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Naches, WA - September 17-19

Oregon Trail 4x4 & OBH

And they came from all over...

Name                                   Club    Rig           Location

Andy Laird, & Button the dog ...................OT4x4......Black XJ..............Eugene, OR

Jeff & Laurie, & Jake the dog......................OT4x4......Yellow CJ............Springfield, OR

Ken & Hutch..................................................OT4x4......Camo CJ..............Myrtle Creek, OR

David & Julia Morris.....................................OT4x4......Green CJ.............Springfield, OR

Jennifer Baker.................................................OBH........Green TJ..............North Bonneville, WA

Eric Ness........................................................ OBH........Sammi...................Vancouver, WA

Andrew Walker..............................................OBH........Sammi...................Vancouver, WA

Elisabeth "Liz" Crouse..................................OBH........White CJ..............Moscow, ID

Rob Griffin/John "Can".................................OBH........Black YJ...............Pullman, WA .......ROB: 'cause his name is spelled "Can" but pronounced John--he's Turkish.

ROB: Okay, that looks nifty and all, but you need to know that most Jeeps had a winch. Most Jeeps had ARBs

JENNIFER: or limited slip at a minimum (Ken and me)

ROB: which really help on the tight Naches trails. Two of the Jeeps were running 32's (mine, the XJ). The rest were on 33s. The sammies were lifted and locked. While one driver was new, most had years of experience wheeling. Or, put differently, these people really impressed me--both skill and rigs. I felt inexperienced and short (heightwise) with 2 years behind the steering wheel and (only) 32s.

JENNIFER: Andy, Ken, Hutch, Eric, Andrew, and myself met on Thursday in Cascade Locks at 11 am. Everyone except myself was towing something. Andy had a trailer. Eric and Andrew both were driving tow rigs and had the Sammis on the back, and Ken had his CJ on a trailer. From Cascade Locks we headed up I-84 to Hwy 97, and on to Yakima with only a couple of stops for fruit and such. In Yakima we got lunch, I went off to Radio Shack and picked up a replacement CB cable since mine had broken that morning. We headed up to Naches, got gas, and Andy stopped and got corn for Saturdays dinner. Up the mountain we went. When we got to FS 19, we stopped and Andy hopped in with me and we checked out campgrounds…the nicest place we found was also a non-fee area (yea!). I believe that it was called Longmire Meadows. Nice new and clean restrooms, lots of room, grass, trees, right on the river. We could not have asked for a better spot. So we headed back down the road, found the others, and headed back to get camp set up. We knew that Liz and Rob would be in around 6 or 7, but we didn’t really know when to expect Jeff & Laurie, and David & Julie.

JENNIFER: Once we got set up, and the guys got back from a wood gathering trip, we decided that we really didn’t want to go out for dinner, and we headed out to play a little bit. Unfortunately, we could not find any mud, in fact, we had a little trouble finding the start of the trail as we had no maps and were relying solely on Andy's memory from his one trip up there previously. We played around on a lower section of the trail for an hour or so, and then headed back to camp. No one had pulled in while we were gone, so we got a fire going and started bs'ing.

ROB: The CJ-7 from Moscow and I pulled out of Pullman and started the 4 hour drive to Naches, WA late Thursday afternoon. We had vague directions as to where to meet everybody--the typical turn left on this FS road and then look for the signs. About 15 minutes from the campsite we realize that the 2 rigs following us are from OR Trail 4x4 and are heading to the same spot. We arrive at the campsite and meet our fellow 'wheelers.

JENNIFER: An hour or two everyone else pulled in together. They all got set up and we made introductions where needed, and hung out around the fire until late talking.

ROB: Woke up at some horridly early hour Friday morning and were on the trail by 9:30, our goal was to do the Kaner/Shoestring loop. Early in the day I realized that we weren't going to make it by dark without taking the "shorter" portion of the loop (we ended up getting back to camp about dark).

JENNIFER: Up early the next morning, and slowly got ready on off to the trail. This time, we had Rob with us, who knew the way,

ROB: (sorta)

JENNIFER: and we went right to the trailhead. We had originally planned to run the Naches and then part of the Kaner/Shoestring, however, the decision was to run the Kaner/Shoestring and then see about what else to run the next day…

ROB: I really can't tell highlights of the day because...well you can look at two different ways--there was only one stuck and it was a minor one and Andy had a winch to pull himself out. So there wasn't anything cool like that. However, there were tons of cool hillclimbs and off camber stuff and narrow spots between trees (you'll note that there are no full sized rigs that went)

JENNIFER: I had turned down all the full sized rigs from OBH that wanted to come, as well as the stock rigs. This decision was based on trail descriptions from those who had run up there before as well as wanting the rigs to be fairly compatibly equipped.

ROB: and sweet views of Mt. Rainer as we climbed over the 5,000 foot mark and up and up and up. It was a cool day. (We did the Shoestring/Kaner loop, although the shorter version)

JENNIFER: While I don’t remember a whole lot of details of the days trip, in the first big (optional) mudhole, Andy promptly tried it, and just as promptly got stuck. Ended up winching out. The CJ's tried it,

ROB: as did Rob in his YJ. The Sammies, because of less width, drove right through it

JENNIFER: and a bunch of the rest of us went around. We didn’t see much mud, lots of dust, rock, climbing, roots, etc. Part of what we ran was very tight, technical stuff, we could see where others had bashed the trees, and many, many cuts from winch cables in the trees (WHY cant people use tree savers???). When it is wet or snowy, I can't imagine how hard that trail must be. It would certainly be a full locker and winch run much of the year I think. At one point early in the day, Liz's brakes got wet, and didn’t hold on a hill, scaring the c*** out of her and others. When we stopped at Lilly Pond for lunch, they jacked up the CJ and checked the brakes and cleaned the mud out of the drums.

