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Author Topic: Stranded for two days in the desert - after action report  (Read 508 times)

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Offline AZGeorge

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Stranded for two days in the desert - after action report
« on: June 13, 2017, 09:00:31 PM »
It's about gear, the lack of gear, the inappropriate use of gear.  Lots of lessons learned, and I'm sharing them here.

The first rule of off-roading: Never go alone.

The second rule of off-roading: If you break rule #1, let someone know where you are.

Ok, so I broke rule #1.  But followed rule #2.  Went to have lunch at Ruby Wash (https://www.google.com/maps/place/34%C2%B000'51.1%22N+112%C2%B028'59.1%22W/@34.01419,-112.4847833,757m/data=!3m2!1e3!4b1!4m5!3m4!1s0x0:0x0!8m2!3d34.01419!4d-112.483073) - it was great.  Since this photo was taken, the road had been graded to for a run-off, which is where I had lunch and a nap (and dinner, and spent the night, and but I'm getting ahead of myself). 

It's 4pm, and instead of calmly driving out and making a u-turn to head East, I assholed it over a small ridge (small, like 2 ft), and high-centered the Xterra on a rock.  The wheels quickly dug holes and I went nowhere.  Well, I have a winch, so I'll get out the gear - ARB vest/snapback arrestor, tree saver, shackle - good to go.  Started winching and remembered I was supposed to run the engine - silence.  Winchy no worky.  Expletives.  Tried to start the engine - dashboard lights came on, but no starter motor.  More expletives.

At this point, the situation is I have a winch across the road with tension.  Engine won't start.  Battery appears to be drained.  I suspected I drew too much current and reversed a cell and killed the battery.  So I deployed the solar panel (GEAR!) to try to charge the battery - and commenced to digging the dirt out from under the Xterra with my POS Army shovel (GEAR!).  About 5:30, I'm hungry so I dig out the 72 hour survival pack (GEAR!) and choose "Cheddar Potato Soup."  Number one ingredient is creamer.  It tastes like cheese-its soaked in coffee-mate.  Fills a gut and makes a turd which enabled me to use my portapotty (GEAR!) because I'm an old fart and don't feel like squatting over a hole, in the sand, that keeps filling up.  After dinner, I'm back at the digging, then set up my brand new tent (GEAR!) and go to inflate the air mattress (because I'm an old fart and like my creature comforts) and try to inflate it with the aft power invertor (GEAR!), which fails to operate.  I plug in my backup invertor (GEAR!) and inflate the mattress (GEAR!).  Back at digging until 8pm, then I go to sleep.

Woke up at 9:30 to the sound of a truck and lights about 300 yards away.  I stumble out with socks in hand, barefoot in the sand, and try to get their attention and failed.  Tried to use my lights (GEAR!) which failed to light up.  Tried the horn - no avail - they left.  Back to bed.

Woke up at 4:45 and repositioned the solar panel to catch the morning rays.  Then I noticed the power switch between the panel and the charge controller (GEAR!) was in the OFF position.  More expletives.  Used my multimeter (GEAR!) to verify charging was taking place.  Made breakfast - boiled egg left over from the day before and another bowl of cheddar goo.  At least it's hot, made possible by my butane stove (GEAR!).  With the sun on the other side of the Xterra, I commenced digging out the other side.  Finally found the rock and dug it out. 

Meanwhile, I have a cable stretched across the road ready to kill a passerby.  Got the great idea to dig out the dirt in front of the Xterra's wheels to get it to roll down hill and release the tension on the winch.  I tried to use the winch clutch, but under tension, that was a no-go.  After more digging, I step on the winch cable, and move the Xterra forward a foot or so, which makes the winch line slack, and I retrieve it.

Took my orange kinetic recovery strap (GEAR!) and made an X in the road for an areal aid.  Did the same with my tow straps (GEAR!).  Took a nap from 8:15-9:00 in my camping chair (GEAR!) and feet up on the camping table (GEAR!).  Tried the CB radio (GEAR!) and found it dead.  DING!!!  Everything I've added to the Xterra is dead - I must have blown a common fuse!  Looked in the interior fuse panel - checked a couple - not it.  Went under the hood.  Found that where I attached the winch POS lead was at the downstream side of an 80A fuse, and I verified it was blown with my meter.  Great!  Now I'm getting somewhere.  I have wire (GEAR!) - I spooled off about 6 feet of it (22 GA with painted insulation), folded it in half a few times, formed loops at the end, and used my Gerber (GEAR!) to take off the insulation.  With jumper complete, I installed the jumper using my wrench set (GEAR!), tried the ignition, and IT'S ALIVE!!!  I ran the winch (now connected to the positive terminal upstream of the fuse) to retrieve the winch line, and hastily put all my stuff back in the Xterra and left.

