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Author Topic: The Story of spooners Canyon in JV  (Read 3866 times)
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I'll tell you a story!

« on: July 19, 2013, 10:46:45 PM »

I've heard bits and pieces of it but here it is from the horses mouth... how spooners trail was broke and named.

As you may have heard, we went to the Hammers and got our asses handed to us. I was just going to post this at the end of Chris' mpost, but it turned out to be so long, I made it a separate post. So here's my story.

In my new job, I get two weeks off over the holidays. It's pretty cool, and since I work at the same place as Denni, she gets the time off, too. This allowed us, for the first time, to plan a big family trip that included everyone. So, for the first week, we rented a cabin in Big Bear, and we did not bring the Jeeps. This was a concession to the wives so that we could all do family-style things and not worry about Jeeping. Part of the compromise was that when we got back, Chris and I could go to the Hammers, no wives, no kids, just Jeeps. So, we got back from Big Bear on Saturday, and turned around and loaded the Jeeps on Sunday morning and we were OFF. We got there around 2 Sunday afternoon and decided to just hang out, ride around on the dirt bikes, and generally goof off.

On Monday morning, we decided to run Claw, which is an easy but very fun trail. Things were going really well, and we were having a good time, and then Chris blew the high pressure power steering line on the Jeep. Not a really bad break, but definitely a show stopper for finishing the trail, so we wrapped the line with Rescue Tape, put some hose clamps on it and limped it back to camp.

Then we started trying to find a new line. We called every parts store from Barstow to Yucca valley with no luck. Finally, we got around to Auto Zone in Yucca Valley. The parts guy didn't have the part and couldn't get it to us in time, but he REALLY hooked us up by giving me the numbers to every other parts joint in town. I finally got to CarQuest, who was able to special-order the parts and get it to us the next morning. B***Hin! So we went to town, ordered the part, and then went back to camp and rode the dirt bikes for the rest of the day. As we were coming back to camp after a very long ride, I looked over and saw Mark's trailer and truck with his new buggy sitting in front, so I cruised over and said "Hi!"

That night we had a decent fire, but we had hit it pretty heavy the night before, so neither of us felt much like drinking. Mark and Levi came over for a while and shared our fire, but everyone called it quits pretty early and we went to sleep.

Now, I should mention here that it was getting VERY cold on the lakebed overnight. On Sunday night into Monday morning, it got down to 21 degrees. On Monday night it got down the 26, and even with two tent heaters going full blast all night, it sucked pretty good. Of course, we didn't really know the meaning of "this sucks" yet, but we were only 12 short hours away from getting full and complete understanding. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

Now it's Tuesday morning. We woke up to Mark buzzing camp on Levi's 2-stroke 40cc quad. No too offensive, actually. It has a good muffler, and was only a small buzzing. He figured he would pre-empt us before Chris buzzed HIS camp on his 450R with the blown out muffler. No big deal, since we had to get up anyway. Mark offered fresh coffee, so of course we accepted and went over to his trailer for a hot cup of joe. After BS'ing for a little bit, we headed into town and picked up the part we ordered. Since we were there, we grabbed breakfast at Denny's. That turned out to be a very good idea. We also stopped at Food4Less and grabbed a bag of chimmichangas and wrapped them up and loaded them on the manifolds. Also a very good choice. We had 4 each. The day before, we had talked to Mark and Jodie Everding (RawX Racer), who invited us out to go bomb around the desert a little bit. Jodie had mentioned that he wanted to go mark the entrance to Outer Limits. We had been thinking about doing this trail, so we agreed to tag along.

After we fixed Chris' Jeep, we cruised over to Jodie's camp and met up with him and Mark. After a little bit we headed out. After a while we made it to the entrance of Outer Limits (we thought). Jodie described it as being hard but doable, and that we should finish it in a couple of hours. They said they would meet us at the exit. We decided, "Sure, why not?" and headed in.

The trail started kind of mellow and steadily increased in intensity, until we realized, "Holy $H!*! This is a hard trail!"

But we continued on, because even though it was hard, we were doing pretty well. It seemed kind of strange, though, because we noticed that there was a LOT of brush and vegetation in the trail, and there were no signs at all that ANYONE had ever been up this canyon. I wrote it off to the fact that it had probably been a long time since anyone had been out there, plus there had been a lot of rain. Still, there should have been SOMETHING. But we ignored those signs and forged ahead.

Then it started getting HARD.

After that big climb, we realized that we had hit a point of no return. There was no choice but to forge on. The winches were getting a WORKOUT, but we both have Warn winches, and they were doing well. However, I had noticed that my winch was starting get a little flakey. The winch would spool out, but not always back in. It seemed like the switch was going bad, but with a little work it kept going. So we continued on.

Then it happened. Chris was stuck in a bad climb with an undercut. We stacked as best we could and then started winching him out. BOOM!!!! There went a CTM. Snapped the ears right off.

