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Old 12-23-2012, 09:00 PM
spomey spomey is offline
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Default Took a wrong turn and wound up walking out!

Myself, my long-term riding partner, a young 135 lb riding partner (energizer bunny) and a 72-year-old "bad ass" went out for a ride. The old timer was the one who knew the territory, and the plan was to follow his lead. We left the parking lot late, around 10:30 for a short easy ride, with Gilligan's Island tune playing in the background...a 3-hour tour, a 3-hour tour.

All went well for a few miles, instead of taking the road we took a shortcut that gained altitude quickly. The shortcut gained elevation faster than the road and the higher we went the better the snow was getting, nearing the top of a long climb there was a meadow so we played in the untracked snow as we went, when the old man stopped, surveyed the countryside for a minute and took a left down into a deep tree-covered valley. I was questioning his decision to head back downhill as the better snow was higher but. He had been riding here for 30+ years so we all followed.

The snow this season is low and as we descended it started getting thinner; Also the terrain started getting very steep. We started running into downed trees and thinly covered rocks. After several tree and stump crossing things started getting really tight, the trees were getting thicker and the downed timber more often. He stopped in front of a wall of quakes and threw his hands up into the air in a "where the hell do we go from here gesture"...I pulled up alongside and asked what was up. He said he couldn't find "the road" but that he knew it was down below us in the bottom of the valley. He asked if I saw a way through a wall of aspen trees. So I took over leading...I have a "knack" for finding a way through trees...mostly because i'm not too afraid of running a few over...we started tree bashing, they were large enough that they would bend over or lay down as you went over them so that going down hill was possible, but coming uphill was not. The downed logs became more and more frequent and the trees were so close together, saying it was difficult getting through was a grand understatement! When we finally made the bottom, my fears were realized, guess what NO ROAD.

There was no way back the way we came. in no way could I imagine any chance of anyone let alone everyone in this group doing it. Looking around we had three choices. Turn right and go up the valley, go straight ahead up the other side or head down the valley into even thinner snow and who knows what else. I am not what you would call a shy rider. I'm on an M1000 with some tricks and she (Jolene) is a capable ride. I gave everyone the wait here for a minute signal and turned right...about 1 minute later things started getting dicey, lots of logs, trees everywhere and a steep tight sidehill was the only option. I asked Jolene (my sled) to wake up! After about 2 minutes of wide open throttle, crossing the ravine a few times dodging rocks and trees, I saw only one out, that few people could make, and would need similar or better equipment to mine, so I turned around.

I returned to the group and shook my head, as in...No go! I gave the straight across hillside a shot...this hillside faced west and the snow was very thin, it required a fast pace and crossing downed logs took timing...wide open to get speed, keep your skis up and maintain momentum , then let off as you bounce over and pin it to the next one...No way our group could make that work, let alone the impenetrable wall of quakes and aspen I ran into...On my return back down, I faded down the ravine to scope things out. It was ugly as far as the eye could see, but passable, maybe. So I explained to the group what I had seen, talked our options over, and decided down was the best way.

I can't really remember clearly what happened over the next 8 hours, but it wasn't pretty. As we made our way down, the downed timber and rocks very quickly became thicker and the snow covering them thinner, there was running water in the creek, so we tried to stay as high on the hillside as possible, leaving trying to travel down in the bottom as a last resort only. Unless you have ever hauled 4 sleds over multiple logs spaced about 3 feet apart you have no idea of how difficult this could be (remember logs don't lay down flat on even ground), they lay down and fun and amazing angles; with branches pointing in all directions. I know there are things that are more slippery than a frozen log with an inch of snow on it, but not very many!!! its hard to pull a sled over a log, but try lots of logs stacked up, then move 4 sleds over it!

Over the log jams led only to fields of boulders that ranged in size from small hand carry dog Kennels to the extra large dog crates the size of our snowmobiles....to make things even more fun and interesting the ground is not exactly flat, but rather filled with holes and bumps and dips placed in super nice locations that tip your sled in just the right fashion to lodge your handlebars into a tree while simultaneously pinning your track and your skis on some other immovable objects...Oh yeah super fun! I would like to say there were only a few of these opportunities to test our strength and stamina, but no, there were dozens.

The young energizer bunny dude and I would go scout on foot, making loops to find the best path forward. we would walk forward and uphill, then loop down below, making an arc to survey whats in front of us. we were trying to stay as high on the hillside as possible for fear getting trapped trying to travel in the valley and find an impassable section...soon the path was chosen for us...we had to enter "the slot". This area as made extra fun by not only throwing in yet another multiple log crossing (including cool angles) but this one was actually suspended several feet in the air as 5 or 6 trees had all fallen in the same area! then there were rocks thrown in for a good endurance check, a nice downhill sidehill entrance off a cliff in the minimal snow, then a smattering of small trees to bounce off, and finally, terrible footing with nice leg swallowing "air gaps" all over the place. We cut branches to fill gaps in the logs, heave, shove, pull, spin, lift and bounce on the sleds for what seemed like hours to get them over. As the sun started to go down rumblings started about, when do we give up. Someone spoke up to say keep going until we can't anymore; So we did. as we got over that log mess we barely had enough space to line the sleds up for the next obstacle.

