What is the craziest recovery situation you made it through (or didn't make it through)?

Ace Brown

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0019
All true. And hopefully no flame war will erupt from my decades old humorous nickname for large vehicles. My 63 year-old wife just advised me to look out for the PC Police due to my something or another --ist term for large vehicles. She's worked for the last 25 years with members of a certain couple of generations and says I might need some "re-education". Am I headed for the Gulag?

Foy
Calling a big truck a fat girl? No!
But calling a big girl a fat girl surely will get you in trouble. Decades ago before all this PC stuff came around I called a girl “buffalo butt”. All I got was a cold stare and a comment I didn’t hear. Today I’d be out on the street.

Ace


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T-Willy

Well-known member
It was kind of him to try to retrieve us. And his road grader was eventually recovered, but not until several weeks later--deep into summer.

------
Day One

It's a snowy, wet May on California's Modoc Plateau. It's remote, it's decades ago, I'm a budding 23-year-old field ecologist.

The country is gritty and lovely. It's capped with basalt and clay, juniper and Jeffrey pine. Swales and wetlands pock the woodlands, and cold willowy creeks fill rocky recesses.

And it's been wet--soaking wet, and cold--for weeks. Snow storms. Then rain. Then slush. Every rivulet runs water. Each hoof print is two tiny pools.

We're collecting data, and there's more country to measure than time. Our too-many plots are best accessed by a Toyota truck, well-drained cinder roads, and dicey networks of two-track reaching past that.

Up to this point, we've fared well navigating the waterlogged terrain with equal measures of caution and luck.

The two-tracks, as they weave through duffy stands of jeffrey pine, are generally safe, but the meadows between those stands can be treacherous mud.

My procedure, exercised religiously, is to walk tracks crossing meadows before driving them. And it's worked, yielding successful crossings and only a few cautious turnarounds.

But as with all things equal parts luck, luck runs out.

The truck lurches to a stop at the edge of the pines. I jump out to walk the track into the meadow to assess its condition. Except for a slippery surface sheen, the clay track is firm. I jump; no give, no slop, no waves--we might sink in an inch or two on top, but it feels solid, like fifty crossings before.

And like fifty times before, the track continues into the forest on the far side of the meadow. Those were American trucks--rancher or hunter or agency trucks--trucks far heavier than ours.

We should be fine.

I build a head of speed descending into the meadow. It's slippery on top, but it's supporting us. It feels fine. We're fifty meters or more into it. We're keeping good speed. We're staying on top...

...Until, abruptly, we go through.

It's a sudden stop--so sudden that water spins up from the wheels before I can get off the gas. We'd pierced the clay. And under the clay was, from what I could tell, mostly water. Or, all water.

A few attempts to rock back and forth only dig deeper--water spills from the clay. We sink to the frame, and then a little deeper still. Anything disturbing the mud makes matters worse.

An hour with the come-along proves futile. It'll break before the truck moves.

I radio for help, hours away.

Hours later, help comes. We're soaked, freezing, and humiliated. It's getting dark and starting to snow. The Toyota--emerald green, 22r single cab, belly deep in the mud--is a sad, sad sight.

------

Day Two

We return the next day with more straps, more come-alongs, and a winch truck.

The winch truck gets stuck on the approach. We spend hours on its recovery, wasting most of the day. The snow fades to a cold rain. It's miserable. Leaving the additional recovery gear in the Toyota, we head home, again cold, soaked, and defeated.

------

Day Three

As these things go, there's now a small army eager to get us out.

Among them is the guy who runs the road grader; he'd been out that way getting things ship shape for summer.

His offer to help--and the sheer might of his massive six-wheeled yellow machine--is intoxicating; a bold and heroic leap to supreme power. He'll have us out in no time.

We arrive on scene mid morning, the road grader soon thereafter. He starts down the two-track to retrieve the Toyota.

We follow on foot, and the mood is light--much lighter, it turns out, than the road grader.

By afternoon, the grader is rim-deep at all six wheels--each of which is five feet tall. We watch in horror as it digs itself deeper and deeper. It is completely paralyzed, unable to even scooch under leverage of the blade. It's a horrible, muddy, loud, smoky, stinking mess.

The grader driver gives up. He's shaken.

It was kind of him to try to retrieve us. And his grader was eventually recovered, but not until several weeks later--deep into summer.

Meanwhile, I feel like the undisputed intergalactic heavyweight champion of assholery.

We again leave cold, wet, and badly defeated.

----

Day Four

The road grader incident left our small army of helpers disheveled. Some lost hope for the Toyota in a post-grader world. Wait till summer, they said. Others had to get back to work. We had to keep trying.