Hmmmm.....this is going to make the day worse.....

Jodie had said that the trail was only a little over a mile long, with a big waterfall at the end. We had already come about 3/4 of a mile, and figured we only needed to forge on for a little while more. So we got his Jeep out of where it was, and we kept moving on. I was pulling him through most of the rough stuff, but it was slow going. Then it started getting dark. I decided to walk to the trail a little and saw that we were coming up on a very, very nasty waterfall. But we were expecting this, and figured we were almost to the end. At this point it was dusk, and by the time we got to the waterfall, it was full dark. Now, at this point, we had been winching for a long, long time. The connector on Chris' winch went bad, and the only way to make it work was for me to hold the connector on the winch while Chris advanced. So I wound up wheeling the trail, then coming back and walking the trail while holding onto the front of Chris' Jeep. In the dark. Scary stuff.

But, we made it to the base of the waterfall. How to describe this thing. I wish I had taken a picture of it, but pictures, at this point, were the farthest thing from my mind. But, here's how it works. The waterfall is in the middle of a Z-turn, with a channel that seems cut out of pure rock leading into it. The channel is very off-camber, and tries to kick you into the opposite wall. It was tricky, but I made it through, and then approached the real obstacle. The waterfall is nearly vertical and about 15 feet tall. Right in the middle of it is a cup shaped indentation. The line is to start left and veer right as you go through the middle. I didn't even think about trying to drive it, since Chris was already broken and I needed to stay unbroken. So before I even started, I hooked up the winch. I tensioned up and then started my climb. To my amazement, I immediately overran the winch and popped up and over. I would not have guessed that I could drive it, but I did. Incredible. To get out of the little canyon, we had to make a sharp right at the top and grind over a rock that hangs you on your belly pan. There is no way to avoid this, so I kept winching and just winced as I ground over the skid plate. Ugh. But I made it, and then I found a place to turn around so I could winch him up. We hooked him up and then he started up.

The dead front driver side wheel on Chris' Jeep made it so he couldn't drive the waterfall on the correct line, and he wound up completely on his side. But we managed to get him righted, and dragged him over the belly pan killer, and then continued on, confident that we were almost out.

This sounds like it was an easy transition, but it actually took a full 2 hours to get us both through. We started the waterfall at 6:30 pm, and it was 8:40 when we finally got clear. But we were in good spirits, because we "knew" that we were close. If only I knew then what I know now....bwahahahaha. We were screwed; we just didn't know it yet. So we forged on. At this point, there are no more pictures. Sorry.

About another 20 feet in, I realized that I couldn't turn left. I took a look under my Jeep and sure enough, I taco's the track bar. Damn. Nothing to do but hook the winch to the track bar and try to pull it straight. We hooked it up and then I started pulling. The suspension fully compressed, and the track bar started to straighten, and then BOOM! The winch line broke. But my track bar was straight. So we threw the broken end into the Jeep and forged on. After about another 100 yards it bent again. We tied the broken end of the winch line to the track bar and straightened it again. My winch line kept getting shorter and shorter.

We forged on for quite a while, all the time thinking that the exit must be just ahead. There were rocks. BIG rocks. There were intensely hard obstacles. I drove it all. Then we came to another climb. I started winching Chris up and then SNAP!!!!!!! There went the stub shaft on the right side on Chris' Jeep. Now the front was completely dead. We couldn't get him up the ledge, even with the winch. Damn. We decided at that point that we had to leave his Jeep behind and try to get my Jeep out. We walked the rest of the trail with a flashlight, and determined that were 200 yards from the exit, finally. This was at 2 AM. The trail just kept getting worse, though, and we knew that it was going to be a HARD 600 feet. Chris decided that the best bet for him would be to disassemble his front end while I continued to work my way forward. I did this and got about 100 feet up the trail until I got stopped cold by a waterfall. There was a rock squarely in the way that I could not drive around or over. I had to winch it, but the last time I had straightened my track bar, the cable mysteriously did not break, and it was tied in a knot around the axle. Winch rope knots are ridiculously hard to untie. I spent over an hour getting that thing loose, but finally I managed it and got the rock moved. But I was so tired by then, I couldn't get the Jeep through. I kept getting high-centered on another rock I had moved. At about 3:00 AM I finally had had enough, and sat down the in the Jeep to take a nap while Chris kept working on his.

I think I drifted in and out for about 45 minutes, and then Chris came walking up to my Jeep, dumped his axles in, and then we tried to get me moving again. We got me through the nasty waterfall, and then, and I started up another climb I hear SNAP!!!!!! There went my left rear axle shaft. That took another 20 minutes, and then at that point we were just done. I shut everything off and we tried to get some sleep. It was only a couple hours from dawn, and I was pretty sure that we would find a better way through when we could finally see the trail again. I was in my front seat and Chris tried to curl up in my back seat. He claims he never got to sleep, but I heard him snore for at least 20 minutes, so he got some. But...by 4:30 it was just unbearably cold. Chris suggested that we go climb into the back seat of his Jeep since he at least had a top on, and we could stay warmer. So we trudged back down the canyon and climbed into his Jeep a huddled together trying to stay warm. As embarrassing as it sounds, it worked, and when the sun finally came up again, we felt better.

