Colorado is full of opportunities to take a vehicle off-road. Once a Jeep owner proudly proclaimed that if he couldn’t make it up a snow-packed road, no one could. In the next few moments, my family and I zipped by in our Subaru Forester equipped only with studded snow tires.
I grew up in Pittsfield, Mass and pride myself on being a great driver, not necessarily a “wheeler.” Last summer, my family and I decided to skip the paved Independence Pass (12,000 ft above sea level) to try Hagerman’s Pass (only 11,985 feet) to save 2 hours according to Google. The road narrowed, gravel became rocks, and soon our little Subaru was crawling slowly over what felt like a river bed of football-sized rocks!
After turning around we tore a hole in the side-wall of a tire 20 miles from pavement and well out of cell phone range. After unloading the car, changing the tire, and re-loading, we were finally on our way again. I sure was thankful that the spare had air. And the long way was kind-of nice.
A few things I have learned about “wheeling” is that “regular” tow trucks only go so far. Most are not equipped to safely navigate the off-road, or back road terrain. The few tow trucks that will venture into the back woods charge a fortune. $20 goes a whole lot further if a Good Samaritan should happen by, but most will help for goodwill. Rental car companies don’t like their vehicles off-road – and their insurance may be void when off-road. Make sure your spare is full of air. If you are traveling through water, go very slowly to avoid hydro-locking your engine. Finally, know the terrain and limits of your vehicle to avoid getting high-centered or rolling over.