A trip to recover recovery boards. And getting stuck, again.

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JCWages

Rank V

Traveler I

2,522
Auburn, CA
I went out to try and recover the recovery boards (Maxsa and Treds) Trev and I left on the trail during out snowstorm adventure last month. Trev warned me it was probably still to snowy to be safe, especially solo but I'm fairly stubborn and the more it dries out there more people will run the road and find our boards before I do. :grin2:

Inspiration by Brad Paisley - Play the song while checking reading this thread. lol


Hwy 174 and You Bet Road, Grass Valley, CA - I decided to take the same route we traveled one month prior because I was familiar with it and doing unknown trails solo in questionable conditions is never a great idea. When the pavement ended I pulled over to air down the tires. I dropped them to 17psi (dash display). I proceeded to climb the now dirt (damp) road.

For the first 5 miles or so the road was in good condition considering all of the rain and snow we have received in the area lately. After while the mud became deeper as did the puddles so I threw it in 4wd Hi to avoid tearing up the road and the Wildpeaks didn't have any trouble maintaining traction. Soon snow started covering the landscape so I pulled over for a few shots with the new wheels





Back on the road.... The snow was really hard so traction was quite good. I came upon the first large puddle which had been easy to cross last month but there was now a tall steep berm on the opposite side where it appears a vehicle had gotten stuck and dug down. I didn't like the looks of it and apparently others had the same thoughts so they turned off the road and "made" a go-around. I took that instead of risking the puddle crossing.

Before long I came upon and even longer puddle I estimate was about 30' long with and even steeper berm on the opposite side. Many go-arounds had been created but all seemed dicey. Eventually I chose one but it required backing up a few hundred feet and taking a long way around over potentially deep crusty snow and a fairly steep but very short drop back onto the road. I made it through to the other side just fine and I was impressed by how well the tires gripped and the truck just floated across the snow without digging in.

I continued down the road for another few miles and came upon another deep puddle and the berm on the other side was too much to risk. I was only about a mile from where I left the recovery boards last month so I really wanted to continue on. Against my better judgement I tried to climb the road bank to get onto a go-around and that's when I got stuck. I high centered on a dirt mount hidden under the snow.... Grrr



I put it in 4Lo and tried to crawl backwards but that didn't work. I hopped out and tried using my single Maxsa recovery board but the tires just wouldn't grip no matter which one I stuck it under. I dug out enough snow to ensure the tire had plenty of tread in contact with the board but they just wouldn't grab. I found plenty of wood debris nearby as the area had been clearcut within the last year or 2. I started sticking branches and pieces of tree stump under tires and got a little traction and moved back about 2ft. but got stuck again. I spent the new few hours alternating between digging out dirt/snow from the frame and moving pieces of wood, the recovery board and even a length of chain around under tires. I was exhausted and my hands raw from icy snow. It became difficult to get my gloves back on after repeatedly taking them off for some reason that seemed important at the time so I stopped wearing them. Too late for my interior though. My steering wheel, shifter and door panel were coated in brown mud. I stopped to eat and drink and rest my mind. To allow myself time to really think this through.



I'm obviously high centered and reducing tire pressure to 10psi wasn't helping the tires grab at all the of crap I had stuck under the tires. Maybe airing them back up to 35psi would provide enough lift to get me off the dirt mount. So I aired up the tires, re-positioned all the crap under the tires and gave it another shot. I stepped on the brake and put it in gear and very gently applied throttle so that the tires very slowly turned in a jerking manner similar to what you observe when Tacomas use their Climb Control function to climb out of a sand pit. The tires grabbed and popped up and over the dirt mount and I was back on the road!!! At this point I may have done the Snoopy Dance and high-fived Ellie dog.... After being able to run free for a few hours to explore wherever she pleased she was NOT happy about "loading up" and moving on so it took a minute for me to catch her. She got the "zoomies" and thought it was fun to run by me as fast as she could and get as close as possible but avoid capture. Damn puppies! lol



I got her loaded up and started back down the trail. To hell with the lost recovery boards! I'm going home. Except now the road is a lot more squishy than when I had come in and the truck is sliding around a lot more than I care for. *sigh* I guess I better air back down and not take the risk of getting stuck which seemed like a very real possibility in these new snow conditions. I aired back down to 17psi and started again. Traction was better but there was still a lot of sliding going on. I find it quite interesting how quickly and how different snow traction changes depending on its level of frozen water vs. liquid content and compaction. I came upon the sketchy long go-around and the steep short bank looked pretty intimidating and combined with the reduction in traction I felt a pit form in my stomach. Am I going to be able to get up this? I could very easily high center again and I'll be out of daylight in a few hours. The now melting snow will quickly turn back into ice which could freeze the truck in place. I really don't have much choice but to go for it. I slowly approached the embankment and tried to gently steer to the left to start the climb but the tires didn't grip well laterally and I slid off to the right and into untouched snow. Yikes!!! I quickly put it in reverse and tried to use the momentum of the truck sliding back down the little hill to my advantage. I back myself onto the road and far enough to give it another shot. This time I was successful in getting up the embankment but there was a lot of sideways bucking action going on. I kept it on the path and made to the other side of the go-around and onto the trail. *whew*

I carefully picked my way through smaller puddle and eventually got out of the snow and into the mud again. This I can deal with! As I made my way down the mountain I noticed a white Toyota Tundra coming up the hill at me so I pulled over to let him by. I also noticed the large wheels with low profile mud tires and though could this be the guy we rescued on this same road last month during the snowstorm? I rolled down my window as he pulled up and sure enough it was the same guy and he lives a few miles up the road. After a brief chat and him thanking us again for rescuing him we parted ways. The road was a muddy mess now but traction was good and I made it back to the paved road without issue. I don't live far from the area so I drove home before airing up so I could use my large compressor in the garage.

While struggling to free the truck I had plenty of time to think about what kind of equipment would have helped me get unstuck. W front mounted winch would have been useless as there were no trees in front of me for quite a distance and snatch blocks wouldn't have helped because the trees to the side just were not lined up correctly. A rear mounted hitch, come-along or HiLift (used as a winch) would have allowed me to extract the truck in minutes as there were plenty of trees behind me within 20' or less. More traction boards may have helped as well but after my last adventure I cannot say that with certainty like I can about the other options.

Anyway, it was a learning experience and nothing and no one was harmed. Hopefully you can learn from my experiences as well. :)
 
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JCWages

Rank V

Traveler I

2,522
Auburn, CA
How do you like the ATW3s in the mud?
So far so good. We hit a few muddy spots (hilly and off camber) at Hollister this weekend and I didn't have any trouble. I'm sure they are worse than say a Duratrac or ST Maxx and any true mud tire but I have been very happy with them.