An Old Dog Learns New Tricks

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The next morning, we all knew it was time to repack all of our stuff, toss out the rocks, pull the stickerburrs from our socks, and shake the dirt out of the tents that were on the ground. I could see a lot of reluctance in some folks – they sure didn’t want to break camp, but break it we did, finally about 11am.

The inevitable time had come for me to face the fear of going down the hill, some of those gullies that had been blessed with the name “road” had to be overcome, only this time we faced an 11 mile uphill claw-fest. Immediately after getting on the move, the first obstacle was a dense thicket of cottonwood bushes. It was the accursed sagebrush scrape-fest again. I could just imagine giant globs of different colors of paint dangling from the razor-like branches. I thought to myself: “Well, just keep moving, gotta get out of here somehow.” I can say that at the bottom of that mile-high hill, it not only looked a LONG way up to the top, it was.

More crashing, banging, and propelling rocks from under the tires ensued, and I bottomed out” twice. I imagined at that time that my transmission, transfer case, or differential had smashed wide open with lube and oil gushing out everywhere. Fortunately though, my Wrangler was ok.

My Jeep is not lifted (yet). The Land Rovers all had higher clearance than I did, so I learned to be careful and take the high side of the ditch, and not straddle big rocks but rather drive over them with wheels, not transmission parts. My greatest fear about going back up those gullies turned out to be a non-issue. Just as it’s much easier to go up in elevation on an icy road than it is to go downhill, the same thing holds true for the off-highway situation. The very places I had worried so much about were pretty easy to traverse.

Over an hour later, we made it back up to the top of the hill, and we decided to take a break and have a little snack and enjoy the successful emergence from the depths to the heights. Our one vehicle with overheating problems had the same thing to happen again, which slowed us down a little bit, but that’s when we turned the delay into a snack-fest.

Ah, yes. I learned one more gigantic lesson on the uphill, end of the adventure, part of my journey. At the bottom of the hill, drain the water from the ice chest. Oh, sure, on the way down the hill the chest was full of ice. However, on the way up after two days, it had become mostly ice water. Yes, I heard it sloshing around all the way up the hill; and yes, I should have checked for this; and yes, you cannot believe what I found when it came time to contribute to the snack-fest.

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