I have been riding predator control on a large cattle herd for the last few weeks on my Rokon 2WD motorcycle. When I first got the bike and was into trinketizing every aspect of it, I mounted a small GARMIN GPS unit on the handle bars. It was inexpensive and seemed appropriate for a vehicle called “Trail Breaker”. I use it every outing but hardly reference it other than to log speed, duration, and distance of my ride. Last weekend, however, was different.
I was out on the herd, 12 miles from the nearest real road, and in a place where NO cell phones service exists, when a freak wind and rain storm came up. It went from being sunny and 67 F to darkly overcast, 40 F and sporting 50 mph winds. It has been dry since the snow melt and the dust that came up looked like red-brown lava rolling down the valley I had to negotiate. The cattle were lost to sight in the dust storms. I was on a high ridge looking down, about 6 miles from my Jeep. Driving back the way I came would be dangerous and time consuming. Taking the valley floor would be blinding dust but flatter riding. I made the decision to go down to the valley floor and make my way back to my Jeep ASAP so I could mount the bike on the back and head for pavement. It was an extremely difficult descent once down bottom, a very difficult ride in the swirling dust amongst frightened cattle. It took me a little more than an hour and a half to make it back to the vehicle but the fact that I made it at all is largely attributable to that little GARMIN unit. Without that little needle pointing to my Jeep, I’m certain I’d have gotten turned down one of the many side canyons and had a very bad time of it. The winds peaked at 86 mph bringing near zero visibility even after reaching the paved roads.
Based on last weekend’s adventure, I’d advise all my friends on SD that venture into the wilderness to get a GPS if you don’t have one, and use it if you do. Cell phone based units don’t always work. and the hand held units are quite inexpensive.