Oregon’s Winch Fest 2024

Saturday, March 9th, 2024, at 9:32 p.m. (PT), we received a request for help with an offroad recovery in Chiloquin, Oregon. The requester, Casey Smith, submitted the following information: “Ford f250 4×4 extra cab stuck in the mud and snow about 400 feet from dirt road 30852 draws Rd Chiloquin, OR 97624 is the home address truck is about 8-10miles from there on Sycan rd / I’m not with the vehicle.”

The story behind this recovery was way more complex than what was captured in our lobby. We received the request on Saturday, March 9th, but Casey, the requester, was stuck two days before. He spent two days in the vehicle trying to get it out. On the second night at 3 a.m., he left the vehicle behind and walked into the dark 2 or 3 miles to a friend’s house.

offroad recovery in Chiloquin
Photo submitted by Casey

David Mrak, our general administrator, handled this request. He verified the information provided and immediately invited local volunteers.

offroad recovery in Chiloquin
2nd Attempt – Photo submitted by Marc Estep

At least two previous attempts were made to get this truck out of the mud. Some winches, winch lines, and straps were broken. David nicknamed this recovery the “Winch Fest.”

Marc Estep took it upon himself to get this truck out. In this second attempt, the vehicle was moved quite a bit toward the road. But still, it was around 450 feet from the road.

On Friday, somebody was going to bring a tractor to get the vehicle out, but this also failed.

Marc again coordinated a final attempt for the following Saturday. I marked myself as engaging and joined the efforts on Saturday. I was 270 miles away, so I left at 7 a.m. and arrived in Chiloquin by noon. From there, we traveled 50 miles East to the location where the vehicle had been stuck for nine days.

By 1 p.m., we started to walk the terrain and plan the extraction. I already deflated my tires to 10 psi. Adjusted the suspension and released the swaybar. After the initial walk, we decided to try getting the Jeep as close as we could to the truck. I pretty much floated toward the truck for around 300 feet; once I stopped, I sank to the frame in mud. I rapidly pulled myself from a nearby tree, positioned myself on the side of the truck, around 30 feet, and started pulling sideways. We took some time with Mike and, using all the snatch blocks we had, set up a 4:1 reduction on my winch. We also used the new Yankum Rope’s Winch Ring – Offset, which worked amazingly.

The process of pulling the dead weight of the truck over deep mud was very slow and took hours. The ground was very deceptive. By walking, one would think the ground was solid… but drive a vehicle over it, and you will find 3 feet under in no time.

We kept resetting the lines and moving my Jeep closer to the road. By 6 p.m., we had accomplished maybe 100 feet. We started to feel defeated, but we never gave up. Marc and Mike kept running around setting up lines and helping in every possible way. Mike’s wife brought us food! (THANK YOU).

By midnight, we got the truck close enough to the road where Marc, with his Tundra, was able to continue pulling all the way out to the road. My Warn winch had worked for 10+ hours, most of the time showing high temperatures on my screen’s remote. At one point, we started pouring cold water on the winch’s body to cool it down and, later, snow. We also broke several straps. We used every tree behind my jeep to hold my jeep from slipping forward.

Once the truck was on the road, Marc pulled the truck forward, but since it didn’t have brakes or steering, we used my Jeep from behind with a Yankum Kinetic rope to slow down the descents and keep the vehicle under control.

Short video of the recovery

The recovery was successful; at 1 a.m., we were done. I want to thank Marc Estep, Mike, and his wife for helping. Also, all previous volunteers who were involved in the previous attempts. Thank you all. (offroad recovery in Chiloquin, Oregon)

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