The 12th Essential?

Yesterday morning HD, Jared and I set off for a half day hike. There is a trail that isn’t official that we wanted to rehike. All was going well until a couple miles from the trailhead on a very narrow and unmaintained Forest Service road HD’s truck suddenly died. No warning at all – it simply quietly stopped on an uphill 20% grade. In the middle of nowhere of course 😉

After much looking and prodding the cause was found to be in the trucks computer. Not fixable back there by any means, we had a dead truck and many miles to go. And hoo, did you get that feeling of nowhere as we stood on that road, looking across the vast acres of nothing (OK, tons of trees).

Jared and I set off uphill to where we could get high enough to grab a cell tower. We found one barely and got a scratchy call to Kirk to let him know what was up – texting works well this way as they send clearly even when a call won’t get through. We told him we would need a lift unless he heard back. He told us earliest he could be there was 6 hours later.

Go as high as you can, then start climbing the hill 😉


So off we went, downhill. HD had backed the truck down the road with only minimal steering and brakes. I know I’d have white knuckled that one, scared of going over the exposed cliffs. He had gotten the truck down to the flat part of the road and safely off in an old logging turn out. We stripped the truck of our gear and took the registration. Frankly, we knew if we left the rig the chances of it being shot up/burned were high. We started hiking towards the highway.

And let me say this: This is a real reason for carrying a well thought out daypack, even for a half day out. We had water, food, shelter. We’d have been fine for a day or two if needed. We had good shoes on.

We come across a line of SUV’s belonging to a Sheriff’s Department doing a Search and Rescue training session. We sat down and waited for a cop to come out of the woods. Not long after we heard an SUV coming up the road. It was another officer, who had been running late to join the group. He helped us out and ended up towing the truck all the way to the highway, where he made sure it was safely off the road but easily reachable for a tow truck.

Then -he offered and gave all 3 of us a ride to the nearest town so we could use the pay phone. Cell phones that deep in the valleys don’t work so we’d have had to hitch or walk the 4 to 5 miles downhill on the side of the highway. Woo-hoo, we got crammed in the back of the pokey mobile. That was a hoot, the 3 of us with our packs on our laps. 😀

We got to town and found the pay phone (was that me claiming they were outdated awhile back?) and I called AAA. And there you have it…the 12th essential: a road side service membership. We knew we had to get the truck out to the highway, as Forest Service roads are a no-no for being picked up. I carry a premium membership so I called up and got a tow for HD….at no cost to him. I got him and Jared home, literally they were 100 miles exactly away from HD’s mechanic. For $100 a year the membership will pay for itself for just one long distance tow. (If you know how pricey a tow is, we’d have paid $300 or more for just that).

So go prepared and have fun. But always have gear, a tow strap, good walking shoes and most of all….a way to get home if things don’t do what you want!


One thought on “The 12th Essential?

  1. Something to check for, many modern vehicles with computers have a “limp home” setting that can be engaged if the computer fails. You may have to contact a dealer mechanic to get the particulars as they’re often not described in the owner’s manual. If the feature exists for your vehicle, and isn’t turned on automatically when the computer fails, it’s can usually be turned on with a specific sequence of ignition key turns.

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