So, my partner and I borrow a truck and go back out. This time we use our thinking caps.

We excavate and drive a pine pole lengthwise under each wheel from the direction in which we'll pull. We'll then winch the wheels up onto those poles using the coma-along.

We place more poles perpendicular to and beneath the first ones, creating a floating pole bridge in front of the truck's wheels. It takes hours to collect the necessary poles, but we get it done.

Then slowly, carefully, we winch up, making sure the poles remain aligned to the tires each pull.

And, inch by inch, it works.

In a half hour, the truck sits atop two short pole bridges, one in front the front wheels, another in front of the rear wheels.

I start the truck, drive forward three or four feet, and stop. We move poles from behind the wheels to in front of them, and move the truck again. This goes on for fifty or sixty meters--an hour at least--floating the truck out of the bog until we're safely back upon the duff of the pine stand.

We're equally elated and exhausted to drive out. We're too tired to clean the mud from the rims, which has set the wheels badly out of balance.

But we make it to town before the stores close.

We stop to buy a 12 pack and call the grader driver, meeting him thereafter for a conciliatory cold one. Ever the gentleman, he finds humor in it all, even with grader still four feet deep in mud.

-----

That was 23 years ago. I haven't been stuck since.

Cheers!

T
 
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BritKLR

Kapitis Indagatoris
Looter and Levee Patrol. 1993 Missouri River Floods.
I was assigned to patrol the river and levee roads along the Missouri River following the mass evacuation of people and communities along the river for looters (looters would actual float the river, land, burglarize a house and escape via the river) and assist locals that refused to leave. I’m driving one of our patrol Jeep cherokees along a rural dirt road that runs alongside the levee/river. We’re told not to walk, touch, drive or breath on the levee due to them being saturated and any small disturbance could cause a rupture. As I’m driving along you can actually see the hardpack surface of the road move like a ripple of water (matrix style). Not knowing what this meant I kept going and all of a sudden the Cherokee just breaks through the surface, to the frame and water shoots out of the road surface. The entire road was undermined by the flood waters. I tried several times to get out but no such luck. Call it in and waited for one of our 4wd Ford trucks to come pull me out. Very eerie sitting there with the swollen river just feet away, crashing of trees and debris hitting the levee waiting for a tow. The Ford gets there, we run a couple of straps together and he manages to yank me out.

That’s number one stuck of the flood......
 
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I have gotten stuck a few times. One of the scariest was just a few months ago. A relatively tame part of a trail turned really bad when we almost slid off the side of the road down 10 ft. Luckily a stump and the winch made it possible for me to get out.

 

20DYNAMITE07

Just along for the ride
I have gotten stuck a few times. One of the scariest was just a few months ago. A relatively tame part of a trail turned really bad when we almost slid off the side of the road down 10 ft. Luckily a stump and the winch made it possible for me to get out.

I go back and forth on whether I need a winch or not. I'm certain that the overwhelming majority of the time I could recover with traction boards or a snatch from a friend... but seeing you in that predicament, man- that just made me pucker. Maybe I do need a winch??? :)
 

SheepnJeep

Active member
A friend of mine had found a good surfing spot on Lake Superior near Houghton Michigan. He and another guy had gotten permission and even a key to open a gate that led down to a good beach with the break they liked to surf. One early morning he asked me if we could take my Willys jeep out to the surf spot before class (Tech students) as his truck was too big to get around the gate and he could not get a hold of his friend with the keys. We set out around 7 and as we got closer to the lake it began to snow heavily, a wet sloppy mess. After squeeking the jeep past the gate, we went downslope a ways until we came to a pretty weird mud hole with off camber banks. My friend assured me that they had easily crossed the mud hole previously, it had a rocky bottom in dry times and wasn't too bad. I did actually poke it with a stick and it did seem to be a couple inches deep with a hard bottom. I eased into the hole and started to slide into it. I wound the jeep up and dropped the clutch, hoping to pop up the other bank. BAM we plowed hard into the opposite bank, which was evidently very steep. Unfortunately I think what I had been poking with the stick was ice. The hole was 16-18 inches deep once we broke through. This mud was a pretty sticky clay weird silt loamy gunk that I had never really encountered before in the area.

