March 17, 2012

by Albert Vandervelde

How do you start the first day of the year? Well instead of hung over I called it a night early and got up ready for my first wheeling trip of the year. With a very low snow pack so far, snow wheeling hasn’t been at its best and with a lot of temperature fluctuations its gone from snow to warm back to snow almost on a weekly basis in south central BC. Our trip was planning on a local Jeep message board and with two groups coming from different directions the plan was to meet at a central point with each group wheeling in from opposite sides.

As we hit the gravel we were met with road conditions that result from the hot/cool cycle and I almost started my first wheeling trip rolling off the side of the gravel road, a result of the road being a pure sheet of ice. As we slid hopelessly backwards towards the edge a bit of crusty snow on the side stopped us on the edge and Brian and I carefully got out to lock the hubs and air the tires down all the time holding onto the Jeep so we would not slide backwards down the hill on our buts. With the Jeep back into the crunchy snow in the ditch on the opposite side of the road our group of three Jeeps, Matt in the lead and Luke in the back gained some altitude and slowing worked our way back into snow. We met the Penticton crew on the rail bed and the entire group, now numbering 8, headed up hill towards a local peak with a cell tower on the top.

The snow was covering hidden ice in a few places and the odd pull and tug was needed to keep the group moving along the trail. Jeff in his Cherokee was having a tough time in one spot so Brian and I hung back to air his tires a bit lower and to give him some ideas and encouragement to keep his Cherokee rolling and how to pack the holes in front of him from the line of rigs up ahead. While he needed a tug in one very icy spot, it was pretty amazing to see where a near stock XJ on a set of skinny M/Ts can go with some careful snow driving.

All was well till Dave, in the Chevy in our group, popped an axle and slid into some thatchy Alder on the side of the road that required some work to extract. After several tries by Dean Bradley to pull him forwards, it was pretty apparent that the Chevy needed a pull by something that weighed as much as he did so my TJ (Ford powered) got the honor of dragging his Chevy ass backwards to a turn around point. There was much kidding involved of course.

While we made it to one peak, it was decided with a few vehicle issues and steeper inclines to come that it was best to dive back down into the V of the valley that we drove up for a fire so vehicles could be repaired and the Chevy could be turned around. While a short day, it was great to start the year on a high note (and a clear head) despite the but clenching ice at the bottom (we were very careful on the way back down).  Lots more to come with 364 days still ahead!

March 17, 2012

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