This past weekend (April 17-18) marked the Peak Putters Annual Camp Schamp / Assault on Darland Mountain Loop Run. Please checkout Darland Mountain Loop X2
for the official run report. I drove up Saturday morning, bypassing the caravanners, because I knew I would have to set up my camp (including my funky tent.)
11 rigs headed out at about 9:45 along the familiar route. As opposed to the same run last year there were very few sledders, but it would have been nice if someone had groomed recently… everyone was getting their kidneys realigned curtsey of the whoop-dee-doos. Judging from Rob (Lud) in front of me, it was harder on the short wheel base guys.
All day long we seemed to break into 2, sometimes three groups, with the lead group making good time, even though breaking trail, and waiting for the rear group to catch up. Sometimes those of us taking the more leisurely pace caught up just in time to see the grill be put away and smell hotdogs on somebody’s breath.
Here DJ (Sillyputty) is trying to get through a side hill section that I had made more interesting by my passing. In front of him in his CJ is Don who also commented on my destroying the perfectly good trail the lead group had put down. (But, hey, I did not get stuck.)...
At the point where you cross the ridge to Darland Mountain, Roy decided he would take the route where even snowmobiles fear to tread. (TJDave will remember the spot; it is where we spent most of the day on the FYBR while everyone else was breaking their stuff.)
Here DJ takes the route onto the ridge that actually involves a bit of a road, as opposed to the route Roy, David, Curtis, and maybe Rob, chose. It involved a bit of digging (he brought good diggers) and a bit of direction from ‘Do as I Say, Not as I Do’ José (more on that later.)
As a thank you to José for all his help, DJ winches him up the last bit of hill that is a challenge getting up on Darland Mountain. In defense of José and me, who both had to use cable to get to the top, I think the hotdog eaters at the top had been pissing down the hill to make it icier for us than it had been for them. (Yeah, I’m talking about you Tim, why you gotta’ be a hater.)
While we were regrouping, some went off to play and summit the mountain while some of us were discussing their stock derivatives and when we were going to short sell when we heard across the CB radios, “STOP, STOP, STOP.”
Well, that piqued out interest so we headed up the hill to see what had happened.
“Hmm… what is this?"
Now, I'm no engineer, but I think I see something wrong here...
After pulling out an amazing array of tools out of everyone’s rigs plus using every redneck device we had we headed down the hill with the parts to be fixed on board leaving Chris’ Toyota behind, dividing its passengers between two Khaki TJs (Rob’s and Lee’s). We decided that finishing the loop would be as quick as turning back, so we headed to virgin snow on what turned out to be the snowier / warmer half of the loop.
Unfortunately, my camera’s batteries succumbed to the cold on top of Darland Mt., so I have no more Saturday pictures.
I, DJ and José brought up the back slower part of the group on the way down, occasionally coming across Don needing a tire be put back on the bead. (Between José and Don we got to complete that operation 3 times that afternoon. We actually turned into an efficient –bead back on- pit crew.) There were interesting side hills, deep snow and off camber situations, but despite not bringing big tires or lockers, DJ brought the right attitude and made good time and was fun to wheel with.
We caught back up with the group and came to a place where there was an option to cut on to a steep ‘sled ride down.’ We all went for the sled ride. The ride cost Don his bead, again and I slid up behind him. Wanting to get going I jumped out quickly to grab my hi-lift. Mistake. At the back of my Jeep I was greeted by the sight of a Cherokee on 31s skidding across the now icey snow in ruts that he had no hope of getting out of straight to the back of my Jeep. Somewhere between skill and luck the Jeep stopped some 6” from mine.
While we were getting Don’s bead back on Tim was recovering his Bronco from a stuck and I think somewhere along that time frame Toby was finishing breaking his frontend while extracting it from a rather impressive stuck.
Exiting this snow field involved going down across a hillside at about a 45 degree angle. Most of us had to use a bit of a throttle blip and some steering into the skid to make it less than dramatic. 9 of us went down it with little drama (except for Toby getting stuck at the bottom). But when number 10 went down it [hi José] some of us were treated to a view of the bottom side or top side of a white YJ, depending on when you looked. José’s Jeep came to a rest on its side after having been on its top. I grabbed the radios and broadcasted blindly that José had flopped (not knowing he had rolled.) As we ran back to his Jeep José’s young passenger was standing out of the passenger side window asking to go again. All of the young wheelers with us were fighting to ride with him like it was an E-ticket at Disney World. All were fine and José’s Jeep is little worse for wear. [There are pictures out there, I will see that they are posted soon.]
The ride to camp after this was uneventful. Little did I know, the lead group stopped to pull out a stock Explorer on stockish rubber stuck in the snow on his way up. Probably, 15 minutes later, my group came across this self same soul still heading to Snow Cabin. I cautioned the young man that the snow was getting worse and he should turn around here. Fast forward 20 or so hours and Curtis and I come across a stuck abandoned Exploder less than a mile from where I had counseled him. You can’t fix stupid. Earned himself a night time walk out.
At camp we said good bye to the day trippers and “Hi” to Ceg’s band as they aired up. That night at camp found us enjoying beer, cocktails, carne asada, baked potatoes, and in the wee hours hot wings.
In the morning Tim and Chris headed up in the Bronco followed a little bit later by Nichole and I in my Rubicon along with Dylan and Curtis in Curtis' CJ-5. A bit after us, Roy and David followed. When we arrived at the summit after making good time (and making the hill I had to winch up the day before on the first try) we found the Toy fixed by Tim and Chris and going back down on its tires. Soon our group was at the summit on an awesomely beautiful day.
Chris’ Toyota suffered two blown beads. Both in pretty interesting spots, ain’t that always the way. The second time it involved some interesting rigging and winching to lift the Toy off of its blown tire.
On the way down I finally got cell phone coverage and learned that I had left a sick family at home. When the rest of the group turned toward Blue Lake (still on my bucket list I guess) Curtis joined me in heading down the hill. Thanks again Curtis. We took the same sled ride hill down and managed not to roll where José had put on his ‘Do as I Say Not as I Do’ demonstration. The only thing eventful about our trip down was the opportunity to be good Samaritans. We (Curtis) pulled out one Cherokee that was stuck good, but would not run?!?!? We had a conversation and offered help and advice to the crew going to recover the Exploder of the young gentleman that earned hims self a 8 mile night time hike the night before.
And here of course is Casa deLeon, before breaking camp.
It was a great weekend with very forgiving snow. I tried to flop once, but my Jeep would not go for it (but I am still pulling seat cushion foam out of my butt). I think some of the unprepared folks we came across on the trail are the type that aren’t doing our sport any good, but we offered help and education, maybe something will take hold.
As always, this is a great group to wheel and camp with.