My (Off)Road Trip
Evan's Creek ORV Park
November 11, 2006
It had been dumping rain down on the Seattle area for the last two weeks. Significant areas along the region's rivers had flooded, roads washed out, houses slid from hill sides. And up in the mountains there was a reported 17" of rain that fell from the sky. "Yes! What a great time to go 'wheel'n!" I thought as I hastily organized a last-minute wheel'n run to Evan's Creek, our local off-road vehicle park. With all the water pouring down the mountain it would make for some very fun and challenging trail conditions. The wetter and sloppier it is, the funner Evan's Creek becomes.
Friday afternoon the e-mail was sent and by Saturday there were four of us meeting at the usual spot ready to get muddy. The composition of the group consisted of 4 late model Jeep Wranglers at various states of modification and lifts ranging from a 2" lift and 31" tires to a full-on 6" long-arm lift and 35" tires and lockers all around.
Passin through the small town of Wilkeson, WA on the way to Evan's Creek.
This is a typical, gray, soggy Northwest morning.
We made our way from the gas station, passing through Wilkeson, and up to the trail head dodging some fallen boulders laying in the road along the way. After airing the tires down to 15 psi and shifting the Jeeps into 4 wheel drive, lo-range we rumbled up the first trail, the 311. This trail leads off from the parking lot, runs through a mud puddle and climbs up the ridge of a mountain amoung the foothills of Mt. Rainier.
Dana's Unlimited passes a corner.
Micah driving out of a puddle on the 311
As luck would have it a dusting of snow hit the area the day before and there was 2-6" coving the trail in spots. "Yes! Snow! And mud!" It would definitely make things more fun, I mean, really . . . who wants traction? This made the hill climb at the end of the 311 an interesting challenge. Normally this is challenging enough with a steep ascent as moist and muddy dirt cover some rock out croppings. There are some by-pass routes but even these have gotten pretty chewed up over the last few years. The "easy way" now has a dome of rock that can suck out off into a hole on the side.
Starting the hillclimb on the 311
As it was I was in the lead and managed to scramble up without issue. The deflated tires and torsen LSDs were working well with the rest of the 4wd system to deliver plenty of grip. My friend Micah started at the bottom and kept his foot on the pedal employing the "throttle technique" and made it up, too. But our friend Dana missed "the line" by a few inches and the rock dome sucked his Jeep over into the hole. Woops. No biggie. Young piloted his Jeep up to the top on an alternate route and winched up Dana's rig. All was good and we continued on.
Dana climbing over the rock dome.
Sliding off the line and getting sucked into a pocket gets you stuck.
Young winching Dana up the hill.
About a minute later our group broke out of the trees onto an overlook of Mt. Rainier. On a good day we would be staring straight into the side of the mountain a couple miles away. But not that day as soft gray cloud clung tight to the tree covered hills obscuring the mountain. Without much pause we headed down a short gravel road to run the rest of the 311 trail.
The short bit of gravel road connecting the two halves of the 311 trail.
Everybody takes pictures. Young's co-pilot snaps a few as he comes
around a boulder and stump.