"Lola" - WreckDiver1321's 2005 Frontier CC/SB Nismo Build and Adventure Thread

So, Morrison Jeep Trail. What a day that was. It was several months of planning, and a multitude of people saying they were going. It ended up being four trucks. Me, bijanjames, MNCarl, and rdy2offrd88. Carl met me at my home in Billings before the trip, and we convoyed out to Laurel to meet with Bijan, who thought we were meeting at Red Lodge. We connected in Red Lodge and drove down to Clark to meet up with Nick and his wife. It was a cool campsite, save for the crotchety old man irritated with us about parking on the grass. A very nice way to meet and greet.

It was a fun night camped in that area. Lots of conversation about places we'd been, trucks we'd driven, and places we wanted to go. Nick and his wife were on their way up to Glacier, and absorbed my insider info like a couple of sponges. I was happy to share so they could make the most of their honeymoon. It was such a fun night, filled with anticipation and excitement. This was a first run for all of us. Unfortunately, I didn't get much sleep at all.

We headed up the valley the next morning.

The landscape going up into the valley is outstanding. The valley is more of a canyon, raising suddenly from the Clark Fork river below to the Beartooth Plateau above.

Before long, we got our first full look at the Morrison Switchbacks. I'll admit, this sight made me uneasy, but I was determined to get it done.

We were told before our trip about a rock that had been pushed onto the trail during the winter by the snowfall, and it was blocking a lot of the path up. Luckily, we made it past easily. From there, it was pretty quick going.

I have to say, the landscape going up the canyon is outstanding.

This obstacle gave me some trouble, and the first of a lot of trail rash I'd get that day.

This obstacle gave us all kinds of trouble. Our Nissans have a fairly wide turning radius, and the limited ground clearance under the doors made this a challenge. We ended up having to use the sliders against the rock in the middle of the trail to pivot around and get past. This resulted in even more carnage that all of us Nissans received. Mine was by far the most minor, with Bijan taking the brunt of the damage. Nick, in his tall and compact 4Runner, had no problems.

Save for those minor issues, things were going well. Until shortly after this picture was taken, when the cow chips struck the windmill.

I was navigating this switchback when a loud bang signaled the demise of my passenger side CV shaft. Without a spare, I was forced to pull out the broken shaft and continue the trail in 2wd. We were only about 2/3rds the way up the trail. The next several hours were a constant workout of winching, tire spin, and momentum control. It was mentally and physically exhausting.

I'll be honest, I am sorry to say that I wasn't at my best here. I was overtired, stressed, dehydrated, and hungry. All I wanted to do was get off that trail. This probably showed through a little bit, and I really do hope it didn't put a damper on my fellow travelers. I still had a blast and loved the trail. I was just a bit shattered. The next part didn't help.

After navigating most of the final switchbacks in 2wd, I became hung up on the 3rd to last one. We were busy working out what to do when the worst happened. We heard a loud revving sound, followed by a series of crashes. Looking down the trail, we saw a cloud of dust and heard a lot of commotion. We raced down to find out what had happened. When we did, all of our trials that day became trivial.

An older couple had rolled their Polaris Razor down the trail, and were critically injured. A paramedic who happened to be with another group on the trail raced down to the accident site, while we raced up the trail to find a cell signal. I pulled out my Ham radio and tried to find a repeater. Nick was able to contact authorities with his cell phone and get a helicopter on the way. Meanwhile, the paramedic and another person had found a way to get the victims onto a four wheeler to take them to the bottom of the trail. Shortly after, we discovered one of the victims had passed away. Unable to do anything further, we kept moving up the trail. Shortly after, we heard the thumping of the helicopter in the valley.

We stopped what we were doing and watched the helicopter land. They shut down and exited, but didn't make a hurried exit. That confirmed our worst fears. Both victims had died in that horrible accident.

With a somber determination, we continued our way up to the top. The last part included constant winching, using some rocks and trees that viewers of Expedition Overland will find familiar. We faced an overheated winch, fading light, and nearly constant bogging from my crippled truck. But in the end, we made it to the top of the switchbacks.

