Lost and Stuck in woods

Lost and struck

Ruts from where Jenny's Jeep was stuck
Ruts from where Jenny's Jeep was stuck

Late one afternoon last week I decided to make a test run on Scuffy to see how the new tie rod worked. It was really dark when I headed into the woods behind the barn. I had not run this trail in a while and I don’t think I have ever run it at night.

This trail consists to two intersecting loops. I had started at the far loop and was looking for the intersection of the trails to head back up to the barn. Right before the intersection there is a gully that has to be crossed. Somehow; in the dark, I crossed the wrong gully just before the intersection. I thought it seemed a bit steeper but I was not sure until I ran out of trail just a few feet up the bank. I managed to get turned around, but in the dark, I was not sure where I was.

I decided to walk up the hill to get my bearings. As I walked up the hill in the dark, I saw a light and started walking toward it. As I got closer I realized from color of the light, this was the light from my neighbors house and not from my barn. Suddenly I heard my dog Smash barking as he had been waiting for me by the barn. I turned and walked toward the barking. Soon I made it to the driveway not at all where I expected to be. I thought I was behind the barn when I got lost but I came out in front of the barn.

I went in and got a flashlight. Then Smash and I went back to look for the Jeep. I had thought about leaving it in the woods for the night but since the trail I was one runs along the property line, I considered the possibility that I might have been on my neighbors property instead of mine. As I walked down the hill, Smash took off in a different direction. I shined my flashlight over where he was and saw the reflection of my Jeep glint through the trees.

Smash knew where the Jeep was before I did. Thanks to Smash I took a much shorter route back to the Jeep than I did coming to the house.

Once I looked around and had a good laugh about what I had done, I was able to easily get back to the trail and drive back up the hill to the barn. The new tie rod worked well too.

On Friday when Jennifer came to visit, Janice told me to show her where I got lost because she was still laughing at me for getting lost in my own woods. I made a quick run around the trail in Scuffy and let Jenny laugh at me for getting lost.

As Jenny was getting ready to leave, her son Caleb wanted to see the spot also. I had already put Scuffy away so I took him in Jenny’s Jeep Princess. Just like Scuffy her Jeep has a three-inch Rough country lift, a Lock Right Locker and Maxxis Bckshot tires. The big difference being that hers has 31” and Scuffy’s are 33”. That two inch difference turned out to be more critical than I imagined.

I stopped on the trail to show Caleb where I got lost. Then I proceeded to cross the gully just before the trail intersection. The gully has gotten a bit deeper due to the recent rains and was still a bit mushy on the bottom. Unlike Scuffy, Princess also still has her stock front bumper and air dam. I entered the gully gently so as not to stuff her bumper into the far side of the gully. My fatal mistake was not powering on from that point. I was a bit concerned about hitting her back bumper as the rear wheels dropped into the gully.

It turned out my concern was valid. As I dropped into the gully, the rear bumper hung on the bank and held both the back tires up out of the mud just enough to keep them from getting traction. Working the front back and forth just got me more stuck. Eventually, I gave up and Caleb and I walked back to the house. We had no trouble following the trail in the daylight.

Jenny and I went back in Scuffy to pull Princess out. I expected a quick tug on the strap would have her free. It took quite a bit of maneuvering in the tight confines of the trails. After scraping a couple of trees and popping off a piece of trim, I finally got the strap hooked up. Jenny fired up Princess and Scuffy tugged. Scuffy went sideways and Princess stayed stuck.

I backed up and gave it a bump, but Princess stayed stuck. I bumped harder and slid sideways into a tree. Princess stayed stuck and maybe dug in a little deeper.

Now that it was dark, we decided to try the winch. It took even more maneuvering and running over some small trees to get Scuffy into a position to use the winch and be able to brace on a tree.

The winch slowly extracted Princess from the gully and she started up the hill on her own. However, just a few feet up she stared to spin again and slipped sideways. I rerigged the winch cable and pulled again. The angle was not quite right so the cable bound up in the side of the spool. I had to stop to respool the cable.

By this time Janice had called to see what was taking so long. She suggested that we just leave the Jeeps and let Jenny and the boys stay the night. We tried one last pull and got Princess up to the point where the two trails intersect. She should have been able to drive out at that point but for some reason not visible to us in the dark, she just went sideways into the tree instead of out onto the trail. Scuffy was blocked in by the trees and could not move until Princess was out of the way.

We gathered up their luggage and hiked back to the house. Also in the dark since one of her boys had stolen the batteries out of her flashlight.

Where the two Jeeps slept after getting stuck
Where the two Jeeps slept after getting stuck

The next morning, Jenny was feeling ill, so while Janice took care of her, I went down to check on the Jeeps. I strapped Scuffy to a tree and cranked him up to respool the winch cable.
Princess the jeep stuck
Princess the jeep stuck

After surveying the situation I saw why Princess was stuck. Her rear tire was against a root and the root was pushing her against the tree instead of letting her go up the hill. It did not help that her Maxxis Buckshots were still at full pressure.

Jeep Stuck on a root
Jeep Stuck on a root

I simply backed up a couple of feet and gave it a bump over the root and drove up the hill. Hunter and I then walked back down and drove Scuffy out as well.

I built these trails as a training ground to develop my off roading skills in a relatively safe environment. They sure served their purpose this week as I got to practice winching, rigging and various driving techniques to recover Jenny’s Jeep.

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