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ATV Adventures: More tricks to get out of pickles on the trail

By Lynn Blamires - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Dec 30, 2021

Lynn Blamires, Special to the Standard-Examiner

Dale Child makes the descent into the western end of Eagle Canyon Wash before having to spend the night in the San Rafael Swell.

My last two articles have dealt with equipment needed to get out of trouble on the trail. There is more equipment on the list that has gotten me out of more than one pickle, but more important than the equipment is the first rule of riding — never ride alone.

That rule came to bear on a ride in Fillmore. The story is told by my good friend Sherry Shepherd, who lives there. Fillmore is home to the National ATV/UTV Jamboree and for good reason — the trails from town are scenic and go for miles.

As the story goes, Sherry was leading a ride that included about 30 riders. During the ride, one of the machines went shiny-side down. No one was hurt, but when they got it turned over so the rubber side was down once again, she noticed that the ATV had lost some oil. Concerned that the loss could affect its performance, they looked for someone who had extra oil. One of the riders had some, but going down the line of riders, no one knew where to put it in until they came to rider No. 19.

Riding with a group gives you the benefit of the dynamics of a group. Collectively, the group will have the tools needed, and the collective minds of the group will figure out how to use them. By the way, I noticed that carrying extra oil was not on the list, and it should be.

A headlamp is on the list. On more than one occasion, I have loaded machines on my trailer in the dark. It is much easier to have both hands free to attach and cinch the straps with a headlamp.

Food for an extended stay, extra water and a fire starting kit came into play on a ride in the San Rafael Swell. Eight of us got a late start back to the trucks. Instead of going back the way we came, we (or I) decided to take an unfamiliar track.

In an attempt to cross a deep section on the western side of Eagle Canyon Wash, we made a steep descent to the bottom. It was so steep that we were committed because no one wanted to try to climb back up. We could see the trail with our lights, but then it got so dark that when we came to a drop-off, we could not see how deep it dropped.

We circled the ATVs and settled in for the night. We had cell service so we were in contact with our families and the rest of the group. We had more than one GPS so we knew exactly where we were, but we just couldn’t work our way through the maze of gullies in the dark.

We had plenty of water and the means to start a fire, but the food for an extended stay left something to be desired. I am not real fond of gummy bears and made a note to myself to plan a better menu for an extended stay. We did gather and burn a lot of tumble weeds that night.

As it turned out, it was a real bonding experience. We didn’t think so at the time, but as the story got out, more than one person said they wished that they had been one of us on that ride. I thought they were crazy. It took us four hours to find our way back in full daylight.

A Garmin InReach Mini or a Spot X is on the list. These are hand-held satellite communicators and are meant for use in a real emergency. An SOS signal is broadcast to the 24/7 search and rescue monitoring center. Two-way text messaging enables SAR to respond more quickly. This is a peace-of-mind article that you hope not to have to use, but a life saver when you need it.

A winch is another peace-of-mind article. I know people who have them and never use them other than to operate a snow plow. I have used mine to pull machines out of ditches, to clear the trail of debris, and to climb over obstacles. Having a snatch block is important for more technical winching situations. It is found as a part of a winch kit.

When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and sometimes the thing you forgot is the thing that you will need the most on your ATV adventure.

Contact Lynn R. Blamires at quadmanone@gmail.com.


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