The California Four Wheel Drive Association has been holding the Winter Fun Festival in Northern California for the past 19 years now. And no matter what the conditions are like, this experience is bound to test your driving ability and put your rig to the ultimate test.
This year, the first trailrun was set to leave the staging area on Friday at 9 p.m. The group met at the trail head and 'wheeled throughout the night in freshly fallen snow. Four-wheeling at night when the crisp, white snow reflects your headlights and creates deep shadows all around is an experience unlike anything else. For those who have never attempted it, it's an adventure you will never forget.
By Saturday morning, 'wheelers had begun staging by the dozens to head out on one of the various runs planned for the day, including the SUV/historical trail, the long-wheelbase trail, and the extreme snow trails.
The SUV/historical trail was buried in light to moderately deep snow and was open to all 4WD vehicles. No matter what your 'wheeling experience or the capabilities of your rig, this is a great run for beginners and hard-core enthusiasts alike. It is not hard on the vehicle or the driver; rather, it is slanted toward the history of gold mining in the area and how life changed at the end of the gold rush. This trail is great for the whole family.
The long-wheelbase trail started out at just a little after 9 a.m., heading into the high country and deep snow. Within a couple of hundred yards, they encountered a solid 2 feet of snow, with the trail climbing higher into the Sierras. The day brought a cross between packed snow and patches of fresh powder, which reached depths of 2 to 3 feet at times.
Without doubt, the top run was the Avalanche Express. It promised unlimited snow and was intended strictly for high-clearance 4WDs with winches and recovery equipment. Snow depth ranged from 6 to 8 feet and was often too deep to measure. Everyone's winches saw quite a bit of use, and in the end we were forced to turn around because of time constraints and the falling sun.
That night, with the support of national companies such as Warn and local companies such as J&W Auto Wreckers, the raffle consisted of more than 200 great prizes. We saw everything from Hi Lift jacks to full winch systems. After the raffle and dancing ended, it was time to call it a night and get some sleep before the river bottom games planned for Sunday morning.
The River Game events are one of a kind, and for those who were up to it, they were a blast. The games included runs across the river and back, while setting up three cones as quickly as possible. They also included driving a course blindfolded while your trusted passenger gave you driving instructions. And several other events for everyone's entertainment. When the River Games were over on Sunday, the event was brought to a close and everyone went home with memories of a great weekend spent playing in the snow.