Planned level of Adventure

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Dusther210

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I once heard “the best laid plans work until the first shot is fired” and it has stuck with me ever since. I typically do a deal of research and occasional reconnaissance before taking my wife and truck on any adventure but I have found there are certain things you can’t exactly plan for.

In the military we have an acronym for everything, and for this we used “METT-TC…” which can also mean “I didn’t plan for that” but I guess I still kinda use this when planning our trips. … I usually make a quasi OPORD for our trips as well (outlining the destination and purpose of the trip, expected timeline, planned stops, methods of contact, and what we brought, etc).

I got curious, does anyone else consider this stuff? How do others factor this?

Two trips come to mind regarding this: our trip on the NEBDR from NY to VT, and our first trip to Flagpole Knob. Although I started tracking the weather in the vicinity of where I thought we would be spending most of our time on the trips there were still unknowns going into both trips. It had previously rained already in the area and rain was possible on our journey.

Do these routes flood? Would it still be possible for my vehicle?

Will there be snow/ice? The elevation and latitude differences combined with the time of year could mean rain in one place and snow in the other. And that would be local info I wouldn’t know until I got there. At flagpole knob the large puddle water crossings had a pretty thick layer of ice…also that water submerged our fog lights, it was deeper than I expected.

Rain and snow also leads to fog. I really didn’t think about that, but we found ourselves in the thickest fog on flagpole knob and we ascended up Dunkle Hollow rd at night.

I really have to thank @corgily for his videos of flagpole knob. Having a good baseline of what to expect in good conditions I was pretty comfortable going into my trip there.

And from here I developed a little scale for my “Maximum Planned Level of Adventure (MPLA)”. With this scale I gauge a trip based on the difficulty of the route in perfect conditions.

At zero would be an interstate highway. Basically the best possible road conditions.

At level 1 for example is the Appalachian Byway from PA through NY. Very very easy route, all paved but a few backroads and blind turns.

I guess a maintained gravel/dirt road would be a 2, a Camry can do it comfortably.

I would put the NEBDR and TNJT at a 3. There’s dirt and definitely ways to either get stuck or do damage if you try hard enough, but this is basically as tame as “off-road can be. You might even use 4WD.

I ranked Peters Mill Run and Flagpole Knob a 4 and a 5 respectively. PMR I feel could easily be done with a stock 4WD.

I haven’t done the following places but it seems Big Levels in VA would be a 6 or 7 and I’m sure you can imagine some epic trail that would be a 10 and would be stupid to try with any rig in the wet.


FPK is just about the maximum I plan for, a 5. That’s based on a few factors including what the wife and I seem to enjoy and the point our truck is at. Even in the dark, rain and fog FPK wasn’t too challenging and we really enjoyed it.

I try to keep this reference in mind so that when the trip doesn’t go quite as expected we still have a good time. Because I think a 5 could quickly become a 7 if the conditions hate you.

As for our NEBDR trip, the weather held off until we were on the Taconic driving home… in the worst rain I’ve ever seen. It was the most soothing and enjoyable ride so far. Had the rain came earlier some of those spots would have been VERY interesting.


I’m sure everyone isn’t as systematic as I am. I’m genuinely curious how do you pick out your routes? What method do you use to decide if you and you’re rig is ready for a certain trail/route? Do you factor the weather? Are there any other factors you consider?
 

North40overland

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All great points. For us we just plan "High/Low" for our trips. I look at where we want to go and the most trail/dirt/forest service/ off-road way to get there (high) and we research that. Once we have our approximate areas set I then look at the low (most paved) way to get to the ultimate area we want to be in. Once I have both I look at all of the "off ramps" for the High route. If we have to double back, where can we pick up the low route and continue on to our ultimate goal. We do mostly dispersed camping so we never really know where we are going to stay but I will look at potential campsites and locations on Gaia and usually have 3 for every 1 we plan. We try to give ourselves a two hour window in our time/distance planning to figure out which site so depending on terrain they are usually fairly close to each other (couple of miles). I am also a big fan of taking note of the public land near the low route. We have been in situations on more than one occasion where the trail we were on was blocked by a tree, snow, or wash out and we had to double back to an off ramp and find a location on public land off a more main route. I also take note of campgrounds in the area because they are always a good last resort for us. I completely agree that no trip ever goes to plan, but we plan for them not to go to plan. We kind of like the idea that we don't know where we are going to end up. My wife says that is how you find the best spots.
 

