Better off on foot

Posted by: Rick_D

Better off on foot - 10/09/14 02:49 PM

Who takes an infant four-wheelin'?

Don't get me wrong, I'm glad they're okay and now that kid will live long enough to kick one of the adults in charge in the shin, but two observations:

--Since when do jeepers not keep survival gear in their vehicles? They should have had everything they needed to survive comfortably for a few days. The Rubicon Trail can and does mangle very advanced rigs--I've walked stretches of the thing and it is brutal. Plus, no winch?

--Article says they were found "just east of Loon Lake." Know what's at Loon Lake? Roads, campgrounds, a powerplant (often staffed) and a lodge. A map or the GPS on that phone might have told them that.

End of rant.
Posted by: Pika

Re: Better off on foot - 10/09/14 04:51 PM

My son and I drove the Rubicon Trail in 2007 in his modified Jeep Rubicon. I think a stock Jeep would have real problems on that "road" and certainly would suffer some damage enroute. It took us 2 days to cover the distance and I'm certain I could have covered it faster walking.
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Better off on foot - 10/10/14 01:00 PM

Wow. Three adults and not one of them was bright enough to realize this plan was just plain old stupid.

What would they have done if they'd not had a cellphone?

Posted by: carbeque

Re: Better off on foot - 10/10/14 01:16 PM

But... but... but... the guy's new Jeep was "Trail Rated." It's supposed to go on trails, that's what it's built for...

LOL. Glad the kid's okay. ;-)
Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: Better off on foot - 10/14/14 08:30 PM

Well, I took my daughter on a 3-day canoe trip when she was 3 months old. Also did a 2 week backpack when she was 16 months old. We used to hunt all the time with the kids ever since they were infants. So, I would not be judgmental until I heard more details. As for being north of Loon Lake, yes there are facilities there, but depending on where you are getting there may be confusing if you do not know where the roads go. I think calling for help was the right thing to do.

Would I take my infant 4-wheeling? I do not like 4 wheeling, but if I did, I probably would take the child, but be prepared for camping out if needed. I have done a lot of things outdoors with my kids when they were little, that others would frown upon.
Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: Better off on foot - 10/14/14 08:47 PM

We were out on 4wd roads with an WWII surplus ambulance, subsistence-hunting elk. No elk, no meat for the year.

Not the best outcome but this is what we had walking out in an unexpected August snowstorm. Not all would approve of this either.

We were experienced and able to handle this stuff. No call for help needed. Well, back in those days there was no way to call for help.

There may have been poor decisions made on taking a jeep on a particular route, but I do not see taking the infant as something wrong. And since they were not prepared, calling for help was a good thing to do.
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Better off on foot - 10/14/14 10:22 PM

W_D, I took my daughter out at that age too, but I don't think we're looking at how you and I approached this kind of thing.

These people took off on a very well known trail and had basically nothing with them from what I read. I never did that.

Maybe there are alternate routes, but from what I've read and heard and the photos I've seen, the Rubicon is no Sunday afternoon cruise. It's a serious off road vehicle trail, and a stock Jeep is not built for that trail. From what I understand, most off roaders do that trail in groups and bring lots of spare parts for their vehicles, and lots of equipment to extract stuck vehicles, and they drive mostly highly modified vehicles that are built for trails like the Rubicon, and they break them and fix them on the trail because it is an extremely tough trail.

If I'm wrong, and there is a route that stock Jeeps can take for a Sunday drive on the Rubicon, I'd still say they should have had gear to spend a night or two in case something happened. Shoot, I took enough gear to feed and diaper and bed down my daughter for a couple days just on a trip to the corner store.

Plus, the fact that they got lost is, for me, another loud "tell" that they had no clue about what they were getting into and probably have no clue even now how lucky they are after getting out of that mess.

If they'd been able to spend a night in a shelter they brought and keep warm and fed and hydrated on their way out, I'd buy them beer and banana pudding and help them go get and fix their car. I'm not unsympathetic for those who make a earnest attempt to do something like this, nor am I for those that don't. But I'm not blind either and they should've saw the potential for this kind of thing to happen.

So if I were close to them I'd give them hell instead for getting that kid into that mess, and then some more for getting themselves into it.

I'd still go get and fix their car too. I've been doing that since before I had a license to drive.

Those are the coolest photos! I'm guessing that's your 1st husband? Talk about rugged good looks!!! I wanted to be like you two so bad when I was growing up. I actually had dreams of bushwhacking in the mountains out west. My first trip to Sequoia NF stunned me with how real those dreams were, and after that it all looked and felt familiar as home every time I went there. But not coming back down into the valley. The trip back to LA was agony every time.

