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Old 05-21-2013, 04:41 PM   #1
bruss01
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Default Back after all this time! First Trail Run

Ok, I am back after a long hiatus and I am pleased to report that my '78 Scout terra>>traveler has experienced it's first trail run.

You will shortly note that I am not an experienced off-roader.

First of all - the truck. After replacing the stock 19-gallon fuel tank with a new 33 gallon tank plus fuel sender, I have a working fuel gauge. The truck has a new water pump, fuel pump, rebuilt carb, new battery, new alternator, all new hoses and all new belts. I had most of the body-work patched up and primered and the locking hubs replaced. The pinion seal on the rear axle was leaking so that got replaced too. Of course the entire brake system (anything that ever touched brake fluid) got entirely replaced - including lines which were swapped for stainless. New side mirrors with a decent field of view. Got some kind of intermittent battery drain that I can't exactly trace down so a battery disconnect switch is taking care of that for now. The truck runs like a scalded dog and invariably starts up on the first turn of the key unless it's been sitting a few weeks.

Well, after all that work and plenty of time to prove itself... I decided the time had come to actually get out and play in the dirt. A location was chosen about 2 hours from home, a trail/road up in sierra county (CA) that leads to a little "used to be" place called poker flat. It's up in old "gold rush" country, wild and beautiful. With a buddy of mine riding shotgun and my faithful dog riding the cargo hold, we shoved off from home bright and early one morning with a load of camping gear.

I had no idea, at the time, what we were in for.

The trail was listed as easy/moderate and that sounded in line with what I wanted to experience. Likewise, the weatherman indicated a 90% chance of pleasant weather.

Both of those were dead wrong.

We were less than a mile off the paved road when I noticed the rear wheels slipping a bit as we went up some of the steeper portions of the "road" we were on. All right, no sense tearing up the road so we shifted into 4h and continued our ascent. After about an hour of liesurely driving we started getting into some very winding and increasingly steep downward trail. I knew that we must be into the last two miles of rough trail leading down to the Ford at canyon creek. At this point we were in 4l and d1 relying on engine braking so as not to fry the brakes. I was enjoying the fact that I was finally putting my vehicle to a bit of a test on this "moderate" stretch of steep and windy road. How little did I know, my understanding of the word "moderate" left a lot to be desired. I was about to get an education.

Finally we inched down to the creek. There must be some mistake, I said. The water was deep and fast, and it looked like the road simply ended in mid air, about 12-18 inches above the creek bed. What are we supposed to do, sprout wings and fly? Well, not really, but that drop-off looked dangerously abrupt for an "easy" crossing with a stock Scout! Certain we must have taken a wrong turn somewhere, we consulted the "trail guide" book to see where we had gone wrong... Checking the gps... Scratching our heads... We eventually arrived at the grim conclusion that we were indeed at the designated crossing spot. We must have stood there looking at the creek for twenty minutes, trying to understand how we were going to get across this deluge without getting stuck, getting flooded, or getting swept downstream. Or worse, disabling the vehicle. There were several rocks that looked like they had serious damage potential.





Finally, when it boiled down to the fact that we had figured the angles as best we could and ascertained that a crossing was at least theoretically possible by testing the water depth with a stick... And at that point, were just trying to get up the nerve... We decided to go for it.

My buddy got across the creek by rock-hopping and I fired up the Scout, put it in gear, and blazed forward off the edge of the abyss and into the icy mountain snowmelt runoff.

The engine stalled, stranding the vehicle in mid-stream.

I sat in dismal contemplation in the middle of the stream in my stalled, beloved Scout, wondering what on earth I had gotten myself into and how the hell I was ever going to get home, as steam billowed out from under the hood. This trip was not going well. Not going well at all.

Last edited by bruss01; 05-21-2013 at 05:27 PM..
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Old 05-21-2013, 05:05 PM   #2
bruss01
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Default Re: Back after all this time! First Trail Run

I sat there a moment... Blinking... Kind of having a little panic attack. No winch. No tow vehicle. No cell coverage. And we were a helluva long way from civilization.

Just to confirm the already-obvious conclusion that I was dead in the water, I reached over to turn the key, certain that we were out of commission.

