One December about five years ago, I took a group to Saline Valley to celebrate New Year’s Eve. While at the campsite I realized I didn’t have a tent. Completely forgot to pack it that day.
As a seasoned four-wheeler, this basic blunder was especially difficult to swallow. On top of that, my truck wasn’t set up to sleep in. I was in a bit of a pickle.
One driver owned a Sportsmobile. I approached him and asked quietly if he had an extra bunk. “Yeah, I sleep upstairs,” he said. “You could have the lower one.” Whew! My trip – and pride – were saved.
Everyone else just assumed I couldn’t handle the cold. Days later I finally worked up the courage to admit I had forgotten my tent.
I offer that story not because it’s particularly noteworthy. It isn’t. (Save for the fact that I committed a cardinal blunder.) It touches on an aspect of four-wheeling seldom written or spoken about.
While often viewed as somewhat of an individualistic hobby, much of what we see and experience is shared with others.
What we share while four-wheeling
Some of the facets of four-wheeling we share include:
Sunrises and sunsets: These can be particularly memorable in the outdoors. Little need be spoken as four-wheelers relax before beautiful sunrises and sunsets. Many a camper has turned his back on the sunrise to feel the growing warmth on his back as he shares a coffee.
Father Crowley had a way with words beyond my capability that paint a picture of a sunrise in the Great Basin.
This was published in Sage and Tumbleweed January 5, 1936 by *Inyokel
*Inyokel – Fr. Crowley’s pen name
“…never has a dawn been just as that of yesterday or yesteryear. The salmon galleons of cloud are never identical, nor headed for the same ethereal haven. The archipelagoes
of the sky have never been charted, thank God, so that the voyager of the dawn may gaze forever on new peaks rising from golden lagoons, strain his ear for the thunder of mauve billows bursting on the great atolls of heaven.”
Scenic vistas and landscapes: There’s a lot more to four-wheeling than simply bounding along dirt trails. Far away from the crowded cities, we absorb the majestic beauty of mountains, forests, lakes and streams. No picture can capture the view nor the feel. With the advancement of communication capability, how many times have you or someone else felt compelled to try and share the scene with a spouse or friend. But of no avail. You have to be there to appreciate it. Our 4-wheel drive vehicle allow us to visit beautiful and remote places, that few will ever experience in person.
Camaraderie: Important bonds are formed by experiencing and conquering unique challenges. Some of the great joys of four-wheeling are found in the advice/ideas, jokes, laughs, lies/tall tales and other memorable moments shared around a campfire or on the trails. We share the wonder of discovering new places.
Small consumables: We expect everyone to be self-sufficient, but sometimes a person forgets an item. I’m willing to share small quantities of basic items such as matches, salt and pepper, zip lock bags, and tin foil.
It’s also no big deal to share tools and gear. Those include an FRS radio; a siphon for gas; and a rope, tent stake, shovel, or recovery strap.
Conditional sharing entails providing something that is expected to be returned or replaced. The most common example involves spare parts. Say a vehicle breaks an axle. Another driver happened to pack a spare that is compatible. That driver offers his spare axle, and the grateful recipient replaces it after returning home.
When breakdowns occur on the trails, other driver(s) pitch in as they can. (Remember that camaraderie bit?) We do that to help the unfortunate driver but also to keep the journey going. Afterward, the recipient is expected to replace or pay for the part.
Sharing has its limits, however
Embarrassing situations – or as I like to call them, learning experiences – stay amongst the group. I occasionally will reference an incident to make a point (as I did at the beginning of this article). But generally speaking, what happens on the trails stays on the trails.
It is important to be respectful of others and not share embarrassing situations or experiences that they may have had while 4-wheeling or participating in any other activity. Sharing these types of situations can be hurtful and embarrassing for the person involved, and can damage relationships and trust.
Another area is food. With the pandemic waning, we do share. A strong statement that we “don’ t share food” is really a metaphor for be self-sufficient. If you are prepared, we happily share food, plan meals and cooking duties.
Self-sufficiency is so important in this hobby. Packing sufficient quantities of food – along with the right gear and tools – helps ensure a successful four-wheeling adventure.
We also tend not to share tents – especially with someone who snores! Thankfully, I don’t snore, so my Sportsmobile buddy slept well that weekend.
Four-wheeling is a fun hobby, made more enjoyable when experienced with others. Along with the standard rules of trail etiquette are a few do’s and don’ts of sharing.