Once upon a time there was… a better way to start a story than this.
So maybe I’ll start it like this.
Ok that’s just silly, I’ll do this properly now.
It was pushing forty degrees and as usual the sun was hot. It was a clear heat, one that doesn’t feel as hot as it really is until there is a breath of wind and you realise that the sweat under your shirt is hotter than what you can pour out of your billy.
So what was I doing? I was paddling in the Elvire River, it was hot and the flowing water was warm but still cooler than the ambient temperature because of its movement over the rocks and pebbles of the river base. I was knee deep in the water and the only thing I was missing was my rubber duckie.
If only I could find myself a small hidey hole in the river and make myself some bubbles, I could make myself an outdoor spa bath. But then I’d be whinging about not having anyone to share the spa bath with! I guess in the big scheme of things it’s probably good that I didn’t find that make shift spa because then you might be subjected to me falling asleep and dreaming about spending time in a spa with Ni umm, I mean, umm, never mind, where was I? Oh yeah wading in the warm water without my rubber duckie.
Yes I was at the Halls Creek end of the Elvire River, I’d been called out to rescue the Larson family, Kala, Anders, Madli and Racin, they were bogged in the slow flowing relatively shallow river. From the minute I left town I was fairly confident that the rescue was going to be an easy one and as soon as I saw it I knew I was right.
As I’ve told you before one of the first things I do when I get to a rescue is check things over for myself, it’s not that I don’t trust people, it’s just that I trust myself more. The Larson’s were polite and nice people but I still wanted to check things over for myself.
From the angle of the Landcruiser I could tell I wasn’t just going to get in and drive the thing out but that didn’t mean that I couldn’t tow the thing out with a strap and the assistance of it’s own power. Even without looking at the tow hook mounted to the front of the Toyota I was confident it’s strength was to be trusted because the rental company whose name was stickered on the rear window was a reputable company with well maintained and set up vehicles.
With some people such a towing manoeuvre is risky because when the towed vehicle clears whatever it’s stuck on and the driver doesn’t back off the throttle they could end up slamming into the back of the Beast. It’s not something I do often and I have had a few close calls which makes me think twice before doing it but with an easy pull like what I was facing I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you I considered it.
The other thing I was considering was simply unspooling the winch and hooking it onto the front of the Toyota. As I’ve told you before the winch is over engineered and because it was more than long enough to reach the tow hook whilst the rear wheels of the Beast were on dry ground I could easily pull the vehicle out of the water once it was secured. In a river with a rougher base, with the possibility of snagging the vehicle, I probably wouldn’t rely on the motor of the winch like that but given where I was it was definitely the preferred method went I started contemplating the rescue.
As I say, that’s what I was contemplating until I reached the front corner of the Landcruiser and I stepped closer to the front drivers side wheel. Suddenly several thing became apparent. Firstly why the Toyota got bogged in the first place, secondly why it was parked on the angle it was with the back wheels so much lower than the front and why they could never have gotten the thing out without assistance.
“Hey Anders,” I called from the front of the four wheel drive. “When this thing got bogged how many times did you try to drive the out?”
Anders was standing on the river’s edge with his family. “I only tried it once.” came the reply in a thick Norwegian accent.
I don’t know why he wasn’t telling me the truth but Racin, I think that was the boy’s name and not the girl, quickly confirmed his falsehood to me.
“Dad, you tried at least five times!”
Anders looked directly at his son, I thought maybe he was going to tell his son to shut up but instead after a few seconds of looking at his son he turned to me and said. “Yes, he’s right. I did try several times. I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said otherwise.”
Norwegians are so polite I thought before telling him that there was no reason to be sorry. The thing is many people, especially men, forget some of the details like how many times they’ve tried but failed to save their vehicles from needing to be towed when they are asked. I can understand it in some ways, for some people they are embarrassed that they failed, but the thing is under most circumstances it’s not difficult to see that they tried.
Take the Landcruiser for instance, it was easy to see that the back wheels had been spun into the ground in an effort to drive out of the bog because of the angle the vehicle was on. The thing is there is no real reason to be embarrassed by such actions, it’s natural to think that a four wheel drive should get itself out of a bog, but if one wheel is snagged, or in this case both front wheels, driving out under ones own steam just isn’t possible, however trying is a human trait.
“No need to apologise mate,” I replied using the good ol’ aussie slang in the hope to make him feel a bit better about what I would be revealing in a few moments. Deciding I wouldn’t embarrass Anders in front of his kids any more than I had to, if he wanted to do it to himself I’d let him, I called him over. “How about coming over here and I’ll run you through how we are going to get this thing out of the water.”
Anders waded into the water, he stepped carefully over the small rocks in the water almost as if he was scared of crocodiles. It only took him a few moments to reach me and when he did I deliberately turned my back to the rest of his family and spoke in a voice that they couldn’t hear.
“Is this your first time four wheel driving?”
“Yes, we’ve had the car a few days but I haven’t tried anything too rough yet.” he replied.
“Ok, no worries. I’m going to tell you why it is you got bogged here today and how to stop it happening again. What you tell the family is up to you.”
He looked at me with a questionable look on his face, I could tell he wanted to say something but he wasn’t sure what to say.
Previous Desert Rescue story here.