That goddamn 345 turned over and woke up.

Shocked, amazed... I was not going to let that rare moment of good fortune go to waste. I put my foot down with authority and began moving forward... Churning... Lurching... The engine roared as we climbed up out of that icy plunge, shuddering and dripping and shedding water like a dog fresh from his bath.

We were back in business.



Just a few hundred yards down the trail we came to the primitive campground at poker flat. When I say "primitive" I mean there is a fire pit, a picnic table and a place to throw your tent down. Thats. It.

We set up the tent and began to get our dinner underway as the afternoon gave way to evening. I said "hey we're all done except for getting the roof on the tent". My buddy, the city boy, said "gee it's so nice, why don't we leave the roof off and enjoy the night sky instead?" his youthful enthusiasm, plus a considerable amount of tequila, soon persuaded me to his way of thinking. I relented and we went to sleep under a blissful canopy of stars.

We awoke early to a soft noise that we soon identified by the wetness on our faces as rain. Which, of course, was impossible given the idyllic weather forecast. Surely it must be mist blowing our way from the adjacent creek rapids. We stumbled out of the tent, bleary-eyed, and eventually determined that no, our first impression, despite it's impossibility, had been correct.

My buddy, the greenhorn, said "we better get out of here, before these roads get all slick and we can't get out!" but I'm a creature of habit. I'm not going anywhere until I've had some coffee. So I set about boiling some water while my buddy runs around like an idiot, packing things up. Doesn't he know these little sprinkles usually dry up and blow over in an hour, maybe two? The weather man said less than 10% chance of rain, you dumb bunny!

By the time I was halfway through my coffee, the sky, which should have been brightening considerably given the hour, was still a sullen shade of grey. It began to dawn on me that it might not dry up, or blow away - in fact, if anything, it was coming down harder. It occurred to me that we ought to pack up and head out, before that window of opportunity on these slick trails closed and stranded us here in a mud-soaked hell hole. One of the former residents of poker flat, back in the gold rush days, had called it a "miserable hole". The previous evening it had seemed like a woodland paradise to us as we set out our camping gear. But the threat of mud and the prospect of being stuck there did indeed inspire in me visions of a muddy, wet, miserable hole.

We had to get out. And fast.

My buddy wasn't looking so dumb just then... So I busted a move helping him get us all packed up. Coffee be damned.

We hit the trail believing we had only a short drive on the last remaining segment of "rough" trail before we got back on a reasonably navigable "road" near the former neighboring settlement of howland flat. Surely we could take a break there, break out the camp stove, and have a decent breakfast and some much needed black elixir of life.

We could not have imagined the challenge that awaited us.

Last edited by bruss01; 05-21-2013 at 05:45 PM..
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Old 05-21-2013, 06:46 PM   #3
Scout-It-Out
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Default Re: Back after all this time! First Trail Run

Awesome story! I'm glad you got home safe! I am really care full when I go trail riding by myself. It's comforting to have someone there to pull you out! I'm sure you agree:d cool pictures!
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Old 05-22-2013, 08:40 AM   #4
FDChappie
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Default Re: Back after all this time! First Trail Run

How do we now he's not posting from a dying cell phone out in the woods? Fyi go as slow as you can through the water.
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Old 05-22-2013, 09:12 AM   #5
bruss01
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Default Re: Back after all this time! First Trail Run

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdchappie View Post
how do we now he's not posting from a dying cell phone out in the woods? Fyi go as slow as you can through the water.
I can see the inherent wisdom in that statement... However there May sometimes be mitigating circumstances where if you don't have a certain amount of momentum you risk getting stuck.

Story to be continued when my co-pilot coughs up the rest of the trip photos...
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Old 05-22-2013, 10:32 AM   #6
Scout-It-Out
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Default Re: Back after all this time! First Trail Run

Quote:
Originally Posted by fdchappie View Post
how do we now he's not posting from a dying cell phone out in the woods?
I volunteer to go look for him

I look forward to more pictures!
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Old 05-25-2013, 10:07 PM   #7
mikeindustries
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Default Re: Back after all this time! First Trail Run

Come on! I need to know what happens next! I hope you guys remain alive long enough to finish the story.
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