Understanding the Public Land Survey System

In 2009, I needed to renew my permit to guide trips on the Mojave Road starting on the Colorado River and traveling about 140 miles into California. The Mojave Road was established by the Indians living near the Colorado river to trade with the Indians near the Pacific Ocean. During the 1860s and 1870s it was the primary wagon route into southern California. Approval for approximately 4 ½ miles of the trail controlled by the BLM in Nevada, was required by the Las Vegas BLM Field Office. Their permission required that I also obtain permission of any private land we crossed in Nevada. Using maps that show private ownership in white and BLM ownership in pink, I discovered that we would cross private lands in Section 24 of Township 33 S Range 65 E; Sections 24, and 14 of Township 33 S with Range 65E; and Section 19 Township 33 S Range 66E. I contacted the Clark County Assessor’s Office to obtain ownership information based on that description of the land. As you can expect it took quite a few phone calls to find the right person who could give permission. Most of them had no knowledge of the Mojave Road or that it crossed their property.

You probably have a GPS device in your vehicle. And I’m sure you’re quite familiar with state highway and county roadway maps. But one more tool – equally valuable, in my mind – should also be in your skill set as the above story indicates.

It’s based upon a process invented in the 18th century, but the information generated is quite useful today.

The process is called the Public Land Survey System (PLSS), and it is how this nation surveys and plats land. The PLSS incorporates standardized shapes and sizes of land units, whose designators are still used to formally identify parcels of land.

During colonial times, surveyors used metes and bounds, a somewhat arbitrary process that relied heavily on landmarks to establish boundaries.

Soon after the Revolutionary War, Thomas Jefferson pushed for the Public Land Survey System to standardize how farming and ranching land was surveyed. In 1785, Congress passed the Land Ordinance act establishing the PLSS as the official surveying process for the new territories. (The exceptions to the PLSS are the original 13 states and Texas, which was already surveyed when the US acquired it. A number of additional properties previously acquired by individuals under French or Spanish Land Grants were accepted in the US as valid land descriptions.)

PLSS brings order to land surveying

Public Land Survey System relies on a series of north-south lines called principal meridians and intersecting east-west baselines. There are 37 principal points each with its meridians and baselines across the US. (Principal meridians shouldn’t be confused with the Prime meridian – Greenwich.) See image above.

PLSS established the township as the basic unit, an area six miles by six miles, or 36 square miles. The township is divided into 36 one-square-mile units called sections. Each section is can be further divided into ½ sections, quarters sections, etc. A quarter section is 160 acres. A 160 acre quarter section may seem familiar since it later became the amount of land that could be claimed under the Homestead Act.

A township is named by its position in the grid and further by its associated Meridian and Baseline. A township is numbered based on how far north or south it is of the base line. The term Range is used for how much east or west the Township is of the Meridian.

So, Township 33N 65E is the 33rd township north of the Mt. Diablo baseline and 65 townships east of the Mt Diablo Meridian. (Nevada is surveyed from the base line in California.)

The 36 sections (1 square mile) in a township are identified by a number from 1 to 36.

The numbering starts in the upper right hand corner going right to left to 6, and then drops down one section and numbers back left to right, and so on.

All properties are legally defined by their location within the PLSS. That’s how you end up with this sort of property description:

The southeast quarter of section 24 Township 33N and Range 65E. if you only owned part of the 160 acres above, it might look like this: The north ½ of the SE quarter of Section 24 T33N R65E.

 

 

 

 

 

Keep in mind that a township is a set size of land. A small community might be called a township – Union Township, for example – but here we’re talking about a legally defined size of property used for surveying. In many, but not all, cases the survey unit and the civil unit are the same.

With this more organized method of surveying, the federal government could begin surveying and selling lands acquired in the 18th and 19th centuries.

 

Why it’s useful to understand PLSS

OK, now you have some understanding of why a 230-year-old process is still in use. But we’re four-wheelers, not surveyors. Even so, there a few good reasons for understanding the PLSS. Most of the maps we use off-road show the grid of sections and townships.

Judging distances: Recall that sections are one square mile in size (one mile on a side). You can make a rough calculation of distances based upon the number of sections between you and your destination.

Determining ownership: As in the story above, you can ask, are you on BLM land or a national forest? (The properties may be colored coded as well.) This will tell you which agency is administering the land. You then know where to turn for permits, passes, information, and so on.

State School Land: In the original 1785 act the PLSS designated section 16 as school land. If a school was built on the south east corner, it was centrally located for all the kid in the township. This land transferred to State control when statehood was achieved. The State could use the land in anyway they saw fit to fund education. They could sell it, trade it, or lease the mineral, timber and grazing rights. It is generally the blue squares on the map. In most states, State School land is open to 4-Wheeling although you should check out your state specific restrictions.

Enriched experience: Learning how to use a PLSS map adds to your 4WD experience. Map reading is crucial while four-wheeling; understanding the townships and sections on your map could come in handy someday. If nothing else, you’ve learned something that could score you a beer during a trivia contest.

For more information on the Public Land Survey System, spend a few moments on the Internet. Then consider a PLSS-style map for the area you like to go four-wheeling in.

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Did you miss the previous article?


The full 2019 schedule of clinics and adventures trips has been opened for registration.

See the entire Schedule

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73 KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.

 If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to:
www.4x4training.com/w/contact-us.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.

 Want to Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4×4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

 

Copyright 2018, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

 

Go Exploring

I speak a lot about being fully prepared for the 4WD experience. Knowing where you’re going, what you’ll need along the way, and when you’ll be back.

That’s all well and good. But sometimes a little adventure is called for. You yearn to try something new. To go out exploring (overlanding, as four-wheelers call it).

You still need to prepare properly, but the trip has a more spontaneous nature to it. The thought pops into your head while driving on the road. You spot an interesting trail off in the distance. Or cross over one while on a highway. Sometimes you’ll hear of an intriguing drive from a buddy. (Or read of one here on my website.)

In the process, you force yourself out of your comfort zone, to take some chances. Scouting – a form of exploring – is like that. You’re checking out a new area, and going in ready to accept challenges that may come your way.

Expect the unexpected

Sign found in Garfield Flats.

Part of the fun of exploring, as odd as it sounds, is in the issues you’ll face. Expect to take wrong turns, hit dead ends, run low on gas, and otherwise have an atypical drive. In fact, your destination might change slightly. Heck, you may even get lost. More than once.

You’ll arrive late at a campsite and have to set up in the dark. And it might not even be your first choice for a site.

But you’ll have fun in the process. Humans are naturally curious. We want to know what’s “out there.” In this case, “out there” is what’s to be discovered and experienced by taking trails you haven’t been on before.

My exploration wish list

Let’s see how this process might pay out. I’ve thought of taking a drive that would follow the Mount Diablo meridian baseline from California through Nevada. (We’ll save a discussion about baselines for another article.) Mount Diablo is in the northern part of the state, north east of San Francisco.

The baseline, found only on certain maps, is a straight line. But following it would take me through a variety of landscapes, roadways and trails. I’d like to follow it as closely as possible using what maps and resources I can find.

Once I go off-road, I’ll be truly exploring. I have some idea of the terrain, but I’m bound to encounter challenges. Is some of the land in private hands? If so, I’ll probably have to detour. In other spots, there might not be a trail corresponding to the baseline itself (which is just a line on a map anyway).

How far north or south do I have to drive to find a trail? Is there a trail? This may sound frustrating or maddening, but it’s not. I actually enjoy this aspect of four-wheeling.

What do I hope to accomplish? For one, that it’s possible to actually drive the route. Maybe I’ll encounter historical markers or old, abandoned towns along the way. Regardless, I will be exploring. And learning along the way.

If the route is interesting enough, I’ll consider adding it to my list of guided tours.

Another item on my wish list was to drive the entire rail bed of the Carson and Colorado Railway. The line ran from Mound House, Nev. to Keeler, Calif., a distance of about 300 miles. I’d like to see what’s left of stations and depots. I know that some have been preserved as museums. Others have become cafés and even a fire station.

Your resources for the trip

Like any other 4WD excursion, you’ll need maps and trail reports. Because exploring takes you into lightly traveled areas, resources may be slim. Some trail books are good, but many are written for day trips.

An internet search could bring up blog posts or other information from drivers who have driven the route already.

Contact government agencies for their maps and trail information. At the federal level, that would be the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service. Your state department of natural resources should be able to help you regarding state parks.

Then there are local resources. Here is where you get to be creative. I once called a senior center and asked about campsite options in the area I wanted to visit. The guy on the phone turned out to be quite helpful.

With all that in hand, you draw the route on your map(s) or load into your GPS unit.

Then it’s a matter of packing up and hitting the trails.

The point of all this is to get out and explore. Pick a spot you haven’t visited before. Ask yourself, “How can I get from here to there?”

Of course, you’ll prepare as best as possible, but you also understand that the trip might not be smooth sailing.

