Dangerous Recovery

During the week, another RMO member and I went out to try out his new RZR. When I pulled up to the McLean Creek Campers Centre (read - General Store), I was approached by two gentlemen that had gotten themselves stuck. They needed a recovery and they didn't have a cell phone signal and couldn't give a shout out back to town to get someone to come and help them. So they bought a tow rope from the store and waited to see if anyone drove by that could help them.

Luckily we weren't on any sort of timeline and we were able to get them unstuck pretty easily. That's not the point however. The reason for all the backstory on such a simple recovery is because it illustrates a number of problems that led these two gentlemen into their predicament.

First, they were both out in a single vehicle. Of course this breaks a pretty major rule of adventuring in the backcountry in and of itself but there are ways to minimize the risk when you're doing so.

Second, they didn't have any recovery gear or secondary communications. This is where things really broke down for them. IF you are going to go and explore the backcountry on your own, you need to be self sufficient or at the very least be able to communicate back to your home base in case you need assistance.

Third, after getting back to the camper's centre, they attempted to do the right thing and purchased themselves some "recovery" equipment. That way they could flag someone down and not have to worry if the good samaritan had their own recovery gear. Unfortunately it was a tow rope, not a recovery rope or strap. Though the strap was rated for close to the weight of the vehicle needing to be recovered, it was completely under sized for the weight of the combined vehicles and the dynamic forces that might need to be applied. Even worse than this ... the strap had metal hooks on either end. So if/when the hooks fail, a dangerous projectile gets added to the mix.

Fourth and probably most importantly, a lack of education was evident in that they did not know they had made the previous three mistakes. Don't mean to say that they were ignorant ... we all make mistakes. Just a little bit more knowledge couldn't have hurt.

As luck would have it, everything turned out okay. They didn't get stuck far from the road, they were able to catch a ride to the store, someone came along that was willing to help and that person had their own recovery gear, knew how to use it and they didn't need to use their tow rope. The point, after all that, is to say that if any one of those things had turned out differently, so too would the outcome.

Stay safe out on the trail.