This may be a litttle long. You have been warned
So last weekend my roommates and jeep buddy decided to go do some exploring and maybe do some hunting. We all pile into my jeep since his internal slave blew the weekend before and was stuck driving his dad’s minivan until he fixed it. Anyways, after about half an hour we get to the forest and start exploring. We explore a couple trails and decide to go check out the minimum maintenance road my buddy was on the night before. The road starts out as a nice, smooth gravel road even with its own name – boulder creek road. After about a mile down we reach the point where he turned around, not wanting to break his dad’s minivan. The road is no longer gravel, but a hard packed grass/dirt and only a little bumpy. We drive down this road for a little while until it started to get a little wet. I decide to throw it into 4LO and start driving into (what took me too long to realize was) a swamp.
At this point, I’m not really thinking the road could be that bad. Normally we get out and check if it looks like it could be thick mud or deep water, but not this time. It has gotten progressively worse and worse but I’m still on a label road, so how bad could it be?
For the first 75 feet or so I was taking it easy. Wasn’t using a lot of throttle, just enough to keep us moving. As I felt the jeep start to slow down, I realized how soft this was and started to give it some gas. I made it about another 75 feet before we came to a stop. I got out and served the situation. It was bad. Nearly all 31” of my back right tire was underwater. After a half an hour of trying to put braches under the tires and dig out the mud, I let the girls in the Jeep know that we were stuck and not going anywhere. My buddy and I have the girls get on our backs to carry them back the 150+ feet to dry land.
Keep in mind, this is November in Minnesota. The air temperature was 60 degrees, much warmer than normal, but the water had some small ice chunks floating around in it.
I called a tow truck and waited for an hour to show up. Turns out, a tow truck weighs a lot more than my jeep and the hard pack dirt that I thought was solid turned out not to be. About a ¼ of the way down the trail, he started spinning his tires. He put his truck into 4wd but it some loud bangs started happening from the T-case area. He decided speed was the best weight to get through the trail until we got a little off track and had to hit the brakes to avoid nailing a tree. At this point, he is stuck now too. He attempted to try 4wd again but the chain was slipping too much now. 30 minutes later and using the winch on the flat bed, he managed to get himself free. I thought there was no way he would keep going down this trail, but he kept going.
Finally, as the sun was about to set, we made it to the end of the trail and the beginning of the swampy part. I hadn’t been to my jeep in an over an hour, and forgot how far I was out. The tow truck driver sees how far out I am and says, “You’re too far out. I don’t think I have enough strap”. After making this far we didn’t want to give up. I walked out the distance to my jeep and calculated about 175 feet from solid ground. We had the 100ft winch line, plus I had a 30 foot tow strap – about 45 feet short. We started searching his truck for anything we could use. He had 3 metal chains we found a small strap in a bag and started pulling out ratchet straps. After tying about 4 ratchet straps together, we thought we had enough. I hadn’t been able to feel my feet for the last 30 minutes, but I hiked into the swamp to start hooking up the straps. Amazingly, we found enough strap and had about 2 feet to spare.
It has been completely dark for almost an hour now. I hop in my jeep and fire it up to here the exhaust bubbling underwater. We start the winching, I drop the clutch in reverse and I start moving. Finally. After being in the swamp for 4 hours and losing all hope multiple times, I was finally free. But it wasn’t over yet. I was free, but now he was stuck. I had just enough space to squeeze by him through the brush and hook my strap up to him. After a many pulls with my little jeep trying to pull out his heavy tow truck on slick mud we finally got some moment and got him free – but it wasn’t done yet. We still had the long stretch of muddy trail that he already had been stuck on multiple times. Mr. Tow truck man and I decide speed is the our best bet, so I unhook and we start flying down the road. My buddy and I are now going about 30 mph over a bumpy, rutted and muddy trail with the tow truck hot on my tail. The end is in site and we both make it free unforgiving terrain.
I handed him my AAA plus card and a tip. He said, “I’m going to have a story to tell. I hope I never have to see you again!” and we split paths. Now my buddy has his Jeep driving again sporting a brand new winch. After that night I also decided to invest in a winch because that tow probably costed more than a cheap winch!
I wish I had more pictures, but I was more focused on getting out at the time.