Yet you’ll have fun. And you’ll experience four-wheeling in its purest form. One of the reasons for going off-road, after all, is to discover. So, go exploring.

[Editor – Make sure your are on valid & allowed off-road tracks. Follow Tread Lightly! principles. Respect all No Trespassing signs and close all gates you open. Watch for dead grass packed into your skid plate to avoid a fire. The trails may be overgrown due to little use. Don’t go alone - have a 2nd vehicle tag along. ]

#   #   #   #   #


Did you miss the previous article?


The full 2019 schedule of clinics and adventures trips has been opened for registration.

See the entire Schedule

Need a Private Session?

 

73 KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.

 If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to:
www.4x4training.com/w/contact-us.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.

 Want to Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4×4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

 

Copyright 2018, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

 

 

The Forgotten Items!

Those are $1 coins

One constant in four-wheeling is the need to pack properly. Because we’re off on our own – away from the conveniences of city life – we have to be self-sufficient. Not only do we prepare for the expected (camping, cookouts, and such), we must try to prepare for the unexpected. So we pack axles, U-joints, starter motors, and other parts just in case.

All that in addition to a full complement of automotive and camping gear.

Over the years I’ve realized the need for many other incidentals. Some seem obvious; others not so. But all serve a very good purpose. Considering adding many (or all) of the following to your preparation checklists.

  1. Emergency cash. Even deep into the Digital Age, there are times when cash is the only currency. Many people these days don’t even  carry enough cash for a cup of coffee. You might need it to cover a tow or an after-hour’s repair at the mechanic’s house. I’ve heard of truck and trailer rentals that were done on a cash basis. Nothing talks louder than a couple of 100 dollar bills to induce a tow truck driver to pull you out of a remote stuck!  I suggest big cash somewhere between $500 and $1,000. Hide it in your vehicle or split it with a buddy. Make sure your buddy has lots of cash too. So you can borrow it. As my dad always said – “if you can buy your way out you don’t have a problem”.
  2. Wash basin and trash bag to catch fluids. Never drain your oil, coolant or other fluids directly onto the ground for a field repair. That’s true anywhere, but never more so than while on the trails and at campsites. You can really mess up the environment. The basin need not be large – 12” x 12” x 4” is sufficient. And it can be used for washing dishes, storing equipment, and other tasks. If gear oil is involved, double bag ( even triple bag) the trash bag. The smell of gear oil never comes out of the wash basin or your car’s carpet if it leaks. You can get a really nice collapsible version at the Container Store. Once extended you might not realize it is a collapsible basin.
  3. On the subject of money, stash $5- $10 dollars’ worth of quarters somewhere in the vehicle or your gear. The car wash, laundromat, and shower facilities at campgrounds often require quarters. Same is true for water dispensers at convenience stores. Don’t assume the machines will accept dollar bills or there will be a working bill changer. I once had the longest solar heated warm shower you can imagine for seventy five cents. Of course, I had my stack of quarters ready in case it quit before all the soap was rinsed off. If you pre-run a trip that requires clean drinking water mid-trip from the machine at the convenience store, test that your water container will fit in the space both widths and height.
  4. And since we brought up the subject of requiring a tow, buy long-distance (200-mile) towing insurance from AAA. You’re usually allowed one long tow per year, but that will be enough to save your hoard of big cash. Typically it is  $10 per mile. The plans may also offer several 100-mile tows. If you’re ever in need of a long, professional tow, you’ll be glad you bought the coverage. AAA’s Plus plan is $90 per year and provides four 100-mile tows. The Premier Plan, at $120 per year, gives you three 100-mile tows and one 200-mile tow annually. You could save $2000 if you have to use it. If you are just beyond the 200 mile or 100 mile limit, do what you can to get inside the limit and save cash or save the 200 mile tow for next time. Check with your auto insurance carrier or go online for more options.
  5. Chamois cloth and squeegee. These are great for cleaning the windows. One example the Rubicon trail in the summer is very dry and dusty. The Rubicon dust ( no matter how much you like the smell – ahhh I am on the Rubicon!) really coats the windows. The interplay of light and dark light through the trees makes it very hard to see the trail with dirty windows. Start fresh each morning with a clean windshield. To help conserve drinking water, consider using your old dish water (use the wash basin above) to rinse off the windows. It really works, and you don’t get soapy streaks like you’d expect. [Ed – we could make a fortune if we could bottle and sell the Rubicon Dust Smell!]
  6. Pack a spare key for your vehicle. You may need to be airlifted out, at which point a buddy can drive your vehicle out. Lend a key to a guest so he can access your vehicle for supplies or gear. If you lock yourself out, your buddy can open the door for you (for a beer, of course). Finally, if you need to get towed out, you can leave the spare in the ignition. That allows you to keep the main set of keys on you.
  7. Speaking of helicopters, sign up for helicopter insurance. In Northern California (think Rubicon Trail) it is provided by CALSTAR. However, they are  providers in the AirMedCare Network, America’s largest air medical membership program. The AirMedCare Network is an alliance among REACH Medical Holdings (REACH Air Medical Services, Cal-Ore Life Flight, CALSTAR Air Medical Services, Sierra Lifeflight, Woman’s AirCare and CareConnect), Med-Trans Corporation, Air Evac Lifeteam, and EagleMed. One of those companies should be available in your area. Membership costs just $85 a year for an entire household–or $65 a year for a senior household–and covers out-of-pocket expenses for a medically-necessary flight by any AirMedCare Network providers. This could make an excellent Christmas gift for your 4-Wheeling friends. https://calstar.org/membership  or(800) 793-0010
  8. Keep a few pieces of silverware in the glove compartment & a small salt and pepper shaker too. It can save you from digging out you camp box for lunch. Or you might get invited to share a pineapple upside down cake by neighboring campers provided you bring a fork. Perhaps you do not have your camping gear in the rig, but you pick up a ready to eat hot chicken and an all in one salad bag at the super market. Along with a beer from the cooler and the utensils / condiments from the glove box supper is served. Now to be really prepared, slip a metal shot glass into the glove box.
  9. Always pack  an extra shirt. Even when going out only for the day. You never know when you will spill a cup of coffee (or much worse) on yourself. Put it in a zip lock bag if no other alternatives. Stores like Walmart and Target sell 2 gallon and 2.5 gallon zip lock bags. They make clean storage possible for a much larger range of items.  For example, the toilet seat on one of those cheap aluminum X frames (about $12?) will just fit in the larger bag. That keeps the seat from rubbing on the aluminum and looking soiled when in fact it is not. Motor Vehicle Users Maps (MVUM) from the Forest Service fit in the big bags. Use one for each Forest.
  10. Pack a can of dog food as part of your survival rations. Why dog food? No one will eat it before its time. If someone has suggestions on brands to stock, I’m all ears – saves me a lot of taste testing.
  11. Download PDFs of important manuals  on an electronic devices you take with you. Down load Instructions manual for cameras, first aid, camping equipment, GPS, Phone, Radios (FM, Ham, CB), solar panel, vehicle repair, water filter, winch operation, etc.  Back it up with the key paper manuals in case your device breaks or loses power. Specs and drawings are just a few taps away. If by chance you have the repair PDF for every Jeep made from the CJ to the JL, think how useful that would be to trouble shot a buddy’s vehicle.
  12. Make copies of important documents. These can include your driver’s license, passport, ham radio license, national park pass, and recreational licenses. All these papers can be stored in a medium-sized envelope in the glovebox ( & maybe keep a duplicate copy at home?).

Some of these items may be familiar to you. Others, like the spare cash, may feel awkward. Once you encounter a situation calling for one of the extra handy items, you see why I included them here.

#   #   #   #

Did you miss the previous article?


The full 2019 schedule of clinics and adventures trips has been opened for registration.

See the entire Schedule

Need a Private Session?

 

73 KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.

If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to:
www.4x4training.com/w/contact-us.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.

Want to Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4×4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.
Copyright 2018, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

 

Pros and Cons of Four-Wheeling Alone

Not Bob but another friend – had to walk 10 miles to find the farmer.

Bob said he had to get back. We were two days into a three day trip through the Mojave Desert. He assured me that he knew the way back. At one-point Bob arrived at a river crossing. He had crossed it several times in the past. Normally it was only 8 to 12 inches deep. It wasn’t that day. The water was about 24 inches deep and running strong. Bob tried to cross but got stuck and flooded his engine. After retrieving most of his gear, Bob set up camp along one bank. Thankfully, another vehicle came along about two hours later. They towed his vehicle to the highway where Bob called AAA.

He donated the vehicle to a charity a few weeks later!

This incident serves as a reminder of the danger of four-wheeling alone. As a regular reader of these articles, you know I advocate driving in groups. Yet there will be times when you want to go it alone. (Or end up that way; more on that in a bit.)

Let’s review the pros and cons of four-wheeling alone.

