It all started on Saturday August 10th, 2014. I got up early to finish packing and for last minute checks on my Tacoma, Frankenstein, before hitting the road. I had a long way to go, a full day’s drive, and as usual I was late getting started. It was practically a miracle I even left as I had just gotten the truck road worthy the day before after a different incident earlier in the month. That’s a different story but needless to say, considering what I was about to do and hadn’t had really any time to actually make sure it was 100%, I was a tad nervous. But, I packed up and set off for Kamiah, Idaho, the place where my friends were waiting.
A mere 550 miles, or 9 hours to away, it was going to be a long drive. Granted, that was nothing compared to the distance that some had driven to meet there, so I set off hoping not to be too late. Of course, I was late, a few hours late to be exact. All the same, I finally showed up with the only drama being stereo issues, but I was glad to make it there. Waiting for me were my trusted wheeling companions Mike and Ben as well as a new addition to our group, Timmy.
After a great meet and greet and some mandatory trash talking, we set off on the adventure we had all been waiting for and planning for four months. It had come at last, and our first trail was the Lolo Motorway. A very easy simple dirt road that snakes along the tops of the Bitterroot mountains. Of course at this point it was quiet late and Mike isn’t the late night wheel type, so finding a camping spot was the agenda for the day. We hit the dirt road and before long found a lovely camp site right off the road down a small path. It was in a small grove and fit the bill perfectly.
We setup up tents, started the fire, and made our dinners as we settled in for our favorite part of the trip. More friendly trash talking and arguing around the campfire, we began interrogating our new friend Timmy. Okay, so it was mostly me doing the interrogating as Mike and Ben had a head start from the night before. We had a lovely night and were all very anxious for the next day. Little did we know it would be…well…dramatic. We awoke the next morning ready to hit the road hard. Mike, Ben, and I had been there before but when fires had been much worse, so we where looking forward to a much more smoke free horizon. Ben took the lead at the trail head
As I said before the trail is not hard. A subaru could do it easey, but what makes it fun is that it is so easy. It’s twisty with lots of bumps and whoops to…test the suspension out, which Mike, Ben, and Timmy where all very eager to do as they all had relatively new setups up front. Mike had brand new Kings and Timmy had new ADS coil overs, and Ben had..sort of new OME coil overs. However, Mike and Ben’s rear setups where…well..sad. All of that was nothing compared to my totally shot suspension all the way around. Thank God for big tires and low pressure. I was pretty much using the aired down tires as my suspension.
But there was no sympathy for me. My pals left me in the dust out of sheer joy of the long open stretches of road.
I tail gunned, naturally, by choice. Okay not by choice totally…
We where all enjoying our evening when Frankenstein decided to..retaliate.
I was once again tail gunning and luckily not going super fast but I came up over a small whoop and when the truck rebounded..it exploded.
Luckily…if you can call it that…it wasn’t my first time and the instant it happened I reacted and somehow managed to keep it half on the road and the other half in the ditch on the right. Which was better then the 100-foot’ cliff off the left side. The damage was pretty bad. My rim was horribly bent. The steering rack was once again split in half and this time the passenger side mount had been ripped off the cross member. The brake line was destroyed and so was the CV axle as was the bleeder valve on the brake caliper.
This was a problem.
And…the problems just kept adding up. We were on a single lane road with not a lot of room for others to pass, much less any room for a truck to turn around. Frankenstein was resting on the rim so getting him out of the ditch was an issue as well. Not to mention Frank had no brakes now and no steering. We had no way to tow Frank even if we got him out. I couldn’t find a repeater on my HAM radio to get in touch with my dad and we knew there was no cell service within 40 miles until just outside Lolo, MT.
But this wasn’t our first rodeo. So we came up with a plan and executed.
I knew that I needed my Dad. We had just gone through this and we knew how to fix it and how to trailer it. But he was 500 miles away back in Wyoming. It would take him at least a day to get to us. And we had to decide the best way for him to get to Frankenstein as there was NO room for him to turn around close by. So the options were have him drive 10 miles down the highway more and 10 miles on dirty to just drive in facing the right way. Or take the shorter route and back the trailer up to Frankenstein for a mile.
We sent lead foot Ben off to Lolo to call my Dad to bring a trailer and the FRV, the only rig we knew of that could tow Frankenstein the speed limit. He set off in a cloud of dust and a phone number to make the rescue call.
Stay tuned for part two of this backcountry saga or read the full thread on the Expedition Portal forum here: