First time out after nearly a decade of wanting to try it

DetroitDarin

Scratching a 10 year Itch
I've been on this forum for years. I joined the forum when i had my old truck - 2006 Expedition on 34" tires, slick bumper, whinch and all that. As i grew into my desire for overlanding (read: Driving off road then pulling over to camp somewhere), i was sure the tacoma was the platform i wanted. August of this year i finally got a truck and this past columbus day weekend I got my feet wet.

But back in 2015 i moved to europe and drove a Mini. Over the last five years i've lurked on forums and facebook groups kinda emotionally-salivating to get out into the wild. I didn't even try in Europe - in Germany - because that probably does not exist. Camping is largely in what's tantamount to grass parking lots near or in cities. This forum and the adventures contained herein kept me champing at the bit to start doing the things; and truly the posts here have been inspiring as F, and I'm super grateful.

6 Aug i bought the tacoma - the day after I moved back to the US of A; and it's been wonderful - super happy with it. I'd wanted and maybe still want a RTT but in the mean time I'm just fine with the sleep platform i've built in the bed - it rests on the rails of my bedslide and can be pulled out together with it - there's about 4" of storage space under it - which i'm seeing is not going to be very useful without placing things in totes at some point. Atop the platform I have two 3" latex foam toppers - and between the both of them I slept pretty well. I'm going to need some kind of cover for them long-term - or maybe I'll put them inside sleeping bags?

I also need more cargo strategy as having to remove everything from the bed of the truck to the cab (or place outside) is kind of a pain in the butt.

So - i have things i need to work out for sure. But getting out there and starting was the whole point of my two-overnight trip. I refuse to let 'not ideal' be a reason/excuse for staying on pavement.

My route took me from the OKC area across to and past Fort Smith AR - then up State route 71, then east towards Forest Service road 124 and the Ozarks. The road was tight in places and I ended up unable to pass one tough section - I didn't need 4x4 for the sections i drove, although at a few places i was SHOCKED the truck made it, so am underestimating the tires and truck ability - I'm pretty sure if i'd had a winch I would have kept going through the tough section but am going to keep erring on the side of caution when out there. The tires were aired-down to 20psi front and rear.

Heading down the first not-very-smooth dirt road had my proverbial juices flowing (yes, waterproof seat covers - but where the hell were these juices coming from? ew) - as i descended lower into the valley between hills i couldn't help but think of this moment as 'the' moment I started my new long-desired hobby. Colors were incredible.

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Of course the camera is stupid - this was much steeper than appears.

Just beyond that point i was met by two side-by-side things - buggies or whatever. We stopped to say hello. I asked about the trail conditions below - he said about a mile down the trail it gets narrow and "You ain't gonna make it in that truck" was the warning. Side note: I made it 3 more miles - and stopped only when i was facing kind of an off-camber downhill that was mostly mud, and steep and I do not have a winch. But i made it those 3 miles without engaging 4x4 except to back up 100m along a stretch of muddy trail; just to help with control.

Reaching the bottom of the hillside - GoogleEarth promised me a water-crossing. Oof. I'll take it though - as my 'first time'.

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I got kind of busy driving and didn't photograph or document as i'd hoped I would. About 90 minutes later, here's me going back the other direction at that spot.

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I found no solid camp sites down there - so continued across the top of the hillside towards the back (eastern-facing) side - that road was mostly just dirt/gravel - and nothing else the rest of the weekend would have even required airing down - though I was glad I'd done so purely for comfort.

This tree had fallen over at some point - someone had braced it with a y-shaped stump/log on the right side (of the pic). The following pics were taken the next morning after driving back up.

At my camp site - a wide turn along the road with a good-sized portion of flat land on the hill-side, I got things sorted and ate dinner and walked the pups and simply didn't take pics. It was all so new - and though I fancy myself a bit of a photog, i kind of half-consciously decided i'd rather be in the moment than behind the camera.

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Stopped here too - and reversed. I am sure the truck could have made it down and likely back up but i am risk-adverse while out there alone without a winch.

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DetroitDarin

Scratching a 10 year Itch
Enroute to the next campsite - I took a little path/road branching off the main road and found what looked like a former homestead - plumbing piping still rising from the foundations. Also had this...maybe root cellar?

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Day 2 camp - just off the main dirt road - but up a little hill to provide a little privacy.

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The only use - but a good use - for my traction boards that weekend:

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This phone pic kinda shows the sleeping platform

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and my companions - Gracie and Aoife, respectively.

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That's about all there is to it - I woke the morning of day three, broke camp and headed home. But it's not all there is to it - Over the weekend I'd confirmed being out in nature is my ballast. I remember laying in the hammock with the Vizsla and looking up at the trees - hearing the fire crackle and the wind blow and stick bugs all around me and feeling supremely comfortable and my mind was focused only on the moment; the other life distractions were gone. And stayed gone until they return as they do, and then I must get out there, off the pavement once again.
 

Ace Brown

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0019
Good you’re getting into it. I’ve been doing it since 1960 and still have not tired of the hobby.

Suggest you get used to using 4WD when on dirt. If you wait until you really need it it might be too late. It does not hurt anything to leave in 4 high on loose dirt. Save low range and traction aids for the real rough stuff. Without a winch there are a few things I suggest you should carry. A heavy duty come along can help as a “light duty winch”. Get a High-lift Jack and learn to use it safely. Some chain can be used with the Hilift as a another winch substitute. Get a recovery strap. It won’t help much when running solo but if you get stuck someone may come along and he can snatch you out.

The most important thing you should do is get some training. Find a formal 4x4 training class or join a club and make a few friends to run with and learn from.

Have fun and be safe.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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AbleGuy

Too Much Fun Club, founder
Thx for sharing a great, enjoyable simple story showing the durability of your passion to get out into the woods. These pictures clearly evidence that fact that the long five year drought of you being in Europe — without having easy opportunities to go camping and exploring by a 4x4 anywhere — is happily over. I’m hoping you’ll continue to post your adventures here.
 

DetroitDarin

Scratching a 10 year Itch
Good you’re getting into it. I’ve been doing it since 1960 and still have not tired of the hobby.

Suggest you get used to using 4WD when on dirt. If you wait until you really need it it might be too late. It does not hurt anything to leave in 4 high on loose dirt. Save low range and traction aids for the real rough stuff. Without a winch there are a few things I suggest you should carry. A heavy duty come along can help as a “light duty winch”. Get a High-lift Jack and learn to use it safely. Some chain can be used with the Hilift as a another winch substitute. Get a recovery strap. It won’t help much when running solo but if you get stuck someone may come along and he can snatch you out.

The most important thing you should do is get some training. Find a formal 4x4 training class or join a club and make a few friends to run with and learn from.

Have fun and be safe.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

Thank you very much for the feedback and suggestions! Cheers, Ace.


Thx for sharing a great, enjoyable simple story showing the durability of your passion to get out into the woods. These pictures clearly evidence that fact that the long five year drought of you being in Europe — without having easy opportunities to go camping and exploring by a 4x4 anywhere — is happily over. I’m hoping you’ll continue to post your adventures here.
Much-appreciated. Europe was great and i loved the experience but i am kinda happy to be home; where i can get out there and unplug without so many restrictions and rules. :)
 
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