Why you shouldn’t go four-wheeling alone

For starters, four-wheeling alone can be, well, lonely. No one to talk to. No one there to share experiences and good times with. Campfires and cookouts just aren’t the same without a buddy (or several buddies). You roll into your sleeping bag early! And picture those magical sunrises and sunsets. They’re made to be enjoyed with company, aren’t they?

Then there are the driving issues. If you get lost, you’re on your own to figure it out. Suffer a breakdown? You better be good with tools and have some spare parts. In addition to a broken axle or other part, you can run out of gas, encounter a dead battery, or a host of other issues.

If you’re part of a group, chances are you can get the necessary help with repairs or a recovery. Believe me: Recovery is a lot more difficult when performed with just one vehicle by one person.

Have lots of friends on high risk trails.

Spotting is a challenge, too. It’s up to you to negotiate around those rocks or over that rutted trail. Backing up on a shelf road around a curve is a nail-biter. Heck, it’s challenging even with help.

What happens if you’re hurt? If it’s minor, you can deal with it and move on. However, trauma, heat stroke, a heart attack, snake bites, and the like can be life-threatening. Have you thought of how you’d handle such situations?

How you could end up alone on the trail

Perhaps you always intend to go out with a group. You could still end up alone. How?

  1. You start out with a buddy but he gets into trouble. Your buddy stays behind with his vehicle while you go for help.
  2. You’re at the trailhead waiting for a buddy but he doesn’t show up. You decide to head out anyway (didn’t you get up at 4:30 AM and drive 90 miles. The trail is right there. Wait until you tell your buddy what he missed!).
  3. You’re driving down the highway and you see a trail that just begs to be explored. Keep in mind those trips can be risky. You may not even have the proper gear and supplies with you.
  4. You’re out with a group for several days. Everyone goes home (either early or as scheduled), but you don’t. You want to continue. Your spirt of adventure keeps you driving and exploring on your own.

Where does this road go?

Four-wheeling by yourself is enjoyable and doable

Now let’s consider why four-wheeling alone is not only possible but beneficial. It is very educational and great for building confidence. My friend goes off-road by himself all the time. He loves it. In fact, he tells me that some of his best 4WD experiences occurred while he was on the open trails by himself.

Here are his reasons for hitting the trails alone.

Liberating: You’re not beholden to others and their needs. You go on your time, drive where you want to, and set your own agenda. You can get up late, start late, and set up camp where and when the mood strikes you. If you don’t get to all the sites you thought of in the morning, it’s no big deal.

Similarly, you can pick the trail difficulty based upon your mood. Perhaps one day you just want to take a leisurely drive down an easy dirt track. And if one day while driving the highway you get the urge to hit a trail, you can do that, too.

Gain confidence: Pushing yourself and solving a difficult obstacle build confidence. You learn faster when you solve problems yourself.

Alone with your thoughts: It’s just you and the great outdoors. Those drives provide time for self-reflection, and have a therapeutic quality to them.

Important mitigation reminders about four-wheeling alone

Let’s review the basics to ensure a successful trip.

– Assume all technology will fail. Have maps and back-up on back-up communication gear. That can include ham radio, a SPOT tracker, personal locator beacon, or satellite phone.

– Tell people where you’re going and when you expect to return. Don’t deviate from the route. (Yeah right!)

– Bring proper gear and sufficient supplies. Remember the recovery gear, spare parts, food and water, and camping gear. A winch and Pull-Pal are useful, too.

– Stay on a familiar trail. Save the group trip for scouting new or more difficult trails.

– Drive at popular times. You’re more likely to encounter others who could help you if needed.

Is the risk too high by your self?

Should you go four-wheeling alone? I don’t recommend it!

But doing so builds your skills and confidence level. Plus, someday you may have no choice when going for help. As with any other 4WD trip, make sure you and your vehicle are prepared for the adventure.

#   #   #


Did you miss the previous article?


The full 2019 schedule of clinics and adventures trips has been opened for registration.

See the entire Schedule

Need a Private Session?

 

73 KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.

 If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to:
www.4x4training.com/w/contact-us.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.

 Want to Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4×4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

 

Top 10 Fears of a 4WD Trail Leader

Very Smoky in California

Have you ever wondered about being a Trail Leader? Ever imagined yourself guiding a group of four-wheelers down historic trails and through scenic landscapes?

What has stopped you?

Most likely a lack of confidence. Understandable. Leading a group of four-wheelers is quite a bit different from being just another participant.

Even the best-planned excursion experiences a hiccup or two. Heaven knows I’ve seen a bunch in my time. By making and overcoming mistakes you learn and grow.

We constantly stress the need for preparation before a 4WD trip. Even so, something is bound to come up.

Here are my Top 10 fears a Trail Leader could face, and what to do about them. (Don’t worry, though: You’re not likely to see more than a few during any one trip.)

 

  1. Getting lost. You’re supposed to know where you’re going. You lose credibility fast if you can’t find the right trail. Turning the group around on a narrow trail is difficult. Finding your whole group in a sensitive or restricted area is a conundrum!

Mitigation: Check out the area in advance. Take note of landmarks to help you remember potentially confusing sections of trails. Have maps, GPS coordinates and other tools to keep you on track. Have a tail end Charlie who is smarter that you and can sort out if it is a right or left turn.

  1. Guests seem bored. No one is talking on the radio. There are no questions. This can happen on long stretches of trails or roads that aren’t that scenic or challenging.

Mitigation: It might just be your imagination that they are bored. Perhaps they are happy to drive enjoying the sunshine, in peace and not listening to you. Design a trip that offers nice scenery as well as some 4WD challenges. During the drive, fill in the silence with tidbits about history, wildlife, plant life, and so on. Encourage your guest to contribute special knowledge they have about geology and history of the area.

If you know in advance that certain stretches may be long, mention that during the drivers’ meeting. Guests need to understand that not every mile will be exciting or interesting.

As a guide, I like the “cheerleader” type who asks lots of questions, asks for another story and exclaims constantly how wonderful are the 4-wheeling, views, etc.

  1. Campsite is full. With the exception of managed camping grounds, you usually cannot reserve campsites.

Mitigation: While driving the area in advance, scope out possible alternate campsites. Ideally, they are near your intended camping grounds. During the trip, send someone (trail hand) out to ahead to check the status of your primary site. It’s good to know this in advance so you do not need to double back to your back-up location. Plan fuel to permit a detour to a more remote camp site.

  1. Someone is seriously hurt or sick. Conditions include heart attack, severe allergic reaction (and no medication to treat), and trauma (often from a fall or accident).

Mitigation: Before starting out, try to identify any medical hazards. Right now, heat is a big factor. Tell your guests to watch for signs of heat exhaustion in each other. Discuss hazards on the trails, such as abandoned water wells and buildings. Check they brought their emergency inhaler and epi pen.

Have a list of emergency numbers. Know where the hospitals are and what routes to take if you need to evacuate someone. Have secondary forms of communication in case cell coverage is spotty. Confirm every vehicle has a first aid kit.

Make sure you have a high level of First Aid training.

  1. Broken ring and pinion

    The trail leader’s vehicle has mechanical problems. This one hurts credibility, too. It’s bad form for the Trail Leader to have mechanical problems. The trip is heavily affected if your vehicle goes down.

Mitigation: Maintain a good maintenance schedule. Even so, certain parts can fail. Carry spare parts to get you up and running as quickly as possible. A quick, elegant repair can salvage your credibility. Worst case, abandon the vehicle. Run through your abandon-vehicle checklist so you can still guide the trip.

Anticipate that your guests may have vehicle problems too. Be prepared for the common problems (tires) with spares and tools to keep them on the trip. Have a plan to escort them off the trail to get repairs if necessary.

  1. Staying on schedule. An ideal schedule has you on the trails for about three hours in the morning and then up to three hours in the afternoon. With an hour for lunch, you should be able to arrive at the campsite by 4:30, maybe 5:00.

Mitigation: Determine early on if any drivers are unable to keep up to speed. (Some drive very cautiously.) Also, watch how much time you spend at each rest or sight-seeing stop. Those who tend to linger need to be gently prodded along (does not mean using a cattle prod!).

  1. Late arrival in camp. This is a function of starting on time and staying on schedule. As noted above, you need to keep an eye on the time. Increase the pace if you lingered too long during a stop or you stop to make repairs. Skip one of the lower-value locations to save more time. It is nice to be in camp at or before sunset. Allow for early sunsets during the winter months. Prepare the group for a late arrive at the drivers meeting if you know it will be a long day.
  2. Roads are closed. They were open when you scouted the route but are now closed. Apparently, Smith Creek Ranch on the Pony Express route recently change hands and now the gate is locked. Five months earlier when scouting it was open. Fortunately, this was a second scouting trip to gather more details. This is private property and we will now use a bypass.

Mitigation: Have options. Scout a bit broader to find several alternatives. They might not be as elaborate or interesting, but at least you can keep going.

Call the Ranger station and other authority about road and trail conditions.

