Four-wheeling adventure to me is in some respects very personal. It's a way to escape the realities and hassles of daily life. It's a way to refresh and rejuvenate the soul and spirit and to collect my thoughts. And there are no better places to escape to than some of this country's most spectacular and remote lands.
Some of the places I travel to are still accessible by four-wheel drive; some of them are not. In fact, my favorite escape from reality has turned into a much longer hike than it used to be. The canyon that used to lead me to this location was recently closed to vehicular traffic. This is unfortunate and wrong in so many ways. For one, it used to be a very challenging canyon to wheel.
Not many people know about this place because it is well off the beaten path. It is one of those secret, magical places where a person can pass a week and still be disappointed about leaving - here, you don't get homesick. The spot is at the end of a nonexistent trailhead and a climb up a few thousand feet of narrow rock gorge. Some sections are really precarious and quite dangerous. At the end of the trail, tucked miles back in the canyon, are a small valley, a narrow river, great fly fishing, and a cabin predating 1900 (at least that's what I gather from the crude knife carving on the inside log wall).
I found this place quite by accident in a flyover by plane. Don't even bother asking me where it is because even some of my best friends don't know about it. There are signs others know about it, but they must have just as much respect for the place as I do as there is still glass in the windows and no bullet holes in any part of the structure. In fact, there are still some old cans lying around, a couple of pieces of furniture, and a small cast-iron stove. I dread the day when someone takes the antique remnants and destroys the cabin. But what scares me even more is when the left-wing, anti-access, opportunist crowd finds what's here; they will fight to close the last 15 or so miles of trail so nobody can ever visit this place again.
This is the sort of place a father could bring his children and teach them about nature and the simple pleasures to be enjoyed within it. If not for the fact that 15 or 20 miles can be made by four-wheel, probably no one, including myself, will ever see this place again. Unfortunately, I have a feeling that this is inevitable.
The forces of closure are everywhere. I recently read in a liberal rag how the Jeeps visiting Moab, Utah, are turning the sandstone into dust. We all know that there are people out there who will read this blatant lie and take it to heart. It took decades for wooden and steel wagon wheels to carve a notch an inch or two deep in the sandstone. Rubber tires will not tear ruts into sandstone. The craziest claim I've read to date is how airing up and down Jeep tires pollutes the atmosphere. So much for coal-burning industry! Can they back up those exaggerated claims with some factual scientific evidence? Highly unlikely, but such outlandish assertions sure make for great sensationalistic news!
The anti-access lobby will tell its uninformed supporters that driving over rock destroys the environment and that today's engines spew coolant, fuel, and oil into the creeks and riverbeds. Misleading drivel like this is as silly as the environmentalists here in California who say tortoises hibernate in dry creekbeds, and therefore nobody should drive in them. What they neglect to say is that through evolution the tortoises have learned not to hibernate in the creekbeds because the first rain of the season tends to all but decimate the population.
What's my point in all this rambling? Well, since the environmentalists are trying to convince the uninformed general public that they are preserving the environment for future generations, I'd like to know how future generations are going to enjoy these lands if they can't get to them. Not many people (short of an Olympic athlete) would be able to hike the miles it takes to get to some of these closed areas. The anti-access folks will never visit the areas once they are closed, but I guess they feel better sleeping at night knowing they just denied families their right to explore the lands so many have fought and died for. It is our job to correct the misinformation that is being spread.
As citizens of this country, we should be able to show the youth of America firsthand the reasons why this country is so great and why these beautiful and spectacular state and national lands are worth fighting for. The country's children should have the right to learn about nature and continue to be able to explore it by four-wheel drive. Please get involved and help fight against unjust land closures and the anti-access groups' misleading claims. Let's truly preserve these lands for the children so they can someday enjoy them from something other than the couch or movie theater seat.