I’ve pretty much gone where I wanted for the last 50 years and most of that predates cell phones, gps and other electronics. And many trips were solo camping, hiking or hunting trips. I haven’t done it for some years, now; the DW raises so much cane it isn’t worth the aggravation. And that’s probably her goal. But going by yourself really isn’t all that much fun anyway. I never concerned myself with what would happen if I got stuck back there, I assumed I would get stuck and carried what I needed to survive or get out if it happened. Only once did I have to walk out, I punctured two tires and only had one spare. Other times I stuck my 4WD and I was able to unstick it.
My attitude is that if someone has a whole lot of experience tramping around the boondocks they can go back in alone with minimum risk, though I wouldn’t promote it to anyone. Lacking that experience and gear, or having health problems, the conventional wisdom of going in pairs and staying with a stranded vehicle is definitely the best option. Or go no further back in than you’re sure you’re capable of walking back out.
99% of my trips are solo - in fact I go looking for places where I won't see many other folks. It's not that I'm anti-social - I simply appreciate complete peace and tranquility after dealing extensively with people in my job.
Do I take precautions? Absolutely.
Someone always knows (in general) where I am going, and when I will check in next
I make sure my vehicle and TC systems are in good working order
I have extra food, water, and all kinds of other contingency gear, including tools on board
I am trained in Wilderness Medicine
I carry a PLB (personal locator beacon)
Can bad things still happen? Sure. There are no guarantees in life, and even the best prepared, most well equipped person can experience an unforeseen situation or emergency. But to simply do nothing because I am paralyzed by fear of the unknown or what might happen would be a far worse disaster in my book. YMMV
* This post was
edited 01/15/12 08:41pm by seldomseensmith *
As a pilot I've been flying over extreme desolation for the past 40 years. Even a small single engine plane can, in a matter of minutes, take you where there is no cellphone service, no roads and no trails. also, depending on altitude and terrain there may be no VHF radio communication available either so any trouble requiring a forced landing can put you in a spot.
For the past three years I've been carrying a McMurdo PLB in my pocket whenever I fly anywhere. Yes, I flew for many years without such a device but the fact that they are available now makes it a no-brainer. If you are in dire straits you press a button and you're found.
A PLB has no subscription fees but also has no "I'm Okay" or tracking function. You only press that button when all your other options have been played out. The McMurdo goes for around $250, has a five year battery life and fits in a pocket. It also has it's own built in GPS that pretty much instantly pin-points your position within a few hundred feet. They are registered devices so as soon as you set it off the SAR folks know who you are and where you are.
1994 Lance 990 on 1997 F350 PSD Dually "Rhino Haunches"
On one of our last trips to Tellico (before the central government closed it), we were coming down trail 4 where it meets trail 5 late in the evening and started hearing a child screaming “help us”. As we rounded the corner we saw a man lying in the middle of the trail with a broken arm and other major injuries. His girlfriend had a busted head and was pretty much soaked in blood. Her two very young girls were bloody. One had head/neck injuries and the other had minor injuries. Due to a mechanical failure, the driver had rolled is big jeep with D60’s and 44" Swampers backwards off of trail 5 trying to make the 270 degree turn onto trail 4. The jeep made 1-1/2 rolls off the trail and lodged against a large tree, which caved in the factory roll bar.
We cut up some towels for their wounds and applied first aid the best we could. Luckily for them one of the folks with us had been a medic in the navy and knew what to do. We loaded them up into 3 jeeps and hauled them down to trail 1 where we could get cell phone service. We met the Murphy, NC ambulance about half way to Murphy.
Those folks were 4 wheeling alone. If we had not come along they would have spent a cold October night out in the woods on the side of a mountain with broken bones and lacerations. It is never a good idea to wheel alone.
I'm talking about serious 4-wheelin' in remote areas. Not talking about putting around on gravel roads in national forests in 2wd by yourself; I've done plenty of that too.
I'm with you Dadwolf. The majority trips I take are solo. I am retired, my wife is not. I don't have any retired friends that can just take off anytime. The only time I will even consider a campground is when I take my boat.
Then after I get my TC into a place that I probably shouldn't have I am either out hiking, dirt biking or quad riding.
After crashing once on my dirt bike 40 miles from my camper and my wife not calling the Calvary for another 4 days I invested in a SPOT.
Anyway, in answer to your question, I don't mind a bit taking off and doing off road trails. I am confident in my driving skills and my truck and mods are new. But that doesn't mean something can't break.
The only place I will not go aloe are the more difficult and technical trails of Moab. #1 reason is you need a spotter. And as soon as I can convince Whazoo that the middle of winter is not a fun time to do Moab we will give the good stuff a go!!!
