4-Wheeling From the Heart

by Bill Burke
February is known as the Heart month, not only because of Valentine’s Day, but it’s National Heart Healthy Month! I thought I’d step back from the technical basis of my articles and take a look at what makes my “heart” sing, stop, skip a beat, beat faster and just plain feel good.

4-wheeling is not easy on the body. It has been likened to “riding a horse.” We sit in the seat and “ride,” getting some sort of work out physically. The aerobic part comes when stacking rocks, finding the route or scouting the by-pass. My favorite exercise is leading clients over Gold Spike Trail in Moab. I’ll run ahead so they can pay attention to their driving technique and just look for me to help point the way. They don’t have to be so concerned about finding the difficult trail markers.

Either way, keep your heart in shape! Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Heart Month!

When 4-wheeling around the world, my heart has frequently been in my throat. Here are some pictures exposing my heart during some of those heartfelt times.

  • My heart sunk, along with my rig, into deep quicksand in the New Jersey Pine Barrens for a moment when I didn’t take the by-pass.
    My heart momentarily comes to a halt when I drive over Black Bear Pass and sight Telluride WAY below.
    My heart melted when I drove through this herd of mountain goats at 13,000 feet.
    My heart jumps whenever I see the tree dendreglyphs left by Basque Shepherds on stock drive ways in Wyoming. This one dates to 1925.
    My heart collapsed a little when I was under a Land Cruiser trying to roll a 200 pound rock out from under it with the only things holding up the rig being the sturdy 60″ Hi-Lift Jack and my buddy, Gus!
    My heart plummeted when the idler pulley exploded in the middle of somewhere, in the middle of summer, taking out the radiator and fan causing me to dig deep into my little bag of tricks to effect field repairs and limp home.
    My heart stops when I settle close to the edge of a 500 foot drop and I find out there is only ice under the snow not dirt. Glad I had chains!
    My heart quakes when I get the rig straight and down the icy, snowy, narrow, steep, rocky (you get the picture) ledge road. Whew!
    My heart sings when I see the desert wild flowers) the LaSals coming alive in the golden sunset of Utah, and a big rainbow over the Behind the Rocks WSA area from Moab Rim.
    My heart jumped when I saw Nancy Marley drive her Cherokee into a mud hole that everyone else by-passed!
  • My heart flinched while getting this Hummer through Mirror Alley on Metal Masher trail without a scratch. (It is the only Hummer to do so!)
    My heart skipped a few beats when this “short-air” Rangie came through the Golden Crack.
    My heart was too weary to react after 10 days of Trophy, but came alive when the car got sideways and water began filling the passenger compartment. (Camel Trophy ’91 Africa)
    My heart beats faster in the “1/4 mile bog” on Green Ridge trail, knowing there are big rocks in the bottom that make it more intense ’cause you can’t see them.
    Even with 35’s, my heart pauses when the mud and water come in the door way and sticks float across the transmission tunnel.
    My heart cringes when, in sub-zero winter, the slushy creek 3 feet deep, begins to freeze up and the bank is solid ice requiring a winch to get out.
    My heart flutters when I see a couple of old Series Land Rovers on top of Pearl Pass, especially when they were driven from New Mexico and Missouri.
    My heart momentarily freezes when I witness a mountain thunderstorm from 10,000 feet.
    But most of all, my heart bursts and leaps from my chest when I see my wife, Rachel, on the trailside waiting for me!