When we spent more time yanking out unstuck vehicles, crunching more front valances and running boards, and effecting field fixes than getting a lot of wheeling done, but hey, the 4x4 Gods can be fickle that way.
The high (or low) point in our test today came during a trail ride through Last Chance Canyon in the upper Mojave near Randsburg, California. One of our testers, which was already riding on a spare tire following a sidewall puncture the previous day, burst another sidewall on a sharp rock about a mile into the nine-mile canyon. What followed over the next hour was a host of don’t-try-this-at-home boonie fixes, including tire plugs, green slime, fix-a-flat, and (yes) duct tape. Nothing worked, and with sundown approaching the decision was made to abandon a $40,000 SUV in the middle of nowhere and drive to the nearest city to fetch a spare. What followed resembled a Chinese fire drill as staffers frantically scrambled out of the canyon to find a tire store in the nearby city of Ridgecrest, 25 miles away, where in short order a cheapy same-size replacement was found.
Now, with night fast approaching, our intrepid testers are making a mad dash to the stuck vehicle to try to get it off the trail (and out of the state park) by nightfall. Will they make it? Stick around . . .