  1. Tough weather. Guests understand that you may encounter inclement weather. It’s the severe weather (sandstorm, blizzard, torrential rain) that can wreak havoc on a trip.

Once on the Navaho reservation, the sand storm was so bad the Indian guide had to use my moving GPS display to find the trail. It did not let up until the next day. Setting up a tent or cooking dinner was impossible.

Mitigation: Check the forecast. Consider postponing the trip if severe weather is a possibility. Check NOAA weather every day on your ham radio (start at 162.400 and tune up 25MZ to find a local station). Have an exit strategy in place should you hit really bad weather (A hotel anyone?). Get out before the roads are impassable. If you’re going up in the mountains, prepare for cold and snowy conditions.

  1. Driving on a shelf road with another group of vehicles approaching you. One of my biggest concerns is return from Coyote Flats on the shelf road down to Bishop, Calif. The last three or four switchbacks are too narrow to pass or even pull off. Worse yet, it is impossible to see major sections of the trail for uphill traffic. If we meet uphill traffic, they have the right of way and it would mean backing our entire group a long way.

Mitigation: Ideally, avoid such a situation. As you approach the shelf road, look as far ahead as possible. (Slow down if you’re not already at a slow speed.) Look for dust clouds. But the absence of dust is not a clear indicator. If you see or hear other vehicles, stop. Look for a spot to pull over and wait for the other vehicles to pass.

 

As you can see, there is a reasonable solution to most issues you will encounter as Trail Leader. You’ll still make a mistake on occasion. That can be expected. But the more often you take to the trails, the better leader you become.

Take the plunge. Put together an easy but fun itinerary. Then call up your buddies and get ready for a great time off road.

#   #   #


Did you miss the previous article?


The full 2019 schedule of clinics and adventures trips has been opened for registration.

See the entire Schedule

Need a Private Session?

 

73 KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.

 If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to:
www.4x4training.com/w/contact-us.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.

 Want to Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4×4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

 

Copyright 2018, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

 

Mild AMS?

Great view in the Sweetwater Mountains

It was the second day of a three-day excursion to the Sweetwater Mountains, just north of Bridgeport, California. We stopped for some sightseeing high on the peak of Mt. Patterson. At 11,674 feet, we marveled at the incredible views. East looking into Nevada are the Bodie Hills and Corey Peak and looking west provides an extensive view of the Sierra Range.

Unfortunately, not everyone enjoyed the stop. One guest complained of a headache and brief spell of dizziness when making a quick move to exit the vehicle. Talking with the others, I learned that everyone experienced shortness of breath while setting up camp the night before.

My group had succumbed to a mild version of acute mountain sickness. (I know it sounds odd that something called acute could be mild. But it was.) Symptoms tend to mimic a hangover: headache, fatigue, sluggishness, insomnia, lack of appetite and nausea.

Mild AMS occurs when the body experiences thinner air without the chance to acclimate. The brief time spent at elevation doesn’t give your blood time to build up a sufficient supply of extra red blood cells to offset the reduction in oxygen. Most of the group drove up from sea level just the day before! In essence, your body is saying, “I don’t like it here!”

Treating Mild Acute Mountain Sickness

Mild AMS isn’t as common with four-wheelers as it is for other outdoors types, mountain climbers in particular. We rarely go to extreme elevations but we get there very fast. Here in California, Mt. Patterson is the highest peak we can drive to. There are a few roads in California (not peaks) that achieve about another 250 feet. Even so, as noted above, it can hit.

If you or anyone in your group is experiencing symptoms of Mild AMS, follow these suggestions.

  • Get some rest. Knock off work or sightseeing. That’s what my group did while on Mt. Patterson. We stopped for lunch early and rested for longer than normal.
  • Drink fluids and eat something. The body easily becomes dehydrated in the dryer air. Also, you may not feel hungry even though your body needs energy.
  • Take a mild pain killer. The individual with the headache took 400 mg of ibuprofen. You may find 200 mg sufficient.

If these steps don’t lessen the symptoms within a reasonable time, consider moving to a lower elevation. Anything under 8,000 feet should be fine. I realize that means changing your plans, but at least you and your friends will be able to enjoy the trip.

Camping in the Sweetwater Mountains

More-serious conditions you should be aware of

Though rare for four-wheelers, two other conditions can occur at higher altitudes. A mild bout of acute mountain sickness can evolve into more serious issues. In both cases, fluids leaking from individual cells build up in the lungs and the brain. Immediate action is required.

High-altitude cerebral edema (HACE) involves swelling of the brain. Symptoms include:

  • extreme drowsiness
  • confusion and irritability
  • difficulty walking

Think of someone who has suffered trauma to the head. Leaking fluid causes the brain to swell. In the hospital, doctors insert a shunt in the brain to relieve that pressure. HACE is similar, and should not be taken lightly.

The other condition is high altitude pulmonary edema (HAPE). With HAPE, fluid builds up in the lungs. Symptoms include:

  • increased breathlessness during exertion
  • severe coughing; the person may spit up blood
  • weakness

Someone with HACE or HAPE must be moved. Quickly descend 2,000 to 3,000 feet; the lower the better. First aid steps follow the PROP formula:

Position: Get the person to find a position that gives them the most relief. This may be sitting rather than laying down.
Provide Reassurance
Oxygen: Provide oxygen if you have a tank
Positive Pressure Ventilation: Ambu (Artificial Manual Breathing Unit) bag or mouth to mouth

Along the way, make sure someone is calling for help. Those suffering from HACE and HAPE must get medical attention. Don’t wait it out hoping the condition will improve. HACE can literally be a killer.

On the way down

Prepare properly for higher elevations

Several steps will minimize the onset of AMS.

If you are responsible for planning the trip, consider picking a campsite at a lower elevation. 7,500 feet can still provide a nice temperature relief from the desert heat in the summer.

Advise everyone before the trip of the expected altitudes and the symptoms of Mild AMS. Request that they make a self-evaluation of their fitness for the trip particularly if they have had a recent illness.

Climb slowly: If above 10,000 feet, limit your rate of ascent to 2,000 feet per day. Take a rest day every 2 -3 days.

Load up on carbs: A medical guide I have recommends a diet consisting of 70% carbs. Feel free to load up on the pastries and bread during breakfast. (Chow on a few energy bars during the day for good measure.)

Be mindful of your health: Have you experienced an upper respiratory condition recently? Perhaps you should avoid high altitudes for a while. Talk with your doctor if you have any concerns.

Stay briefly: Limit your experience at elevation to just an hour or two. Take some pictures, marvel at the scenery, then head back down. Campers and mountain climbers are more at risk than short-term visitors.

Pack cold-weather gear: This is for comfort in general. The temps are much lower at higher elevations. You may even encounter snow. Prepare for those conditions.

I don’t mean to scare you away from traveling to higher elevations. There is so much to see and experience. Prepare properly and be mindful of everyone’s conditions. You will have a very enjoyable time at altitude.

# #   #


Did you miss the previous article?


Some Upcoming Events (click on the link for details)

Moab

The full 2019 schedule of clinics and adventures trips has been opened for registration.

See the entire Schedule

Need a Private Session?


73 KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.

 If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to: www.4x4training.com/w/contact-us.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.

 Want to Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4×4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2018, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

 

 

Fire Restrictions Shouldn’t Extinguish Camping Trip

Summer is almost here. In southern California, that means fire restrictions take effect soon.

While these restrictions seem to put a crimp on your camping, it’s really just a minor inconvenience. You still get to enjoy the outdoors. It’s just a different style of camping.

During these periods, campfires and charcoal grilling are banned except in designated areas.

I anticipate the restrictions will take effect around June 29. Even though it’s an annual occurrence, many campers forget. They get all the way to the camping grounds only to find the area is under a fire restriction.

Consider yourself warned: Fire restrictions for California are coming. By the way, those restrictions aren’t limited to California. They are in effect year-round in various national parks and wilderness areas, as well as at higher altitudes. In some places, campfires are restricted to maintain the natural beauty and features of the area. Always check for the latest information on the public lands you will be visiting.

Liquid fuel provides the answer

The solution lies in liquid fuel. Most people use propane, but camp fuel (often called white gas) is also an option.

In lieu of a charcoal grill, you’ll use a gas fired camp stove or grill. The Dutch oven is replaced with sauce pans and, for some dishes, a pressure cooker. You can cook just about anything you normally would.

I take a Char-Broil Gas Tabletop Grill (model 465133010) to use for grilling steaks, hamburgers, and hotdogs. These are so cheap at Target that you might be tempted to buy a new one someday instead of cleaning it! I removed the side handles for more compact packing.

Accessories for the stove broaden your cooking possibilities. I have the nifty Coleman Camping Oven. A metal box that sits on the gas stove, it’s great for baking a few potatoes, heating up appetizers, and baking Cinnabons. The box folds up when not in use, and therefore takes up almost no space.

