Well it’s 5:00 AM Saturday morning and Jon and I are back for more fun, snow and ice with just one hour of sleep after completing the Friday night run. In reality we had both only had one hour of sleep in the last 24 since preparing for the trip and leaving from Sunnyvale Friday morning, thank God for Mt. Dew! Cal 4 Wheel started us off with a breakfast of pancakes and eggs with the rest of the fixings. Fueled up we headed out for the staging area off interstate 80 near the Yuba Gap. Weather this morning varied from light rain, drizzle, and snow flurries to crystal clear. The temperature was hanging around 38 degrees. The snow was much deeper on this run and although our leader Will and his team had compressed the snow on the track the day before the combination of fresh snow overnight and icing made for an exciting run. An important note made by the leader at the start of the trail was that Cal 4 Wheel had received a special permit to make this run as the trial was closed for the year and cautioned everyone to not leave the trail or get so stuck that the road was torn up because it could impact trail use in the future.
We aired down to 10 lbs with my 37” tires and headed out as the 3rd vehicle out of a group of about 36 vehicles. This had to be one of the longest caravans on an adventure that I had been part of. Looking at our leaders (Will’s) tires I thought he was running them flat but he later told us he had a couple of pounds of air in them. He was blazing the trail for us and occasionally had to be pulled or winched back but nothing compared to those behind him that were simply following in his track! By the way even with a partially packed track both vehicles differentials were breaking down the center track. I was getting worn out with the number of times we slid off the track and had to either winch ourselves or the jeep ahead of us out of the drifts which also include the both of us hooked in tandem to get the leader out occasionally! The hardest job has got to be breaking trail and the farther back you are the better packed trail but with it comes all the road rash and holes created by previously stuck vehicles! A CB message was relayed from the back of the group that they were have lots of fun digging out vehicles which resulted in the team getting split up into a few groups. We continued on with blazing the trail.
The snow was like sugar and would not compact so if you slid off the track you continued sinking deeper and making it harder to extract yourself. The three of us in the lead did manage to pass the guys who spent the night camping off the trail and completed about a total of 3 ½ miles and made an elevation of around 6,500 feet before leader decided it was time to turn around. At his point Will turned his Jeep into a snow plow and accomplished the feat of building a turnaround point for the driver ahead of me and myself. It was amazing to watch him go back and forth shaving off up to12 inches of at least a 3 foot snow bank on each pass. This was another action showing that with little or no air pressure in your tires combined with great skill these Jeeps go just about anywhere in a variety of conditions.
In addition to seeing the advantages that really low air pressure provides I also learned that lockers aren’t always the best option. Will suggested I turn them off and using them more judiciously because he suspected they were grabbing and pulling me off the track. Especially as the run got steeper, icier and was on more of an angle. Eventually I dropped my air pressure to 8lbs and prayed I wouldn’t break a bead. Happy trails everything worked better!
Once we managed a turnaround and were headed down I shifted up to 4 high and with less power to the wheels and lower air pressure had some fun skating down the trail but was able to get back on track whenever we slid to one side.
While we were waiting for other vehicles to be pulled free I looked in my mirror to see Will working through another humongous drift on my side. Up and back he went packing the snow until he was along side. I was checking out the depth of the snow and realized he didn’t have bead lockers on his tires. His explanation was one for the books and if I told you I wouldn’t be believed.
We learned a lot about driving in deep snow and ice on this adventure. If you haven’t made this event in the past I highly recommend doing it next year!
We headed back to the hotel for a quick shower and on to the Fair Grounds for the evening festivities. We started with cocktails, visited with ED4 and other club members and finished with an excellent dinner of steak, baked potato, salad, garlic bread, veggies and desert. At around 9:15 prior to the raffle and the rest of the festivities Jon and I called it a night and headed out for some much needed sleep. This was truly a great adventure and we look forward to next year. Dick