Most people travel on good roads with few risks but some people go find roads that are not so easy.
This is not supposed to be a pretty picture but just a record of some roads I find. In this case this is on an AWD (three-digit) forest service road in Wyoming, in the Medicine Bow-Routt National Forest. I went southwest from Laramie, at first on highways, then the major (but gravel) forest service road and then found this one.
Why you might ask? Well there is a dashpoint up this way and this is the only road that goes close. Now obviously other vehicles have gone through the mudhole but you can see some also tried to go around it. The trouble with mud, looking at it from a distance, is you don’t know how bad it’s going to be. So given I was alone and many miles from more traveled roads and early in the season where few other people might come this way I had to be careful. While I have AWD I don’t have: a) a winch, or, b) mud or offroad tires, so getting stuck here was a real possibility. So I got out and tromped a bit in the mud, poked it with a stick to see how deep and soft it was, and decided I could make it. In my younger days, before having gotten stuck a few times, I would have just charged through, but now, especially much older, I need to be careful. So I backed up a bit, accelerated as fast as I could and went splashing through the mud. This wasn’t the only one of these I encountered, just the one I photographed.
Did I reach the dashpoint? Well, actually I did. A few years before I’d been in the same National Forest. I was excited to go after a dashpoint that was a few miles off any road. Geodashing rules forbid trespassing but this was public land and thus I could hike where I wanted. Off the last forest service road I did find some jeep trails (probably made by hunters) and got within a mile. In my youth I did a lot of backpacking in rough country and so had learned some skills. Of course in my excitement to get to the dashpoint I forgot all those. So I learned a critical lesson – don’t trust your life to technology. Long story short near that dashpoint my GPS failed. And since I’d been following that, not paying much attention, I had little clue which direction to get back to the car. And, stupidly I had neither map or compass. The only smart thing I did was not panic, sit down and calm myself and try to remember every thing I’d done to reach this nowhere. So I made it back but just barely. I read about people blindly following phone GPS and ending up in muddy fields, a bother but hardly dangerous. If you’re out in nowhere you need to have your wits about you and know where you are and where you need to be.
But on this second geodashing trip my biggest problem was these road, but also forgetting both my age and another lesson, altitude. This time I had two GPS, spare batteries, food and water. And I used my phone for an old lesson in hiking – it looks different going back where you came from. So in the couple of miles (no trail of any kind) I had to hike I took numerous pictures, looking backwards to have clues in case even my redundant GPS failed. So an old dog can learn. What I failed to think about is that the previous day I’d been at around 1100 feet of elevation, which is also my normal altitude, and now I’m at over 9000′ with less than 24 hours to have acclimatized. Fortunately I did another wise wilderness trail thing – go uphill when you’re fresh as going back downhill will be easier. So, despite all this I was exhausted. I got the dashpoint and rested there about an hour but getting back to the car was an ordeal. Despite numerous rests and a very slow pace I wasn’t sure I’d make it. Seeing my car was an unbelievable relief. Having driven up this road through all the obstacles I knew I could just charge back down as I certainly didn’t want to get stranded in my exhausted state.
Have I gone back to this area since chasing dashpoints? Not a chance. But, of course, I found new places to have more “adventure” than I wanted. But that’s future stories.