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It's been a long winter, and we were itching to get out and explore Blue Mountain. We also had some caches to check on, so we planned for today to go out, check on our caches and have some fun in the mountains (aka find some trails). We packed up a pic-nic lunch after breakfast and headed for the hills. Blue Mountain is just south west of Missoula, MT and so it didn't take any time to get to the bottom of the mountain. There are numerous recreational activities on Blue Mountain, like folf in the Summer and sledding in the winter, but those areas of the mountain are right near the bottom and are usually full.

The real fun starts further up past the observatory (about nine miles from the bottom of the mountain). Usually the gate to the observatory is closed, but when we came upon it today, it was open! We were excited to get up there, but were soon stopped by the ice and snow covered road. Normally, a little slipping and sliding would be no big deal, but when you only have three feet on either side of the trail to play with, you take fewer chances. We plowed through one snowy section and the rear end of the Jeep slid sideways so we didn't continue on, decided that discretion was the better part of valor in this case, and backed out. Then we continued up Blue Mountain road towards the Woodman Saddle, an intersection of dirt roads that are used by the Forest Service and utility companies to maintain their areas. We didn't actually make it to the Saddle.

A few miles beyond the Observatory turn off, we came upon another part of the road that was snow and ice covered, but the road was wide enough to plow through. Our adventure was detoured by the sight of a red Dodge 4x4 perched precariously on the wet, muddy, edge of the trail. We stopped a safe distance away and went to investigate the truck and to see if we could render assistance.



The truck was empty and there was no contact information visible. It was dangerously close to sliding over the edge and down the ravine. It wouldn't have slid TOO far (maybe 50 feet), but it very well could have rolled over a couple times on the way and made for a very bad day for someone. We looked around the Dodge, with "Got God" plates, and decided that without the owner there, we couldn't really do anything. We could stabilize it with the Jeep, but we had no way of knowing when the owner would be back. It was a tough decision to make because the ground was getting softer and more saturated with water from the runoff and the Dodge was slowly (very very slowly) slipping down the embankment. While we watched it, we could see and hear that the rear driver's side tire was slowly lifting out of the mud and off the ground.







We had wanted to go around the Dodge, but decided that it was too dangerous. If the back end slipped, like it had before, we could have bumped the Dodge, sealing it to "Total Loss" insurance claim and a HUGE recovery bill. Instead, we went back down the mountain about one-half mile and found a nice spot for lunch on top of a small hill. I left a note in our Jeep window in case the Dodge owner came back and happened to see it. Then we went and found a Geocache nearby and returned to the Jeep. Just to be certain we couldn't help, we decided to go check on the Dodge before heading home.

When we got back to the Dodge, there was another truck nearby and some people walking back from imperiled Dodge. I got out of the Jeep to see if they were with the stuck truck - and they were. The first thing they asked was whether or not we could give them a hand with our Jeep and winch. We agreed to help and moved the Jeep into position on some clear (not icy and snowy, but still muddy) ground behind the Dodge and hooked the winch up. My wife pointed out that they should probably stabilize the front end of the Dodge to an uphill tree, but they decided not to.



When I started to pull the Dodge back, the front end started to slide. THEN they decided that it might be wise to stabilize the front end to an uphill tree with some tow ropes. The Dodge owner first attached the ropes to his truck onto something behind the tire ("A" bracket?). My wife told them it wasn't a good place to attach the ropes to, but again, they knew best. With the truck stabilized, we winched backwards a few inches and realized we needed to move the stabilization point because the tow rope was putting a lot of forward stress on the front driver's side tire. The frame didn't have any good spot to attach a hook to, but I had the tow cluster in the Jeep too and was able to use that to hook the tow ropes up to some holes in his frame. With the Dodge stabilized, we just started winching it back. The Jeep slipped a little, so we stabilized it too. It was a bit worrisome at some points because the Dodge seemed almost certain to be heading over the edge. I was also concerned that it might try and take the Jeep with it, but, there were no other options (and I was ready to put the winch in free-spooling if I needed to).