Posted by: Rick_D

Re: Better off on foot - 10/14/14 11:57 PM

Yup. Let's say instead of the Jeep dealer I walked into the Fairfield, CA REI and bought boots, crampons and an ice axe and decided to learn to use them on Denali. That's basically what these folks did with their Jeep by heading to the Rubicon. A little ed-you-ka-shun and experience first would have been a fine idea.

We give adults leeway to do dumb stuff like this, de facto, because they're entitled to do so but also decide on behalf of four-month old? Not so much.

The little ones are surprisingly resilient and God bless anybody with the wherewithal to take them backpacking. I limited myself to car camping with my kid but if I'd ever figured out the whole feeding-and-pooping in the wilderness thing I'd have gladly taken her, just not to a place where I know people have died..
Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: Better off on foot - 10/15/14 12:51 AM

You are correct that they should have been more prepared. I am not a 4-wheeler so not familiar with the Rubicon trail so cannot comment on its risk. I doubt they knew what they were getting into. Not an excuse for not doing their homework, but I would not extrapolate that they intended to put their infant at risk. Stupid mistake but I hesitate to call it intentional neglect. They definitely got in over their heads. If I were to speculate, I would guess the mother simply trusted her husband to handle details and assumed they were going on a few hour fair weather jaunt. I regularly see wives or girlfriends blindly following while backpacking with husbands or boyfriends. May not be all that different in the 4-wheeler world. Bet the guy is in the dog house now!
Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Better off on foot - 10/15/14 01:55 PM

I limited myself to car camping with my kid

Me too. If I had the gear and experience W_D at that age I would've taken my daughter, but I had neither. I did know how to drive and fix a car though, so I did get into some pretty remote places to camp out. I had people get on me for taking my daughter out like that, but they didn't really have the experience and gear I had, so I didn't pay much attention to them.

To be fair, I got my tail chewed quite a few times by moms when I was a single parent, but I mostly deserved it and they were trying to teach me when they did it, and without them I'd have been a mess.

My daughter survived me. She still backpacks, so I guess I never traumatized her too awful much.
Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: Better off on foot - 10/15/14 06:11 PM

Babies are easier to backpack with than toddlers. As a mom, feeding was no problem because they totally nursed. Used diapers were burned every night - we always had campfires back then. But from the 2-4 ages, we had horse packers bring in a base camp and take out the gear (we still walked/carried the kids). From about 5-6 we graduated to packers on the inbound trip and walking out carrying all our gear. I sewed all my kids backpack clothing from merino wool sweaters I bought at the second hand store. I also had access to a lot of free rip-stop nylon scraps.

I do not think little kids care if it is backpacking or car camping. They do not care if it is a small puddle of a lake or a huge lake in a spectacular setting. Just getting them accustomed to being outdoors, day and night will allow them to be comfortable backpacking later. I took my kids backpacking not because they preferred it, but I wanted it. And you have to want it really bad, because it is a LOT of work!

I got plenty of criticism for taking my kids out when they were infants. But as a nursing mom, they simply had to go where I went and I was not about to give up backpacking for several years. Like you said, they survived.
Posted by: balzaccom

Re: Better off on foot - 10/16/14 11:17 AM

A couple of thoughts about the Rubicon Trail:

1. It is very well known in California, and people confuse this OHV trail with the Rubicon hiking trail round Rubicon Point in Lake Tahoe--which is a delightful trail with stunning views.

Could be they were confused about this. Loon Lake itself has some visitor facilities (it's a managed reservoir) but once you leave the lake it's all wilderness until you get to Tahoe

Since lots of people have "done the Rubicon Trail" it is easy to understand how these folks assumed they could to this OHV trail.

But you are right---the OHV route is tough, and most people do it with custom OHVs and a team.

BTW, the last time I inquired about a backpacking permit in this area I was told that the USFS had closed the Rubicon Valley to overnight camping because of human waste pollution of the waterways.


Posted by: billstephenson

Re: Better off on foot - 10/17/14 08:22 PM

That is beautiful.

Here's the kind of images I've seen of the jeep trail:

Posted by: Mr. Jowee

Re: Better off on foot - 01/11/15 06:19 PM

Originally Posted By wandering_daisy
I am not a 4-wheeler so not familiar with the Rubicon trail so cannot comment on its risk. I doubt they knew what they were getting into.

It's kind of the AT or PCT of jeep trails. The fact that it's so well known draws a lot of unprepared people onto it.