Turned out to be only two of us on the run today. Would have been only one, but I intentionally didn't take my meds so I had someone to talk to. Had no choice. TRICKEDOUT and others were a no show.
I left the store at 10 AM, heading westbound to the staging area. Since I was heading out alone, I called Broncobabe and left her a message telling her where I was headed, and what time to send the calvary out if she hadn't from me by then.
After unloading, I headed up the pipeline, with no destination in mind. I turned onto the first line I come to, and soon found myself pushing snow with the front end. I paused on a slight rise and took in the scenery. It was so calm and serene that I sat there for awhile just taking it in. I snapped a couple pics, and just as I had snapped the pic at the direction I had just come from, I saw them. Back on the main line, 7 wolves crossed the mouth of the trail, heading towards the north. They were a ways off, and since the truck wasn't running, they had no idea I was there. I tried heading further along the trail, but the hill in front of me turned out have too much snow on it. I only made it halfway up, and decided enough was enough.
I made my way back to the main line, and headed in the same direction the pack had headed, hoping to get a pic or two. I followed their tracks, which disappeared into the the timber, then appeared again, only to weave back into the bush.
I climbed to the top of the largest hill on that stretch, and was amazed by the view that greeted me. It was clear for miles, and the fresh snow still clinging to the trees set off an amazing contrast. I thought I would snap a great pic, with myself posing, but unfortunatley, I am not much of a photographer, and my phone isn't much of a camera. So, instead of what I saw, you see me posing, looking like I am taking a leak, which I assure you, I am not.
I came to the road, and decided I would venture further north, into unfamiliar territory. I idled along in 1st gear, taking my time. The first hill I come to was a gooder. I crossed the remnants of an old logging road, and started up. Luckily it was a south facing slope, so there was no ice on it, and the boggers could hook up. Sorta. It was a hard climb. I kept working the wheel, hunting for traction, and eventually made it to the top on the first attempt.
The other side of the hill proved to be almost as steep, and I eased down it somewhat sideways, alternating working the brake and gas to keep my decent slow, but the truck straight. Those boggers work well in most applications, but not on an icy hill, sideways, at 50* or so. At the bottom was a frozen creek, and I stopped to check the crossing out. With the axe, I crossed the ice, making sure I wouldn't go through.
Crossing, and climbing the next hill, I stopped short of decsending the other side. Checking my odometer, I was 9km from the staging area, and I got to thinking it would be no fun dragging my ass up and over all those hills on foot if I broke down for some reason. I turned around, and made my way back towards the road, and stopped at the top of the hard climb. Attempting to hone my camera skills, I tried to take another shot of the vista, while sort of posing. Again, failure, but not quite as bad. I also noticed that I had service. Wow. So I called Broncobabe again, to leave an updated message. She answered, and as we talked, the pack made another appearance. They were a long ways off this time, and I could barely make them out. After I started out again, I backed up and took a shot with me behind the camera, and was amazed it turned out.
I came back the creek crossing, and started up the hill I slid down. I didn't make it very far. I was lucky if I was getting a 1/4 of the way up the north face without losing traction on the ice. Luckily, there was a trail off to the west, and I thought if I followed it, it would eventually come back to the road. It did not. It was actually a bypass around the hill, and i came to the top pretty quickly. I stopped and took a look down the hill, and something caught my eye. I slipped and slid down to it, and after i found what it was, I didn't feel so bad for not making it. Somebody had snapped their winchline climbing the hill. Unfortunately, it was froze in, so removing it was not possible.
Getting back to the road, I headed west, and followed it for several kilometers. Contrary to what I had been told the previous weekend, the road kept going and going. I finally turned around, and headed up a road that hadn't seen a grader all winter. It wasn't long before I was pushing snow once again, and decided to turn around.
I figured I would jump onto T3 where we had crossed the road last weekend, and take a look for the west entrance to the trail that TRICKEDOUT and I found with the nasty holes. I ventured down the hill that gave Mex so many problems, and as I come down around the corner, I was once again enthralled by how beautiful it was. The virgin snow hadn't been touched, and the creek was open and gurgling where we had crossed it before.
After I eased through the creek, I was about to take the same trail we had the weekend before, and make my way around to take a look, when I realized that the line I was on continued straight, albeit littered with deadfall. Putting 2 and 2 together, I figured it had to be the same trail that we had found.
I grabbed the axe, and took a little walk, and sure enough, I had found it. I cleared all the brush and deadfall from the trail, standing up saplings that had become weighted down by snow, preserving as much as I could. I managed to clear everything I could find, with the exception of one log. The whole process took about an hour and a half, and for the last 30 min or so, my spidey sense was prickling. I couldn't shake the feeling that something was watching me. The underbrush is dense, and I could hear sounds other than the occasional clump of snow falling out of a tree and hitting the ground. I thought I was just making myself paranoid until that damn sasquatch walked out onto the trail. Shoulda taken my damn meds.
Anyways, after I gave Louie directions back to Boston Pizza, I snapped an "after" picture to complement the "before" pic I had taken of the trail. The trail is definitely not fullsize/non-body damage friendly. Going west to east, you run off camber, sloping to the driveside, then into the holes. My axe handle is 30" long, and comes to ground level when placed on the frozen bottom of the holes. When I entered into the hole coming from the east last time, I watched as my front dropped two feet off a ledge, and sink until the top of the tire was barely visible. She's gonna be fun when thaws out. The last shot gives you an idea how narrow the trail is from the start.
After that, I started heading back towards the main gate, just off the hiway. Coming over the second hill, I caught a glimpse of the pack just going over the first hill down towards the risers. I sped up, finally moving quicker than 1st gear, and tried to gain ground on them for a pic. Unfortunately, they heard me and broke for the bush. They were at the bottom of the hill, and I was at the top, and I managed to catch the last one in the open just before he faded from sight. He's there, you just have to look hard, along the left side of the pipeline.
Not wanting to call it a day, I crossed the hiway, then the creek after making sure it was froze, and started on the hillclimb. It was probably the most fun of the day. I never did make it all the way up. But it sure was fun trying. I made at least 30 attempts, and almost lost the truck twice. i was trying to skirt a washout, got sucked in, and tossed out sideways. A stalled engine resulting in lousy brakes, and wonky steering had my other self getting pretty excited as we slid towards a facility the oil company had recklessly installed right in the middle of the right of way. With nothing for room to maneuver, I managed to slide away from the tech fence, and get squared back to the trail. A couple more attempts proved that it was futile, and I headed back to the staging area.
As I headed back, I noticed a whine getting louder and more pronounced as I was driving. At first, I thought tranny, but after shutting the truck off, and coasting, the noise was still there. I got out, unlocked the hubs, and ran up the road in 2wd. Turns out I pulled an erman and took out the front diff. Called her a day, loaded the truck, come home and started typing this out.
Just as a sidenote, I want to point out that wheeling alone, or even with multiple personalities, is generally not a good idea. If you do, take precautions, such as giving someone who is familiar with the same area all the info needed to find you if necessary. Location, time expected back, route, and anything else you can think of. Carry tools, fluids, spare parts, and recovery equipment with you at all times. Spare clothes and a shelter of some sort is also recommended.
This has been a public service announcement paid for by 1tontoy. The views and opinions are those of the user, and not necessarily those of this station.
I need my meds.