Come off-roading, they said, it will be fun. And that was the start of what turned out to be the off-road adventure from hell. One summer all of my wheelin’ friends wanted to go out to Wenatchee National Forest. This was when I still lived in Washington. There was going to be a big group of us driving down there. I was a co-pilot for my friend Parker. I should have known that the trip was going to be a disaster by the simple fact that Parker did not have a trailer to tow his rig on. Everyone else did. So we drove 3 hours in a wheeler all the way to our destination. It was super uncomfortable, but that wasn’t a problem at all.
We all arrived in Wenatchee super late at night. It was pitch black and we were driving up old logging roads to find a camp spot. We finally found somewhere, 30 minutes deep into the woods. Everyone threw up their tents and passed out for the night. The next morning, we realized ike nobody brought food. Everyone had beer, energy drinks and snacks. There were a few hot dogs for dinner, but that was it. We were only staying for one night, but it still would’ve been nice to have food.
It started off great though. My friend Erica and I rode dirt bikes and quads, playing around until the boys were finally ready to go wheelin’. Everyone jumped into their rigs and we drove out to a place called funny rocks. There we took tons of videos and crawled the wheelers over rocks and up cliff sides and had a great time! Parker busted his rear diff so that took a second to fix, and Irons rolled his truck, but all in all, we were good. Parker and I decided to run down to grab food in town, (We also needed gas), and hung out at the river while everyone else played around. This is where the “fun” started happening.
We could not find our way back to the campsite. We drove up the mountain and down logging roads for hours. It became pitch black and 20 degrees, which was a problem because we took the doors off the truck. So here I am, in shorts and a hoodie in the summer, freezing my butt off and lost in the middle of nowhere. We finally made it to camp at about midnight. Irons was the only one at camp. He told us that everyone left and went out looking for us and that they lost a couple of kids earlier. We sat up and waited and an hour later they arrived. It turns out one of the guys had drove out to the burnt forest and broke the knuckle off his truck. They had to leave it. That meant tomorrow was going to be focused on a rescue mission for the truck.
At about 6 AM, we all headed out to get the truck. We couldn’t leave the guy behind. Parker’s stupid wheeler kept overheating and we kept having to stop. This slowed down the whole process, but we were able to see some gorgeous views of the mountain. It took awhile, but we finally made it to the burnt forest, which was all the way be Ellensburg. Everyone was happy and having a good time. We found the truck and started working on it. It wasn’t easy, but the boys managed to fix it. Our plan was to follow a Jeep club’s trail down to the main road and take the freeway back to camp. We couldn’t go back the way we came because it took too long to get to where we were. If we hit the freeway we could make it back, sleep a few hours and then head back home. It was a day over the original plans, but we had no choice.
Erica and I found a sign for the Jeep club trail, so when the boys were done, we followed it. My friend Josh, kept saying the highway had to be close. Soon it started to get dark and eerie. One area in particular was the scariest. We all stopped for a second in the dark and saw eyes up on a hillside. Someone commented on them and they started darting down the hill towards us. Mountain lions are known to live there, and Parker’s truck didn’t have doors…. About 30 minutes later, it blew a head gasket. His truck was done. We hoped that we were close to to the freeway so that we could get it in the morning. xI hopped in Irons rig and Parker jumped in the back.
Around midnight, we made it to a big open field that looked like a park. We all tried to use our phones, but no service. We were lost. There was only one road that we could take, but if it wasn’t the way out, we risked the chance of being stranded in an unknown area. Then we saw it. I tarp covered homemade shack in the corner of the woods. It was not safe to stay in the field. So, we had to finally make the choice to go all the way back the way we came, and hope that none of us ran out of gas. We never made it to the freeway.
On our way back, we started to pass Parker’s busted truck, until the boys got an idea. They all started syphoning gas from it, so that no one would get stranded. The only issue is that they would have to make-shift a gas can the next day, so they could fuel it back up. Thus began our long trek back to camp. The burnt forest was super scary at night, and when it is as dark as it was, you notice everything. Irons, Parker and i got to camp first. There were coyotes hanging around it, watching us. The boys got scared and made me sit with them in Josh’s truck until everyone else came back. At 5 AM, everyone was back to camp. The sun was alread rising.
Parker and Irons took off to go get get and save his truck. Josh made me go with him to take me home. The other boys stayed to help, but Josh didn’t want me and Erica to deal with anymore of that mess. Unfortunately, we were all so tired that we almost drove off the cliff while towing his wheeler, so we stopped and took a two hour nap on the side of the road. I finally got home at 10 AM and went straight to bed.
Later that night, at midnight, Parker called and said that he just got home. When they got to his truck, Iron’s leaf springs snapped on one of his front wheels. So they had to jimmy-rig up one and slowly make it back. It took them all day. This is why Josh didn’t want me to go with them, because he knew something would go wrong. They were nice guys, but didn’t take very good care of their wheelers.
Since that trip, I have only gone wheelin’ on day trips. I go with Josh because he actually puts a lot of time and effort into keeping his truck functioning. It took me awhile to go again though. That was the scariest trip of my life and I thought we weren’t going to make it back.