Scenario: We had been driving through Yellowstone NP for hours with no cell signal and exited the west entrance of the park to find a dispersed campsite down this FSR in Idaho, relying only on OnXOffroad app and paper maps. Here’s a glimpse of how we overlanded with respects to the risks involved.
-We’re no strangers to water crossings. This was a flooded trail, not a creek/river. Could not see the bottom. Couldn’t tell if there rocks/ledges/thick mud underneath. The description on an app was accurate thus far, except for the water. -The water depth was unknown. It looked shallow-ish. Maybe 8” deep in the center but couldn’t say for sure. The trail was unknown but we were about 4 miles into the backcountry National Forest. -First time in Idaho ever. -Driving a loaded down 4Runner 4WD with no snorkel, winch, recovery boards, or cell signal. We did have a Garmin Mini and Toyo Open Country AT3’s. -The chances of there being a dispersed campsite at this location was about 80% -The chances of finding another either paid or free campsite near YNP on Memorial Day Weekend with no reservation was about 30%. -We we’re off-roading on this trail alone. No one knew where we were. -We we’re at that point in the journey where you just really, really want to pull over and chill for a few days. That’s definitely a factor when scouting for a site. -We were in bear country, both grizzlies and black. We were absolutely prepared in terms of adhering to “bear aware” protocol but the risk is enhanced if we get stuck. -The temperature outside was 45F and falling to approx 32F. We were winter conditions prepared. -We had waterproof boots…buried in the cargo somewhere, unfortunately not on our feet at the time. We could have walked in and checked if we weren’t so adverse to cold, wet feet and mud all over inside the car. And lazy.
So taking all this into consideration, what would do? For the record, we turned around and eventually (3 hours later) found another campsite. Wasn’t a great spot but we were able to camp without seeing other people around. I always learn things about myself when I am faced with decisions like this.
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