Don’t forget to get a camp fire permit. It’s free and available at most ranger stations. They just want to review safe & permitted fire operations with you. A permit is required for liquid fuel fires too.

Camp Fires

The biggest challenge you’ll notice during a fire restriction involves the campfire. Or lack thereof. (Assuming you’re not at a designated campsite.) Thankfully, there are propane options available to you. That’s right: a campfire fueled by propane.

I have a propane campfire pit made by Camp Chef (model GClOG), and I really like it. At 16” wide, it sports a sturdy base and comes with a supply of lava rocks. They produce a very natural-looking fire. Once in the carrying case provided, it is about 6” high. The best part is the lack of smoke. No matter which way the wind blows, there are no stinging eyes or noses. At the right setting, you can enjoy a soft fire just perfect for a camping night.

Turn it up for more heat, but realize that you’ll burn through your propane quickly. An 11 lb. (2.5 gallon) tank might get you through a weekend, but a 20 pounder (5 gallons) is better. Pack an extra tank for insurance.

My fire pit uses about 1 gallon of fuel each night running a low to medium flame. After one weekend you’ll have a pretty good idea of how much fuel you burn. That’ll help you decide how much to bring each time.

What if you don’t have a propane unit? Place a lantern in the campfire pit and crank up the light. I know that sounds kitschy, but at least you and the gang have somewhere to congregate and chat. Those campfire bull sessions are so valuable.

My feeling is that if you have a group, you have to have a campfire. Even if it isn’t a true campfire.

Packing for fire restrictions

When fire restrictions are in place, it is time to switch gear. You won’t be taking the Dutch oven, charcoal grill, briquettes, and firewood. Instead you’ll pack the gas fire pit, camp stove, propane BBQ grill, other liquid fuel appliances, and the necessary fuel.

Propane tanks can be carried inside or outside the vehicle. I bolt an 11 pounder onto the tire carrier. I found a quality bracket from Power Tank (https://powertank.com/) to mount the 11 lb. tank.

Due to the dry conditions, you should have a fire extinguisher, shovel, and water. But you should anyway. Those are basic 4WD supplies and gear.

Fire restrictions are common, in California and elsewhere. The right gear and mindset will allow you to enjoy a fun camping trip regardless.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Did you miss the previous article?

 

Some Upcoming Events (click on the link for details)

The full 2019 schedule of clinics and adventures trips has been opened for registration.

See the entire Schedule

Need a Private Session?


All colors are back in stock!

To celebrate, we will send a Winch Recovery DVD with every Bandana order for a limited time. Limit 1 DVD per order.

The Bandana layout follows the “Vehicle Recovery Plan” with pathways to more detail. A unique section of the Bandana, gives the steps for a “Winch Rigging Check: Walk through” so that you verify every element of the rigging before you commit to the pull. Stuff this in your recovery kit and you will always be ready. Warning – the Bandana is not a substitute for proper training and use of quality equipment used within the bounds of their safe working load. We advise you to use the information provided in the Winching Recovery Bandana at your own risk. We cannot control the quality and specifications of the equipment used and the methods actually employed. The original press release with larger graphics is on the website.


73 KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.

 If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to:
www.4x4training.com/w/contact-us.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.

 Want to Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4×4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

 

Copyright 2018, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

 

Put a Spark in Your Camping With Kid-Friendly Jokes

End of a good day! Time for jokes and stories.
Photo by Chris Laskowski

Hey, buddy. Did you hear the one about the ‘gator that strolled into a leather store?

He was looking for a long-lost cousin.

Oh, come on. It wasn’t that bad. (Was it?)

Chances are you’ve heard tons of jokes like this one. (And others I couldn’t print here). While most were told in the company of adults, many others were designed for younger ears. That’s great.

I’m a huge fan of taking the family outdoors including four wheeling. Two of my articles discussed that very topic. You can find those from the links below.

The fun doesn’t end when the engines shut off, though. In fact, the campout takes on a whole new dimension in the evening. The campfire is roaring and the beverages are flowing. Someone breaks outs the goodies to make s’mores. Right about then is a good time for joke telling.

Sometimes the chatter is naturally lively. Other times you need to jumpstart the conversation. Just throw out some of your jokes.

Most likely you’ll start with “Dad” jokes. You know, the kind your Dad told over and over when you were a kid. Dad always thought they were a hoot; you and your siblings just rolled your eyes. Now you look back in fondness. You count those among the many warm memories of Dad.

As a father yourself, you probably have your own golden oldies. Bring ‘em out again. If your kids start to complain, tell them to offer their own. Make a game of it: Challenge each kid to tell a better one.

 

Campfire jokes to get you started

You may be throwing out the zingers with ease. In case you’ve forgotten your jokes, or would like a few new (old) ones to try, I’ve got you covered.

I can’t take credit for any of these. Like you, I’ve picked them up over the years listening to others. Take a gander. Perhaps two or three will resonate. If so try them out during your next family outing around the campfire.

  • Want to hear a joke about peanut butter? I probably shouldn’t tell you, because you will just spread it around.
  • Did you know that I once worked in an orange juice factory? Had to quit because I couldn’t concentrate.
  • Speaking of oranges, why did the orange lose the race? It ran out of juice.
  • What part of the car is the laziest? The wheels, because they’re always TIREd.
  • Why did the teddy bear say no to dessert? Because she was stuffed.
  • How did the egg get up the mountain? It scrambled up.
  • What did the left eye say to the right eye? Between us, something smells!
  • What kind of nut has no shell? A doughnut.
  • What did the nose say to the finger? Quit picking on me!
  • What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple? Finding half a worm.

Any time is joke time

You don’t need a campfire to tell jokes. A long drive is another good time. Then you can be a little more creative. For example, spotting an orange-colored object gives you the chance to try the orange jokes.

You pass a doughnut shop. Tell that one.

Up ahead is a mountain. Crack out the egg joke.

You get the point.

You start telling jokes and encourage the kids and everybody else to contribute. Make sure you respond favorably to any your kids offer. They want to feel good, even if their offering is as bad as your “Dad” jokes. (Mind you, I’m not claiming these jokes will get you booked on “The Tonight Show.” The objective is to add some levity to the drive or campout.)

Study this list and add any of your own. Pick 1 or 2 you really like and can remember. Then be prepared for your “stage time” during the next trip outdoors.

#   #   #   #


Did you miss the previous article?


Some Upcoming Events (click on the link for details)

Eureka Sand Dunes framed by Last Chance Mountain Range

June 2018
June 09 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
June 10 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area

June 16 Starting Rock Crawling

June 22 Field Day

July 2018
July 14 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
July 15 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area

July 21 Starting Rock Crawling

August 2018
August 04 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
August 05 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area

August 13 Rubicon Trip & Adventure

August 25 Sand & Dunes – Pismo

September 2018
September 15 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
September 16 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area

September 22 Winching: Basic to Advanced – Mojave

October 2018
October 05 Borrego Fest

October 13 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
October 14 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area

October 19 Death Valley Expedition

October 20 Getting Started Off-Road – San Diego area
October 21 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – San Diego area

October 27 Women Only Getting Started Off-Road – San Diego area
October 28 Day 2 Women Only Getting Started Off-Road – San Diego area


All colors are back in stock!

To celebrate, we will send a Winch Recovery DVD with every Bandana order for a limited time. Limit 1 DVD per order.

The Bandana layout follows the “Vehicle Recovery Plan” with pathways to more detail. A unique section of the Bandana, gives the steps for a “Winch Rigging Check: Walk through” so that you verify every element of the rigging before you commit to the pull. Stuff this in your recovery kit and you will always be ready. Warning – the Bandana is not a substitute for proper training and use of quality equipment used within the bounds of their safe working load. We advise you to use the information provided in the Winching Recovery Bandana at your own risk. We cannot control the quality and specifications of the equipment used and the methods actually employed. The original press release with larger graphics is on the website.


73 KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.

 

If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to:
www.4x4training.com/w/contact-us.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.

 

Want to Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4×4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

 

Copyright 2018, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

Offer a Helping Hand

Tires are the number one problem on backroads and trails. – Photo by Denis Callimanis

Something just didn’t seem right.

We were westbound on the Red Rock Randsburg highway late one Sunday afternoon in July. Another hot day in the Mojave Desert – about 100 degrees.

Just as I crested the top of a hill, I could see a disabled vehicle on the right shoulder about a quarter mile down. That by itself is not unusual; you drive a lot, and you’re bound to encounter a disabled vehicle on occasion. I counted about a dozen vehicles drive past, and wondered, Won’t someone stop?

As I approached, I glanced over. Mom was in the vehicle, and a couple kids were milling around in the ditch. All appeared to be OK. But I sensed that I should take a closer look. We pulled over.

We discovered that the car had conked out, their cell phone was out of range, and they didn’t have any water.

After providing bottles of water, a couple buddies and I spent about 20 minutes trying to start the car. No luck. Considering the conditions, I drove the family to the nearest convenience store. There they could get food and water, and rest for a bit in the air conditioning. We loaned them a cell phone so they could call friends to pick them up at the store and make arrangements for the car.

