 1500 road was a left turn a mile or so down the road/Hwy- 12 once we passed the restaurant.
My memory card was full from the Evans Creek trip the day before and I didn't get a chance to download/save them before we left. As a consequence, I only have pictures from the morning. We left Andy's house about 0725 +/- and had reached Hwy 410 via the very snowy mountain pass/FS 1500 by 1130.
I wasn't sure what to expect on this day. I knew there was likely snow where we were headed as we would crest the 5,000 foot level. That proved to be correct...
Once on the dirt/gravel FS 1500 Road, we decided not to air down until needed. Andy tore off like a bootlegger up the mountain side, all I could see was his dust! He was driving like he had a cargo of contraband with the Feds on his tail! Baja comes to mind...
When we hit the snow, I began to regret not airing down earlier, but, Andy seemed okay with it and so I was, too. It wasn't long before Andy caught some deep stuff that pulled him into the snow filled drainage trench on his passenger side. I watched from a position with solid footing as he worked his way out of his predicament. As I watched I figured, hell, if he's having trouble with his experience and that great Rubiclone of his, the coming hours might prove difficult for me. So in typical newby style, I aired down to 10lbs as he fooled around in the deep stuff. Before I was done airing up, he freed himself and moved onward out of my line of sight. After I got myself aired down I found Andy up the trail about a 1,000' feet airing down. After that, the 1st trip over/morning was relatively uneventful.
Andy was in the lead, breaking trail. I watched carefully from well behind him and positioned myself in Andy's tracks. That was a good approach until his tracks led me directly into some soft, unstable snow, but, I had Andy and luck on my side which kept out of harm's way.
There were many times we were on 4-5' of packed snow and ice with certain death if we slid off the trail into the abyss. Nonetheless, we made it up and over and to Hwy 410 by 11:30 am. It was a memorable, fun trip.
After that we tried to get to Funny Rocks, but had no luck. Blazing trail, Andy got himself in another tight spot that required a bit-o-sideways-winching to get him down/out safely. We tried several trails/paths to Funny Rocks, but, it wasn't going to happen. We abandoned the thought of trying FS70/Pyramid Pass and elected to go to Whistlin' Jack's for food and fuel...
We gassed up, fed ourselves and headed back the way we came. Well, we did make an attempt to find a new way, i.e. Rattlesnake as Andy mentioned above, but the trail dead ended at a clear cut so we sought out FS 1500 again. By now the sun was setting...
This is where things got a bit difficult for me...Andy had me go to the lead. I proudly accepted my role as team captain, foolin' myself that I knew what I was doing...
Soon we came upon the snow again. But, after a day of warm temperatures the snow had softened substantially. Riding on top of the snow wasn't an option. It was a white knuckle trip for me in the lead for the next 1-1/2 hours (+/-) and no way to stop to take some action pix...
In low range, 3td gear keeping the r's up, momentum was maintained (usually) when the wheels slowed to near stall and grabbed again. No way to ride on top of the wet snow, it was solid "plow" driving.
The first real trouble for me/us came at around the 4,500' level when the soft stuff grabbed me and pulled me into the snow bank. This was one of those times, for me...when, after an hour of pure, uphill, plowing through the top 12" or so of snow, white knuckle driving, sweating like a mo-fo with the window down and the heat off in sub freezing temps, after 12+ hours on the trails that I was in no mood for another "challenge". My newby status was rearing it's ugly head and my frustrations were bordering on, oh let's call it panic...and don't forget, though I didn't know it at the time, there was still another 500-1,000' of elevation in front of us! Daylight was resting it's own bed and things weren't looking good from my perspective... Andy kept his experienced cool as he put a strap between our rigs. A few tugs/repositioning and we were on our way again.
At this point, there was nothing in the world that could stop my forward momentum except mechanical failure, another mishap or worst of all, death. I'm telling you that if Gawd himself stepped out in front of me I'd have run him over...
We're moving again, and Andy comes over the CB telling me that there's only another 500-1,000' of elevation to climb. I didnt' want to hear this. He should have just said nothing as his comments only led to more newby anxiety! I replied back that I could have gone the rest of my life without hearing them words...still white knuckling it, I was all over the place. Wouldn't dare take my hands off the wheel to engage in small talk on the CB. He commented over the CB that my driving was making him dizzy...yeah, thanks, Andy. :-) I didn't even want to listen as it would break my concentration.
Finally we reached the top. Hesitant to allow my "alert" level to go on vacation, though I did feel a small, sense of relief even though we were still on top of 4-5+ feet of snow, and it was snowing, with many miles of snow covered trail in front of us. But the coming miles were down hill and it just had to be easier.
Fortunately I was able to maintain momentum for the next several minutes (seemed like hours). The headlight's in my rear view mirror confirmed Andy was doing fine behind me. Ahead of me I could see a very deep snow drift on the right and a drop off to the left. Figured I'd try and stay somewhere in the middle to avoid getting sucked into the drift and out of harms way to the left. As I kept moving and thinking my heep got sucked into the deep stuff on the left and sucked me near the edge.
Sh** oh dear, now what? Truly, I was at the end of my emotional, newby, rope. My mind racing as I tried to back up, jockey around and reposition my self, to no avail. Hell, I couldn't move either direction. I grabbed the mike and said, I'm done. Stuck. What now?
Andy pulled in front of me with confident, purpose and stopped in the middle of the trail about 25' in front of me. Once again we strapped up, and in a minute or two, I was free. And, Andy was in front, blazing trail! Anxious to get to dryer, snow free trail himself, Andy just took off as I coiled the strap. Inside, buckled up and ready to go, I could no longer see my fearless leader's tail light's. "Hey, slow down!" I said over the mike. No reply...he probably had enough of my newby anxiety and wanted out as bad as I did...
Soon we were on dusty roads again! Hot dam* that felt good. that old washboard road was actually my friend at this point! All that was left was to get to the bottom, air up and head home. I got home about 0100 Monday morning. What a day! Lots of adventure and experiences that turned out well, to pack away in my memory bank. thanks Andy, I genuinely enjoyed myself! Here' the few photo's I took of the day;
LAST; All the following pictures were taken before the return trip/back over FS 1500...
Last edited by RaggedOleMan; 05-03-2010 at 05:09 PM..