Evan's Creek ORV Area
Near Carbonado, WA
September 10t, 2011
This Saturday a few of the local JF members met to go wheel Evan's Creek ORV park. The park lays about an hour south of Seattle and offers some good forest trails. The weather was perfect with warm sun and blue, cloudless skies with temps in the upper 70's. Joining the run was:
blackxj99 - Comanchee
xcape2usa - Land Rover Defender 90
PhilipJ - Cherokee
lupinsea - TJ
While airing down and finishing trail preparations we struck up a conversation with another fellow Jeeper who had gotten confused on where to meet his group (apparently, they were at a different ORV area). So our group of 4 turned into a group of 5 and we started off on the 311 trail from the staging area.
There has been some new construction and improvements to Evan's Creek recently by the Forest Service. The most notable was a redressed and improved parking / staging area at the entrance. The next most noticeable to me was the new gatekeeper boulder installed at the trailhead to the 311. They were set a specific width apart to keep bigger rigs from widening the trail. Beyond this, however, it was largely the same-old, good-old 311. The trail works its way up hill along a ridge line covered with a dense stand of evergreen trees. At this point toward the end of summer the trail was dry with plenty of traction.
Halfway through the first section we had a mechanical glitch with the Comanche. It was traced down to a buggy, heat sensitive CPS sensor. Once it cooled down enough the rig was rolling again and we proceeded on to the hill climb at the end of the trail. The climb has gotten more interesting as time has progressed, the "easy" route has gotten dug out to exposed a chunky rock slab, and the other areas have some fun steps in them to try and climb up.
It was at this point the Comanche's CPS sensor cut out again. Just as we had gotten some tow straps hooked up blackxj99 tried the engine one more time and it fired right up. So we drove up the rest of the way and exited the first segment at the Mt. Rainier overlook where we had lunch.
After lunch the Comanche was driven to the campsite and parked since the we didn't want want to push our luck with the CPS sensor. Blackxj99 and his friend piled into the other rigs and we were off again. The second half of the 311 brought us to a tricky hill climb with a trailbed of loose rock that rolled like marbles under our tires.
Everyone was doing great on the climb. The Defender was having some difficulty on some lumpy sections where it would lift a tire off the ground and thus lose traction. But all was good and xcape2usa did a great job of piloting it up hill.
But, the last bend in the trail would prove to be the worst for the Defender. For a rig with limited articulation it's a very tough section: a tight up hill hair pin with alternating off-camber surfaces, loose rock and dirt, and a good size boulder with a 18" step right at the apex throwing everything off.
Xcape2usa gave it a good go but the tires kept lifting it off the ground. Rather than push it and break something we thought it best to hook up a tow strap and help pull the rig up the hill. Like most NW trails we only needed to move the rig about 2 ft until it would get enough traction again. But it was those 2 ft that were key.
Near as I can tell, as the rig was pulled forward the front tire dipped into a depression right as the opposite rear tire came up over the boulder. Between that and some steady pulling on the tow strap the Defender flopped over on its side!
Fortunately, nobody was hurt. Xcape2usa was very calm and collected during the whole matter and through the extraction afterwards. She climbed up out of the driver's side window and then we went to work rigging up the winch cables and snatch blocks to gently pull the rig back over and set it down on its tires.
After both snatch blocks were set up we were hooking up the second winch line when I rested my hand on the roof of the Defender. That was just enough to get it moving and it just flopped right back over onto its tires! Took most of us by surprise, certainly myself included.
Damage consisted of a crushed front fender and that was it. The rest of the body was in great shape. From that point, Xcape2usa got back in, fired it up, and drove the rest of the way up the hill.
After that we caught our breath before pressing on. Up the rest of the mountain to about 5,000 ft where we got on the 520 trail and drove that across the boulder field. The 520 intersects with the 198 and we took that back down the other side of the mountain back to the gravel road. By this point it was getting on in the afternoon and we decided to quite while we were ahead. It seemed like a good stopping point rather than starting on another trail. Blackxj99 picked up his Comanchee back and camp and didn't have anymore problems with the CPS the rest of the drive into town.
Despite the damage to the Defender I had a great time and I think everyone else enjoyed the day, too. It was great spending the afternoon with everyone from JF and I look forward to doing it again!
The Defender 90 near the start of the 311.
The 311 cuts through some dense evergreen stands as it climbs a
ridgeback. Sunlight pierces the dusty, dark tree cover.
Stopping for lunch at the Mt. Rainier overlook after the first half of the 311.
Looks can be decieving.... on a steep grade such as this the
small rocks on the trail roll like marbles under the tires.
At the top of the 311, on the last turn.... misfortune.
Driving up the "roads-to-trail" route to the top of the 520 to
run that trail backwards.
The route afforded another spectacular view of Mt. Rainier. As
high as we were, we were only about 1/3 of the height of the
mountain which tops out at 14,411 ft.
Our interloper, whom we met at the staging area, playing on
the rock field on the 520 trail.
The rock field on the 520.