Mud ... try to go around or thru the guts

Submitted: Wednesday, Jul 27, 2005 at 23:32
ThreadID: 25124 Views:2374 Replies:11 FollowUps:10
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Hoping the seasoned veterans can give some advice.

On a few tracks recently I have come across a few waterlogged, muddy patches. Say they are 300 metre stretches. The most recent one I walked with a stick and the water depth was about 10 inches in most places and the bottom felt reasonably firm. To date I have tried to skirt around as much as I can but on some there has been the necessity (to get around trees etc) to "drop into the ruts" / mud / water at the end to get through. In a number of cases this "dropping into" and the subsequent "climbing out of" the ruts / water has resulted in the vehicle being thrown in all sorts of directions (because the normal line has not been followed). The latest episode came within inches of throwing us into a tree.

I have started to think that the best option may not be to edge around and be "off the line" at the end but rather just stick to the line others have taken and plough through the middle. (Heading for the tree unexpectedly gave a real shake-up!)

I would post an example photo but don't know how

Any experts with advice?

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Reply By: Member -Dodger - Wednesday, Jul 27, 2005 at 23:54

Wednesday, Jul 27, 2005 at 23:54
If you have walked the stretch and proded with a stick as you have said then go into the tracks and follow the ruts when things are tight. Also lightly turn the wheel side to side which will allow the front tyre sidewall lugs to get some grip in the ruts.
Just use common sense to guide you . Use the 4wd laws.

If in doubt, stop and get out.
Assess think and decide.

I used to have a handle on life, but it broke.

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AnswerID: 122449

Reply By: Mad Dog (Australia) - Wednesday, Jul 27, 2005 at 23:54

Wednesday, Jul 27, 2005 at 23:54
Assess the situation against your vehicles capabilities...water depth, size of ruts and the bottom surface and ask yourself if I do get stuck how am I going to get out. If confident go for it, if not ask yourself do I really have to do this, if so then look for an alternative path.
AnswerID: 122450

Follow Up By: Casnat - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 00:10

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 00:10
I guess this is the heart of my question. It is really about which path to take. I am talking about water say 1 ft deep. I can follow the well worn path that has water for 300 m or I can follow a path around the edge for say 250 mtrs and then have to "drop sideways off the edge into the mud" and push through the last 50 mtres. Obviously when doing so 1 wheel drops into a rut but then you need to throw the vehicle across to get both wheels into the second ruts.

I am starting to think that it may be better to follow the ruts from the outset (albeit in the wet) rather than try to stay dry as long as possible and then have the wrong line

Perhaps haven't explained well but hopefully you understand. I am starting to suspect it is safer to plough through the mud / water than try to edge around the side and get all out of sorts

FollowupID: 377615

Follow Up By: Mad Dog (Australia) - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 00:44

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 00:44
250m is a long stretch to evaluate with a stick. The water depth should not pose a problem but the ruts and surface could, it doesn't take much to come to a stop if a diff gets hung up. In the company of another vehicle and the expectation of shallow ruts and a reasonable surface I'd go straight in, by myself I'd skirt the edge and get back on line at a predetermined spot. I find water difficult as well, it hides the damn track :)
FollowupID: 377621

Reply By: geocacher (djcache) - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 00:45

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 00:45

2 things.

First thing:
The "chicken tracks" as they tend to be known around the side of the bits you are talking about are environmental vandalism. If you and your vehicle are capable of travelling the main track AND you have no alternative route that is on a formed track, then stick to the main track and if you get stuck deal with it responsibly - winch, snatch etc. If there is an alternative route on a formed track and you are concerned about your ability to travel your intended route backtrack and detour.

The first of the chicken tracks tend also to become bog holes and another chicken track is made. So on and so forth and eventually there is a big bog hole or mess of tracks 5 4wd widths wide. These are major ammunition for getting 4wd users kicked off public land. They are also extremely expensive and difficult to repair for government land management departments, even after the track has been shut.

Second thing:
May I suggest you go and do a 4wd course - either commercial or through a club. You will learn all about safe passage through these sorts of obstacles, and when to decide that backtracking and finding another way around is the better option.

The mud is fun. We all love it a little bit but it is great ammunition for green groups when it is abused.

I have made one trip to Toolangi which is probably about 2 hours too close to Melbourne to keep the clubs and groups that want to go nuts in the mud from being there every other weekend.

I didn't know how bad it was until I saw it, having basically heard about this great place with some good tracks and fantastic forests from a magazine trip note. I got well and truly stuck trying to stay on the main track in some spots (30" deep not 10") and not make the chicken tracks any worse. I won't be venturing back.

We aren't all as lucky as the guy who inherits a swamp in the Jeep commercial. Unfortunately action such as this on public land has consequences - and a small number of less than responsible 4wders threaten public access for all as a result.