Lessons Learned.
1.  Even if you leave your location (and I was 100 yards from the map coordinates above, which I sent my wife, who was in Vegas) with someone, their disbelief that anything could happen will keep them from calling the Sheriff's Office for at least a day.  My son and mother-in-law convinced themselves that I decided to camp overnight, ignoring that it was Sunday night and I had work Monday morning.  I was gone 24 hours before they told my wife and got my coordinates.
2.  I used 5 liters of water and came back dehydrated and 5 lbs lighter.  Even thought I drank water coming back and after I got home, I still had dehydration headache.  Drink more.
3.  That small terminal post may be convenient, but it's the wrong place to attach lights and winches.
4.  Carbo-food is ok, but I sorely missed protein.  I saw the biggest rabbit ever - I think it was the famed Arizona Jackalope.  If I had a rifle, I'd be eating rabbit for lunch.  Need to bring protein on excursions or the means to procure it.  My pistolmanship is nowhere as good as my riflemanship, but if I were out there another day, I would be trying :)  Just bought a SUB-2000 - nice and compact.
5.  Long-sleeved shirts (GEAR!) and sun-block (GEAR!) are good things to carry.  I had both and used both.
6.  I did not have duct tape nor electrical tape. :(  Remediation complete.
7.  Did not have electrolytes.  Fortunately, the temperature was only 92F the first day and 89F the second, so I didn't sweat too much.
8.  Don't go straight over small steep hills.
9.  Test winches under real load before counting on them.  I performed the initial wind with no problems, but under load, real load, the fuse popped.
10. it doesn't hurt to have something to read.  I found boredom recovering from working in the sun to be the most irritating part of the experience.
 Should have brought a book.
11.  I could have tried finesse and lift the front of the Xterra with my floor jack (GEAR!) and build up the dirt under the wheels.  I could have just dug it out like I had to anyway.  Had I done this, I would not have discovered my wiring error with the winch.
I'm sure there's more, but this is enough.

I got back to cell phone range, called my wife, who called her mom, who called the Yavapai Sheriff's Department who intercepted the Deputy before he made the 90 minute trip for nothing.
2015 Pro-4X with solar panel and inverters.  Skid plates.  Sasa Sliders. 2" rear lift.  ARB front bumper+10K winch.  OME front suspension. Front bumper camera.  Molle panels.
>>>>>TotM: 07/16 03/17 10/17 <<<<<

Offline pinchel (Rob)

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Re: Stranded for two days in the desert - after action report
« Reply #1 on: June 14, 2017, 08:00:12 AM »
I was going to add to your Facebook post...not going out alone. :) Glad you survived the adventure.
Click here to see my rig.  Get your AZXC/AZTC/AZFC Forum Decals here  VinylTats!

Offline DBAX

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Re: Stranded for two days in the desert - after action report
« Reply #2 on: June 14, 2017, 08:02:44 AM »
Great write-up and catalog of events. I felt like laughing and calling emergency services all at once.. Sounds as though you were mostly prepared, only advice I can offer and you already know is, angle across those berms. Never take a wall head on..
Glad to hear you're alright, and thanks again for the (hilarious) post.
I got your "Jeep thing", now it burns when I pee..

Offline Thatsgr8 (Scott)

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Stranded for two days in the desert - after action report
« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2017, 05:06:07 PM »
After reading this, I added to my list of survival supplies. Good to hear you made it out ok.


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« Last Edit: June 14, 2017, 07:20:56 PM by Thatsgr8 (Scott) »
You can't fix stupid

Offline AZGeorge

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Re: Stranded for two days in the desert - after action report
« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2017, 07:15:50 PM »
Yep - lots of lessons learned and that's why I shared.  Still chewing on that humble pie  ; ;D

New fusible link block is $28 at Midway Nissan.  I told the parts guy I saw it online for $24.  He said "We can do that."  Midway now has a new fan.
2015 Pro-4X with solar panel and inverters.  Skid plates.  Sasa Sliders. 2" rear lift.  ARB front bumper+10K winch.  OME front suspension. Front bumper camera.  Molle panels.
>>>>>TotM: 07/16 03/17 10/17 <<<<<

Offline Thatsgr8 (Scott)

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Re: Stranded for two days in the desert - after action report
« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2017, 07:21:46 PM »
Did you get an extra fuse block just in case


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You can't fix stupid

Offline Thupertrooper (Victor)

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Re: Stranded for two days in the desert - after action report
« Reply #6 on: June 15, 2017, 08:18:32 AM »
Nice write up.
I have also learned that on these 2nd gens that alot of the electrical issues such as no power/no start have been all around the battery. Either the terminals are crap. Usually when adding accessories like light bars and such causes minor interferences. Most of the time was that first terminal fuse link.
Last time i was stranded with a "dead" battery it was just the crappy stock terminals even after i replaced the battery.
Good thing you figured it out and learned yourself.