ROB: Oh, there was one short break while we adjusted Liz's brakes after she had failed to make a hill climb. She went to put on her brakes and then rolled downhill about thirty feet before being stopped by a large log--no damage except for that "fear of God" look in her eyes. We adjusted her brakes, this week we're doing a complete brake job on her rig.

JENNIFER: Otherwise, no major problems. We got back into camp late in the day, and after borrowing Ken's air compressor to blow the worst of the dust out (big thanks Ken!) got started on dinner. Again, it was a late night around the fire for some of us.

ROB: Sammie #2 did smoke his clutch pretty seriously, as he wasn't geared for steep, loose rocks. That was pretty much the entire carnage of the day.

ROB: Day two started with the Sammies deciding that one day of rocks was enough, one had a smoked clutch and both were sore and hurting. Just us Jeeps.

JENNIFER: Andrew and Eric decided the next morning that they were sore, and I guess not up to another day - after all, the Sammi's don’t have power steering…we got a slow start, and headed out to Funny Rocks.

ROB: We went and played on Funny Rocks. I made it this time with very little problem, although a front locker would be VERY nice, I've decided. Then we did the part of Kaner/Shoestring that we hadn't done the day before.

JENNIFER: We played there for a while on the rocks, had lunch, played some more, and then decided to do some more trials (trails?). We ended up back on part of Kaner again. It was nice, again, some tight technical stuff, lots of rocks and climbing. We ran into a group of Jeepers up there, about 10-12 rigs, two of which were killer flat fender Willys. Part of the group was doing a trail repair on a YJ who had bashed his steering.

ROB: by being kinda silly and driving straight when the trail curved and hitting a tree with his (now bent) tie rod.

JENNIFER: They pulled off and let us all go by. Seemed like nice folks, but it was definitely a "guys night our" sort of thing, and they were already drinking heavily.

JENNIFER: Now we are trying to pick up the pace a bit, it is getting late, and we still have a lot of trail to cover. We got back down to the Lilly pond area, and are headed down the last bit of trail, when Liz finds that she cant steer for s***.

ROB: We were about 30 minutes from being off the trail, it was getting towards dark when Liz said, "I can't turn! What's with that?" I get out, look under the front of her Jeep. Uh-oh--isn't that little box supposed to hold still when she turns???

JENNIFER: Her steering box had come loose and the brace/mount was broken. Out come the tools, parts, etc. It is neat how stuff just shows up when someone gets in trouble. We got some light on it, and Andy and Jeff got down and figured out what needed to be done.

ROB: The bracket for the steering box had been partially torn and was allowing the box to torque and move instead of holding still and moving the wheels. Some quick thinking, a set of washers, an oversized bolt, and a Currie steering box brace off of another Jeep allowed her to limp off of the trail and home to Moscow the next day.

JENNIFER: It took a couple of hours, and it was very dark by the time we were finished. The end result was that Jeff took the aftermarket brace he had off of his CJ and put it on Liz's, so that she could get back to camp ok (she actually made it all the way home without further trouble from it).

ROB: (a 4-hour drive) Also Andy did a lot of work getting some washers to hold the busted part of the frame together. It still had some give, but worked.

JENNIFER: This was kinda fun, most of us had never been on the trail in the dark before…it is really neat to look up behind (or in front) of you and see the line of lights coming down the hill. Luckily, it was only a little ways until we were on a dirt road, then gravel, and then several miles and back down to the pavement. It was well after 9 pm when we rolled back into camp. Luckily, we had thought about it, and we were all pretty set up for easy food that night. We sat around and bs'ed until late at the fire, except for Jeff, who was packing up because he had to pull out very early to make a company picnic Sunday afternoon in Eugene.

JENNIFER: The next morning, Jeff pulls out at something like 5am. Camp starts to wake up about 8, Ken and Hutch pull out relatively early, as they have 10+ hours drive home. Rob, John, and Liz were next, and then Andy, David, and myself made plans, and Andy and I headed down to Whistling Jacks for gas (where Rob and Liz were gassing up too). Somehow we got our signals crossed with Dave and we never met back up with him. Andy and I took the scenic route, up Hwy 410 and through the edge of Mt. Raineer NP. A very pretty drive. We gassed up again when we hit the freeway, and headed south. I made it home to North Bonneville by 3 pm, which was good, since about all I could manage was to unload and hit the sack. Getting up for work was hard the next morning!

JENNIFER: A big thanks goes to Andy for setting it up, to Rob for his map and for helping lead us around, and to everyone for coming, it was a great trip! I do hope that everyone enjoyed the weekend and had lots of fun.  I hope to do it again next year some time, only maybe earlier in the year (a little warmer at night? A little less dusty on the trails?). A thought I had was to have a night run the day we get there for a couple of hours…maybe on the lower part of the Naches trail? Could be fun…

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