When the Jeep was first introduced, its primary function wasn't to climb over boulders but to support troops on primitive roads and trails, in the mud and the snow. And sure enough, some 50-plus years later, that's exactly what they still do. Of course, the troops are generally a Jeep club, and the terrain is private or public land, but the foul weather and primitive trails are what Jeeping is all about.
In the Pacific Northwest, snow comes in early December, and the mud stays moist or gooey throughout the year--just-perfect conditions for wild wheelin’. Clubs like the Wandering Willys out of Seattle revel in this type of slop, and we were fortunate enough to join them on a snow run before Christmas.
If that weren't enough, day two found us at the Elbe Hills OHV area, just west of Mt. Rainer National Park, with a small group of the Good Time 4-Wheelers, led by Bad Joe. This place was hardcore-only, with pools of mud that could swallow a Jeep. And if not for our experienced guide, we'd probably still be lost in the snowy wood. Both areas are administered by the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, which work with the local 4x4 crowd to improve the trails and keep them open.
If you want to explore great Pacific Northwest wheelin' in Washington state, contact the Washington DNR, Dept Jp, 28329 SE 448th St, Enumclaw, WA, 98022, 206,825-1631. The good folks at ARB (Dept. JP, 20 S. Spokane St., Seattle WA 98134, 206/264-1669) can help you out as well, and the boys at Off Road Outlet (Dept Jp, 8901 Willows Rd. NE, Redmond, WA 98052, 425/558-9238) are also willing to help out. Just be sure to pack your long johns and fix the heater core on your Jeep--unless what you want to do is stiff Jeeping.