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A lesson in preparedness.


Well-Known Member
About 2.5 weeks ago I went 4wheeling with a buddy of mine. He just bought his “new” 100 series and installed some new tires and a suspension lift. The plan was to meet at the gas station and then head down to Hackett Gulch. I got there first and realized I didn’t have my usual tools in my shop roll. What to do? I don’t live too far from the gas station. Could easily run back and grab them. But this trail is pretty easy- I’ve done it about 5-6 times, what could really happen?

Decided to go grab the tools. I figured if I had them, we wouldn’t need them. But if we didn’t have them, we would need them. Boy was I wrong.

We took Cedar Mountian Road in from the north to the trailhead. We get to Hackett Gulch and drove down to the river. The plan was to have lunch at the river and then head back home.

As I pull up to the riverbank, I see someone across the river with their hood up waving their arms and shouting: “do you have tools?” Uh-oh, I thought. I knew exactly why they needed tools.

I also drive across the river and sure enough, they submerged the intake and snuffed out the motor. He didn’t have any tools. I get out my tools but soon realize that I don’t have any socket extensions to get the plugs out. We could disassemble everything else to get to the plugs, but need the extensions to actually get to the plugs.

Another group arrives at the riverbank on the far side. I shout over and ask if they have any socket extensions- they do and drive over to let him use them.

Pulling the plugs didn’t allow the motor to start- it got deeper than just the intake and got some other electronics wet.

I pulled him across the river. But then an issue with my transfercase showed up and progress slowed as we relied entirely on the winch to pull both of us forward. I got him only as far as “The Ledge”.

The only food and drink I brought with me was a sandwich and 2 sodas- and I drank one of the sodas in the drive in. After pulling winch line and rerigging over and over, I was working up a pretty good sweat. I broke out my 2nd soda and pretty much drank it in one shot.

Once to The Ledge, it was getting pretty late in the day- probably around 7pm. I was now out of drinkable fluids. And all I had was a sweatshirt for warmth. Remember I was planning on a quick day trip and expected to be home by this time.

We decided to leave the dead truck at The Ledge since the last 100 feet took a really long time to winch and the trail above The Ledge is without trees. Once everyone was loaded up in my Explorer, we headed up the trail. But soon ran into yet another problem- my transfercase bound up and prevented the truck from moving forward. I forced it out of 4lo and drove off the trail in 2wd.

Back at Cedar Mountain Road, a sherrif was waiting for us. Apparently Search and Rescue had been sent out because the people in the dead truck did not show up to work like they were supposed to. The sherrif asked if we needed any water. I took him up on his offer and he gave me a 1.5 liter bottle of water. The thing was huge. But in the following 5-10 minutes before the sherrif drove off, I had consumed the entire thing.

Then my Explorer lost all ability to drive on the way back to the highway and my buddy strap towed me to the gas station. We got to the gas station around 10pm and was back home a little after 11. Remember this was supposed to be a simple day trip.

I’m certainly no newbie to offroading but I learned several valuable lessons that day:
Tools- make sure to have them and have a complete kit. I knew I was deficient on a few items but kept putting it off.
Water- take a bunch. I took only soda. And I took just enough for me if everything went perfect.
SAR Beacon- something I should add to my kit. Even if everything is relatively OK and just severely delayed, most SAR beacons can send messages saying that everything is fine.
Warm clothes- I didn’t have anything other than a sweatshirt. And had it got wet (rain, fall in river, etc) it would be pretty worthless if I had to spend the night on the trail for whatever reason.
Don’t go alone- while I had a second rig with me, the people in the dead truck were by themselves.

Anyone learned anything the hard way while out on trail?


I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across unprepared people on the trail. I don’t carry everything in my truck to fix every vehicle, if I did I would have too much weight. My kit mostly focuses on my truck. Sometimes having a technical mind is very helpful. I generally have twice as much water as I need for a trip. Last weekend had 10 gallons for 2 days plus some bottled water in the fridge. On longer trips I bring the aqua bricks at 3.5 gallons each stored inside the truck. I have 4 bricks plus the 2 Jerry cans. Having water on board is a necessity.

Morris Yarnell

Well-Known Member
There are times when as much as one would like to help/rescue another trail rider there is not much one can really do for another. A vehicle that uses mostly metric fasteners and that what their tools are geared toward might not be able to help a vehicle that uses standard US fasteners. Sometimes just offering support can be a real boon to the other guy. Going on ahead to secure help or calling in support from others is helpful. Solo adventurers are more inclined to be 'up a creek' as they position themselves in awkward situations. It is often the case that many exceed their skill level in the pursuit of adventure as inexperience is the primary cause of the problem. I have been able to help with a tow or a gift of fuel for a desperate traveler and that has been also given to me on occasion in my early days of off road travel. I do thank those that helped me those times.
As mentioned, water or a little extra fuel might just save the day. I carry both, even on short excursions. I have usually more of each than I expect to use for my own use, often returning with an unused amount. Many times I have gone solo as my schedule allows me to travel when others cannot but I now prefer to travel with a group, especially to unknown destinations.
My technical expertise does not match the complicated nature of my vehicle so traveling with others becomes more and more a necessity.


New Member
I've always tried to push "go bags" or survival bags. I have space blankets, small canopy, and a little water filter, as well as some a few MRE meals I keep where my OEM lift was. That takes care of me at least being able to survive. But tools are hard; I'm familiar with the tools I need that are very specific to my jeep, but if someone needs a specific sized tool (like lug nut sockets) there is not a whole lot I can do.

It's funny, I have only used my high lift jack on other peoples rigs, never on mine, and I carry jumper cables because there is always some guy who needs a jump.