ODD & ENDS
Centennial Ridge, Wyoming
January 21, 2012
Trip leader was Rod Pepper
Trip Report below by Rod Pepper
These photos contributed by Rod Pepper
Click any photo to view larger image in new window
These photos contributed by Mike Jacob
Click any photo to view larger image in new window
|The Red Bottom Run
Brutal. At the end of the day, we decided that was the best description of the January run to Centennial Ridge. We got spanked hard….mercilessly…..and often! Hence the Red Bottoms! We got a first class ass-whuppin’. We were force-fed large portions of humble pie all fricking day long. It was a winch-fest, for sure. I would like to get a hold of the mental midget who said there wasn’t much snow up there!
We left Laramie with 10 rigs heading for what we thought would probably be an easy day due to the lack of good snow in the mountains. Wrong! My plan was to unload at our usual spot, head up Centennial Ridge, through Four Log Park to Libby Flats and take in the awesome views of Medicine Bow Peak and get some good scenic shots, since there wasn’t supposed to be enough snow to slow us down much. I even thought the Bear Lake Trail could be an additional option as well. From there we were going to make a loop back through Nelson Park, the middle fork of the Little Laramie and back down Centennial Ridge. That plan lasted about as long as it takes to mention it !
We got to the turnoff for our unload area and found a foot and a half of snow. We had to park in the Forest Service information parking lot. RC4W members on this run, besides myself were Howard Segal, Paul Bickerton, Marlon Seals, Joe Huston, Mike Jacob, Brian Kubal and Brian Ott. We also had 2 guest rigs, former RC4W member Dennis Chaffin in his 401 powered CJ7 and Marlon’s friend, Taylor, in a built XJ.
We hadn’t probably gone a mile before we lost 4 rigs right off the bat. 2 broken axles, a broken control arm mount and other various assorted mechanical malfunctions. They limped back to the trailers while the rest of us pressed on. It didn’t take long for us to get spread out, although it was never more than a couple hundred yards from the front of the group to the back and we had good communications throughout the day. Still, everyone struggled all day no matter where they were. It ultimately took us 8 hours to go 4 miles!
The snow was the culprit on this day. It should have been pack-able but wasn’t even close. It ran from 2-4 ft. deep with 5 foot drifts. It was some weird dang snow. Under the snow was a sheet of ice. The snow had high moisture content and the temps were in the high 30’s but we really struggled to go in it. You just couldn’t ever really hook up.
I can only recount what happened to Marlon, Paul and I from where we were. I talked to Mike today and it sounded like the same struggles where they were. For the 3 of us it was a winch-fest and it really turned into an ugly struggle. 3 men and a boy, 3 Jeeps, a combined 1600 horsepower and 128 inches of tire, and we were slapped around like school boys! And, we had already gone down to 3 lbs. I’ve never been stuck so many times, or winched so much in one day, EVER ! All we did was drag winch line through deep snow for hours on end. At one point Marlon and I couldn’t even get turned around. That deal alone took over 2 hours. We really wanted to leave by that time, too, but couldn’t.
It was during that time that I realized that maybe the law of averages had finally caught up with us again and we were headed for an all- nighter. The last time? January, 1992, 20 years to the day! Déjà vu ? Marlon and I were stuck near each other but facing different directions, and Paul was stuck farther down the hill and couldn‘t reach us.. Everyone else had already gotten themselves out and were gone. It was getting dark and snowing harder. The wind was swirling and reducing visibility, the temperature was falling and we were mired in 4 ft. of snow. I was pretty sure we weren’t going to make it out that night and we didn‘t have cell service. It was nearing time to just hunker down ‘till morning. I took comfort in the fact that I had everything I needed to easily and comfortably spend the night. It wasn’t my first rodeo!
Marlon and I decided to make one more attempt at getting out. To that point nothing we tried had worked and we both were really stuck. By that time we were both facing the same direction, uphill, which was the only way we could go. After having to re-hook to 3 different trees, I finally got out of the hole I was in. We attached Marlon’s winch line to the back of my Jeep and free-spooled it while I winched myself up the hill. He would then winch himself up to me and then we would have to re-hook and repeat the process. 3 more times!
We finally got turned around and headed back down but had to repeat the process just to get back down. I hooked to the back of his Jeep and it took us 5 winch pulls, going downhill, just to get to a point where we could drive out without getting stuck anymore. Craziest snow I’ve ever seen! We got back to the trailers way after dark!
Here’s the deal guys, we play hard, and we were given a wake up call on this day. Sh*t happens, and can happen on any run we go on. Man and machine were both beaten like rag dolls on this run. There are lessons to be learned and reminders to be made, as a result of this day. There’s a reason we have club by-laws and required equipment. It’s so we can deal with runs like this when they happen and we can all come out of it safely and not dead !
The first line of defense on runs like this, or any snow run, is having the right clothing. Don’t ever depend on the heater in your rig as the only source of staying warm. It may not be working when you need it! The right clothing is a tiny fraction of what you spend on your rig and it can save your life! Hey, we’re going to 10,000 ft. in Wyoming’s Snowy Range in the middle of the winter with an approaching snowstorm! There’s serious risk involved here, folks. Personal safety absolutely has to come first. We can’t risk the threat of frostbite and hypothermia to anyone. That includes all passengers.
The right clothing is a whole lot cheaper than a ride to the hospital or the morgue! And, your death would really screw up our fun time! Suck it up and buy the right clothes once and you don’t have to deal with it again. Layered clothing, good hat, good coat, real snow pants (they’re like $20) and probably the most important is good boots, wicking socks and wool socks. Keep your feet and your head warm and dry and you will stay warm. We got Gwynn a pair of good -40 rated waterproof snow pacs for $60 at Murdochs. Staying dry is the key to staying warm. As spring gets closer this stuff will get cheaper, also. Gear up for Snow Crawl or for next year.
We successfully got out of the scrape we were in this time because, as a group, we are very well equipped and prepared for adverse conditions. Everybody did everything right. We just got overwhelmed. We all have to be reminded from time to time though, that we need to be fully prepared every time we go out. And boy, did we get reminded! This was a slugfest.
Did we have fun?……………Damn straight!
Stay Humble, My Friends,