Looking back on my recent trip to the desert and how we got stuck in the sand, I’m reluctant to blame the truck and the fact that it’s a 2wd. We could have also gotten stuck in the deep sand with a 4×4. Taking a 2wd off-road is always a risk, but it’s how you go into situations that makes all the difference.
Just to recap…
We were at the end of our 3-hour drive and eager to find camp. There were no “campsite” signs off the main highway indicating we reached camp, but Google Maps said “turn left here” and I obliged. After a few hundred feet on this dirt road I didn’t recognize from photos, I realized the ground had quickly turned to deep sand and we were stuck. I attempted to take a loop back towards the hard-packed dirt but it was too late. My brother was following behind in his 2wd truck and also got stuck. The sand was a few feet deep with thick, loose grains and felt like quicksand when you stepped into it.
I know how to drive in sand, and airing down the tires beforehand would have probably kept us floating above it. I was also pulling my camper so that didn’t help the situation.
Luckily I got us out of this conundrum by airing down the tires, shoveling away the sand, and using our traction boards. We got right out on the 1st attempt and I can’t say enough about how good those Maxsa boards worked. Like I mentioned before, although unlikely, a 4×4 with open diffs and street pressure tires could have got stuck as well. They might have gotten out easier, but that’s besides the point.
The lesson from a 2wd off-road driver
Had I gotten out and scouted ahead on foot at my first thought that this wasn’t the right road we would not have ended up in the sand. The campsite I chose was a developed primitive campsite that wasn’t known to have a deep sand pit at the start of it. I always read reviews and check road conditions before trips to know what I’m getting into, and this wasn’t it.
If I’d known about the deep sand we would have aired down to 15-20psi and cruised right through. But I was beat from driving and everyone just wanted to get to camp so I figured maybe the pictures I saw online were old and plodded ahead anyway, hoping this was the right road until the sand was just too much to overcome.
Considering we were out of this predicament relatively quickly, I look back on it as an adventure and a learning lesson. I’ll remember to scout ahead. I know how to get us out of trouble with traction boards and a shovel, and I’m glad to see that my collection of off-road recovery gear saved our asses. It could have been much worse without some of this preparation.
As it turns out, the turnoff was actually about 30 yards from the wrong dirt road we went down and reached camp at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park shortly after our debacle! It was beer-o-clock.
What’s the old saying in overlanding? Outfit and Explore. It makes for a good story, just be sure to go prepared. It’s especially important for us 2wd off-road/overland adventurers who don’t have 4×4 to mask our impatience and mistakes!
Get out there and have fun. Happy camping! And if you’re interested check out my 2wd camping truck build.
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