Washington State Suzuki Enthusiasts Get Together.
Editor: Eric Bewley Photo/Story: Victor DocFunkie
EVAN’S CREEK, WA -Awe springtime. Birds chirping, flowers blooming, and hey, there should still be snow at Evans Creek! For those of you that know the Evans Creek area, you know that without snow it can be pretty easy going. The only time I like to go to Evans is in the winter or spring. Wanting to go with an all Suzuki group took a call to the president of the Wazuks Suzuki club, Jay Fellenstein. Jay said he could get some rigs together so we decided on a date and were on our way. The day started out with an 8 A.M. meeting at the 410 Café. Once we said our hellos and checked out who had what on their rigs, we headed up to the trails.
We decided to go up the back way and hit the more popular 311 trail later. So we stayed left at the Y and proceeded to the dirt road that would take us up towards the 519 and 199 trails. Once we reached the dirt we stopped for a quick air down and then headed up the very steep road. We first went to the 199 trail. It is a short trail with a few little obstacles. There is one very steep, very rocky hill climb. The rain on the rocks would make them a lot harder than usual. The trail ends at the top of the hill but we all decided that the time would be worth it. Brian was the first to attempt it and proved that he needed a front locker. After trying a few times he decided to stop bouncing on his already overworked running gear and to let the next person try.
Next up was Tom Hedberg. Tom has a 96 sidekick on 31 mudders and open diffs. If he would have made it, that really would have made Brian rethink the 35 Boggers. He gave it a few valiant efforts but finally decided to step aside and let Craig try it. Craig Johnson has a samurai locked front and rear and transfer case gears. He tried a line to the left and put on a good show. After a whole lot of tire pick and a few more tries, he decided to go right one more time. I dont know if it was the speed, the line, or maybe both, but Craig walked right up the rock like it wasnt even there. The next to try was Jay in his Samurai. He did his best to lighten up the cloudy day with the new (rattle can) bright orange paint job. His rig is well equipped, with front and rear lockers, transfer case and ring and pinion gears, and for all you samurai guys, power steering. He gave the rock a few good attempts but had as much luck as the two sidekicks. All the big tired guys scratched their heads as Craigs 31 mudders made it and Jays 33 TSL radials didnt. After Craig got turned around we headed back down the road to hit the 519. We blew through the 519 and headed towards the 102 and 198 junction.
We all determined that the 102 would be most fun coming the opposite way (up), so we headed up the 198. The 198 trail goes up the ridge so we hoped to get into some snow. There wasnt any but at least it was raining. The rain made the obstacles slick and the trail muddy. Now its been a while since I had been down the 198 so we were all glad Craig was with us. He directed us down a loop which proved to be worth the time.
Tight switchbacks, off camber hills, slick rocks, and muddy root balls were all worth the trip. Around one corner there was a steep rocky incline. Most of us were able to crawl right up, but the corner and wet, muddy rocks proved to be a formidable task for Toms open diffs. We thought we might see the days first cable. But Toms driving was better than the obstacle. After a whole lot of shifting, rocking back and forth, and just the right amount of full throttle, he made it through. At the top of this hill we all decided to eat lunch, and let Toms clutch cool down.
A few sandwiches and chips later we were back on the trail. Finishing the 198 we headed back down to the staging area to tackle the 311. The 311 is the most popular trail at Evans Creek. The first obstacle (only about 40 feet up the trail) used to be a great photo opportunity. I have Pictures of Brians old samurai standing on one wheel. Now you can blast right up the trail barley noticing a small divot. After a few more muddy corners and some very deep mud holes, we arrived at the first good obstacle. There we caught up to some other rigs. An explorer, two samurais, and a Cherokee. They were working on getting the XJ up and around the easy way to the left. Brian was leading so he was first up. He took the right hander into the more difficult line. After a couple back ups he was up to a spot were you can cross over into the easy way. Jay had reminded Brian that his old Samurai made that line and since this is the showoffs line, of course he went for it. After sitting in the frame for a while, and ripping off an undercarriage light, Brian decided to get back into the more difficult line. The Hump was too high for the 4 door sidekick and after about a 10 point turn, Brian was back in the harder line and out.
Tom decided to take the easier line to the left and made quick work of the hill. Then Craig, as hes done all day, walked his samurai right up the difficult line without even slowing down. Next was Jay. He crawled right up the lower section, and then after some coaxing from Brian he attempted the cross over line. Walking right over the obstacle, he showed how much more frame clearance a samurai on 33s has over a 4 door kick on 35s. After that it is pretty mellow until you start up the final hill. We caught up to the group in front of us again on the last corner of the trail.
We were glad to catch up to them as they put on a beer induced show. After watching them try to ruin their rigs it was our turn. The last corner is a steep muddy and rocky left hander going up. The last hill was uneventful for most of us. I say most because Tom finally had to pull cable. Being less then 100 yards from the top had to frustrate him. The rock he was high centered on didnt care though. After a couple of pictures at the top we headed back to the 102 trailhead. Starting the 102 was an adventure in its self. After Brian attempted to skip a switchback up an extremely muddy hill, he had problems getting out of his own ruts. After a few strategic turns and throttle uses, he was out of the way so Craig could try it. Craig could only get as far as Brians 35 Boggers took him. However, when it came time to back up and get back on the trail, more fun ensued. For some reason there were some new ruts to get out of, and they were too much for Craigs 31 mudders to handle. A quick pull of his rear end sideways from Jay was all it took. The picture turned out bad for Jay though. With all the rain, I didnt have the camera ready when they were hooking up the rigs. By the time I took the picture, it looked like Craig was pulling Jay. Jay should know that it is not a good thing to be too quick. We made short work of the rest of the trail. Other than a couple of pictures e speed through the trail and headed back to the Y for a quick air up. Saying our good-byes while our tires filled back up, we had time to reflect on the day. A bent rim on Toms rig and a little dimple on Brians were the only damage for the day. I wished for some significant snow and more rigs. In retrospect, I think it worked out for the better. No snow and only four rigs meant a lot more wheeling and thats never a bad thing.