Another Snow Run in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

| January 2, 2010 | 0 Comments
Three UTVs with one tow rig

Three UTVs with one tow rig

By Jon Crowley, UTVGuide.net

A few days after Christmas this year we decided to head back into the Sierra’s for another snow run.  It had snowed the night before so there was about 6 inches of fresh powder at 4,500 feet. For this trip, we once again grabbed Mike’s 2008 Kawasaki Teryx, Dave’s 2009 Polaris RZR S and my 2010 Polaris RZR S. One cool thing we tried for the first time is loading one of them on my rack and the other two on the trailer.  This way, we could all travel together.

The only issue we had with this is you need to make sure the trailer is lined up pretty straight with the truck when you load/unload or the ramps will end up hitting the trailer’s fender. But other than that, it worked great.

2010 Polaris RZR S

2010 Polaris RZR S

We had hoped to ride the OHV trail on the north side of Union Valley Reservoir that runs east from the launch ramp.  After unloading the RZR S and Teryx from the trailer, we explored up the trail a bit to see if we could even make it up the first hill.  They were progressing slowly, when everything stopped and they came back down the trail.  Locked gate.  Nice that they close it off 200 yards up the hill instead of down low so we couldn’t tell. Riding around the Eldorado Forest can be a bit of a challenge in the winter.  Many trails are closed, but it is sometimes hard to know if something is open or not.  And the Forest Service often isn’t much help. I called the day before our ride asking about Elkins Flat OHV area.  The lady on the phone said she thought it was open, but if it was wet it would be closed.  Hmmm. “So there aren’t any signs letting riders know if an area is closed,” I asked.  The nice lady on the other end said it should be OK since it hadn’t rained much lately. Really?  It had rained the night before.  I realized that I wasn’t going to get anywhere with this conversation. This is completely pathetic that the office charged with managing the forest can’t figure things out.  How can they expect users to figure it out if they can’t themselves?

UTVs in the snow

Teryx and two RZR S's

We tried another spot that had an open gate, and things were looking good for a few miles until we ran into another gate farther down the road. Ugh.  We headed back to the truck and loaded up.  Went to another spot and unloaded.  This time all looked well.

We were gaining elevation gradually as we drove and soon there was only one fresh ATV track in front of me. After a few miles, the ATV turned around so we were breaking trail in about 6″ – 8″ of fresh powder on top of a a few more inches of packed snow.

Buried in the snow

Buried in the snow

I was having a great time leading the group along the trail.  The RZR S was doing a great job even though the fresh powder was getting deeper. A few more miles down the road, I noticed that I was slowing down more with all the drag from the deep fresh snow.  Then I came upon a hill with a sweeping left turn and everything came to a stop. Without really accessing the depth of the snow, I put it in reverse thinking I would just turn around and we would head back.  Not!  The snow was a good 2 feet deep at this point.  Some of it was packed pretty well, and another 12″ or so of fresh powder on top.  When I hit reverse, it just buried the RZR S. The  tires just didn’t offer enough float to stay on top of the snow and I was helplessly high centered on my skid plate.   Uh oh.  I signaled Dave and Mike to give me a shove, but all that did was sink me in deeper.

Dave went back to his RZR to try and get closer and he buried his just the same. It was now 3pm and 32 degrees out. I really wasn’t prepared for any sort of emergency situation.  No shovel.  No emergency supplies.  I was hoping that this wasn’t going to turn into another Stolpa family adventure… Not to worry.  Dave has a winch on the front of his RZR and we can use that to pull me out, and he wasn’t as stuck as I was.  Oops.  Dave’s winch didn’t work. Now what?

Heading back to the truck

Heading back to the truck

Well, Dave doesn’t give up that easy and he had his winch working in no time.  With a few tow straps it reached my RZR and it pulled me up out of the hole in no time.  We packed the snow down behind my RZR, then set to work on Dave’s.  With a bit of hand shoveling, and then some rocking, we got Dave’s backward without too much issue.

With that done, we all backed out until we reached a spot where we could turn around. I was kidding about the Stolpa family earlier, but this situation did get me thinking that I should be a little more prepared for unforeseen problems. A shovel should definitely be on the list.  Plus some extra food and some emergency supplies in the off chance that we had to spend the night out there.

EMP Half Windshield with Quick Connect Clamps

EMP Half Windshield with Quick Connect Clamps

On the plus side, I did get to try out my EMP half windshield as was very happy with it.  Just enough to cut a majority of the wind without going to a full windshield that gets dirty and blocks visibility. The other item I was testing out was a heated seat cover. The heater did a great job keeping my backside warm, but it doesn’t stay in place very well. And on the high setting, I could easily see that power consumption could be something that needs to be tracked. But for the price, they are a great option.

We have come to the conclusion that tires are going to definitely limit the amount of snow rides we can go on.  We really need to investigate some sort of tracks if we want to do much more. If anyone has some input, please post up a comment or send an email to me at jon@utvguide.net.


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Category: Kawasaki, Polaris, Trail Rides

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