A warning on what not to do when driving in the Pine Barrens in a non 4×4

We drove down to Tabernacle, NJ, deep in the Pine Barrens to do a Jersey Devil Hunt,but the trip was not without incident. Whats a JD hunt? It’s an event sponsored by the Pinelands Preservation Assn. The partipants meet near the Carranza Memorial. There’s a camp fire. You roast hot dogs. Marshmellows are toasted. As the sun goes down Russell Juleg tells stories about the Pine Barrens and by the 9PM it is totally dark out. At this point everyone heads out for an hour hike in the woods looking for JD. I imagine at some point this becomes something like the Blair Witch project. I wouldn’t know because we never made it…. well we made it on a second trip but that night we were waylaid by the sands of the Pine Barrens.

We left North Jersey at 530 to go 100 miles on the NJTPK at rush hour on a Friday in summer. Seemed pointless but the trip actually went quite well and we arrived in the general vicinity by 730. We knew that as long as we got there by 745 or so we’d be ok, only missing the camp fire stuff. We would still make the main event. At this point I should point out that GPS units do not know the difference between real roads and paper roads. Paper roads are roads that exist on paper but which are unpaved and often not meant for travel if you do not not own a 4×4. Well thanks to the Garmin thinking that a trail through the woods qualified as a “road” we took an unpaved road that eventually wound into what appeared to be someones back yard. Real Hee-Haw territory. All I needed to see was a mangy dog and chickens.

We made a bat turn then headed for the Carranza Memorial. The directions claimed it was just past the Memorial, so I drove past it, saw an entrance for some campgrounds and well, its the right place it seems, they mentioned a camp fire, so I checked it out. It was a dirt trail, clearly useable by cars…. I go past a few families having a cookout, a few more empty areas, a little farther, a little farther, finally i say, “No, this must not be it, lets turn around.”

I pull off road to make a u-turn. My wife sees it is sandy. I don’t. She doesnt manage to get out words of warning before I hit the sand. Now this isn’t just sand, it’s more like…. quicksand. I go 3 feet off road and just come to a halt. Now the fun begins.

I cant go foward. Cant go backward, Try rocking myself out. nope nope & nope. I am buried. I take the lid to my storage box in my trunk and start digging. Both wheels. Rockrockrock. Nopenopenope. We have been there maybe 5 minutes total when (thats the sounds of angels singing btw…) here comes jeff and his Jeep Cherokee!

jeff

This guy just shows up and says “need any help?” Hmmm.. I’m stuck in sand, and he’s got a tow rope and a 4×4. HELL YEAH I COULD USE HELP! Did I mention this guy used to drive for AAA?

So he pulls off road (and doesnt get stuck mind you) and hooks up a tow rope. He starts pullin me out but I’m wedged too tight in the sand. In the picture above he is running to fetch some boards to stick under my tires. In probably no more then 10 minutes he has us pulled free and clear. I know I would’ve been there way past darkfall waiting for AAA if Jeff hadn’t showed up…

Sierra Exif JPEG

This shows how much crap I kicked up spinning my wheels. I am still wondering if I got sand into any intake or anything. I haven’t driven since the incident, but I did drive 100 miles to get home without incident so I believe I am ok.

Sierra Exif JPEG

My bumper made nice smooth sand as I was ragged. Shame is I ripped something off from underneath the bumper in the process, a rubber cover. This happen once before (losing the cover, not getting stuck in the sand ) and I had it replaced. I seem to recall it was $300 but I may be wrong & I’m hoping to replace it back into its spot myself… we’ll see

Sierra Exif JPEG

This shows how deep I dug in spinning my wheels.

so let this be a lesson to you all. Don’t be stupid and stay on road, unless you have 4 wheel drive!

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