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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Because you could, does not mean you should

The ownership of a Land Cruiser has always been synonymous with the fact that I could go any where I wanted to. Once upon a time, when I was more young and dumb then I think I am today, I was out reconnoitering an alternate route for a backpacking course. It was early in the morning when we left our base camp. I had three very experienced outdoor types in the truck with me. Guys that have; 1. Climbed the north face of the Eiger. 2. Bow hunted bears in Alaska. 3. Have climbed,backpacked, 4x4ed and hunted all over the globe in every type of harsh environment you can think of. So I was feeling pretty sure of the fact that we could handle anything we came across on this little excursion.

I am not sure, but it is possible that our judgements had been compromised based on the fact that we all had gotten about three hours sleep the night before. We were up late trying to problem solve a situation and our solution included this recon of possibilities at first light. Now, when you get out into the wilderness, there are no auto shops to fix things for you. You need to just make do until you get back to the woman's world (civilization). So, the Land Cruiser had a brake issue, as in you needed to pump the pedal countless times before it would actually start to slow down. The other major issue on this crisp morning is that the route we choose up this hill lead us straight into the raising sun. So as we start up this extremely steep hill climb, I could not see anything through the windshield, and I knew that once I stop forward motion we are going to start to roll backwards until I pump the brakes enough to gain control. It is amazing how quick a truck full of testosterone can become eerily silent. But, being outdoors men who trusted each other 100% a quick solution came about. Joe, who was seating in the front passenger seat, rolled down his window and stuck his head out. James, seating in the back seat scooted up so he could hear Joe over the roar of the struggle straight six engine and relay directions to me. Kevin, the last member of the excursion just sat there sucking seat cover up into is body, as I was doing while blindly steering.
I was directed to make a blind hard right turn which pitched the truck into a scary hard sideways tilt. Then moments later I was to make a hard left U-turn. I soon realized that we were going around a large pine tree. This was made obvious to me by the fact that my truck was bouncing off the tree as we made the turn. Then another hard right turn and I was directed to "floor it." Now I had to laugh here. The other fellas did not really know about the brake issue. So they were not really aware of the fact that I was not holding the track back in any way, I knew I had to make it up the first time. No second chances, therefore, no use in holding back. So as they yelled "go-go-go" I was thinking " I'm giving her all shes got Captain." Well we some how made it up. Up what exactly I would not be aware of until we had to drive down it, in low gear with no brakes mind you. That is when I said holy &%$@:(. The above picture was taken when we stopped to change our shorts at 11,800 feet after rolling along for ten minutes of pure terrified silence laced with some kind of survivor excitement. So, in hind sight, just because you could, does not mean you should. Proving you can, does not always lead to some positive reinforcement of how good you are. So now days when I hear folks say "been there-done that" I take pause and reflect on the issues at hand. I could but I am not going to, here is why some of us wild types actually make it to old age.

P.S. Notice the rock placed behind the rear wheel so the truck does not roll away while we take our little break......LOL


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