Don’t be the Guy Who…

Don’t be the guy who drives a moderately challenging Jeep trail in 2wd and then brags about it.

Why not?

1. Many of our Arizona Jeep trails are heavily used, old, and highly scrutinized. Spinning your tires and revving your motor is not only disruptive to the enjoyment of other trail users (4×4’s, hikers, mountain bikers, etc.) but also destructive to the road surface, and contributes to the unwillingness of land managers to keep trails open.

2. Using RPM’s instead of gearing to pull yourself up hills is very likely to result in an overheated motor and/or transmission–if you are not aware, both are VERY expensive components of your vehicle.

3. It makes you look like an idiot. A 4×4 has gears specifically designed to tackle steep and/or rocky terrain. NOT using them is like using a screwdriver as a hammer, or using a toothbrush to comb your hair. Use the tool the way it’s supposed to be used. If you like looking like a moron, by all means, entertain us, but PLEASE don’t do it on OUR land–public trails are not your personal back yard–they belongs to all of us.

It boggles my mind when someone comes back from a moderate trail where we recommend using 4L, and they say “I did it in 2H (or 4H)!” like we should be impressed. This past weekend, we had several reports of a 2wd Ford pickup on Broken Arrow trying to get up several obstacles, having to rev the motor, and make multiple attempts to climb, whereas any SUV with 4L just walks right up. Rocks and dirt were flung for 50 feet, and people throughout the 4 mile trail could hear the roar of the V8 motor struggling.

What do you say when you encounter someone on the trail who is that blatantly ignorant and/or disrespectful?

First, I try to establish if they are having a mechanical problem, ignorant or just totally disrespectful. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt first by saying something like: “Is everything okay with your truck? It sounds like you are stuck in high range.” And SMILE when you talk to them–that’s important.

If everything is okay with the truck, I proceed: “You know, you are really tearing up the trail–if a ranger catches you, there are big fines for that. You really should be using 4L to avoid digging up the trail, not to mention overheating your motor or tranny. I think I speak for a lot of people out here when I say that I would like the Forest Service to keep this trail open, not to mention having to drag a dead truck out of here.” At this point MOST people will get sheepish, and humbly say okay, to which I respond “Thank you so much–have fun and be safe!” with my biggest syrupy-sweet smile.

But what if you still get no result? Again, smile, say “Well, have a nice day_______(insert nickname of choice)” then get a photo of them, the truck, the license plate, the trail damage, and write down all the details of the location and the incident and turn it in to the Forest Service–they are very hi-tech now–you can email your info! At the very least, the moron in question will get a message asking to speak to them about the incident, and maybe, just maybe, they will think twice about acting like an idiot on our land next time.

May the morons on your trails be few and far between.

Happy trails!

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About the Author
Nena Barlow
Nena Barlow

Barlow Adventures owner, Nena Barlow grew up in the Southwest, exploring the back roads by Jeep, horse, and hiking boots. She has been in the Jeep business since 1996, providing tours, 4wd instruction, location scouting, offroad event planning, trail mapping & photography, and recovery.

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