As dark was setting in, In the lead I had just bounced through several sections of willows in one of those out of control, falling off the sled, trying to hold on, keep the throttle on to maintain some sort of forward motion maneuvers, that we all know about but hate to admit. This stunt ended by planting my sled on a rock the size of a washing machine with the track dug-in into a willow, big stuck... As I was trying to catch my breath, the next sledder was making their way through some boulders in a narrow washout, the sled got hung-up and the rider pinned the throttle in exasperation. He was hoping for enough traction to launch out of the mess. This was immediately followed by a large munching sound as the sled track sucked in some rocks wedging them between the track and the tunnel, locking the track and ruining his drive belt. I was about 100 feet away and it sounded like the chain case chain had broken. (The rocks were not found until the following day). This sled was #2 in line and the two behind it were trapped, as this was the only option to move forward.

If we could have we all would have thrown our hands up and yelled: "no mas" identifying with Roberto Durand...There was just barely enough light to gather our supplies and prepare for our hike out. We headed out and made it to a point where another canyon merged and the valley opened up, this is where we were forced to cross the stream. It was about 12 inches deep so we had to rock hop to make it across trying to stay dry. In climbing out the other side we had to go around, over and even under downed trees. so we wouldn't have made it much further with the sleds.

We made it into a small clearing. Now we were on the north side of a deep canyon where the snow was much deeper (ya now we get into the deeper snow..), it was in an area protected from the sun. Stumbling along I saw what I thought was some sort of pattern in the snow...tracks... Lord have mercy we ran on to a hiking trail that someone had cross-country ski or snowshoed through several storms back. when I held my flashlight just level with the snow shining it forward I could just barely see the small indentations of the hiking poles that someone had used. We were on a hiking trail that we knew would lead directly back to the parking lot.

I want to explain that we knew where we were and we knew we only had about 1 mile to the parking lot where my truck was. Under other circumstances, the best bet is to stay put and conserve energy and keep everything that you have close by.

Carry two sources of light, Carry extra gloves, take inventory of your partner's mental state, Remember to put the saw away after using it each and every time.
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Trees are mostly air....mostly.....Cept'n that center part!!!!

Last edited by spomey; 01-09-2018 at 05:08 AM.
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Old 12-23-2012, 09:13 PM
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REBEL REBEL is offline
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Wow crazy story.. Thanks for sharing... Glad everybody got out ok
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Old 12-23-2012, 09:13 PM
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Geeze, I'm a big puss. I can't drop into anything, unless I know what's down there. It's a glitch I have.

Glad you guys are OK, and aren't camping all night.
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Old 12-23-2012, 09:16 PM
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Glad it turned out well. Yes. I carry multiple saws.... Don't ask why. Just follow us sometime ;-)
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Old 12-23-2012, 09:16 PM
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wow, glad it turned out the way it did. i'm trying to invision the trail you took in there, was it down a steep hill weaving through timber? call me stupid but thats the kind of riding my usual group enjoys breaking trail through a tight timbered revines, taking 8 hrs to go 5 miles type of rides
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Old 12-24-2012, 01:50 AM
Brightstar Brightstar is offline
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Oh my heck, Glad you made it out. This is the stuff memories are made of.
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Old 12-24-2012, 02:15 AM
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Sounds awful, but boy.......coulda turned out a lot worse. Rich with experience.
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Old 12-24-2012, 05:13 AM
spomey spomey is offline
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I hear what your all saying, and thanks!

I dont much like dropping into stuff that I dont personally know, but our leader simply dropped in about 100-200 yards too soon. as it turned out we were on the road he dropped in looking for. been studying google earth.

As for saws we each had one and I actually had two but, saws are good for branches, not so much for logs. Dynamite....now there's some survival gear!!!!

we went back in yesterday and three friends (salt of the earth type, give the shirt off your back type people) hiked in with chain saws and mountaineering gear to cut fallen timber, as it turned out we wouldn't have made it more than another few hundred yards to where a tree locked the canyon. when we walked out we had to crawl under it.

My long time riding partner and I will be taking them all to lunch sometime soon for a thank you/payback! its a good memory! and this one doesn't need exaggerated!

here is a photo of just some of the trip out with the extra help!
woodland hell trail 2012.jpg
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Trees are mostly air....mostly.....Cept'n that center part!!!!

Last edited by spomey; 12-24-2012 at 05:32 AM.
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Old 12-24-2012, 07:17 AM
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holy crap glad you guys are ok


should of had blu du with ya he could of packed all yer sleds out
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Old 12-30-2012, 02:29 PM
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That is one hell of a story!! I don't ever want to be put in that postion!
I'm like you Wade. However, I always follow one of my buddies once or twice a ride and end up getting digging session out if it. Then back to only going where I know the terrain!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wade View Post
Geeze, I'm a big puss. I can't drop into anything, unless I know what's down there. It's a glitch I have.

Glad you guys are OK, and aren't camping all night.
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