By Chuck Wells
I want to take a minute and share some photos with you from my longtime friend, Tom Croak. Tom and I became friends when we were both active in the Colorado 4-Wheelers Four-Wheel-Drive Club years ago. Tom is a seasoned Jeeper, but also enjoys “backcountry touring,” as he likes to call it, in his stock ML500 Mercedes SUV. For the harder trails, Tom uses his lifted, locked and armored Grand Cherokee.
We recently came across a really cool map published by the National Park Service (presented by Jeep) showing backcountry roads throughout the park. The first page of the PDF shows the map and important information such as camping & road types, while the second page lists many of the roads with great descriptions. Many of the roads are suitable for stock SUVs so they can be enjoyed by nearly everyone!
The roads on the map correspond to several trails in our Northern California and Southern California guidebooks, specifically:
Guide to Southern California Backroads & 4WD Trails
#1 Titus Canyon (E)
#2 Chloride City (M)
#3 Cottonwood/Marble Canyon (M)
#4 Echo Pass/Inyo Mine (D)
#5 Jail Canyon (Partial) (M)
#6 Pleasant Canyon/South Park (Partial) (D)
#7 Goler Wash/Mengel Pass (Partial) (D)
#8 Butte Valley (E)
Guide to Northern California Backroads & 4WD Trails
#47 Swansea Cerro Gordo Rd (M)
#48 Racetrack via Hunter Mountain (M)
Hopefully those of you wishing to explore this area will find this map useful!
What does it take to write a FunTreks Guidebook? Well, besides hundreds of miles of backroad trails (usually alone) that may or may not be fun, it takes a lot of gear.
Besides the RV that is home for several months at a time, we carry all the normal off-road gear: recovery, communications, spares, and other required items when in the backcountry alone. We also have maps, BOY do we have maps! Of course we carry the latest MVUM if one is available, we also roll with a Gazeteer for basic directions, along with forest service maps, maps from 4WD shops & clubs, and any other useful paper map we can get our hands on.
Of course we have more than a few electronics with us too! We use voice recorders (as you see Charles using in our AZ Book trailer video), GoPro and other video cameras, point & shoot digital cameras with GPS, redundant GPS devices, iPhones & iPads for planning & navigation, and Nuvi devices loaded with TOPO maps so we can build & test our data cards.
That’s the very short list of things we use to help bring you the most accurate, fun, and up to date 4WD guidebooks on the planet. How much of this gear do you take with you when exploring?
Guide to Arizona Backroads & 4-Wheel Drive Trails, 2nd Edition, has been delivered to our warehouse and is now ready to ship. If you pre-ordered, look for delivery in the next few days. If not, it's time to place your order.
I wanted to take a minute to thank all of our readers and fans for the great support you’ve given FunTreks over the years. We don’t get to hang out with as many readers as we’d like to, as a small company we all wear plenty of hats and each of us is always working on several projects at a time.
Luckily there are plenty of ways for you to let us know what you like (or don’t like) about our books and data cards. When you order through our website you can always leave a comment. Often these comments are special instructions for delivery (which Darlene is happy to accommodate when possible), but sometimes we get a great comment, like this one from a recent order:
“Your guide books come highly recommended. I'll be visiting Colorado and Utah for at least a month during the summer of 2013. Going to try real hard to convince my wife Colorado is where we need to retire in a few years! Can't wait to get the guide books, studying them and planning our trip will help pass the time till next summer. Take Care!”
You may have seen the pics we posted on Facebook showing FunTreks Data Card trails on an iPad (thanks to FJC Magazine for those), so I thought now would be a good time to cover more advanced use of our cards.
When we developed our data card concept, the key feature we wanted to achieve was ease of use. For most customers, simply plugging the card in to your Garmin GPS device is as easy as it gets, and no special knowledge of file formats or computer software is required. At the same time, we realize not everyone has Garmin GPS devices and many people may want to use our data cards to see off road trails on their iPad or other tablet device.
The summer season is barely underway and there have already been numerous wildfires around the country and even near our home town. Our thoughts go out to all affected by fires, and we wanted to share a few quick steps that you can use to view the current perimeter of any fire in both Google Maps and using one of our favorite tools, Google Earth.