Monday around noon we received a request for a recovery near Frog Lake, it was in an area that was still open to offroad traffic. Two vehicles drove no more than 400 yards from Highway 26 and got badly stuck in NF-2660.
Will called me and try to organize a recovery, but my Jeep came from the last recovery with a bunch of amber lights in the dash so I had it in my garage for inspection… Since Will knew some of the people stuck, he and Greg drove in Will’s XJ to try and help them.
Will’s recount (first part)
At roughly quarter past five pm I arrived at the head of 2660 with Greg riding shotgun. We meet Jon the owner of one of the two stuck vehicles. After airing down and having 2 other rigs passing by turn around to follow we headed down.
After getting over the initial burn the track started a gentle decline covered in a far bit of snow, the marker post at the head of the road read 4 ft. We could make out the tracks left by the K5 and Superduty the day before, along with a few sled tracks in places. Although they had been filled in quite a bit from the on going snow fall.As I came around the first slight right we found road starting to steeping at a faster rate then I had expected. At this point I spoke with the guys who had come in behind me asking them to stay back on the flatter section while I got close enough to get a line on the Superduty.
Once in position we found that Jon and Keith the owner of the K5 had been steadfastly working throughout the day before we arrived. The K5 was now dug out, but needed to be turned around. While the Superduty was now wearing chains on all 4 corners. Once I had a line to the Ford it was making good progress back up the hill. After a full pull in it was time to reposition the XJ and continue getting this show on the road, or so we thought.
Now is about when we find out the Bronco in the rear of the group is having issues backing up and unable to turn around. Initially we all dismissed this slight inconvenience and grabbed the hitch mounted winch along with a few straps. Once all hooked up we quickly found out the Broncos battery and charging system weren’t quite up to the job of powering a 9k winch. No worry we say! Going to grab some jumper cables and tying into the Rangers battery. Still no go.
Falling back on some old school tricks I went to the XJ and grabbed my farm-jack with the intentions to use it at a come along. Here is where I found out all of my shackles have pins too large to fit in the farm-jack. I will be drilling out the upper hole this weekend.
All the while the snow was coming down steadily, after a short break to regroup we decide since a few of us had service to attempt to get a call out for another rig. Greg was able to contact Adam and get the ball rolling on someone to come get the Bronco from behind. Soon we found out Adam was on his way riding shotgun with Al in the JK, along with a second JK that had been contacted.
About 45 mins later after warming up and drying out in the XJ for a bit I tossed on my cold weather gear and started to hike up to see if there had been any arrivals. The hike was one I’d was about to become very familiar with. I came around a bend to see the tree lit up with bright LED lights, expecting this to be Al. I was surprised to find that it wasn’t. As I got closer I noticed this rig was stuck as well.
What I had found was the other JK that was contacted. The young lady’s name has slipped my mind but here she was hooked to a tree trying to winch out of a pretty good dig in. As we where just getting started to reposition the winch line I heard Adam coming down the trail. That meant Al was here with his JK and tons of gear.
Much later near Milwaukie…
By the time Adam got the call from Will, it was 8 p.m.,. Will reported that he was pinned between two vehicles and needed help. Adam came over my place and we took off on my Jeep, after reseting a bunch of warning lights. (Mostly temperature sensors from running cold oil in the last recovery. BTW, those have not come back on).
When we arrived, it was around 9:30 p.m., there was a guy by the entrance on a large diesel truck. He informed us there was another Jeep that just arrived a few minutes before to “perform” the recovery. So Adam walked down the snowy road while I was setting up my heavy duty chains in the front of my 38s and deflated to 10 psi the rear.
Once my rig was ready I walked down to meet with Adam. He was standing next to a 2 door jeep, stock, for what I can see with two young, inexperienced drivers and no recovery gear. At that point we couldn’t even reach the people down below the ravine who were stuck since the morning.
Adam asked me to bring my Jeep down to help this other jeep get unstuck. I started driving down the ravine, and noticed the ice was deep and extremely wet. Once I was at about 30 yards from the other Jeep we spooled the winch and started working on that recovery. By that point their jeep had issues in the front shaft, so there was not much traction to help pull itself out of the ditch. We finally decided to use a snatch block from a different angle, so we pull the jeep until it was straight back in the NF-2660 road.
