Terrain no match for rock crawling train | NevadaAppeal.com

Terrain no match for rock crawling train

by Kurt Hildebrand
Off-road vehicles form a chain to get an abandoned Jeep Liberty out of Dead Truck Canyon.
Geoff Chain/National Off-Highway Conservation Council

Call it showdown in Dead Truck Canyon.

Volunteers who turned out to help clean Prison Hill in Carson City managed to pry a stuck Jeep off the hill in addition to picking up 1,000 pounds of trash.

Ruhenstroth resident Doug Behr of the Pine Nut Mountain Trails Association said the group conducted their cleanups on Oct. 5-6.

He said his initial survey of Prison Hill didn’t seem like it would be that big of a project.

“I went up there and looked around, and didn’t see any trash,” he said. “I thought they were going to be done in a minute.”

But what the tall brush concealed, two-score volunteers and Carson High School’s Naval Jr. ROTC program were able to find.

“That stuff disappears into the brush pretty easily,” he said.

As part of the cleanup, the head of Carson City’s Parks and Recreation Department asked if the group could explore pulling an abandoned Jeep.

The canyon is called that because it doesn’t have an outlet at the bottom, forcing anyone who makes the mistake of climbing down to try to navigate a twisting sandy 30-degree slope.

Behr said the story was that a young man borrowed the Jeep two years ago and went up the mountain with his buddies with a six-pack.

“Once they got to the bottom, they realized there was no outlet and they tried to turn around and come back up,” he said. “It’s about a 30-degree climb and there’s a dogleg in the middle of it. They lost it there, and they couldn’t get traction to get out. They backed on down and they had to walk home.”

In the intervening two years, the Jeep was subjected to target practice and its windows were broken out.

In the past the National Guard has helped lift vehicles out of the wilderness, but Behr said he was told they were on deployment.

“They really wanted to get it out of there,” he said. “They talked to a towing company who said it’s going to cost thousands to get it out of there, and even then it may not be possible.

Enter the owners of six rock crawlers and a Powerwagon, who turned up to help with the cleanup.

“They went down there and looked at it,” he said. “These stalwart individuals sized it up and hooked it up to the heaviest vehicle, which was the Powerwagon. They had to hook it up backward, and they started up the hill.”

Behr said they started up the hill, but lost it in that first turn, which had bedeviled the original driver.

“They hooked up four rock crawlers and anchored a Jeep and had another Jeep with a winch on it at the first level spot, making a train out of that whole thing and gently walked this Jeep up the hill.”

Behr said that just before the first flat spot was a 2-foot rock ledge that could have easily rolled the Liberty if the driver had managed to get that far up.

“I was really impressed with these young guys in their Jeeps and the guy in the Powerwagon,” Behr said. “I’d never met anyone who exuded so much confidence.”

Forty people showed up on Oct. 5 to work on the Pine Nuts east of Johnson Lane, where they picked up four tons of trash, including three or four vehicles.

“They were all accessible, but they were way out there,” he said estimating they were 10-15 miles from the staging location.

The Pine Nut Mountain Trails Association was formed in 1998 to preserve access to public lands, according to its web site. While many members are of-highway vehicle enthusiasts, there are also equestrians, bicyclists, hunters among others.

Find out more about the association at http://www.pnmta.org or look them up on Facebook.