(My wife's "told you so" look when they decided to stabilize the front of the Dodge and there is a similar one when they moved the attachment point).



After some scary moments, we finally got it back on solid ground. It was able to drive down the mountain under its own power. Today the mountain lost a Dodge meal, and the Commander once again comes out on top.

The Flying Spaghetti Monster saves the day!


How'd he get in that predicament?
For whatever reason, he tried to go up the trail at midnight on Saturday. He got stuck in the snow and when we tried to back out he slid across the road and to the edge. I don't know how he got down the mountain.
 

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Good Job Polar.

Too bad it was not a Hummer. What goes around comes around and I am sure will find that no good deed goes unpunished.

Good thing you happened along with a winch. In the past I have used winches to pull others out much more than to pull myself.
 

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Best read of the day, thaks for sharing with us!
 

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Its great to see you can put your steel bumper and winch to good use.

Nice work Polar! and nice work to Mrs. Polar for documenting the story with photos!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Question for those with more recovery experience:

Would it have been better to use a pulley to winch from the side of the Dodge rather than straight back?
 

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I think that it would be hard to say without looking at the front of the truck to see if it might have let the front end slip over the edge if you pulled sideways on the rear. If the front end strap was secure and strong enough then you probably would have felt safer using a pulley and a tree strap and pulling at an angle back toward the uphill direction. You did a fine job anyway.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I'm just trying to see what might be better in the future. The Dodge had some points at the center of frame that fit the towing cluster. In hindsight, I could have attached a pulley to a tree and dragged his truck sideways - but I have to wonder how much additional strain, if any, that would put on the winch? I was originally thinking it would increase the strain because the tires would be being dragged the wrong direction, then I remembered reading that tires with no traction have no traction in all directions - so would it have even mattered?

Also, anyone have any experience in winching backwards from a front mounted winch? Underneath? Around the side with more blocks? Haven't had to worry about it yet, but it doesn't hurt to get started early.
 

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I think that the best way to pull yourself backwards using a winch is:


Pull the pin and take it off the front receiver and put it in the back.....lol

I am just giving you a hard time for not having a removable winch mounted in a cradle.

 

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Discussion Starter #10
Yeah, that's what I figured you'd say!
 

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great pics Polar!
Why on Earth was he trying to go up there at night? The plastic non-functional hood scoops should be a bit of a clue as to why he was out alone, at night.......
I hope he at least kissed your a$$es before leaving.
 

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Hey, he had 4 wheel drive, the salesman told him he could go anywhere with that and those 20" road slicks...
 

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That was a great story! That really has me itching right about now like a crack addict!

Huey, a removable winch sounds really nice! I just love the idea of the Powerplant...guess I will have to buy one of each one day, lol!
 

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With my experiance I think you did it the right way .. winching sideways has a way of going bad fast.
 

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Udoxx wrote:
Huey, a removable winch sounds really nice! I just love the idea of the Powerplant...guess I will have to buy one of each one day, lol!

Polar, not trying to hijack your thread....just some info on portable winches.
By the way, if you store your winch inside, you can give your winch cover to a friend...lol

Udoxx,

You can mount most any winch on a cradle and use it on the front or back if you have hitch receivers on both ends. I use a 24 foot set of extension cables to run the winch in the back or the quick disconnect on the front. Another benefit is that you can put the winch on another vehicle with a receiver and use the long cables to power it from your Commander. I store the winch in my aluminum storage box that fits where the third row of seats was. That keeps it out of the weather and prevents it from growing legs. Jon, (a49er) and Tom (Phunkeydude) both have Warn powerplants that include the air compressor. They could mount them on cradles, although they might be a bit heavy to move around.