What followed was more winching and spotting until the trail became primarily solid granite and dirt.

The views up at the top here are incredible. I love the Beartooth Plateau. Carl and I passed the remainder of the drive talking on the ham radio about the sights and the trip. He was an awesome companion. I'll always remember that part of the drive. At that point, we were close to the end of the trail and eager to find a place to camp for the night.

When we finally did reach the end of the trail, I decided to bail out for home despite everyone wanting me to stay. I was exhausted, and being that close to home my own bed sounded inviting. I drove home through the night while the others bedded down for their assault on Goose Lake the next day. Thinking back, I should have stayed. Everyone wanted me to, and the next day would have been a lot of fun as a passenger. Gents, I apologize that I was not at my best. That is my biggest regret about that trip. You guys were great. Very encouraging and very positive. I can't wait for another run with each of you. This trip taught me so much and pushed me to my limits in situations I had never faced before. I think I came out of it pretty well, if a bit battered. Next time I won't back down so easily.
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Thanks again for taking the time to plan the Morrison trail trip.
Wyoming and Montana are truly amazing, thanks for having me out to your back yard.
Awesome pics, Its amazing what a real camera and photographer can do.
No apologies needed for what ever on the trail, don't sweat it.
Thanks again for taking the time to plan the Morrison trail trip.
Wyoming and Montana are truly amazing, thanks for having me out to your back yard.
Awesome pics, Its amazing what a real camera and photographer can do.
No apologies needed for what ever on the trail, don't sweat it.
Carl, great to have you! Feel free to come out to my neck of the woods any time at all! I had a lot of fun, and glad I could show you around. Glad you like the pics.

Thanks man. The teamwork on that day was exceptional. Everyone was super helpful and very positive and it made the adventure all the better.
After Morrison, things were pretty slow for me. I didn't do a lot of exploring, as I had broken my CV shaft and was driving around as a 2wd for a long time. Plus I was feeling kind of bad about the way the engine was running. It was feeling kind of weird for the past six months, and it was making me feel uneasy. Turns out that was a good instinct.

I did do a series of micro-adventures with one of my best friends that included several hikes to really pretty places in Montana. That was a lot of fun, and very good for me.

Our final hurrah of the summer was a trip down to a place I hadn't been in years: Grand Teton National Park.
The last time I had been in Grand Teton, I was in middle school. So my recollection of it is a bit hazy. Unfortunately, this recollection of it is as well, thanks to the insane clouds of smoke choking the park while we were there. We drove down through Yellowstone and spent the night at the Gros Ventre Campground. It's a nice place, but quite crowded. I think Beret and I managed to find a new ideal campsite setup though.

Got to try out my awesome new camp table.

The next morning we put our new GSI French press to use. I love this thing.

We drove out to Mormon Row fairly early in the morning, only to have the view still blocked by the smoke. That old barn sure is cool though.

We tried to run the famous River Road, one of the very few public rough roads going through a National Park. Unfortunately, the road has been washed out a few miles in, and there are no plans to ever fix it and reopen it again. That's a real shame, as this legendary route was always high on my list.

We stopped at Jenny Lake for a bit to take in the sights before heading home.

Overall it was a fun, easy trip that required no preparation. I wish the scenery was more visible, and I wish we had been able to run River Road, but we missed out on those. We may go back this year, perhaps early so we won't miss out. Such a pretty place and worth visiting.
Great post. If you don't me asking what kind of tent/awning setup is that?
Oztent and and ARB awning from the looks of it. Should be on his original post in the thread where he lists his build items.
Close! It's an Oztent, yes. The RV-3, which is a really great tent. Lots of nights in it now and I just love it. The awning, however, is an Ironman 4x4. It's okay, but I've examined an ARB and I think it's a better awning. The build quality is better. I bought the Ironman because it has a built-in LED light strip, which is nice for night time.