Enjoying-the-backcountry

Amputee Adventures

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Jerry lost his left leg to bone cancer in 1990 but that didn’t quell his desire to be outdoors. His rig is mildly built by some standards with 255/85/16 BFG Mud Terrains supporting a 2” TeraFlex spacer lift and 2007 4-door Rubicon Springs that give him almost 3 ½” lift. His only other modifications are safety and storage related with the addition of a Kenwood D710 Ham Radio that he uses regularly, and a Bestop cargo carrier over his spare tire. The ham radio is even setup with APRS which allows friends and family to see his location on a web-based map, a great tool for helping buddies find base camp and invaluable in emergency scenarios.

When I ask Jerry about his modifications he thought carefully before stating, “The lift and tires are enough. I don’t go anywhere I am going to get that rig stuck.” This comment highlights the theme of our time in Anza Borrego. Jerry took me on trails that he knew or that he had discussed with others, and he made sure that both our rigs were capable before entering an area. The key for the disabled is to not get in trouble in the first place and to know your own limitations and the limits of your gear. While some wheelers don’t mind some trail carnage – both Jerry and I were setup with tools and spare parts – it is better to enjoy the journey than try to repair damage that could have been avoided.

Lucky for us there were still plenty of wildflowers in-bloom, which was a tremendous contrast to the harsh landscape around us. At one point it seemed we were traveling across the surface of Mars until a huge, old military truck crested the rise in front of us and rambled past with it’s cargo of tourists. Jerry & I both commented on how we enjoyed “self guided” adventures much more than being led around, but at least those folks were outside and not in front of a TV.

Another area Jerry enjoyed guiding me to was Font’s Point. From this cliff overlook we could see the Badlands area and before long, our talk turned to what it must have been like centuries before when explorers encountered the area. We were both grateful for our modern prosthetics and modern rigs, and even though some areas are being closed to motorized access, we both treasure the places we can get to that would otherwise be impossible to visit.

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