My greatest satisfaction when I am wheeling isn’t conquering a technically renowned trail, but rather setting up camp and enjoying the destination every bit as much as the journey to get there.
As much as I love racing in Baja, doing wheelstands in Moab, or grinding my rockers against the Rubicon, my favorite thing to do is to explore. I love history within the backdrop of nature and learning about what people before me have done and how they did it. Nothing is better than heading out to the desert for the weekend and finding an old ghost town or some abandoned mining camp to help me to leave the modern world behind.
When I want to experience pure backcountry Zen, I have my places that I like to visit—and they all require a four-wheel drive to get to. On my list of respites is a stopover at the Geologist Cabin in Death Valley, where I can relax while taking in the colors as Striped Butte fades into shadows at sunset. I also enjoy camping for a night at Government Holes along the Mojave Road, where I can listen to the gusts of wind chasing each other through Round Valley, or any open space on a warm summer night where my dad and I can watch the Perseids throw brilliant balls of fire across the sky.
Backcountry adventures are at the very core of Four Wheeler, and have been in our DNA since the beginning. It is hard to believe, but we have been sharing adventures with the Wescotts and their Turtle Expeditions for over 30 years. I guess you could call us the “original overland magazine.”
In an effort to dedicate more pages of the magazine to adventures, we’ve recently run stories, such as Chris Collard’s popular “Border-to-Border” series, and we’ve built a ’10 4Runner for our own in-house journeys. And while the 4Runner is fully outfitted, an all-out expedition rig or international maps aren’t required to go overlanding. Overlanding isn’t about exclusive clubs or a clique of folks in the know—it is something anyone can do.
Maybe you haven’t ever considered it overlanding, but packing up your 4x4 for a weekend at your secret trailside camp spot is every bit as much overlanding as those who live out of their self-contained expeditionary boxes for weeks, months, or years on end in search of excitement and culture. Overlanding isn’t anything more glamorous than taking yourself and your rig and being self-sufficient in the backcountry for a period of time.
While overlanding is nothing new, I am optimistic that the recent surge in the overlanding movement will revitalize people’s sense of adventure and shed new light and support on our hobby of wheeling. I hope that more of us will get out and explore their own backyards and take the family with them down an unfamiliar dirt road.
The greatest gift our 4x4s can give us is the ability to go places most people will never see, experience things that can’t be described properly to those who weren’t there, and discover things you might otherwise not have. Just remember, you don’t have to go far to go overlanding—you just have to get out there and do it. Adventure is calling.