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  • Trans-America Trail in a Stock Montero - Part 2 : A Deep Hole



    Trans-America Trail in a Stock Montero - Part 2 : A Deep Hole

    Be sure to read the Trip Intro - Part 1 - Part 2 - Part 3

    We got a late start leaving our hotel in Savannah, Tennessee and continued down the highway. The first 200 miles of the route were paved back roads, most were narrow and infrequently traveled. Then the asphalt turned to gravel and progressively become more and more rugged with some rutted hills requiring use of the factory Mitsubishi traction control system.

    Around mid afternoon we got on a rough track. It primarily consisted of deep ruts filled with water and large water holes. The first water hole swallowed the Montero and took some persistence to get through. Unfortunately, some water got in when Joe opened the driver door while stuck in the hole. FYI...the use of windows is preferred when parked in deep water.

    We did learn a valuable lesson, when traveling in remote areas off road by yourself far from civilization always check the water depth. Well, maybe we didn't learn as no more than 50 yards up the trail we encountered a much, much larger water hole. Figuring that we could drive high side with two wheels in the water and two wheels on the bank we proceeded only to get seriously stuck. This time the driver side tires were completely submerged! The next four hours were spent using our crude recovery tools (bottle jack and shovel) to slowly inch forward.

    As light was fading, Joe discovered we had a coolant leak. Apparently, the rear heater hoses are somewhat exposed under the Montero and a branch or multiple branches in the water hole(s) had ripped one loose. Consequently most of the coolant had drained which resulted in the temperature gauge reading normally, however the motor was seriously HOT. Joe whipped out his trusty Leatherman and made some Macgyver hose repairs then filled up the radiator with our water supply. There's nothing better than making vehicle repairs while parked sideways in a water hole in the dark with limited tools!

    I decided it was time to quit screwing around and get out of the hole. I had no idea what creatures roamed the Mississippi forest after dark and didn't want to find out. Since we couldn't drive through the water hole we decided to drain it. This involved some serious excavation work with our shovel; so much in fact that the handle nearly broke off. Thankfully, draining the water hole gave the Montero just enough clearance and traction to get through. Unfortunately, after getting through the water hole we discovered the trail was gated at the main road which required turning around and driving back through the water holes to the previous intersection.

    It was late and we were hungry so we drove to the nearest town Holley Springs, Mississippi. There we found the only restaurant open at midnight was McDonald's and enjoyed a late night meal in their parking lot while observing nearby cars. One of the cars had bullet holes in it! Not the sticker type but the real ones you can stick your finger in. Then we started reading the hotel reviews and most consisted of words like "dirty" and "blood". How bad can it be?

    We rented a room at the nearest hotel and fell to sleep around 1am. It had been a long full day of adventure...

    - By : Peter Stewart

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