Tom Severin

Impressive Base Camp Selection

Base Camp
Very nice level, sheltered camp at 10,000 feet in the pines with lots of room.

Because many 4WD excursions last two days or more, there’s usually the need to select a campsite arrangement. You can elect to go with a base camp, or set up camp at a different location each night (what I call a cruise or a moving camp).

Another option is a hybrid variety. This is handy for really long excursions, say in excess of seven days. Use a base camp for a few days, then a moving camp for other days in your trip.

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Tom Severin

Fire Below!

Skid plate - Aftermath of the skid plate fire that nearly destroyed a Jeep Unlimited.

Jim and his buddy Tim were doing a pre-run on permitted but seldom-used trails in the vicinity of Tonopah, Nev. back in August. They stopped to check the map and both noticed the smell of burning grass. They did a 360 inspection and found nothing. Wildfires blazed in the Sierras, but were too far away to be the source for this odor. They resumed their drive.

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Tom Severin

A Good Rendezvous isn’t a Secret

A rendezvous point near a gas station and convenience store is a real plus. 

While many four wheelers view the trailhead as the starting point of any trip, in reality all the fun begins at the rendezvous point. That is where all drivers congregate initially. Final supplies are purchased if necessary, and trip plans are reviewed. A lot of thought should go into the selection of a meeting place. If the rendezvous spot isn’t chosen properly, the trip may not get off to a good start.

A good rendezvous point looks like this:

  • Close to the trailhead, though that’s a relative term, as we will see.
  • Offers lots of parking.
  • Easy to find.
  • Near a gas station and convenience store.

Offers cell coverage.

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Tom Severin

A Good Trail Master Masters Meal Planning

We were in a real jam. Two days into a 10-day trip in Monument Valley, mechanical problems forced two vehicles to head home. We hated to lose our the four-wheeling friends, but more importantly, we ran into a minor food crisis: How do we account for the meals those individuals were scheduled to prepare?

Each of us brought food for our designated meals, but we were counting on those individuals to contribute on their assigned days. Suddenly we were scrambling to account for their departure.

This incident, while not typical of a 4WD experience, does happen. A good Trail Master understands and accepts this, and factors it into trip planning. Of all the myriad decisions you make, one is how to handle meals.

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Tom Severin

Mechanical Sympathy and Damage Mitigation

I vividly recall a beautiful morning in the sand dunes drinking my first cup of coffee while watching the sun poke its nose over the bank of clouds behind a 60 foot dune. An early four-wheeler was testing his new injection system nearby. As he went up a razorback, I could tell he had too much throttle. As he cleared the top, a trail of sand followed the jeep a good six feet above the crest. As razorbacks have a habit of doing, the drop off on the other side proved more extreme than the Jeeper expected. The resulting endo was disastrous for his weekend. Luckily, he walked away but the Jeep was another matter. 

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