Offline PitSnipe (Kyle)

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Re: Stranded for two days in the desert - after action report
« Reply #7 on: June 15, 2017, 08:57:37 AM »
Wow that was quite the experience.
The thing that sucks is that you really weren't too far off from the Castle Hot Springs Loop. I know of this area pretty well and would have totally rescued you if I had or anyone else had known.
Good to hear you made it out safe and I think we all have learned a lesson from this.
The only thing your post is missing is your toilet paper log that you kept that I saw on FB.
Eight Time ToTM Winner. July 2013, December 2013, July 2014, December 2014, May 2015, August 2016, February 2017, September 2017

Offline Chuy

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Re: Stranded for two days in the desert - after action report
« Reply #8 on: June 15, 2017, 06:19:50 PM »
Nice George glad you came out clean on that one.


Roads? Where we're going, we don't need roads.

Offline AZGeorge

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Re: Stranded for two days in the desert - after action report
« Reply #9 on: June 15, 2017, 07:28:38 PM »
Wow that was quite the experience.
The thing that sucks is that you really weren't too far off from the Castle Hot Springs Loop. I know of this area pretty well and would have totally rescued you if I had or anyone else had known.
Good to hear you made it out safe and I think we all have learned a lesson from this.
The only thing your post is missing is your toilet paper log that you kept that I saw on FB.

So now I have to post it . . .
2015 Pro-4X with solar panel and inverters.  Skid plates.  Sasa Sliders. 2" rear lift.  ARB front bumper+10K winch.  OME front suspension. Front bumper camera.  Molle panels.
>>>>>TotM: 07/16 03/17 10/17 <<<<<

Offline AZGeorge

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Re: Stranded for two days in the desert - after action report
« Reply #10 on: June 15, 2017, 07:39:04 PM »
The "toilet paper" log (actually paper towels) . . . and the survival food
« Last Edit: June 15, 2017, 07:43:49 PM by AZGeorge »
2015 Pro-4X with solar panel and inverters.  Skid plates.  Sasa Sliders. 2" rear lift.  ARB front bumper+10K winch.  OME front suspension. Front bumper camera.  Molle panels.
>>>>>TotM: 07/16 03/17 10/17 <<<<<

Offline XID

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Re: Stranded for two days in the desert - after action report
« Reply #11 on: June 19, 2017, 11:45:00 PM »
Glad things turned out for the best.  I'm one of those stupid "I sometimes go out alone" 4 wheelers.  I've been stuck twice now.  First time was up my Young, AZ. Many good folks from ye olde timey AZXC came to my rescue after we managed to get a ride back to town and went out for the recovery several days later.

The 2nd time was out near the Gila river, east of the coke ovens.  Trail descended down into a pit (extremely dug out area by some flash floods).  I made it into the pit, but trying to climb out the other side would have put me in danger of rolling over. Trying to back out the way I came in was not working due to the steep decent(bumper was hitting before the wheel would).  After spending the night and trying to dig out a path that was safe from rolling, we realized that all we needed  was a boost up to clear the rocky ledge.  Since we didn't have any rocks to move in place we realized that the spare tire might act as this boost.  I must say this worked beautifully.  So keep this in mind if you ever are in need of a boost up with nothing else to give you that boost. Having that "alone time" sometimes allows you to think of creative solutions.

I wasn't as prepared as you were George, but I did have plenty of water and extra blankets for warmth since it was November.

Offline AZGeorge

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Re: Stranded for two days in the desert - after action report
« Reply #12 on: June 22, 2017, 09:59:06 PM »
Glad I'm not the only one :)
2015 Pro-4X with solar panel and inverters.  Skid plates.  Sasa Sliders. 2" rear lift.  ARB front bumper+10K winch.  OME front suspension. Front bumper camera.  Molle panels.
>>>>>TotM: 07/16 03/17 10/17 <<<<<

Offline Hammer (Avi)

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Re: Stranded for two days in the desert - after action report
« Reply #13 on: July 06, 2017, 08:35:54 AM »
I always say never wheel alone, but we all end up on forest service roads not wheeling by ourselves sometimes.  Sometimes the road isn't what we expected.  Always, whether you are with someone else or alone, always keep food and plenty of water with you.  Cell phones also sometimes work if you stand on top of your rig or hike up the nearest hill, but always bring plenty of water. 
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