Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Do you believe in patterns and portents, or just plain foolish people?
Last Friday was had had some colder weather and the trails were starting to freeze. Eventually that will open all 20 miles of trail, but the first to become runable is a 6 mile out and back with a loop at the end utilizing our 12 mile trail. After running multiple loops on the 5 mile trail to get mileage I couldn’t wait (and there is some pride in being the “first” to open the trail each year). About 3 miles in there are two deep “tank trap” type holes full of water – about 20 feet long, 8 feet wide (full trail width) and maybe 18 inches deep in the ruts. We hit the first and broke through the ice about ½ way across. It was a sudden drop, but the dogs kept pulling and I gassed the quad feeling just a little invincible as we popped up the other side. The second hole was like the first and only strengthened that feeling.
On the way back, with the ice already broken, the second hole (now the first one hit) was like an amusement park ride – short, sweet and fun. But the other hole… The 18 dogs pulled us just a little left and the quad slanted 45 degrees to the right. Everything is going well until we hit the broken edge of the ice – about 1 inch think – with the right wheel. Dead stop. The left wheels are up on ice on the bank with the right wheels down deep into the hole. No problem. Drop the quad into granny gear, call the dogs up and watch the wheels spin on the ice. Hmmm. That wasn’t quite the plan. Wait until the dogs quiet down and put it in reverse – same spinning wheels. Absolutely no traction. The right foot pad is at water level, climb off to the left and try to lift the right front tire onto the ice – of course any physicist should know, the ice is too thin to support the weight and breaks leaving me in almost knee deep water. Shoot!
Why not use the winch? Well all the water we’ve splashed on it for two weeks has frozen and the cable spool is a block of ice. Next idea. No excuse for it but to stomp the ice in front of the right wheel to break it and give me some running room, maybe with a running start… Call the dogs up, gun the quad and almost fly over the handlebars when we hit the edge. Both left tires spinning on the ice up on the bank and still no traction. One more idea – get off the quad to reduce the weight and gun the engine standing beside it. Of course the throttle is on the right side – the downhill side – where all the water is. Oh, well. It works and I manage to jump onto the quad as it goes by before the dogs take off and leave me feeling more foolish than I already am. It took three days to dry out the quad and my boots.
You would think that taught me a lesson, right? Four more days of below freezing weather and those holes are frozen enough to just be a pleasant memory. I’ll bet the entire trail system is frozen, just have to be sure there a no trees down across the trail and we can go anywhere. With thoughts of 20 miles loops dancing in my head, I take the quad to check out the inlet trail. One small tree that Sven (saw) and I make short work of, and all the holes in the trail are frozen. Drop down onto the Knik Arm mud flats (they look great) and 15 feet later the right front tire breaks through the ice. Not a big deal, reverse gear and just as we start to pop up, the left front tire breaks through. Step off to see how bad it is and my right leg breaks through the soft ice into knee deep black, muddy, cruddy, water. I thawed the winch, but there is nothing to tie to in front of us. Every three or four feet there is a frozen tussock sticking up just over a foot above the water, but the more I move in between them, the more the ice there breaks up. Right now they are just additional obstacles to forward progress. Find some downed trees, cut them up with my handy Sven saw, stick them under the wheels, stand in the water like last time and after thirty minutes of hard work, get the quad turned around and back on dry ground.
Back at the truck I apologize to the dogs, but I’m soaked to the skin from the knees down. No run today. I load the quad in the trailer and the brakes don’t work. The right chain came loose and broke the rod from the brake foot pedal to the brake. Some days…
A $5 part later and this is just another training exercise for all of the overflow the Quest is famous for.
Keep ‘erm NorthboundEric