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Old 03-17-2010, 03:38 PM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
7,754 posts, read 16,450,212 times
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jazzlover wrote:
My backcountry driving technique is to be as quiet as possible with as little impact on the terrain as possible, not seeing how loud and obnoxious one can be and how much virgin ground one can tear up just to be a macho s***head.
Good for you jazz! Perhaps you could hold a back countrty, 4 wheeling, etiquette seminar in Grand Junction. A few years ago the BLM made a section of the Tabagauche trail ( at the trailhead along Monument road ) off limits to motorized vehichles because a few 4 wheeling idiots wouldn't keep their vehichles on the established trail. I'm a boots-on-the-ground person myself but I have no qualms about sharing the trail with other kinds of travellers who have an attitude like yours.
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Old 03-17-2010, 03:53 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CosmicWizard View Post
jazzlover wrote:
My backcountry driving technique is to be as quiet as possible with as little impact on the terrain as possible, not seeing how loud and obnoxious one can be and how much virgin ground one can tear up just to be a macho s***head.
Good for you jazz! Perhaps you could hold a back countrty, 4 wheeling, etiquette seminar in Grand Junction. A few years ago the BLM made a section of the Tabagauche trail ( at the trailhead along Monument road ) off limits to motorized vehichles because a few 4 wheeling idiots wouldn't keep their vehichles on the established trail.
I've owned and driven 4WD vehicles longer than many people have been alive. I look upon a 4WD simply as a tool to get me to locations where I want to go, not as an end in itself. Too many people look at 4-wheeling as some macho activity to prove something--I think that's pretty lame. The marketing crap of 4WD's spewing mud all over as they tear up the terrain has helped to perpetrate the macho (dumb) image of seeing what a vehicle will do for its own sake. True "elegance" (a 4-wheeling term you don't see much anymore) in 4-wheeling technique is just the opposite--quietly "puttering" over the trail with a minimum of fuss and terrain damage. It is also much easier on one's pocketbook and vehicle. In my four decades of four-wheeling, I can count the trail-related mechanical failures that I've had on one hand--and I haven't been shy about driving on some very difficult trails.

To see what I mean, check out this old video from Chevy from 1957. Admittedly, this kind of off-road driving would be illegal today, but it's worth noticing how gently they generally four-wheeled over some very difficult terrain--and didn't leave much in the way of tracks, either. (Posted earlier in another thread, but repeated here):


YouTube - Off-Road Climb up Pikes Peak with Chevrolet truck in 1957
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Old 03-17-2010, 04:20 PM
 
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Interesting video. Though I'm pretty sure there were plenty of old curmudgeons from the 1910's complaining about how all those jerks from Michigan were ruining their state.

I agree that it's lame when people soup up their giant trucks just to tear up the national forest. But I also think it's lame when they drive five feet behind me on the highway when I'm already going the speed limit or faster. What can you do?
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Old 03-17-2010, 07:21 PM
 
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Of course, those old trucks had their "quirks" that made driving them cautiously the prudent thing to do. For example, most of them had manual steering. Hit a big rock on trail at anything above walking speed, and the steering wheel could whip around and break your thumbs or wrist if you weren't careful. They also had drum brakes, front and rear. Fording a stream would make the brakes pretty ineffective for a long time--often hours. Quick stops were then an impossibility. Those trucks were tough as nails, but they rode so hard that you tell if a quarter was heads or tails if you ran over it. Learning to 4-wheel in one of those taught one finesse in backcountry driving that most younger 4-wheelers never have acquired.
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Old 03-17-2010, 09:53 PM
 
Location: Western Colorado
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I would recommend you stop at Ouray to one of the many Jeep rental places and rent a Jeep to explore the trails. Or even go on a Jeep tour, that way you can sit back, relax and let someone else drive. I've heard some nasty stories about folks finding out the hard way about these Jeep trails here. Last Dollar Road would be fine when it's dry.

While in Silverton, take the train to Durango.

And for the second time this week...I agree with jazz. What is happening here?
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Old 03-18-2010, 09:06 PM
 
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Successful and safe 4-wheeling requires good knowledge and judgment about three major things:

1. The environment--that includes the weather, the terrain, the road, and any other factor outside of the vehicle that may affect how the vehicle interacts with that environment.

2. The vehicle--how it is equipped, how it will behave under the conditions it will encounter, what its physical limits are, etc.

3. The driver--what is his or her skill, how physically capable he or she is to operate the vehicle, his or her experience, and how keen his or her judgment is in operating the vehicle.

All three factors are important and they do interact with one another. Oftentimes, the presence or absences of characteristics or challenges in one factor may make coping with others either easier or more difficult. For example, having a first-rate vehicle well-designed for backcountry use can make up for the driver being a little less skilled or the terrain being more challenging. Similarly, a highly skilled driver may be able to operate a somewhat "marginal" vehicle under more arduous trail conditions than otherwise might be possible.

Where big trouble usually happens is when a driver overestimates his or her skill, overestimates the abilities of the vehicle or does not understand its limitations, or the driver underestimates or misreads the terrain.

Personally, I cringe when I'm up in the mountains (the San Juans being a great example) and I see some family coming up a 4WD trail in a rental Jeep. In many cases, it is just a wreck waiting to happen. Why? Far too often, the driver a) has little if any backcountry driving experience, b) has overestimated his or her backcountry driving abilities, c) is driving a vehicle with which he or she has almost no familiarity, and d) likely has little experience "reading" the terrain over which he or she is driving. An added risk is if the driver has a little "ego" problem and is showing off just how "good" he or she is driving in the backcountry. That usually has "bad" written all over it.

Even for those of us with lots of backcountry driving time, backcountry driving is a constant learning experience. If it something someone wants to do, I strongly suggest either getting training at some of the "schools" that teach proper techniques, or by taking the time to learn from someone experienced in those proper techniques. In my case, I was fortunate enough to learn from my father, who was a superb backcountry driver. I will freely admit, though, even after his teaching and four decades of experience, I'm not as good as he was at backcountry driving. It is not something one is really qualified to do after a 15 minute "familiarizing" session at the Jeep rental joint. Oh, and one other little tidbit about renting a 4WD from one of the "mainstream" car rental companies. Many of them have clauses in their rental contracts that voids are rental insurance provided by the rental company if the vehicle leaves the pavement--some deal, huh? Read the rental contract.
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Old 03-19-2010, 08:38 AM
 
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
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FYI, jeeps aren't the only good offroading vehicle. Older model Toyota Landcruisers are superb and can go anywhere a jeep can go.
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Old 03-19-2010, 09:25 AM
 
Location: Western Colorado
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Just don't take an Astrovan like I saw on Engineer Pass last summer. I can only imagine what the guys tow bill was.
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Old 03-19-2010, 09:50 AM
 
Location: Wherabouts Unknown!
7,754 posts, read 16,450,212 times
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IMO, the best off road vehichle is a good pair of hiking boots!
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Old 03-19-2010, 10:05 AM
 
2,437 posts, read 7,107,697 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CosmicWizard View Post
IMO, the best off road vehichle is a good pair of hiking boots!
Or an ass!
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