Get out and snow wheel!
It was a damp winter morning when the rigs departed the Safeway parking lot in Monroe, WA. Everyone was excited to get a little snow wheeling under their belt. Today we would have three trucks in our group, an 80 series Landcruiser, and two second gen Nissan Xterra’s (one of which is fully locked and titan swapped).
If you have never been snow wheeling, it is worth the adventure. Simple forest service roads turn into serious challenges and even the smallest of inclines and obstacles test the vehicles capabilities. In another article we will cover the necessary gear but our main rules when snow wheeling is to always go with a buddy, have the necessary recovery gear and be prepared to stay overnight in the cold if you end up getting stuck.
Our road of choice for this trip was an easy one, Beckler River Road off of Highway 2. This forest service road leads way back into the mountains with many side tracks to explore. Hiking trails dot the map and many mountain logging roads wind their way up into the mountains with beautiful views and excellent camp spots during summer months.
Hitting the trail
We hit a light dusting of snow as we turn off onto Beckler. This year’s snowfall has been an interesting one. While not necessarily a bad year, temperature fluctuations have caused the snow to melt and refreeze leaving a weird consistency with avalanche dangers rated as high.
We turn off onto a side road with the end goal being a place to snowshoe for the day. The snow depth started increasing steadily as we drove into the mountains. We passed a group of rigs snow camping near the river. Another mile in, we spot a gentleman walking down the track. Waving at him as we pass, we get a smile but not comment from him. We wonder why in the heck he is out this far and assumed he was part of the camping group.
A quarter mile later our first vehicle finally gets stuck in a snow drift (it was only a matter of time). As we start getting gear ready to recover the Land Cruiser, the gentleman we passed caught up with us. Apparently he and his friend were snow camping at the end of this road but got snowed in that morning and needed help. We joke about how he didn’t seem to be in a panic when we drove by him earlier and we feel badly for not having asked if he needed our help.
Almost to the end
Once recovered we continue driving until we spot the end of the road as well as the buried vehicle. The end has a slight hill and is deep with wet, slick snow. The end of the road, a mere 200 feet away, has a turnaround loop which we figure would be a nice spot to park and snowshoe. Easy to get there right? Wrong…
Due to the stuck vehicle being in the way of the road, we had a tough time getting all three rigs around the stuck Xterra and to the top. All rigs clawed their way up the slope, and we ended up having to winch two trucks, and put chains on all 4 wheels of the cruiser to get it off of the slick hill. Having a winch is crucial when snow wheeling, and the Smittybilt X20 10k and Engo 10k winches worked well when recovering vehicles.
After an hour and a half, the entire group made it the 200 feet to the end of the road. Everyone is soaked but having a good time. We grab a quick bite to eat before waving goodbye to the titan swapped Xterra who needed to leave earlier than the rest of us.
The remainder of our group pulled out the snowshoes and began walking up the trail. The snow is deep and even with snowshoes the going is slow. We stop for a break and enjoy the quiet of the snow covered forest. There is no way we will be completing this trail on this day; but today wasn’t about the destination.
It doesn’t matter what you drive
Snow wheeling is a great way for people to get out and enjoy the winter months. It doesn’t matter if you have a fully built rig on 37’s or if you are in a stock 4Runner. All vehicles can provide enjoyment in the snow, and the challenge and skills gained from snow driving and wheeling will only increase your love for adventure in inclement weather. Snow is relatively forgiving and is an excellent way to test a vehicles capabilities without the nervousness of crunching body panels. Don’t let the snow and cold hold you back. Embrace it!
Until next time, keep the shiny side up and all 4 or on the floor!