I turned around facing uphill, with the helps from the chains I was able to plow the side of the road while I was turning 180 degrees. We use the kinetic rope to pull the jeep up the hill… oh at least that was the plan. I was able to pull no more than 30 yards before getting myself stuck in the soft wet snow with no traction whatsoever. So we try to pull with my winch up hill while towing the other jeep behind. As you can guess by now… that didn’t work.. I moved maybe 10 feet and buried my self again.
The only option at that point was to disconnect from the jeep and self-rescue myself. Be easier said than done, climbing 100 yards took about 3 1/2 hours, we use traction pads, chains in the front, the winch, straps, shovels and helpers… it was a mess.
By 5 a.m., in the morning we were out… We left some people and vehicles behind and took off with 3 people we rescued down the mountain. The plan at that point was to regroup and finish the recovery the next day.
Will’s recount (2nd part)
Now that Adam had arrived I passed off the current situation to him and continued to hike up the trail to meet with Al. After discussing our strategy to tackle what was quickly turning into a full nights work we proceeded down to find Adam getting the JK turned around on trail with a snatch block. They where making good progress so we brought Als JK down to finish the pull around, when we returned trouble had reared its head. The young lady’s Rubicon had snapped a passenger front axle shaft. We where fairly determined to get her out even it was only under the power of 3 wheels. All of us still keeping in mind we had 4 more rigs down the hill from here.
Al anchored himself to a tree and continued to try and pull the injured JK around. The snow pack was just too much of a pull for the winch, so the decision was made to get Al flipped around and utilize the Kinetic rope. At this point I was fairly certain it was coming out as we had gotten it winched fairly close to the groove. I hiked back down to warm up, and talk with Greg
After hiking back up fully expecting to see guys working their way to the Bronco, things haven’t worked out quite as planned. The kinetic rope hadn’t been much help it seemed, Al was unable to get the traction or speed needed for a sufficient pull in the loose powder. Adam had gone back to the original idea of spinning the rig around with a snatch block, this time trying the opposite side of the track.
While Adam and others where working on that I went up to Als rig. Low and behold he was dug in too. With a set of traction boards and the winch we were able to get him back on top fairly easily, even if it was repeatedly. The snow conditions had continued to sour through out the night.
Just as we were getting Al back into the entrance we got bad news. While Adam was successful in getting the broken JK turned around on the trail, it had developed an electrical issue trying to winch up the trail and was dead in the water. Luckily it wasn’t fully blocking the road now.
The decision was made to take the Lady, her friend and Charlie the Bronco owner down the mountain since the rest of us where prepared to hold out if need be. Al and Adam went back to town to regroup, myself along with the rest of the guys still on the mountain hiked back down to our rigs for some sleep. Glad I had enough gas, food and drinks to stay comfortable.
Wake up and smell the coffee
Can’t say it was the best sleep of my life but it was one with a unique awaking. A very large snow clump decided to fall from a very tall tree, landing on my hood by the cowl with enough force to crush it all the way down to the valve cover. It was quite the surprise, almost as good as coffee.
Once dawn began to break Jon was up and at it in the K5, slowly but surely hammering out as wide a area as he could to get turned around. Before we knew it we had the K5 turned around, the Superduty down in the flat, and myself finally pointing back uphill.
From there I was able to get back up hill to the Ranger and winch him out. I proceeded to back into the packed area the Ranger had made, sending him down to turn around where the K5 had.
From there the K5 came in critical the large 44s allowed it to pack down a wide enough spot for Bronco to come down and get turned around as well. Not long after we where working on cutting the bank down around the broken JK.
The final chapter…
Once we had the K5 pack down a decent line around the broken JK we weren’t far from the entrance. The Ranger had made it up the hill as well as we squeezed by with little drama.
All the while Adam had been working with the community to get some larger tire rigs on site to aid with the recovery, Nick and Daniel from Brush Beaters Offroad answered the call. As we broke into the entrance lot we got the call they were loaded up and heading our way.
At this point I had been at the recovery site for 18 hours, needed some coffee and fuel. We still had the Superduty at the bottom and Bronco almost midway up the hill. I aired up a bit to cruise to the nearest gas station.
Once I returned we got the call to meet the guys at the Frog Lake parking lot. It wasn’t long before we saw them rolling in. These guys were on a mission, unloading and de icing windows that had frozen on the drive up with the effortlessness you only see with experience. This is when I knew Jon and Charlie were gonna be out in no time. After saying goodbyes Jon hopped in Adams rig. I headed home ready for a much needed shower and some sleep. Oh, and to find a new hood.