Dusther210

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All great points. For us we just plan "High/Low" for our trips. I look at where we want to go and the most trail/dirt/forest service/ off-road way to get there (high) and we research that. Once we have our approximate areas set I then look at the low (most paved) way to get to the ultimate area we want to be in. Once I have both I look at all of the "off ramps" for the High route. If we have to double back, where can we pick up the low route and continue on to our ultimate goal. We do mostly dispersed camping so we never really know where we are going to stay but I will look at potential campsites and locations on Gaia and usually have 3 for every 1 we plan. We try to give ourselves a two hour window in our time/distance planning to figure out which site so depending on terrain they are usually fairly close to each other (couple of miles). I am also a big fan of taking note of the public land near the low route. We have been in situations on more than one occasion where the trail we were on was blocked by a tree, snow, or wash out and we had to double back to an off ramp and find a location on public land off a more main route. I also take note of campgrounds in the area because they are always a good last resort for us. I completely agree that no trip ever goes to plan, but we plan for them not to go to plan. We kind of like the idea that we don't know where we are going to end up. My wife says that is how you find the best spots.

Thanks for your response! I like that “high/low” concept! I think you said it best “plan for it not to go to plan”. I might need that stitched on a pillow lol
 

MOAK

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We just decide where we want to go, then go. The only things we plan around would be heavy snow, hurricanes, monsoons and heat. It would be foolish to go any desert regions in the summer, so we don’t. It would be just as fool hardy to head up to Canada or to the Rocky Mountain region in the winter. In short, our tours are season dependent. Then - ( hold your breath ) we just point & go..
 
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Dusther210

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We just decide where we want to go, then go. The only things we plan around would be heavy snow, hurricanes, monsoons and heat. It would be foolish to go any desert regions in the summer, so we don’t. It would be just as fool hardy to head up to Canada or to the Rocky Mountain region in the winter. In short, our tours are season dependent. Then - ( hold your breath ) we just point & go..
Adventure is necessary lol

We also pick our trips based on season. Do you monitor the weather in the area?
 

MOAK

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Adventure is necessary lol

We also pick our trips based on season. Do you monitor the weather in the area?
Only in an off handed sort of way. We always carry rain gear, cold, warm & hot weather clothing. The exception would be for wild/primitive beach camping. We’d not want to be anywhere near a hurricane.

We were in big bend a few years ago and experienced heavy thunder & rainstorms every night and light rain/drizzle in the daytime for nearly a week. It was quite an enjoyable experience to be on the high desert in the rain. Extreme Weather events, such hurricanes, tornadoes, heavy flooding, fires etc, will cause us to detour or otherwise alter our very loose travel plans. Otherwise we just “go with the flow”.
 
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I typically spend a while covering maps of an area I think may be a good spot to find a camp, usually on my way to or around trails I want to run. I would say that most of what I would running would be high difficulty trails that run near water that I can fish at and camp.
If I have my family with me I stick to roads and campgrounds and I drive a smaller less capable vehicle.
The tj has a very limited fuel range so cost becomes a factor when planning trips with it. I usually carry at least 1 race style Jerry can because some trails go a long way and there are not many gas stations along the way.
The compass on the other hand gets way further on a tank of gas but not as far off the beaten path.
I also try to stay off main roads as much as possible with the TJ because it's big, loud, and draws more attention than wanted some times.
 

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Dusther210

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Adventure is necessary lol

We also pick our trips based on season. Do you monitor the weather in the area?
Only in an off handed sort of way. We always carry rain gear, cold, warm & hot weather clothing. The exception would be for wild/primitive beach camping. We’d not want to be anywhere near a hurricane.

We were in big bend a few years ago and experienced heavy thunder & rainstorms every night and light rain/drizzle in the daytime for nearly a week. It was quite an enjoyable experience to be on the high desert in the rain. Extreme Weather events, such hurricanes, tornadoes, heavy flooding, fires etc, will cause us to detour or otherwise alter our very loose travel plans. Otherwise we just “go with the flow”.
Wow! That sounds legit. Gotta say I’m a bit envious. So far we haven’t had to worry about any tornadoes, blizzards or canes yet.

How do you decide which places you want to go? Do you ever find a place you want to go but decide it’s out of your comfort zone or capabilities?
 

