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How not to drive off a mountain



Frank, SGTFDA, and I get out in the fields together a good bit. I'd call what we do scouting more than prospecting. That's because you're expected to work at finding locatable minerals when prospecting, and rarely do we find any. This story is about one of those scouting trips.

We were in the Bulldog Wash area northeast of Apache Junction, AZ, near Superstition Mountain. Frank had gotten the gate code and we were looking for somewhere closer to find some gold... or anything else we found interesting. By interesting, I don't know if what happened qualifies. We did find a desert tortoise in the road, though. We picked him up, took a couple pics and then set him off in the weeds to make sure he was safe and on his merry way.

So, Frank and I are trundling along in his old Toyota pickup and stopping here, poking there, and all-together just having a fun afternoon. We're about 7 miles in and way off the route we had intended to take. Now, that doesn't mean we were lost. Can't be lost if you don't care where you are. The day was simply passing by under the four wheels and we were being treated to some of Arizona's scenic beauty. We hadn't a care in the world. Well, except that the truck had been acting a little funny, so Frank has been stopping every so often to adjust the carb. But no matter what he did, it kept repeating the same issue. Figured out what was really wrong a little down the road.

As we were coming up a decently steep hill, I noticed that the truck's engine seemed to be racing rather high and Frank was either not at all concerned or was doing it on purpose. I've tried to tell him that the rule of off road is "As slow as possible, as fast as necessary" and I like to think he's listened. Except the engine, and truck, were going way too fast for this hill. My kidneys were hitting my knees. My head was hitting the roof. I was concerned the truck may just fall apart on us. So I casually mention to Frank to come off the gas. Him being hard of hearing, he neither heard me, nor did he hear the racing engine. So I yelled at him. His response... "what?"

We're now about to crest the hill and the engine would be bouncing off the rev limiter, if it had one. We can't see where the trail goes over the hill. Could be straight, could be a turn, could be a cliff. We just don't know. It's about this time that Frank comes around to realize that even though he has his foot off the gas pedal, the engine isn't responding.

Frank finally realizes that the engine is doing its own thing and not listening to his right foot. So he shut the engine off just before we reached the top. Good thing, too... the trail takes a hard right turn atop a tall, steep ride down for a few hundred feet.

We're safe and out of the truck now, looking for what could be wrong here. Turns out the throttle cable housing had come out of its crimped end at the carburetor and stuck the engine at wide open throttle. A little redneck ingenuity and we had it ready to go.

Fired up the truck and continued up the hill. Right as we get to the top, it did it again. This time it dang near sent us off the edge. In addition to the runaway truck, coming down the hill were a couple UTVs loaded with some folks who had obviously not heard that drinking and driving is bad. If the truck didn't roll us off the cliff, these guys were going to try and just run us down. Pleasantries were exchanged and they were on their way. Frank fiddled with the throttle cable and the decision was made to head out of this predicament before something worse happened.

To this point, we'd spent, easily, four hours getting to where we were.

We're coming down the hill now and the dang truck did it again.

Fixed it and continued on.

We're on flat ground and it stuck again.

Fixed it... again.

Finally, we got tired of "fixing" it, and Frank just used the clutch to manage the speed to be just below way too damned fast. We exited the Bulldog Wash not long thereafter.

What had taken us 3-4 hours to get into took us all of 25 minutes to get out of.

Just another misadventure for the Dingbat Prospectors.

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Hi Glenn,

I first want to compliment your writing style, very concise.

The story too was eminently readable and certainly one that a lot of us can relate to.

It brought to mind some bizarre vehicle episodes I have been involved with in the boonies.

I hope you decide to write more.

Thanks for putting it up.

Oh, and Happy New Year.

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