What are these people thinking?

Chuck is one of those guys who helps manage public lands near Bridgeport. Every winter he encounters some of the more clueless, a group that you do not want to join. Bodie is a nice place to visit but you should make that visit when the road is open. Like many remote areas, especially in the Great Basin area, you can easily get lost or stuck and without any means to communicate – even when conditions are good. Here are some of Chuck’s stories from this year:

“We dragged two guys back to HWY 395 who went around the road closure signs and made it up the snow covered road about 6 miles until they broke through the hard crust and got high centered and stuck. If we had not come by with our snowcat I imagine they would have spent a pretty cold night out on the Bodie Road cursing themselves for not calling ahead about road conditions or for ignoring the signs.

“We also gave a lift to two cross country skiers just the other day who had “dilly-dallied” around at Bodie until it had gotten pretty late and then tried to cross country ski out the 13 miles after dark with only one flashlight between them.

“I have been stranded on that road several times in the dark by myself over the years and I can well imagine what these guys were thinking.

“We pull out or rescue about 10 or 12 vehicles a year. The Sheriff’s department just pulled a guy out that was about 8 miles in, in a two wheel drive Suburban. I have no idea what these folks are thinking. They go by the road closed signs, the parking area for us that has a number of 4 wheel drive trucks parked there, sometimes a snocat parked there, and usually a big berm of snow put at the beginning of the unplowed area, then they tell you “Oh I didn’t know I couldn’t make it to Bodie”. DUH!!!!! ”

Sometimes, these circumstances creep up on you and you don’t notice until it’s too late. That is why an experienced Nevada tourist trying to find the SNU rally at Unionville might get worried – heading up the canyon when it gets narrower and narrower and the road rougher and rougher. Is that rally site still ahead or did I miss it? If I go too far, how will I be able to get back to where I can turn around or will I get stuck on a grade or in sand? These aren’t “don’t worry, be happy” circumstances.

Plan ahead, be prepared, take note of conditions, take appropriate precautions, and ask folks like Chuck first if you don’t know for sure what you might find in exploring the remote areas of the American West.

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