Dusther210

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I typically spend a while covering maps of an area I think may be a good spot to find a camp, usually on my way to or around trails I want to run. I would say that most of what I would running would be high difficulty trails that run near water that I can fish at and camp.
If I have my family with me I stick to roads and campgrounds and I drive a smaller less capable vehicle.
The tj has a very limited fuel range so cost becomes a factor when planning trips with it. I usually carry at least 1 race style Jerry can because some trails go a long way and there are not many gas stations along the way.
The compass on the other hand gets way further on a tank of gas but not as far off the beaten path.
I also try to stay off main roads as much as possible with the TJ because it's big, loud, and draws more attention than wanted some times.
That tj looks sweet! So I guess the deciding factor the the type of adventure (and ultimately whic rig you take) is if the family comes along?

In the tj do you usually go solo?
 
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MOAK

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Wow! That sounds legit. Gotta say I’m a bit envious. So far we haven’t had to worry about any tornadoes, blizzards or canes yet.

How do you decide which places you want to go? Do you ever find a place you want to go but decide it’s out of your comfort zone or capabilities?
[/QUOTE
I’ll PM you on that one, as our comfort zone has expanded
 
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That tj looks sweet! So I guess the deciding factor the the type of adventure (and ultimately whic rig you take) is if the family comes along?

In the tj do you usually go solo?
Yes the tj I either go solo, or with a group headed rock crawling. I also try not to drive it in the winter unless I have to so I will take my compass winter camping.
Most of my gear is small and packed into a backpack and a couple of totes which makes it easy to switch from vehicle to vehicle. Biggest factor for me is how far Orr the beaten path I want to get. Both vehicles have driven me through terrential down pours, tornados ( well not right through lol), blizzards, freezing rain but obviously the compass is more comfortable. Also the TJ has a cage in it that won't allow the car seat to fit because of the harness bar.
 
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Dusther210

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That tj looks sweet! So I guess the deciding factor the the type of adventure (and ultimately whic rig you take) is if the family comes along?

In the tj do you usually go solo?
Yes the tj I either go solo, or with a group headed rock crawling. I also try not to drive it in the winter unless I have to so I will take my compass winter camping.
Most of my gear is small and packed into a backpack and a couple of totes which makes it easy to switch from vehicle to vehicle. Biggest factor for me is how far Orr the beaten path I want to get. Both vehicles have driven me through terrential down pours, tornados ( well not right through lol), blizzards, freezing rain but obviously the compass is more comfortable. Also the TJ has a cage in it that won't allow the car seat to fit because of the harness bar.
I see, the tj is more of a rock crawler. Do you generally know prior to setting out how far off the beaten path you want to go?
Sounds like the compass is quite capable!
 

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I see, the tj is more of a rock crawler. Do you generally know prior to setting out how far off the beaten path you want to go?
Sounds like the compass is quite capable!
I don't always know how far I am going with the TJ. I will usually take it to explore new areas that I know are rough or inaccessible by other vehicles, which sometimes i decide afterward maybe the compass can make it, and leave the Tj behind.
The compass is... OK offroad but I have a few things I would still like to change with it. The ground clearance is fairly low but not terrible, but the tire size is small and even lifted can't fit that large of a tire because the wheel wells are so small. This means bridging small gaps can be a but of a challenge ( small wash out and stuff). I plan to redesign and build a slimmer profile roof rack that will hold bridging ramps that will slide underage deck of it.
I have a lot of experience offloading in smaller vehicles and used to have a patriot before the compass that I took places most people shook their heads lol.IMG_20210131_074422_549.jpgIMG_20210528_071535_149.jpg
 

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Dusther210

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I see, the tj is more of a rock crawler. Do you generally know prior to setting out how far off the beaten path you want to go?
Sounds like the compass is quite capable!
I don't always know how far I am going with the TJ. I will usually take it to explore new areas that I know are rough or inaccessible by other vehicles, which sometimes i decide afterward maybe the compass can make it, and leave the Tj behind.
The compass is... OK offroad but I have a few things I would still like to change with it. The ground clearance is fairly low but not terrible, but the tire size is small and even lifted can't fit that large of a tire because the wheel wells are so small. This means bridging small gaps can be a but of a challenge ( small wash out and stuff). I plan to redesign and build a slimmer profile roof rack that will hold bridging ramps that will slide underage deck of it.
I have a lot of experience offloading in smaller vehicles and used to have a patriot before the compass that I took places most people shook their heads lol.View attachment 205956View attachment 205955
Thanks for sharing! Reminds me of when I had my red xj. I wouldn’t ever plan anything and would just spontaneously take it as far as I could on any track/trail etc I thought looked interesting. Good memories lol