Breaking Trail and Dragging Axle

Farnham Dome in the SnowOn the day after Christmas, I was tired of shoveling snow off the sidewalks, but I spent a couple of hours shoveling even more snow so I could go play in the snow. I shoveled all the snow out of the truck bed and off the utility trailer bed, and cleared a big portion of my driveway so that I’d be able to load up the ATVs and go for a ride. I had been hoping to go for a ride since I got my machine back from the Honda dealer (and the repair seems to have worked this time!), but I wasn’t sure when I’d get the chance. Traci and I finally decided on Friday night that we’d be able to go riding Saturday morning, but it wasn’t until right before bedtime that I made up my mind on where to go. We went to Farnham Dome again, but this time there was a lot of snow. We did a much longer loop than we’d done previously and rode on some trails that we’d never been on. Here’s a link to my GPS track log in Google Earth .KML format.
The first one-third of the ride was great, riding trails we were familiar with but which seemed entirely different in the snow. We passed up our normal turnoff for the Farnham Dome loop and continued south along the wash, but some clouds rolled in and the second one-third of the ride was much colder without the sun shining. After reaching the south end of Farnham Dome and curving around to the east and then back north, we started following a different wash and eventually stopped to start a fire and warm up. We saw a huge herd of pronghorn there and I counted at least 50 of them in a group. I’m sure there were others beyond a hill that I couldn’t see. After warming up, we continued north and met up with the trail that is part of our normal ride in the area. The sun came out for this part of the ride and it was quite pleasant again.
Instead of following a wash bottom, the last section of the trail goes over the very top of Farnham Dome, sometimes following the highest ridge line and other times following road cuts along the eastern edge of the ridge line. At those points where the trail was just barely on the leeward (eastern) side of the ridge, there were some big snow drifts that caused us a lot of problems. Traci was in the lead when we hit the first drifts and her machine became mired in several feet of snow. We let the kids wander around and play in the snow while we tried getting unstuck. I tried riding her machine out of the drift at first, but the skid plates were resting on some hard packed snow and all four tires were just spinning in the softer churned-up snow. I dug it out from the rear using a snow shovel, then backed out and barreled through after getting up some speed. I repeated this process several more times until I got her machine through the worst of the snow drifts, and then I walked back to my ATV and got it through without any problems.
YouTube recently began processing videos in high-quality, so here are some highlights of the ride in that format–it should look great full-screen:

I really expected the ride to be colder, especially since we were riding for about four and a half hours. However, we each bundled up wearing snow pants over our regular pants, a t-shirt, jacket, heavy coat, good winter boots, gloves, and knit face masks. The kids seemed to stay warm the entire time, often playing and digging in the snow whenever we stopped. My hands and feet got a little cold when the sun was obscured by clouds, but between the fire and all the digging out of stuck ATVs, I stayed warm most of the time. I’m really looking forward to doing it again sometime soon.

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