Luckily for us I carry a come-along. Unluckily the nearest large tree was about 12 feet shy of the winch and a extra tow strap. Not to worry, I had some more rope wrapped around the front bumper! And of course it was soaked and swelled up tight. Could not unwrap it from the bumper. I wanted to cut it off but my friend surmised maybe correctly that if we cut it the rope might not be long enough to reach once it was tied back together. His argument was, eh, convincing and we had only been stuck a few minutes at this time. But it was now 8:30 and I really should have been at class by 11. Instead of hooking the come -along to a big tree we cinched the tow strap around many saplings and started to winch. My friend did manage to raise his buddy with the gate key, who would soon come pull us out. I kept winching to pass the time. After an hour I had made some progress, finally close enough to a big tree to hook to. By this time I was covered head to toe in this weird mud. The other guy called us:
"Okay, I'm through the gate and standing on the shore, did you guys get out already or ?"
"No...Wait a second, is our gate a brown gate or a green one??"
"I unlocked a green one. Which did you go around?"

The answer of course, is brown. We were stuck behind a strangers gate. Now that a tow was no longer happening, I threw myself into cranking that come along. It was now 10:30. I was going to be late to statistics. I was failing statistics. I needed to be present and learn statistics.

Another half and hour of winching got us out. I drove that jeep as hard as it would go back to Houghton and pulled into a spot in front of the library. I was soaked, covered in mud, and failing statistics. I ran up the stairs and wiped out due to the mud, cutting my arm fairly severely in the process. The classroom door squeeeeeeeked loudly as I shoved it open. I squished over to a seat and dripped. I was the swamp man. I had been pretty interested in the nice young woman I usually sat next to. She used to be interested. I dripped and bled for the final 10 minutes of class.

When I got back outside, I had a ticket. I parked in a loading zone in my haste. My friends evidently noticed I left the keys in the ignition and thinking it was a kindness, took them. I had to walk home in the wet snow. We never went surfing. I still have that ticket.
 

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I go back and forth on whether I need a winch or not. I'm certain that the overwhelming majority of the time I could recover with traction boards or a snatch from a friend... but seeing you in that predicament, man- that just made me pucker. Maybe I do need a winch??? :)
I’ll admit I was on the fence too. Most of the time I don’t need it. The few times I have it was the only suitable option and I was so glad I had it.


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Gooseberry

Explorer

Ace Brown

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0019
Travel solo and you better have the gear and know-how to use it properly. Soft blow sand, buried to the frame, a trailer behind me and no one around on a very remote beach in Baja. Four Maxtrax and a full sized shove saved my ass.



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MattF350

Observer
So heres a little story. The recovery was simple, it was just my error of using the truck.

The first heavy snowfall since I had gotten my F350 I managed to get it stuck across from my apartment. With my old Dakota, I didnt need to be moving to switch on 4x4. Tried that with the ol F350 and said check 4x4.

Well I do laps around my city finding plowed roads that takes me home. Managed to get there half hour later but got it stuck on the side of the road.

2 things. Turn off traction control with 4x4 on and know what ESOF means before you need it!

Couple days later (still stuck and now plowed in), I was out trying to get it out. An F250 was doing work where I got stuck. He pulled me out and saved the day.

I immediately did a few things. 4 KO2s and some recovery stuff. Havent been stuck since.
 

Mundo4x4Casa

West slope, N. Ser. Nev.
Ace, most of your woes could be reduced with an eye toward lowering the pressure on the tires. This is something overlanders are resistant to do. Long time jeepers and off-roaders sooner or later come that conclusion. This means that you must be prepared, as you direct. 1. Three high bucks air pressure gauges for your pressure range are a must. Why three? They are notoriously bad readers so you take an average or find and use the closest one that has an true reading. 2. What pressure would this be? It varies as to sand, vehicle weight and floatational ability of your tires/wheels. My old CJ-8 to the max Jeep ran on 10 inch wide wheels with 37 inch tires and were very happy on blowsand/sand dunes @ 3 pounds. The same Jeep or one of the other lightweight 14-4WD's I've owned would be fine Jeeping @ 10-12 pounds. My Dodge 2500 RAM CTD-HO with a lot of upgrades and a Lance or Northstar camper on the back weighing 10,600 pounds with 16 inch super single Stockton steel wheels and 35 inch Cooper AT-3's would be fine @ 32 pounds for dirt roads, if not exceeding 30 mph; 28 pounds for loose but not deep sand or washboard; 20 pounds for deep blowsand; and the absolute minimum of 18 pounds for going up sand dunes with lots of sidewall for deflating. 3. Some way to re-inflate the tires once you are back on hard surfaced roads. I've used a 30 pound CO2 tank with the correct hardware for freezing to good effect. It has about 32 complete fill ups for big tires up to 65 or 80 pounds. But the cost of refills has skyrocketed the last decade or so. If not this, the other major route is to go with a high quality, high price, high volume 12v compressor. If you have not spent $300 or more, you have not spent wisely. You want the compressor with the highest continuous working load percentage before it stops. No China Freight compressors need not apply. 4. for my camper specific setup, I have a 20K pound tow strap with D rings (aka shackles) and tow loops fore and aft. Another must-have is a red box called Safety Seal on-wheel tire repair kit. These have brought back from the dead many a tire that had no hope of re inflation. Whazoo, a buddy with a 2007 Duramax/Allison/no smog GM with lots of stuff, and an OUTFITTER! punched a 4 inch wide gash in the sidewall of one of his new tires. Without removing the wheel It took 17 plugs, that look like red/orange caterpillars to close the hole and we re inflated the tire and the 3 of us truck campers finished our tour of all the high passes in Colorado's San Juans. 4. I have owned and used a lot of winches in my time and currently have a 15K pound 'Warn on the front of the RAM. As far as sand ramps go, i think they are window dressing that could be better addressed by lowering the pressure in the tires to 'float' your way out. They are a nice OVERLANDER badge, however. Here is a link to a short vid of us going up the Diablo Dropoff in Anza. Tires @ 20 pounds; 6 speed manual in 4th gear, low range and True Trac pigs working the woops near the top. Bottom to top is all blow sand.
jefe
 

