Monday, November 20, 2006

Jeep Nutz Jaunts

On Sunday three members of the Jeep family got together
to do a light trail ride in the Harrison Lake area of the
Lower Mainland. In attendance was a YJ, XJ, & a TJ
For those of you going "huh?", the 95 Wrangler (YJ)
was driven by Cheryl Steele of Everett, the 97 Cherokee
(XJ) by Noreen Machon of Maple Ridge and Ed Pedersen
driving the 98 Wrangler (TJ).

Noreen was accompanied by her friend Donna and her
companion Bill.

"Everett?" you say...yep that's right...Cheryl came all
the way from Everett just for the day...
she's a true Backroader, she just LOVES to drive !

Let me tell you the whole story..

I had hosted the Fraser Valley tour a couple of weeks ago,
and, of course Cheryl (CJ as she like to be called) was there
for the tour. We had a good days outing, as you'll know if
you read the trip report, we all got home kinda late, especially
CJ who had to drive all the way home to Everett the same night.

A day or two later I got an email from CJ saying,
"hmm, I noticed that the next trip is at the end of June,
that's a long time from now. We should do something before
then". CJ was all gung ho to come up here again the next
weekend for another drive!

I said it would be a couple of weeks before I could go again,
and that I had a few ideas but they might be long drives,
and CJ said "great!...let me know what day, what time and
I'm there"!

Fast forward a couple of weeks; Noreen works with me,
so I mention to her that I was going out on the weekend for
a trail ride....mostly good FSR's with the occasional
bad spot, but nothing that a 4X4 couldn't easily handle.
Noreen said "sure, sounds like fun"..

So......Sunday I meet Noreen at her house, only two blocks
away, and those of you who have read my past trip reports
will know that I don't do mornings well, so I'm still half
asleep when I meet Noreen, her girl friend Donna,
(whom coincidently I've known as a business acquaintance
for many years) and her friend Bill.

We convoy out to Mission, meet up with CJ, have a too
large breakfast, then head for Dewdney Valley,
our portal into the woods of BC.

This is a trip I've done several times before, but I still
enjoy it; It's one of the few trips you can do that allows
you to travel from one valley to the next.

Most of the FSR's dead-end at the head of the valley...
drive in 20 miles, turn around and drive out....

This trip I aimed to go in through Dewdney Valley,
crossover via Margaret's Pass to Chehalis Valley,
head around the north end of Chehalis Lake and
use Mystery Valley as a side road to reach the last
FSR.. that being the Harrison Lake West FSR.

The road up Dewdney was showing a lack of upkeep,
many potholes and the occasional overhanging branches
meant that it had not rec'd any upkeep since the winter.
We found out mile 25 a huge landslide had washed
out the road, and there was now way past it.

We stopped at the slide for a while and marveled at
how much damage it had done, then turned around and
re-traced our steps back down the valley for the main
paved road to take us east towards the start of the Chehalis
Valley Road.

Up the road we went, reading with trepidation the signs
stating that a bridge we would need to cross was washed out,
as well a bridge we needed for our exit via Harrison lake
was scheduled to be worked on the next day.
With fingers crossed we started our 25 mile trip up the valley
hoping that any washouts would be passable.

The Chehalis road too was in pothole condition,
with a few washouts and slide zones to cross.
This also was not a good sign....another indication
that the road ahead might be blocked.
The creek washouts and slide zones were not possible
by car, but the 4X4's had no problem with them..
CJ has a some 4X4 experience, so most of the trouble spots
she took in stride.

Noreen had only been out once before, and she was a
bit tentative in spots, but her passengers had never been
before and Donna continually reminded her when the
road got to narrow and the cliff on the passenger side
was too close for comfort..,,,,
I think Donna's words during the day was something like
" NO ROAD........NO ROAD ON THIS SIDE" !!!!!

Bill rode with me for some of the day and he was
impressed at what a 4X4 could do over that of a
regular truck or car.
In more than once instance where we crossed
a rocky washed out section of the road we would
have to crawl down into a "wide stream size"
ditch, and after we crawled out the other side Bill
would make comments like "wow", or "what a surprise",
or words to that effect.

I know what he was feeling.......the first time you have ever
been offroad with a 4X4 you are continually amazed at
what doesn't stop you. As a car driver you are so conditioned
to avoiding bumps and rocks in the road,
let alone drive up a small embankment,
that it doesn't occur to you that to a 4X4 they aren't even
an obstacle...they're not even worth worrying about!

I remember my first time out with a friend in his 4X4...
I'm sure I told him 4 or 5 times to turn around cause
the road was rough, or the mud too deep,
or the washed out culvert impassable.
Each time he just nosed the 4X4 into the bad stuff,
kept a slow steady pace and we walked out the other side.

Once we had to go over a small ledge that I was sure
was impassable......I remember vividly the feel of the
front tires reaching the rock ledge, and instead of spinning
tires and stuck front wheels, I felt the front tires
literally reach out and climb up the rock,
just like you would crawl up a steep stretch of a hill
with your hands to help pull you up...
And I know Bill was experiencing that feeling as well...

The washed out bridge was in Mystery Valley,
but it wasn't a problem.
The creek had sliced through the road creating a gap
in the FRS as wide as a car was, and the water flowing
in the creek was axle deep.

We stopped and looked over the obstacle, checked out
the creek depth, ensured the creek bottom was solid,
made sure the 2 foot embankment climbing out of
the creek wasn't too bad, and then in I went.
It looked worse than it was...the Jeep crawled through
and climbed out the other side with barely a spin of the

Bill in the passenger seat was again surprised that this
obstacle that at first looked like a 'trip stopper"
was so easily passed.

Next in was CJ...she gave it just a little too much
gas and came out of the creek in a hurray,
making me scramble to get out of her way as I
was taking a picture of her...

Noreen was next....after watching CJ rush through
the creek Noreen thought that she had better give it
some gas so she wouldn't get "stuck" in the creek again Ed was forced to take a picture
and then move out of the way quickly to give Noreen
room to get by....

Jeez...I'm just trying to take a picture and people are
trying to run me over >>>>>

The rest of the trip was uneventful, other than us
enjoying the mountain vistas, the glaciers in the next
valley over, and superb views of Chehalis and
Harrison Lakes from various view points along the way.

So, I think we have Noreen hooked on easy 4X4'ng,
Donna and Bill definitely had a good time,
and CJ has already badgered me into going out again
in a couple of weeks for some more bumping around.
I think this time we'll head into the Chilliwack Valley.
Ironically Noreen's brother has just bought a 97
Grand Cherokee Laredo and can't wait to get out
and play with it....maybe will have 4 little Jeepsters
out playing around next time....

Eddie in Maple Ridge
One of those Jeep Nutz

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