Wednesday, New Year's Eve.

Before we started trying again to get my Jeep out, we walked the trail and determined the best way out. Then we got to winching me out. At this point, my winch stopped spooling in and would only spool out. I absolutely HAD to have a winch, so we spooled the cable on backward and kept going. It was a hokey fix, but it worked well enough to keep me moving forward. Eventually, we got me to within 100 feet of the exit. And then it happened. SNAP!!!!! There went the left front hub. $H!*!!!!!!! But I had to keep trying, so we reset me, threw some rocks, and tried again. Not 10 feet later, BOOM!!!!!!!! The front right stub shaft bit it. That was it, I was done.

Chris decided to try to rebuild one of his axles to at least get 3-wheel drive back, and I hiked to the top of the mountain to see if I could get cell service. At around 9 AM I was able to finally get a call out and got a hold of Mark, who told us they had been looking for us all night. So I hiked back down and let Chris know the Calvary was coming, and then we waited. And waited. At this point, I still thought we were on Outer Limits, and had told Mark that instead of exiting, we had just kept going. This was untrue, however. I hiked out a couple times trying to find the people who were looking for us, but had no luck. Finally, around noon I decided to try to make the call again. I had only just a couple minutes of battery left, but I managed to get Mark back on the phone. He said they still just couldn't find us, so I told him I was going to hike all the way out to the road that leads in to where the entrance to Aftershock is. It was about 3 miles from where we were, so it took a little while. Finally, I got out to where I could see the road and Mark called me. As we were talking, my battery died, but it held long enough for me to find him. Saved!!! He had to get back to camp to meet his wife, but he got me hooked up with Jodie and a couple of Tin Benders, and they all came back in to get us extracted.

While I was explaining how my winch was messed up, Jodie looked at me and said, "Watch, I'm gonna make these guys think I'm a freakin' Guru!!!" The he spoke up and said, "Here's how to fix your winch." We took the motor bolts out, cleaned the ground contacts and re-installed them and lo and behold, my winch started working again. Woohoo! Back in business. We stacked, and pulled, and stacked, and pulled. It took both my winch and the winch on the Hendrix Motorsports x-chassis buggy to get me out, but we did it. At only point, my track bar bent again, and we HAD to fix it. I had to turn left. So I explained how we had been fixing it all night. Jodie wanted to take it out, but I said, no, we can do it here. He was skeptical, but said, "Show me", so I did. One snapped winch line later, we were back in business. And after that, I was out. Chris was in much better shape, and with some judicious winching, he 3-wheeled it out of the trail, and we were rescued. During all this, we explained how we stayed warm in the coldest point of the night, and everyone laughed and started calling it Spooners Canyon in reference to us huddling up in the back of Chris' Jeep. Even though we are the butt end of the joke, the name stuck. I know we technically get to name the trail, since we broke it, and we finished it, even if we needed some help at the end. But Spooners Canyon works, and sometime in the future I'm going to get a big laugh out of it.

Jodie stuck with us all the way back to camp, and then we packed up and headed home. We were TIRED, though, and decided to stay at the Best Western in Yucca Valley. As we were headed there, we were both all over the road like drunks. Chris kept stopping, thinking he had something wrong. There was a weird vibration, and he kept hearing a thumping noise that would come and go. We managed to keep going, though, and made it into Yucca Valley. I got the room, and then we pulled the rigs around back and got our stuff. At some point during this, I locked the keys to my Suburban in it, but I was so tired, I decided to just blow it off and figure it out in the morning. I went in the room, took a shower, and then passed out.

Thursday, New Years Day

I woke up before Chris and went out to the lobby to get some of the horrible Continental Breakfast, and then decided to try to get my keys out of the 'Burb without breaking a window. This exact same thing had happened to me just a few weeks before in Stoddard Valley, and I still had the same tools and piece of wire in my Jeep. So, 15 minutes later I had the keys in my hand and finally, the adventure was over. As we were driving out, Chris called me and said, I know what the problem was last night! I was so tired, I kept drifting the trailer tires into the land divider bumps! And that was it. This is the end of the story.

I have to give a HUGE thanks to Jodie Everding of RawX Racing and his amazing wife, and also to Shawn and Rick Hendrix from the Tin Benders, who all went above and beyond the call to come find us and get us out of that canyon.

Today I used Google Earth and located the canyon. Here's a picture, and some coordinates:

Lat: 3427'18.95"N
Lon: 11627'11.33"W

« Last Edit: July 20, 2013, 10:12:14 PM by penski61 » Logged

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