Actually DJ, you were one of the people I thought about when I wrote the topic from your bike crash account. I mean, wouldn't it be great if we could always count on a: DJ, Whazoo, Curley, Jefe4x4, Steve-n29 (and the many others too numerous to count) to be your sidekick when going off the blacktop. But it's just not reality.
I always have plenty of water and food. I've thought that I should invest in one of those emergency locator devices someday.
I walked out of the house 2 1/2 years ago and didn't tell anyone where I was going and now, I still don't know where I am going. I travel alone and most of the time I am outside of cell phone coverage. I backpacked 3 times in 2011, for a total of 12 nights, by myself and never gave it a thought. I have backcountry skied for many years, alone, and kayak now, by myself seeing all kinds of different wildlife, including a grizzly sow and cubs. I might be pushing my odds, but I try not to take risks, in where I go or what I do. To be honest, I have more concern about being in the inner cities, of some of the largest towns in this country. I often ask a local; "is there a part of town, like Stockton, CA, to stay out of?" The answer was; "The whole town."
Tonight, I am in the Mojave desert and my only concern is the wind and those darn bunny rabbits. I am hoping if I turn up missing, maybe you guys would come looking for me. I will have some beer waiting, for when you get here.
The minimum that you should do is let someone know where you are going (don't ask my wife if I always do that, sometimes I forget ). If I am going to a populated area I worry less about it, if I am going exploring off the back roads to trails then I make sure to do that. A SPOT, or satellite phone if you have one, is really the best for those that like to really get away. Just letting someone know where you are is good but if you head out Friday and tell someone that you are coming back Monday that is a long time that you could be injured and in need of help, with a spot one button and things are started.
With a TC many of the issues of being lost are minimized (as long as you are not injured). I could stay out for weeks with the food that I carry in the TC. Water around here, and where I travel, not a huge deal as there are many lakes, streams, etc. plus I carry extra water. Shelter is taken care of with the TC. Heat and light not a huge problem.
The biggest thing comes back to if you are injured. If you are 20' off a road or trail and are trapped it could be a long time till someone finds you. In thick forest you could be out of sight even for the people that are looking for you. I have been to a couple of serious situations and the people were close by and nobody could find them as the searchers had no idea they were there. One a car went down a cliff and even looking at the path the car took you could hardly see anything to indicate that it was there.
It is better to be prepared but if for any reason you are in trouble a couple suggestions for using your cell. As most people never leave home without a cell in an emergency (if you get caught unprepared and all you have is a cell)is to send a text message to get help. Texts can go through in places that talk cannot. If that does not work (or you are in bad shape and really need help)dial 911 several times. Not always or in all areas, the 911 call will go through with GPS data to give searchers a starting point(depends on the phone and the call center - but many have this). This is not to be counted on, but is a couple of things that I found out over the past year. One lady west of us fell and injured herself and after dialing 911 several times they dispatched rescuers to the area and found her - all from cell phone GPS information and from calls that she did not think where going through. Again it is better to be prepared before hand, but just in case.
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I have had breakdowns with 4x4 vehicles but nothing that kept me from crawling to a town for a repair and that includes having a front shackle but lose from the frame of a truck. Drove back to the nearest town at 2mph. With a camper my primary concern is tire failures and dealing with a 3,000 lb. camper load and changing a rear tire.
I grew up before cell phones and GPS and with boats once I was 25 miles offshore I was on my own for a couple weeks until I arrived at my destination. I believe in being prepared and being able to take care of myself and not expect to call for help and get bailed out by others, especially when it could put them at risk.
I have never gotten stuck but I drive with care, unlike the guy with the jacked up 4x4 that flipped it and nearly killed his passengers. A big advantage of 4WD is that I can creep along on a bad trail or across a river at 2mph and sustain a lot less damage if I hit a rock or hole. My passengers prefer this approach as well.
I had winches on my trucks for years but never used them to pull myself out, only people with 2WD going where they were out of their depth. Pulled one guy out of the sand twice and as I was leaving the area he had proceeded back onto the sand with his gal and gotten stuck again. I still carry a snatch strap but no longer bother with winches. If I spent a lot of time on beaches a portable winch with a sand anchor would be a good investment.
Going to remote areas entails extra risks which I minimize by taking extra precautions, such as extra food and water and a sleeping bags so if I have to hike out I can do so. With trips to Baja I took two spare tires and tire irons and tubes and a foot powered air pump. I knew there that if I left the truck it would not be there when I got back.
I liked the Dirty Harry line "a man has got to know his limitations". Any truck with a big camper in the back has its limitations.