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HomeCheckout ride report 12 11-2010

Checkout ride report 12 11-2010

Seven riders met at the Enumclaw Safeway on Saturday morning at 7 am. We left Pyramid Snow Park at 8:22 Jim Franklin had his small chain saw with the intent of cutting out the downed trees on the trail from the 1911 trail through the Blow Out mountain trail to Easton. It turned out that there were more downed trees than there were when we came through the previous week end.  My GPS indicates that we spent almost 90 minutes cutting out trees for which I am very thankful to Jim. Unfortunately we had one machine that had a loose cooling connection that regularly needed more coolant. This slowed us down a little but it is consistent with my experience that 20+% of the sleds have a mechanical problem.  However, the trail was smooth with deep fresh snow that the leaders were really enjoying. We reached the Reload Snow Park at 1:00 pm to find it plowed with berms so high we couldn’t get to the normally groomed trail. The weather was now intermittently wet. We reached Easton at 1:18 to find the gas station was out of gas. We went through the State Park, under the freeway to the Turtle for gas and lunch. Then back to Easton for antifreeze. We left Easton at 3:32 pm, traveled back over the Bypass, then over Tacoma pass where I made a wrong turn and lost another 7 minutes. By now the weather was more frequently intermittently wet. But the trail was smooth and getting deeper. We almost reached the top of the ridge but were unable to get up the hogs back. After another 21 minute delay, we went up the road to the ridge. The trail along the ridge was blown over and quite a challenge even for some of the more experienced riders and especially me. Unable to get up the previous hogs back we knew it would be difficult to go up the trail through the woods and decided to go along the road. It had a heavy build up but was rideable. Unfortunately one of the better riders decided to have fun on the side of the hill and triggered a series of mini avalanches making it difficult for those behind to negotiate.  About 80% of the way along a ¾ mile side hill he decided to put his sled on auto pilot but he failed to set the guidance system. After tramping and shoveling a 50 yard path for the sleds to reach the far side of the slide area, we tramped a 200 foot path to the machine that was down a 60 plus degree slope in a small tree.  Using three bungees and a long rope and pulling hard we got the machine to the top. In the three hours and 4 minutes it took to get all the machines to the other side of the slide, we went through a raining ice storm leaving the sleds, helmets, bags covered in ice. Handle bars had 9 icicles hanging from them and it was next to impossible to work zippers to restore our gear. With Kelly’s help I put on dry gloves. I’ll be anxious to see Kelly’s pictures. The ordeal told us who was prepared and hopefully those who weren’t learned what they need to have in the future. Flash lights are important.

Although we were now out of the difficult part it took an additional hour and 15 minutes to get back to the rigs. In the meantime, communication errors were made. When people are tired and cold they don’t always make the best decisions. It is good idea to have prior agreements made and stick to them for the safety of all.

The temperature at the rigs was 33 degrees and the sky was almost clear. The temperature at the town of Greenwater was 54 degrees and when I got home to Seattle it was 48 degrees. The roads were bare and clear. When I put gas in my new  E-tek on Sunday on my way to lead the Christmas tree ride I was pleased to find I used less than 7 gallons to go 105 hard miles the day before.


Fred Wemer

December 13, 2010