Spring thaw means MUD! All the snow and moisture from the Winter manages to turn dirt roads into a Muddy Mess. As we venture out to fish and hunt, the Mud manages to ruin your day.
Once you leave the Blacktop, anything is fair game. You may have All Wheel, Four Wheel, Super treads, or Chains but… Mud don’t care. If you head off road, you may want to plan and prepare just in case your Rig gets stuck in the Mud.
On one adventure, I was going to show a friend where a new Beaver Dam was. A dirt road paralleled a railroad track, and a creek was next to the road. As I got close to the dam, the earthen bank, along the road, next to the creek gave way. My right rear tire was airborne. 4 WD would not work and there was no action traction. It would have been nice to have a Come Along or a winch, but…
After hiking out a few miles, I made it to a store where they had a phone. Yes, this was pre cell phone time. I managed to get a tow truck, with a winch to drag me off the eroded cliff. There was only damage to my pride and a loss of an afternoon.
Start in 4 WD. Do not wait until the tires are spinning and free spooling Mud. Drive with your windows open so you can hear the tires. If you hear the tires spinning, slow down and go to a lower range. If you hear the streamside bank dropping into the creek, hit the gas!
Allow the tires to do their job. This means lower RPM’s. Avoid obvious obstacles and feel your way along the rough track. Lower tire pressure makes for a bigger footprint, and more traction.
If you get stuck, stop and access. If you just pound the gas pedal, you may dig yourself into a hole that you cannot get out of. It is not a race. You do not want to ruin your tires or ride.
Try backing out or rocking the rig. Try adding something to give you traction. Rocks, branches, carpet, grass, etc. See if you can get the rig on top the debris for added traction.
Floormats cab work in a pinch. They are also helpful to lay on if you need to put on chains. Remember the rig is all, or 4-wheel drive. Chains, or traction materials, on accessible tires may do the trick. In sand or gravel, letting air out of your tires, down to maybe 15 PSI, may do the trick.
It may be possible to jack up your vehicle and place traction materials under the tire. To do any of this, a shovel is a great idea to keep in the trunk. A couple of trunk or bed size pieces of plywood may be handy. Consider carrying other gear that may help you get unstuck.
If the truck or rig is in a rut, it is also probably sitting on the frame. Use the shovel to clear the area where the frame is in contact with the ground. A Come Along can be useful in starting the motion to slide the truck or get it off the frame. Using a heavy chain or strap anchored to a tree or rock may work. Place a floor mat over the middle of the chain or rope length. If it breaks, the mat will catch it.
Whatever you are doing, Stay Smart, Stay Safe. You may need to hike out to get a phone, a Farmer or friend with a tractor. Oh well, some days, that is just how it goes!
For more Montana Grant, find him in 4 WD at www.montanagrantfishing.com.