How often do you re-learn something? Meaning, how often do you venture into something you may have a vast amount of knowledge and/or experience, but you do something totally against what you know?
I just returned from a weekend in Hot Springs, AR. It is a place known for beautiful landscape, national parks, and most famous for its hot spring waters. Well, we didn’t visit for any of that rather we attended a weekend gathering of fellow off-road enthusiasts (mostly Jeeps) at the SuperLift Off-Road Vehicle Park.
I’ve been an avid Jeep enthusiast and owner of several Jeeps over the years. One of the biggest rules of safe off road adventures is never, I repeat NEVER go on a trail by yourself. Always have another vehicle in your group. Period.
It was late afternoon after an early morning start. This was also my wife’s first ever experience riding in a Jeep on trails most people would have difficulty hiking let alone driving a vehicle. We rode all morning, broke for lunch, and we had just come of a trail that was bit more aggressive than the morning trails. If her nerves weren’t shot before then, they were now. So, to calm her down I decided to get away from the group and ride some less rated trails for the remainder of the afternoon. Now I know what my Jeep can and can’t do but that’s beside the point. The main reason one does not venture into the wilderness alone is due to if something breaks. A $7 part can ruin your day!
It’s about 3:00 PM Saturday afternoon and we’ve been driving a trail for some time up the side of one ridge and then down into the valley of the next. We were going slow and stopping occasionally to look at the view and take pictures.
As we were coming down one particular section I could see ahead of me the trail is a rather steep climb that twisted in a series of “S” curves and the whole section was nothing but loose rock. With the momentum I had coming down the hill I thought it best to keep it in that gear and begin the ascent with some gusto. Less than a 1/4 way up the Jeep stalled and started slipping on the loose rock. I immediately asked my wife and young step-daughter to exit as the last thing I needed was to roll down the hill into a tree with them riding.
I was able to ease the Jeep back down to a level spot and attempted to get it started again. It’s an older ’85 CJ7 and it is fed via a carburetor rather than fuel injection. I had been having problems with it earlier and on a 30% grade they tend to flood themselves out and stall. That’s what I figured anyway and it was just a matter of time waiting for the fuel to drain so it would start again.
It’s nearing 4:00 PM now and it begins to get dark at 6:00 PM. The second to last thing I wanted was to get stuck deep in the woods in the dark. I had called on the radio for help but the other groups were dealing with their own challenges with broken vehicles and no one was available to come get us.
Now how embarrasing is it when a seasoned off road enthusiast has to call for help because he’s went off on his own and has a breakdown? That’s the third to last thing I wanted.
I tried to start it to the point the battery was beginning to sound weak. Nothing.
It’s time to come up with an alternate plan. We needed to walk to the top of the hill and see how close we were to the cross trail. If no one came to assist by 4:30 PM then we needed to start walking.
Just as we got to the top I realized it would be a longer walk than first realized. So I told them to stay there and I would go back down and try one more time. Still wouldn’t start but I searched the back of my noggin for any morsel of information that I wasn’t thinking about. All the time also thinking about all the new names I would be called if we had to walk out. Then it donned on me…maybe it’s not fuel. Maybe it is not getting spark. This engine is an inline six cylinder so the carburetor is on the driver side and the distributor cap and coil are on the passenger side. Just for giggles I walked around the other side…
…the coil wire popped off! Plugged it back onto the coil and it started first try!
The ReLearn? I learned a long time ago never to go trail riding by yourself. The question of learning by doing compared to learning by knowledge was intriguing. How often do we actually ‘test’ what we learn. In this case it has never occurred to me to go off by myself to learn what consequences there could be if I went trail riding alone. I was just told not to and at times heard other stories of those who had and their consequences. Knowing better, I did anyway and mainly because I was more focused on calming my wife’s nerves rather than all of our safety. It was a close call and it would have been a very long walk out of that forest. The walk alone would have been the consequence for sure, not to mention the nightly bubble baths and lotion rub downs I would owe my wife for eternity whilst I slept in my Jeep in the garage…
How many things do we “know” that we’ve learned but have never tested that knowledge to learn of potential failures and consequences? How many things have we ReLearned because we knew, but just had to test for ourselves and then really learned the big “why?”