Keep Your Guard Up!

One thing that I see over and over again in the four-wheeling world are mishaps where no one expected it. We get through a nasty obstacle, breathe a sigh of relief, then get stuck on small rock we didn't even notice. Or we spend all day on a grueling 4x4 trail, get through without a scratch, then on the way home, slide off of the gravel road into tree.

The common thread? We let our guard down after the "perceived threat" is past. The solution? Don't take anything for granted--keep your guard up until everyone is safely home on the couch.

A few recent examples:

This Jeep was damaged just AFTER successfully navigating a nasty obstacle. The driver got through and parked. Then he realized that the Jeep coming through the obstacle behind him didn't have enough room to park, so he got back in, started the Jeep, put it in gear and, in his haste to not miss watching the other Jeep come through, accidentally mashed the throttle down, instead of the brake. He careened off of the back of the Jeep parked about 40 feet ahead of him before he stopped. Total bill: $7000. Ouch.

One-minute before this photo was taken, this very capable Jeep and driver were attempting a very challenging optional obstacle. After several attempts at the hairy obstacle, the driver decided he just wasn't going to make it up today, and was backing out to leave. He relaxed, not paying much attention to what was behind him, and backed into this rather innocuous crack with just enough momentum to flop his rig.

I have archives of such similar occurrences. These examples were lucky in that no one was hurt. Not every "oops" moment is so lucky.

The point, folks: Always traverse the trail with humility--give every inch of the trail its due attention. Plan, prepare, and educate yourself BEFORE you go. Don't ever RUSH through ANYTHING. And, in conclusion, PAY ATTENTION!

Be safe and happy trails!