Car trouble can happen anywhere, as you know. A breakdown in an urban setting is usually just an inconvenience. Help is often just one phone call and a relatively short wait away.

Off road, it’s a different matter. The cell phone could be out of range, and help is much farther away. Compounding the issue is that the family may not have packed properly for the trip. It’s a recipe for a disaster, and one that could be life threatening.

Here is where compassionate, responsible four wheelers shine. A brief stop can make a big difference in someone’s life.

In the end, the help we provided was simple – water, a ride in the direction we were going anyway (but also the closest store), and the use of the cell phone. But of course, being guys, we always think we can fix the car! So that 20 minutes was on us.

Your options for helping stranded vehicles

As a four-wheeler, you are taught – and follow – many important principles. Chief among those are:

  • Let someone know where you’re going and when you’ll be back.
  • Always go with another vehicle.

Another principle that I feel is important is to offer assistance when you can. It can be something as simple as asking if the person is OK. Not every vehicle off the trail is in dire straits. Rarely will you encounter a need for medical attention. But you don’t know until you stop.

Keep in mind that you have a responsibility to your group. You’re most likely on a schedule. Even so, take a few moments to assess the situation:

  • Any injuries? How serious? Offer first aid as best you can.
  • Is the vehicle disabled? If so, can you help with repairs?
  • Take note of their food and water supplies. Offer water or snacks if helpful.
  • Determine if they’re able to communicate. Use your phone (cell or satellite) or ham radio.
  • Assist with repairs if you’re able to.
  • If you feel comfortable, lend a tool or phone. You can be on your way while that group tends to its issue.
  • Your schedule and group size permitting, perhaps one of your vehicles can transport the stranded driver to a place where they can get help.

In rare cases you’ll have to abandon the vehicle. Learn what you need to do in this article.

The bottom line is: help out when you can. You have to feel comfortable, but you can always at least stop.

Be prepared for those who are not

I mentioned two important principles above. Here is another:

The more remote and more difficult the trail will be, the more stuff you should pack.

Sadly, too many people just don’t plan well. They don’t bring enough basic supplies. They wing it while on the trail. And many times don’t consult a map or check the weather forecast before setting out. Before they know it, they’re in a really tough situation.

A case in point. One November evening about 9 p.m. while camping in the EL Paso Mountains, a quad wandered in. In it were four very worried adults. They had no food, water or jackets. They didn’t know where they were, and didn’t know how to get back to where they needed to be. Unaccustomed to driving off road at night, they were now disoriented and lost. It’s a good thing they spotted our campfire.

We fed the group and provided some water. They left with a map and directions to the shortest route out.

Fortunately, these incidents are rare. But you will encounter trail users who are, or appear to be, in need. At a minimum ask, “Is everything OK?” Lend a hand if you are able to.

Helping others is as basic a human trait as there is. Offering assistance in urban or highway settings, sadly, can be hazardous. Which is why drivers are reluctant to stop. It’s different off road. The next time you see what appears to be a hiker, mountain bike, motorcycle, quad or vehicle in distress, stop and inquire. After all, isn’t that what you’d like if you were in need?

# #   #


Did you miss the previous article?


Some Upcoming Events (click on the link for details)

Eureka Sand Dunes framed by Last Chance Mountain Range

May 2018
May 05 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
May 06 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
May 12 Tire Repair & Hi-lift mini clinic – Hawthorne CA

June 2018
June 09 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
June 10 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area

June 16 Starting Rock Crawling

July 2018
July 14 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
July 15 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area

July 21 Starting Rock Crawling


All colors are back in stock!

To celebrate, we will send a Winch Recovery DVD with every Bandana order for a limited time. Limit 1 DVD per order.

The Bandana layout follows the “Vehicle Recovery Plan” with pathways to more detail. A unique section of the Bandana, gives the steps for a “Winch Rigging Check: Walk through” so that you verify every element of the rigging before you commit to the pull. Stuff this in your recovery kit and you will always be ready. Warning – the Bandana is not a substitute for proper training and use of quality equipment used within the bounds of their safe working load. We advise you to use the information provided in the Winching Recovery Bandana at your own risk. We cannot control the quality and specifications of the equipment used and the methods actually employed. The original press release with larger graphics is on the website.


73 KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.


If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to:
www.4x4training.com/w/contact-us.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.

Want to Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4×4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2018, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

Pony Express Trail a Fun, Interesting 4WD Trip

PET Marker

Even after decades and thousands of miles of four wheeling in the western US, I’m still amazed to find neat stretches of trail scattered about. That was the case last year when I stumbled upon a portion of the Pony Express trail.

One late winter day, I was traveling on Alt US 95 just east of Carson City, Nev. and spotted a sign for the Pony Express trail. It sounded fascinating, so I peeled off. I drove the trail until it connected with US 95, about 30 miles later. The trail was solid mud, but my interest was fired up. I returned with a buddy for a short drive another day. We were met with mud yet again, but I was even more determined to return. I knew the next time would be a full blown scouting trip. That took place in February.

The Pony Express trail offers a nice mix of fascinating history, beautiful scenery, and enough 4WD challenges to keep you upright in your seat.

Pony Express an important part of American history

A full discussion about the Pony Express is beyond the scope of this article. (You can learn a lot on the internet.) But a brief review is helpful.

The Pony Express (sometimes called The Pony) lasted only about 18 months, from April 1860 to October 1861. That’s a surprisingly short time considering how deeply entrenched in America folklore it is. A little more than 1,800 miles long, The route stretched from St. Joseph, Mo., to Sacramento, Calif. Its stated goal was to get mail from one end to the other in 10 days. That was faster than the stagecoaches, which had been carrying the mail up to that point.

Pony Express riders stopped at a series of stations along the way. They included main (or “home”) stations, as well as smaller relay stations. Some of the home stations were also used as stage coach stops, which added to their history.

Approximately 500 miles long, the route slices through the mid-section of Nevada. Of the 184 home stations along the entire Pony Express trail, about 20 were in Nevada. (Along with approximately 43 relay stations.)

Most of the land used for the trail is BLM or state owned. Some of the maps you find guide you over roads and highways that parallel the trail. Being four wheelers, we naturally want to drive the trail itself. Or what’s left of it. Portions have been moved to accommodate private land or other issues.

The trail is free to drive on, but according to the Park Service website, some historic sites and interpretive facilities may charge fees. We didn’t encounter any.

Nevada Pony Express excursion

After doing some calculations, I figured the group could run the bulk of the trail, west to east, in 3-½ days. I had three goals: 1) Drive as much of the trail in Nevada as possible. 2) Visit all the stations along the way (assuming they still existed.) 3) Driving fast, cover the distance in three days (well fast by 4-wheel drive standards). That last goal proved to be rather ambitious.

I divided the route into three segments.

Thursday: Dayton to Fallon. We gathered at Dayton, which is just east of Carson City, at about 3:00 p.m. on Thursday. Entering the trail at that point, we made it only to US 95 (just south of Fallon) right at sunset. That portion, roughly 53 miles, is mostly flat and easy going. Fortunately, the weather was dry, or this portion would be very muddy.

Looking west at the sink

Friday: We drove through the Carson Sink to Sand Mountain. Encountered a number of rolling hills but also open grassland. The section was a lot of fun on the mud hills through the Carson Sink. It would have been very difficult if not impossible had they been wet. We arrived at Sand Mountain a bit before lunch. This was the location of the Sand Springs Station #147, a location for one of the home stations. There was only a marker and plaque. Nearby was a campgrounds and quite a few off road vehicles enjoying the sand dune.

Middlegate Bar

From Sand Mountain we were forced onto US 50 over the pass. The pass is broken into three segments: Westgate, Middlegate, and Eastgate. Fortunate for us at lunch time, Middlegate features a bar, gas station and hotel. The bar is a classic. Dating from the Pony Express era in many reincarnations, it has antique tools on the walls, dollar bills on the ceiling, and a wood burning stove/furnace. It’s a must see, not only for the décor but to refuel the vehicles. The price of gas was outrageous by Nevada standards but right in line with California prices! The food was pretty good, too, though it’s typical pub fare.

We bailed off US 50 and back onto the Pony Express Trail at Cold Springs Station #144. This was perhaps the most intact station we saw and we spend a bit of time wandering through it.

Cold Springs Station

The next section over the north side of the Desatoya Mountains and through Smith Creek Station was one of the more beautiful areas.

We ran out of sun light after 146 miles in the area of Austin, Nev. and called it quits for the day.

Saturday: The goal was SR 305 to the Utah border. This was a challenging segment. We spent a good deal of time looking for the trail, backtracking where it was blocked by land owners, and pushing through mountain trails that are rarely used and looking for camp sites.