Ace Brown

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0019
Ace, most of your woes could be reduced with an eye toward lowering the pressure on the tires. This is something overlanders are resistant to do. Long time jeepers and off-roaders sooner or later come that conclusion. This means that you must be prepared, as you direct. 1. Three high bucks air pressure gauges for your pressure range are a must. Why three? They are notoriously bad readers so you take an average or find and use the closest one that has an true reading. 2. What pressure would this be? It varies as to sand, vehicle weight and floatational ability of your tires/wheels. My old CJ-8 to the max Jeep ran on 10 inch wide wheels with 37 inch tires and were very happy on blowsand/sand dunes @ 3 pounds. The same Jeep or one of the other lightweight 14-4WD's I've owned would be fine Jeeping @ 10-12 pounds. My Dodge 2500 RAM CTD-HO with a lot of upgrades and a Lance or Northstar camper on the back weighing 10,600 pounds with 16 inch super single Stockton steel wheels and 35 inch Cooper AT-3's would be fine @ 32 pounds for dirt roads, if not exceeding 30 mph; 28 pounds for loose but not deep sand or washboard; 20 pounds for deep blowsand; and the absolute minimum of 18 pounds for going up sand dunes with lots of sidewall for deflating. 3. Some way to re-inflate the tires once you are back on hard surfaced roads. I've used a 30 pound CO2 tank with the correct hardware for freezing to good effect. It has about 32 complete fill ups for big tires up to 65 or 80 pounds. But the cost of refills has skyrocketed the last decade or so. If not this, the other major route is to go with a high quality, high price, high volume 12v compressor. If you have not spent $300 or more, you have not spent wisely. You want the compressor with the highest continuous working load percentage before it stops. No China Freight compressors need not apply. 4. for my camper specific setup, I have a 20K pound tow strap with D rings (aka shackles) and tow loops fore and aft. Another must-have is a red box called Safety Seal on-wheel tire repair kit. These have brought back from the dead many a tire that had no hope of re inflation. Whazoo, a buddy with a 2007 Duramax/Allison/no smog GM with lots of stuff, and an OUTFITTER! punched a 4 inch wide gash in the sidewall of one of his new tires. Without removing the wheel It took 17 plugs, that look like red/orange caterpillars to close the hole and we re inflated the tire and the 3 of us truck campers finished our tour of all the high passes in Colorado's San Juans. 4. I have owned and used a lot of winches in my time and currently have a 15K pound 'Warn on the front of the RAM. As far as sand ramps go, i think they are window dressing that could be better addressed by lowering the pressure in the tires to 'float' your way out. They are a nice OVERLANDER badge, however. Here is a link to a short vid of us going up the Diablo Dropoff in Anza. Tires @ 20 pounds; 6 speed manual in 4th gear, low range and True Trac pigs working the woops near the top. Bottom to top is all blow sand.
jefe
Obviously you know nothing about me. You spent a lot of time telling me to lower my air pressure. I’ve been off roading since 1960. When I started in the sport no one lowered air pressure because we typically ran 15 psi all the time. Nobody messed around with air pressure unless they were going somewhere like Pismo to play in the sand for a weekend. When we wanted to air up we drove to the nearest gas station. I’ve done hill climbs and sand drags with borrowed paddle tires running maybe 5 psi. That was in this Jeep that put out around 450 HP from a little Chevy. I’ve seen and done it all.




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billiebob

Well-known member
Not me but I knew a Forestry guy doing Forest Warden stuff during a season of fire Bans, after an arguement about putting the fire out he walked away and called in a chopper...... he drove away with a smile. The fire was out and the campsite was soaked.
 
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