With a portable winch, Polar could have actually used the hitch receiver on the Pickup to pull the fellow backwards while hooked to a tree and thereby not worring at all about him pulling the Jeep down the hill. If you look at the third picture in Polar's first post you will see that the Dodge has a receiver on the back. With Polar parked 20 feet behind the truck supplying power with extension cables, that might have been the safest way to recover the Dodge



Mounted on the front with the quick disconnect cable.


The red removable key above the left headlight is used to kill the power to the quick disconnect when not in use.


24 feet of heavy cable for the power and ground leads. You can also make up a heavy set of jumper cables and put the disconnect on the end opposite the clamps for starting a car that is hard to get to.


 

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Discussion Starter #16
Usually when we head out, we have five kids and the wife in the Jeep - I need the third row. I don't think any of them want to carry a winch and carrier in their laps. While I agree that removable is nice - I need a place to carry it without taking up precious cargo room inside. However, it WOULD be nice to be able remove the winch from the front easily and shift it to the back - but it's just not feasible for me. I also think my winch cover, from a friend, is stylin' - why would I want to hide that?! =)
 

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Maybe one of your kids wants to be a football player or a weight lifter. Just kidding, You are right, different things work best for different people. You certainly did get the job done pulling that Dodge out of harms way. Sometimes I forget that other people do have children and other uses for the third seat.
 

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Great story and pictures!!

People do stupid things, that’s for sure. I’ve seen a couple of stuck rigs in my travels in the Mt. Adams area. One was a sedan, and the other a van. Both were non-4x4’s. They got stuck and spent the winter mired in place. Their roofs were completely caved in from snow weight. We didn’t have a clue who the owners were because the rigs had been there for months.

Another stuck one we came upon was a Subaru waaaaay up on a forest road. We came along and pulled him and his little bitty 13 inch tires out of the mud. I had a Dodge 4x4 then. I think it was like you said… the salesman said it’s a 4x4 and can therefore go anywhere. He would’ve had a 15 mile walk out had we not come along.

Numerous times, we’ve had a virtual parade follow us up muddy, rutted forest roads in early spring because we’d use a chain saw to clear our way past deadfalls. Invariably, it would be a Subaru, small cars, and minivans, none of which had any business on the roads were on in the first place. Go figure.

Note that I’m not knocking the Subaru brand, but let’s face it, 4 inches of ground clearance and tires you’d normally see on a 4x8 utility trailer are not very conducive to heavyduty forest road travel. For some reason, they seem to be the Seattle area resident’s choice of off-roading vehicle in the Gifford Pinchot nat’l forest.
 

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One of the baddest off road rigs I had was a 1974 Dodge Valiant with a 318 and limited slip rear end.

any normaly impassible track less than 100 feet long I could power through on momentum alone :) .. I ran trails even lighlty modified 4X4's could never get through by hydroplaning on the under belly through mud bogs hitting them at 50 MPH

I got stuck plenty but had a spare battery and a 2500 pound winch (5000 with a pulley) that I rigged up and would snap on to the trailer hitch or loop a strap around a tree ... I still have the winch, one of the best investent I ever made ... I'll take a picture of it tonight.
 

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Question for those with more recovery experience:

Would it have been better to use a pulley to winch from the side of the Dodge rather than straight back?

THIS IS JUST MY OPINION....

Based on seeing hundreds of recoveries done by the professional towing companies of both cars, light trucks and semis,
I probably would have done an angle pull using the pulley.
If there was a solid anchor point on a tree up hill from the dodge (probably in the area you hooked the tow strap for the front stabilizer)
the pulled the rear of the vehicle toward the point with the which, while still stabilizing the front end with the tow rope.
This way there would be no chance of either vehicle going over the edge.....and if the dodge did go over it wouldn’t take you with, it was rather pull you up hill away from the edge.

I know angle/side pulls are hard and can go wrong fast but this may be one time it would have been ok to try it.
BUT you worked it all out anyway and got the job done.
looks like you did well.
 
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