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MailTribune.com
  • Off-road tracks in Washington offer outdoor adrenaline rush

  • GOLD BAR, Wash. — Our Jeep got wedged between boulders. Tilted to one side, the vehicle appeared on the verge of tipping over. I was in the passenger seat, my nose so close to the ground I could whiff the dust rising from our screeching tires.
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  • GOLD BAR, Wash. — Our Jeep got wedged between boulders. Tilted to one side, the vehicle appeared on the verge of tipping over. I was in the passenger seat, my nose so close to the ground I could whiff the dust rising from our screeching tires.
    Let me back up and explain.
    The state laid tracks for motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and four-wheel drive enthusiasts here in Reiter Foothills Forest, a newly developed Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recreation area between Gold Bar and Index. I wanted a hands-on look.
    Fifteen minutes ago, it seemed like a brilliant idea.
    Now? I'm not sure.
    I'm staring at hemlocks and cedars at a 45-degree angle.
    I turned to our driver: "Have you ever rolled over?"
    "Yeah, I have," he said.
    I found his calm, matter-of-fact demeanor soothing and ... what? Did he say what I thought he said? And isn't my seatbelt kinda loose? Why aren't there any doors on this Jeep?
    The driver, Scott Davidson, assured me he's an experienced hand at this game.
    "Brace with authority," he said, pointing for me to grip the handlebar above the glove compartment.
    He inched back and forth until he could reverse a few feet, then kicked it to another gear. We bounced around in his tricked-out Wrangler, the giant wheels straining until the vehicle got enough muscle to crawl over the rock pile.
    "Well," Davidson said, "let's see what we can do to give you another adrenaline rush." He rode us over a boulder, the Jeep tilted so that my face almost planted the gravel surface. I saw a couple of big bolts on the ground and hoped they hadn't come from us.
    Then we climbed a 4-foot stump, the back right tire off the ground, leaving me dangling in the air.
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