Impressive base camp selection

How to choose a perfect basecamp

Because many 4WD excursions last two days or more, there’s usually the need to select a campsite arrangement. You can elect to go with a base camp, or set up camp at a different location each night (what I call a cruise or a moving camp).

Another option is a hybrid variety. This is handy for really long excursions, say in excess of seven days. Use a base camp for a few days, then a moving camp for other days in your trip.

There are no hard and fast rules. Select the arrangement(s) best suited to your trip, its location and the needs of your guests.

Before going further, we should review some fundamentals of campsites. Regardless of the style you select, it should:

Tags: camping

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I just returned from the Cal4Wheel Convention in Visalia.

I must say what a great job Amy Cave and her crew did with all the bad weather threats and the usual catastrophes!!! Thank God Mother Nature decided to have the rain cease Friday night.

Now Amy can have the car show and the vendors can set up in the parking lot. She was wondering where she was going to get all the umbrellas/EZ-ups to keep the rigs dry out in the rain.

The dinner was really good!! And it went really well. I believe they served over 200 for dinner with a choice of beef, chicken or fish. I didn't hear anyone say their dinner wasn't good. And I was able to sit with Bonnie Ferguson, South District Secretary, another of the hard working members of the association, along with John Stewart, Natural Resources Consultant,and Sherry Stortroen and her husband Ole.

Tags: letters to the editor

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Vehicles in snow

Off-Roading 101

Off-roading takes many forms.

It can be a remarkable adventure into the outback, or a simple drive to your favorite backcountry picnic spot.

It can be a hair-raising crawl over mountainous rocks or a family camping trip in the Sierras.

Wherever your 4x4 takes you, there are many important shortcuts and tips that can help make your adventure all the better.

That’s why land use warrior Del Albright and I wrote and published 102 Off Road Tips.

Tags: driving techniques

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Mojave Desert Tortoise

Desert Tortoise - Desert Survivor?

Ever wonder why there is such uproar when there is something that involves the Desert Tortoise (AKA gopher tortoise)? After all it’s just a turtle, you can buy them at the pet store, right? In this case, WRONG. There are significant differences between the two. Both reptiles are from the order of Testudines, but with different family classifications. The major difference between the two is that tortoises are land dwellers, whereas turtles live in or very near water at all times. The bodies of both tortoises and turtles are shielded by a shell, the upper part is called a carapace, the lower portion is called plastron. These two parts of the shell are attached by a bridge, meaning that the head and limbs of both the tortoises and turtles may be withdrawn from the shell; the whole body can never be detached from the shell.

Both tortoises and turtles lay eggs on the ground. The mothers will dig a burrow and lay two to twelve eggs. It takes from 90-120 days for the eggs to hatch. Once the hatchlings emerge from the shell, they dig their way to the surface. The annual death rate of adult tortoises is typically only a few percent, but it is much higher for the young. Only 2-5% of hatchlings are estimated to reach maturity. Estimates for the desert tortoise hatchlings to reach 1 year of age is 47-51%. And survival from 1-4 years of age is 71-81%. In a laboratory experiment, temperature influenced hatching rates and hatchling gender. Incubation Temperatures of 88 degrees or less resulted in all males. Temperatures above 91 degrees resulted in all females. No mortality rates were available for turtles.

Tags: desert tortoise

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Deadly Mistakes: Spinning Tires

Jeep spinning tires

Getting stuck is a common occurrence among four wheelers. After all, we intentionally drive in difficult areas. Every situation is different, but one common trait I see is the inappropriate use of power to get through. It seems logical enough: I’m stuck or losing momentum; why not just hit the gas? In reality, you want to throttle back or back out in most situations.

Hitting the gas (throttle) often just causes the wheels to spin. Without traction, you begin to drift or slide. Because the ground is never level, you’ll slide in whatever direction is off camber. You could slide into a pile of rocks or worse—go off the edge of a cliff.

You could go from being merely stuck to a life-threatening situation.

Tags: driving techniques

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Let me share a repair I recently performed on my 1998 Ford Ranger 4x4. I noticed one day that I had a noise coming from my truck as I drove it. This lasted for about a month, kept getting louder and started to pick up a small vibration. I quickly found the source of the noise, the CV joint on the front driveshaft was failing.

Upon looking at the driveshaft I was somewhat perplexed. I had never seen a driveshaft with a CV joint in it. I have replaced many a driveshaft with the traditional cross type universal joint. I mean, how hard can this be? I’ve replaced front half shafts on front wheel drive cars and torn the shafts apart to “see how they work.”

Tags: repair

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