Thanks to a generous grant from the Tierra Del Sol Four Wheel Drive Club (TDS) of San Diego the 4x4 trails are now safer and more user friendly in the Inyo National Forest and surrounding BLM area. TDS supplied the money and the Eastern Sierra Four Wheel Drive Club (ES4WD) supplied the leg work and muscle to get the job done.
It started in the summer of 2013 when the TDS announced that due to a very successful Jeep Sweepstakes they would fund ground-level projects to benefit 4x4 trails. At that same time the ES4WD Club was having preliminary discussions with the Inyo National Forest about how to distribute the new California Trail Users Coalition (CTUC) maps. They are terrific maps and they need to be in the hands of the four-wheelers exploring the area. One of the primary goals of the map is to keep the OHVs on the legal roads and not create new ones. Furthermore, some of the information on the map, such as "Most Difficult" and "Difficult" sections of the trails needed to be on the ground in certain locations. The problem arises when a driver encounters a difficult trail and it is very hard to turn around or back out.
Need to know where you're going? Here's info about a free app that's available for both iOS and Android devices to help you get there. This info is straight from the developer's website:
PDF Maps is a mobile map application that enables you to download maps for offline use on your Apple iOS or Android smartphone or tablet. Use your device's built-in GPS to track your location on the map. Plot and record information about locations, import and export placemarks, measure distance and area, and even plot photos. You can easily browse and purchase maps from all over the world using the convenient in-app PDF Maps Store.
Forest Service motor vehicle maps (MVUMs) are available as a free download through the app.
Visit their website at pdf-maps.com to get more info and links to the app downloads.
A friend sent me a quick note asking if there are universal hand signals for the spotters. Every spotter may have a slight variation, but below is a sample of the most commonly used signals.
Four wheeling, like any other activity, has its rules and principles. During my 40-plus years in this sport, I have seen and experienced a lot. The following axioms flow from all the wisdom I have picked up from others I respect. My list is actually longer, but I trimmed it to some of the better ones.
If you'd like to add some variety and adventure to your next 4x4 run, consider Geocaching along the trail. Geocaches are placed along trails to encourage others to visit the area, and often direct the searcher to something of interest that they might not have otherwise known about.
For those unfamiliar with Geocaching, it's an activity that uses a Global Positioning System (GPS) receiver and other navigational techniques to hide and seek containers, called "geocaches" or "caches," anywhere in the world. A smartphone can also be used as a search tool, and there are Geocaching apps available for both iOS and Android devices.
January is a time for resolutions: lose weight, eliminate bad habits, be a better person. Perhaps you made a list for this year (and are already finding it difficult to follow). This is also a good time to review the gear and equipment used in off road driving. Does any need replacing or repair? Are any pieces missing? Perhaps you need to brush up on some skills.
A favorite author, since childhood, is Horace Kephart. He was a writer for Field & Stream magazine from 1904 to 1906. In 1917 he published Camping and Woodcraft. I have a MacMillian Company 1968 reprint. It would be difficult to purchase this book today (more outdoor books). Kephart was a master wordsmith and could capture the heart of the outdoors mentality perfectly. Here is a quote from Chapter II - Outfitting that sums up the theme of this article.