We managed 102 miles before the sunset overtook us. It was apparent we were not going to reach Utah. We headed for the closest town to fuel up both us and the vehicles. To get a head start on the return trip home, we drove to Tonopah, stopping along the way at a very dark intersection for one last look at the night sky full of stars.

Typical challenges on the trail today

Smith Creek Reservoir

Despite its origins, the Pony Express trail is just another 4WD trail today: you don’t see any hoof prints. But you get some sense of the conditions the riders faced. Being a Pony Express rider was not an easy assignment. It was physically and mentally challenging, and many times flat out dangerous.

The biggest challenge we faced was staying on course. Some portions, particularly in the mountains, are marked frequently. It was always encouraging to see the orange signs. Other times the signs were nonexistent or spread out so far it was easy to turn onto another trail.

In other cases we came upon fences or were forced to drive around private land. In a couple spots we hit dead ends. Understand that the Pony Express trail is not 100% accessible. But enough is for you to explore and really enjoy the ride. An occasional placard fills in some of the details that aren’t readily apparent.

I suggest driving during a dry spell. My first two drives took place after it had rained. As you can imagine, the dirt trails were solid mud. (Like we should complain. Could you imagine taking those on horseback?)

We were really fortunate during the February scouting trip. The weather was clear, and most of the trails were dry. Even when we were up in elevation, the snow was only about an inch deep.

Returning to the Pony Express Trail

Although I’ve driven parts of the trail in Nevada before, this was my first attempt to scouting the trail border to border. But I’m already thinking of returning.

We didn’t complete the goal but had a lot of fun in the process. And I learned a lot, so I know what to do and what not to do in the future. The next trip will be shorter and more concise. For example, we’ll skip the part that courses through a subdivision. There are a few dead ends and other uninteresting segments. I should be able to turn it into a Friday – Sunday adventure. Mind you, we won’t cover the entire Nevada portion. But you will see and experience enough to more fully appreciate this historic trail.

The Pony Express trail offers a good mix of history and scenery, yet is still challenging from a four-wheeling perspective.

Do you feel like saddling up for a trip on “The Pony”? I’m thinking of offering a trip in spring or fall. You, too, could ride into a bit of Old West history.

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Did you miss the previous article?


Some Upcoming Events (click on the link for details)

Amazing what you see 4-wheeling.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

March 2018
March 24 Getting Started Off-Road – San Diego area
March 25 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – San Diego area
March 26 Easter Safari – Moab UT

April 2018
April 07 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
April 08 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
April 13 Death Valley Expedition
April 21 Winching : Basic to Advanced
April 21 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
April 22 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area

May 2018
May 05 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
May 06 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
May 12 Tire Repair & Hi-lift mini clinic – Hawthorne CA


All colors are back in stock!

To celebrate, we will send a Winch Recovery DVD with every Bandana order for a limited time. Limit 1 DVD per order.

The Bandana layout follows the “Vehicle Recovery Plan” with pathways to more detail. A unique section of the Bandana, gives the steps for a “Winch Rigging Check: Walk through” so that you verify every element of the rigging before you commit to the pull. Stuff this in your recovery kit and you will always be ready. Warning – the Bandana is not a substitute for proper training and use of quality equipment used within the bounds of their safe working load. We advise you to use the information provided in the Winching Recovery Bandana at your own risk. We cannot control the quality and specifications of the equipment used and the methods actually employed.

The original press release with larger graphics is on the website .


73 KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe

Want to Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4×4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to:
www.4x4training.com/w/contact-us.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.

Copyright 2018, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.

 

How to Know When to Retire Your 4WD Vehicle

Fix or Replace?

It’s a challenge every four-wheeler faces at some point: Should you hold onto the current vehicle or replace it?

If you’re like most four wheelers you’ll hang on as long as possible. Something breaks, and you replace it. Another part snaps, and you head to the store. Or you take the vehicle to the shop. This goes on ad infinitum, which is Severin-speak for “way too long.” Adding to the conundrum is that you’re probably really attached to your vehicle.

Have you gone “vehicle blind”? You are so accustomed to fixing things that you lose sight of the big picture. You keep sinking money into what really is a sinking ship.

Money always plays a factor. At the time it seems cheaper just to fix the vehicle. But at some point you begin to question this process. (Or you should.) You know that over time parts become more difficult and expensive to acquire. Every model year manufacturers make tweaks to their vehicles. These can be subtle or significant. As is the case with computers, there comes a time when technology passes you by. Then what?

Hey, I’ve been there. More than once. One thing I discovered is that there are always options. Sometimes you can find a similar (but newer) model and transfer parts. However, you must be open to the possibility of upgrading.

I know what it’s like to go through this process. It’s not easy. Just like you, I can get attached to a particular model (have a huge soft spot for Grand Cherokees). But I’m also very pragmatic. When something goes, it has to go. I don’t like continuing to throw money at it that might be better used on the replacement vehicle.

Replacing my Jeep

While every situation is unique, mine serves as a good illustration. Back in 2008 I faced that crossroad. The ’93 Grand Cherokee was about shot. At 335,000 miles, it was just plain worn out. I had already replaced most of the parts at least twice. Worse, the metal on the unibody suffered severe metal fatigue. I couldn’t bolt anything to it. As much as I loved that Grand Cherokee (and still do), I knew it was time to send her to the scrap yard. It was kind of sad watching the fork lift put in on top of 6 other vehicles, but they gave me $100! But then what?

Here were my options:

  1. Replace with another Grand Cherokee. I would’ve gone with a ’98, the last year they made the ZJ line. The advantage there was I could move many of the parts from the old JGC to the newer one. A ’98 in good condition would cost about $2,500. Upgrading that, even with the old parts, would cost about another $3,000, though that’s a rough estimate. I would’ve hired out for some of the work, I’m sure.

The big disadvantage was that I’d still have an old vehicle. And one with a unibody construction, the one issue I had with ZJs.

  1. Buy a newer and different model. The first step was research. I looked at what the newer models featured (or needed) in terms of solid axles, reputation of the axles housings, possibility of 4 doors, body on frame, and such.

I eventually settled on a 2004 TJ Wrangler (often called an LJ). Part of the reasoning was the ZJ and the TJ share the same axle configuration. The upgraded axles from the ZJ would bolt right up to the TJ.  Still was an expensive move. The vehicle, which had 98,000, cost $10,500. Upgrades set me back another $17,000.

I spent a lot more than I initially planned to but ended up far ahead. The LJ features body-on-frame construction, which is a better platform. If I had stayed with a Grand Cherokee, I would eventually suffer the same issues inherent in the unibody. That frame can’t take the abuse I expose it to on the Rubicon, the ultimate test of a 4WD vehicle.

Critical signs it’s time to look for another vehicle

My situation was pretty apparent: the ol’ Jeep was just plain worn out. More often, though, a vehicle goes through the proverbial death by a thousand cuts – one at a time. By itself each incident may not seem like much. But they add up over time. Consider these scenarios. Do any of them look familiar?

  • You can no longer share parts. All the other drivers have newer vehicles with different frame or body styles. You can pack certain parts, but you can’t possibly pack replacements for all that might break down. In the past you could possibly count on a buddy’s vehicle to “donate” a part. No more.
  • As a result of the above, you skip the rides. Your buddies call about a weekend outing, but you stay home. The trail is farther away and more remote than you care to go.
  • The vehicle is in the shop more than it’s on the road. It’s nickeling and diming you to death. But those are some big nickels and dimes. The net effect is you’re not out on the trails as often as you could or should be.
  • Repairs cost more each month than the loan payment on a new vehicle. Maybe you hate taking out loans. What’s worse – dumping money into an old and worn out vehicle, or paying down the loan on a new one?
  • Your needs change. Now you’d like A/C or some new gadgetry. Or you now have a family and certain safety features are important.

You have to understand that replacing a vehicle is just part of the hobby. Like dying and paying taxes, you have to do it sometime. Maybe even more than once. I’m sure you’re attached to the vehicle, for no other reason than it’s been responsible for many happy memories.

You also worry about the potentially daunting task of upgrading whatever vehicle you ultimately buy. But remember this: You went through that process with the current vehicle, didn’t you? You sure did! And did you survive that? You bet!

It’ll work out in the end

You will endure this process as well. Once you get over the emotional hurdle at the outset, momentum kicks in. And even a little excitement.

It will be exciting because you have a whole new assortment of possibilities. Not quite like Christmas morning, but the research and buying process will actually be interesting.

Of course, once purchased, the vehicle requires upgrading. You’ll put blood, sweat, tears, curse words, and whatever else into your machine. The first time you hit the trails, though, that’ll all be behind you. When you’re back with your buddies, with the wide open landscape and a long weekend ahead of you, you’ll realize that it was all worth it. If fact, you’ll wonder why you didn’t take the plunge sooner.

Is your 4WD machine bleeding your bank account dry and robbing you of quality time on the trails? Raise a toast to what was, take her to the junk yard, then turn around and get another vehicle. You deserve it, so just do it.

