Be careful in these woods, else you might not come out | TheUnion.com
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Be careful in these woods, else you might not come out

I don’t know how many times I’ve been tempted to hop in my tired old clunker and tootle off into the woods for a couple of hours. “Hey-y-y, I won’t be gone long; I don’t need to bring anything; what’s the big deal?”

“Oh yeah, go ahead and do that,” Sugartush agreed. “Take a spin up to Omega and get out of the car to admire the scenery – don’t forget to turn off the engine. What are you goin’ to do if the car won’t start?”



Mervelous Merv: “You got the same basic rule whether it’s hiking, swimming, drivin’ around – always use the buddy system, always go with a friend.”




Col. Doug: “4WD puts you farther from civilization before you get stuck.”

Big Tom: “You take a jack with you, blankets, boots, warm clothing. Don’t tell me you don’t need that stuff up here in the summer – you got any idear how cold it can get in the mountains in July?”

Spanky: “You get yourself a winch, put it on the truck and forget it’s there. Maybe you’ll never need the danged thing, but if you do, you got it.”

Ted Piland: “You can pick one up for anywhere from $90 to $150. At the absolute minimum, get a come-along and some strong cable or chain … but I’d be a lot more confident with a winch, and so will you.”

Guitar Dave: “Openable food, a kindling ax or hatchet, matches.”

Col. Doug: “You need that hatchet or ax to cut branches for traction under the wheels if you’re stuck.”

Sarah: “Yes, and if you’re out there long enough, you’ll need those same branches to build a fire so you don’t freeze.”

(Go back and read Big Tom’s comment about summer weather in the mountains.)

Merv, quietly: “Take your medication with you. If you’re a diabetic, don’t forget needles; insulin’s a little hard to use if you left your needles at home in Bigtown.

“And don’t forget Murphy’s Law: If anything can go wrong, it will. You need to stay on top of that. If you get stuck and have to break out a winch or winch cables, you’re already in trouble. It’s gonna’ take time to get loose, and most likely you’re going to end up cold, hungry, wet and mad.

“Jeepers and 18-year-old guys enjoy the adventure and challenge of getting stuck somewhere and hauling themselves out – that’s part of the fun of four-wheeling. I thought it was exciting, too, until I got around 25 and stopped liking cold, wet weather.”

Big Tom: “Amen. My opinion is go have fun with 2WD until you get stuck, put the vehicle in 4WD until you’re unstuck, and then go on home from there.”

Col. Doug: “Unless you get it loaded to the gills, you cannot drive a new 4WD vehicle out of the showroom and think it’s capable of serious four-wheeling correctly or safely.”

Hank: “Go to an aftermarket shop or one of the local auto parts stores – they can at least steer you in the right direction for some necessary equipment.”

Merv: “Nobody ever died from taking along too much camping and safety gear, but people have died from not taking enough. Contact your local 4WD club for driving tips and safety lessons.”

I found the friendliest, most helpful guy on the planet, Morris Zemlicka, who belongs to the Grass Valley 4-Wheelers (268-1630) and can tell you practically anything you want to know about it.

He also recommended calling another member, Tom Grancy (889-2021), who has made up safety sheets for 4WD owners and would be delighted to hear from you.

I guess I’ll hold off on Omega for a while.

Vivian Herron is a longtime resident of the town of Washington whose column appears on Saturdays. You can write her in care of The Union, 464 Sutton Way, Grass Valley, 95945.


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