Yesterday when I got home from work Forrest and Sprocket met me at the car, helped me unload, and informed me we were going for a quad ride. The three of us loaded up and away we went. As we headed out of town to the east, Forrest asked where I wanted to go. I suggested all the old standards: Gold Hunter Gulch, Deadman Gulch, and Gentle Annie Gulch. None of these suggestions appeared to strike his fancy so I suggested Willow Creek Road.
Away we went up Willow Creek to the old railroad grade headed towards Lookout Pass. It was a gorgeous evening and was mostly warm, even as we approached the 4,000′ pass. Sprocket was charging up the hill at a comfortable 17 MPH (which much explain how he can hardly stand to run with me anymore).
On the Montana side, we drove up a road that skirted the base of the ski area and unfortunately were soon stopped by a tree down over the road. (When will we learn to always take the little chainsaw?) Rather enjoying ourselves, we continued east on the railroad grade. We thought about going to Copper Lake but, again, the were trees down. At that point, Forrest laughed and said we’d already done half of the “30-mile Loop,” a gravel road outing popular here that usually occupies an entire Saturday. Although I was unsure that we’d make it over the top (we’d struggled to make it over last year the last week in June) I suggested we give it a shot.
Down through the railroad tunnel we went and then up towards Mullan Pass. As we started to see snow on the road with another couple of miles left making the loop started to feel like not so great of a plan—neither of us had brought a coat or gloves and we didn’t have any snacks, it would be a long, cold ride back around to the house if we couldn’t drive over. Two corners from the top of the pass, the inside corners were covered with at least 2 feet of snow. The chances of our two wheel drive quad making it over the top looked pretty bleak.
Suddenly happy that F had put a winch on the quad (because it would make it much easier to extract if we got it stuck), I declared that we were so close and should give it a shot (I’m usually the “oh nevermind, we can’t make it” one of Team 3Up). F let the air pressure in the rear tires down a bit so we wouldn’t dig quite so bad and I hopped on to Sprocket’s rack on the back to maximize our traction. Away we went up the hill, my legs sticking out the back and F working the quad to keep our momentum up. As we made it up the first grade, I started to think this might work. As we rounded the corner, I was laughing; I must have looked ridiculous. And then there was the snow free shortcut to the top. We’d made it!
Except, the more sun exposed west side wasn’t melted out either. It didn’t matter what direction we went, there would be snow to contend with. Fighting downhill is much easier than fighting up and food was in that direction. Thunderstorms had also been predicted for evening and clouds were starting to gather so I scooted back onto the platform again for the ride downhill.
As much as I wish I had pictures of our uphill dash, I really wish I had pictures of us going down the hill. The road was still a bit sloped off towards the gulch to our right so the situation was still slightly precarious. F had to keep our speed up so we wouldn’t get mired in the slushy snow while steering to the left slightly and leaning his weight that way. I was sitting as far back and to the left on the platform and leaning my weight out as far as I could go—I have a lovely bruise on my back this morning to prove it.
As we returned to melted out dirt, we realized we were probably the first 2-wheel drive vehicle to make it through that way this year. Who needs a 4-wheel drive quad!? We have the little Honda that can! And if that’s just the adventure that Team 3Up can find after work, we’ve got to quit slacking on the weekends!