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Did you miss the previous article?

How to Beat the Cold While Camping

Just a light snow overnight

It was late January or early February. I was leading a small group on a three-day expedition on the Mojave Trail. We planned to explore parts of the trail and nearby sites. Late the first night we turned off and drove about seven miles into Carruthers Canyon, located in the New York Mountains.

It was gorgeous. Dark blue sky, beautiful sunset in the making, and light dusting of snow greeted us as we reached the campsite. We were up about 5,600 feet, where the air is crisp with a hint of pine from the surrounding trees and the Mojave Scrub intermixes with the Pinion Pine Juniper.

At that elevation and time of year, it can easily drop to the 30s, maybe even the 20s. I hadn’t thought much about the temperature, as I’ve camped in the cold many times. (Heck, to me ‘cold’ is when the temp drops well below zero, but that’s me.)

The next day, two of our guys packed up their tent and split. Turns out they hadn’t prepared for such a climate. I imagine when they heard that we’d spend time in the desert, the figured on reasonable temperatures (maybe even beach weather!). Because I’ve camped in the cold many times it did not occur to me that time to say anything in advance.

Now I do!

Strange as it may sound – especially if you’ve never camped in winter — it is a really nice time to be outdoors. Pack properly, and you will enjoy yourself. Of course, that’s subjective. Seasoned campers naturally can withstand inclement better than those with less experience. I fully understand if you’re more sensitive to the cold. Pack properly and those chilly nights won’t seem so bad after all.

Incidentally, winter is the best time to visit the desert. Daytime temps are nice, but the area cools off quickly after sundown. It could potentially get down into the 20s, which can be pretty uncomfortable if you’re not prepared for it.

Staying comfortable in the tent

The right gear and clothing can help ensure you snuggle in and get a good night’s rest.

Tent heater: That blast of warm air heats up a tent in a hurry but those heaters come with risk. The biggest concern is CO (carbon monoxide) poisoning. Some units are susceptible to tipping over, though all incorporate one or more safety features.

Because the heater works so well, you need only about 10 – 15 minutes of burn when you turn in and before you get up. I like to let it blast into my sleeping bag just before I crawl in. Then I snuggle into a warm and cozy environment. Run it again a short while early the next morning to warm up the tent.

Several brands and models of tent heaters are available. I like the Little Buddy heater. It operates with the 1 lb. propane cylinder, and features a wide (8”) base and automatic tip-over shut off. The website claims it puts out 3,800 Btu per hour and heats up to 95 square feet – just right for the average tent.

Sleeping bag: A given, of course. Don’t scrimp here; a comfortable night is too important. The style and rating of the bag make a difference. Get one that’s rated to at least zero degrees. Understand that those ratings are somewhat arbitrary. A sleeping bag with a rating well below the kind of temperatures you’re likely to encounter should ensure a cozy night.

A “mummy” style bag is even better. It covers you like a cocoon. Some people get a little claustrophobic in a mummy bag. Try one at the store before purchasing.

Which type of fill is better? Pound for pound, down is more effective than polyester. But you’ll pay a lot more. Down also loses much of its insulating value when it gets damp.

Buy a thick poly-filled sleeping bag and bring extra wool blankets or a second sleeping bag. It’s better to be overpacked than under packed

Packing blankets: Regardless of how thick your sleeping bag is, the underside gets crushed from your weight on it as you sleep. You need thick material between you and the ground. A packing blanket works great as a first layer in cold weather. Spread one out on the tent floor; you’ll be amazed at what a difference it makes. The blanket smooths out the bumpy ground, too and is a shade more comfortable to put your feet on. Harbor Freight carries a good “enough” packing blankets for just over $5.

Sleeping system: When you put all the elements together you end up with what I call a sleeping system. It starts with a tent that block the wind. The foundation is some thick material (the packing blanket). Then a pad such as a Therm-a-Rest mattress or foam pad. Then comes your sleeping bag. And be prepared to top it off with one or two wool blankets.

A good sleeping system used in conjunction with a short burst from the heater should keep you comfortable throughout the night.

Dry clothes for sleeping. Never sleep in your outdoors clothing. Items could be sweaty, and the buttons, seams, and just the stiffer fabric can be uncomfortable. Any amount of moisture will wick away your body heat. You’ll never dry out, and you’ll never be really warm.

Thick, warm sweat pants and a sweat shirt are great for sleeping, as are long-sleeve t-shirts and long johns. Protect your sleeping wear from the elements so the items are always dry. Pack the clothing in a plastic bag or other waterproof container.

You may also consider electric socks. They can be a bit pricey, but if they keep your feet warm at night – and therefore you stay comfortable – they could be worth it. And remember a knit cap or hoodie. Your head naturally radiates a lot of heat. Keep it covered overnight.

Store hot water in a Nalgene bottle Tuck one at your feet and hold onto snug another to your chest. I’ve heard that water stays warm for at least a half hour. You can buy Nalgene bottles from many outlets.

Staying comfortable around the campfire.

Maybe not the best way to stay warm!

Ah, a warm, crackling campfire. Whether to enjoy in quiet or as the focus of a rowdy night on the range, a campfire really is the centerpiece of any outing. Despite how hot your fire is, the heat can be very localized: Your front side may be toasty warm, but your hinder may be sporting goose bumps. What to do? Try these next time you’re camping.

Block the wind: Set up a large piece of tarp or cardboard behind you. You could also place that cardboard or foam on the inside back of your chair. Your head may still get chilly, but your backside will be warmer.

Hot coals under your chair: Sounds strange, but it’s remarkably effective. Scoop about a half shovelful of hot coals and set it under each chair. Make sure you use the coals and not sticks or logs on fire. The coals will radiate heat for about 15 -20 minutes each time. You’ll be amazed at what a difference this makes.

Sunflower heaters: Nifty heaters designed for outdoor use. The unit clips to a larger (5 to 20 lb.) tank and really throws the heat. Some are rated at more than 10,000 Btu – enough to keep a couple people warm if close by.

Warm clothing: As is the case with sleeping, it helps to bundle up while outside. A thick knit cap, gloves, sweat shirt and other clothing will allow you to enjoy the campfire and camaraderie.

The key with cold-weather camping – as with any excursion – is preparation. If you’re traveling in the desert in winter, or the mountains any time, assume you’ll face chilly weather. How you define chilly only you can decide. Err on the side of caution and pack extra clothing and blankets. Nothing ruins a night like being cold. Bundle up so you can enjoy the great outdoors in lower temps.

#   #   #

Did you miss the previous article?


Some Upcoming Events (click on the link for details)

Memorial Day in the Inyo Mountains

January 2018

January 27 Winching & Recovery – Mojave, CA
January 27 Getting Started Off-Road – San Diego area
January 28 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – San Diego area

February 2018

February 03 Women Only Getting Started Off-Road – San Diego area
February 10 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
February 11 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
February 17 Getting Started Off-Road – San Diego area
February 18 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – San Diego area
February 24 Beginning Rock Crawling – Johnson Valley

March 2018

March 02 Winching & Recovery – Borrego Springs, CA
March 04 Self-Recovery – Borrego Spring, CA
March 10 Wilderness First Aid – Gorman CA
March 10 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
March 11 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – LA area
March 22 San Rafael Swell Adventure
March 24 Getting Started Off-Road – San Diego area
March 25 Day 2 Getting Started Off-Road – San Diego area

March 26 Easter Safari – Moab UT


We are out of all colors except orange. More of everything as been ordered and should be here in February.

The Bandana layout follows the “Vehicle Recovery Plan” with pathways to more detail. A unique section of the Bandana, gives the steps for a “Winch Rigging Check: Walk through” so that you verify every element of the rigging before you commit to the pull. Stuff this in your recovery kit and you will always be ready. Warning – the Bandana is not a substitute for proper training and use of quality equipment used within the bounds of their safe working load. We advise you to use the information provided in the Winching Recovery Bandana at your own risk. We cannot control the quality and specifications of the equipment used and the methods actually employed. The original press release with larger graphics is on the website .

73 KI6FHA
I hope to see you on the trails!
Tom Severin, President Badlands Off Road Adventures, Inc.
4-Wheel Drive School
310-613-5473
www.4x4training.com
Make it Fun. Keep it Safe.

If you find this information valuable, please pass it on to a friend. You can forward them the email. If you received a forwarded copy of this newsletter and would like to subscribe for yourself, go to:
www.4x4training.com/w/contact-us.html and follow the instructions to join our mail list.

Want to Use This Article In Your Magazine, E-Zine, Club Newsletter Or Web Site? You are welcome to use it anytime, just be sure to include the following author/copyright information: Tom Severin, 4×4 Coach, teaches 4WD owners how to confidently and safely use their vehicles to the fullest extent in difficult terrain and adverse driving conditions. Visit www.4x4training.com to develop or improve your driving skill.

Copyright 2018, Badlands Off-Road Adventures, Inc.