The Road Less Travelled
By Terri Windover, Connect Columist
There’s nothing worse than heading out on the trail to have your quad die after a couple kilometers – Because, hey it ran fine last year! (You wouldn’t go on a long road trip without checking your car or truck over, would you? So, why would you take a chance being stranded in the bush surrounded by hungry spring bears?)
BEWARE OF BEARS: Speaking of bears, one tore up our campsite last week. The four-footed wrecking ball did a number on our stuff that even Miley Cyrus would be proud of. Thanks to our human tendency to leave behind garbage and food everywhere we go, bears come to associate the human scent with a free snack.
We keep our space impeccably clean, so they wouldn’t get a payout, and they basically trashed our site as a thanks. Jerk. So, if you hit the trails soon, please don’t go alone and bring some bear spray. Somebody wants you to come home.
I can be a bit reckless at times, especially with an engine and four mud tires at my disposal, but I do tend to be prepared for “What Ifs” now. Trust me, it was only after a few crazy situations that were entirely unavoidable that I learned this.
BRING AN EXTRA EQUIPMENT: I always have a tow rope, even though we have a winch because – you guessed it – our winch cable snapped on us once. Now, we regularly feed it out to its entire length to check for wear. I have a small first aid pack, as well as water proof matches, a tool kit, water and calorie dense snacks – in case we really get stuck. If you’ve ever seen a group of really hungry people trying to winch their way through the muskeg you’d understand the meaning of ‘Hangry’, instantly.
TRACK YOUR LOCATION: We usually bring our Garmin GPS, as we tend to get really deep in the bush or swamp when we give in to our urge to explore the wilds of Alberta. I get bored on the trails sometimes, so having that trail memory on the unit has been a huge help.
PACK CLOTHES: I also bring along a waterproof jacket, an extra layer of clothing and socks. We never use to bring those items, until one day Kevin bounced off a tree root ball and went completely upside town underneath his big 800 in the muskeg. He was soaked and smelled like a Walking Dead zombie for the rest of the day.
Nope! No more kisses for you, Mister Stinky. I can tell you my heart skipped a few beats, until the boys pulled it off him and he stood up – smelly, but unscathed except for his pride. He is an expert rider and it hammered home the message that anything can happen to anyone, anytime. So, take a lesson from those boy scouts and be as prepared as possible.
PROTECT ELECTRONICS: Personally, I love taking pictures, so I always cart around a camera, a Go Pro and my iPhone. I had a cargo box put on mine just to house my electronic “babies”. I place the camera bag in a huge zip lock bag and my phone in a small one, just in case I end up in a river one day, which if you know me you understand is entirely possible. I have a tendency to drive through each and every mud hole and creek bed like it’s my day job. I always have twice as much mud as everyone else on my machine.
CHECK YOUR ENGINE: One last thing, please check your machine regularly for clumps of mud around the exhaust that have dried out from the heat and start smoldering. We went out for a swamp run last summer and, about four hours in, I kept smelling smoke. I got off and took a look under my quad and there was an inch long burning ember on my pipe.
It’s already a dry year and we’ve had an early start to fire season, so it’s an important issue to be aware of. If you love our outdoors, as much as I do, take those moments to ensure that we get to enjoy it for years to come.
Hope these tips help you to deal with any troubles that come your way.
Enjoy the ride and I’ll see you on the trail!