AnswerID: 122456

Follow Up By: Member - Wim (Qld) - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 07:52

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 07:52

Point taken with all of the above but, I have noticed while out west NSW & Qld) that a lot of the "chichen runs" have tracks a little wide for a 4wd.
I have been in some pales where the tack has been so badly damaged by road trains that there is no alternative but to go bush.

I think it was the Birdsville pub that had a photo of a road train (snatching?) pull another road train out of a bog


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FollowupID: 377637

Follow Up By: geocacher (djcache) - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 09:19

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 09:19
Can't comment on that area really, and hadn't thought of it as a contender for the discussion, as I haven't been up there since I was a kid.

I was thinking more of places further south like Toolangi, some places up in the high country that are well trafficked, bits of the Otways, Mt Dissappointment, Gippsland.

Many of the places with major damage problems are close to large rural centres or cities and therefore are subject to the regular abuse by some less responsible clubs and the predominantly young, predominantly male, predominantly spring/body lifted with big muddies, and often overpowered vehicles - a combination of or all of the above.

There are still many clubs that have either a club mentality that the muddier the better and bugger the consequences, or a small group of members that think that way who are never pulled into line.

I know of one club that did a trip earlier this year into Toolangi within a week of the area getting 150mm plus of rain, in basically stock vehicles. A recipe for getting stuck and increasing damage on very soft and wet tracks (and maybe having to make a few chicken tracks worse) if there ever was one. I know that the VAFWDC took a fairly dim view of it - and the club proudly claims to be Tread Lightly affiliated and aware.

FollowupID: 377646

Follow Up By: Shaker - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 18:26

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 18:26
The owners of Bollards Lagoon Station on the Bore Track, insist that you use the so called "chicken tracks" to save the track itself from destruction.
It was for the reason of people ignoring this request that the Bore Track was nearly closed!
FollowupID: 377761

Follow Up By: geocacher (djcache) - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 19:54

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 19:54
There's exceptions to every rule. In most cases in Victoria this is not the case.

FollowupID: 377775

Reply By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 01:26

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 01:26
more related to water pools always through the deepest part of the pools because the water is pooling there because it has a solid base rather than a porous muddy one.................. sometimes
AnswerID: 122459

Reply By: Bob of KAOS - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 05:47

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 05:47

back up about 400 meters, then floor it. Hit the water at full speed and let your momentum carry you through ;-)

I don't know about heavily used tracks but in my experience flooded desert tracks are best tackled 'through the middle' where the base is firmest.
AnswerID: 122463

Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 09:27

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 09:27
dont forget to have someone taking the photo of the abovementioned technique for a rick pic :)
FollowupID: 377652

Follow Up By: Muddy 'doe (SA) - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 18:00

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 18:00
U mean like this one?????

FollowupID: 377754

Follow Up By: Member - Davoe (Widgiemooltha) - Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 17:18

Friday, Jul 29, 2005 at 17:18
that would do it!!
FollowupID: 377918

Reply By: Truckster (Vic) - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 07:17

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 07:17
There is no hard rule on it as every situation is different..
EG terrain, how well used etc etc

You may dip it with a stick, but it may be full of logs, and rocks and other crap that may spear a tire.
AnswerID: 122465

Follow Up By: geocacher (djcache) - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 09:23

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 09:23
You'll only get through in some places down here if the last guy through had the same diff clearance as you though.

If the last bloke had big muddies on and 2 inches more diff clearance and chewed his way through you end up sitting on your diffs in a big puddle. If it's deep enough you end up sitting on your ar$e in the drivers seat in a big puddle.

Sometimes it's not the depth or the base that is the problem but how the bottom is shaped. If you are in a stock 4wd you can get badly caught out.

Been there, done that, got the pictures....still got splash marks on the roof lining.

FollowupID: 377650

Reply By: Des Lexic - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 09:06

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 09:06
Trev, the water is laying on the track longer because the base is more compact and therefore it takes longer to soak away. The sides of the track although not holding water are generally very wet and venturing off the beaten track generally leaves you sitting in a quagmire waiting for a tow out.
The vehicles that have passed before you chopping the track up leave the ruts but if you have good ground clearance and follow most of the advice given previously, you won't have a problem.
AnswerID: 122483

Reply By: Member - Graham P (QLD) - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 10:59

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 10:59
When the Hughenden to Richmond road was dirt there was a black flat on the highway where our entrance to the property was. I cannot tell the number of times we had to pull cars out of the bog when they would leave the road and try and go around the water on the road - the flat would look dry and the road had water on it so obviously the road would be the boggiest - not so, the road had a hard gravel bottom and it was virtually impossible to get bogged on it. I helped pull a Fairlane out that had burried his nose in the table drain trying to avoid the water on the road.
Generally speaking the presence of water indicates a hard bottom - stick with the water.

Best of luck

Graham P
AnswerID: 122506

Reply By: Member - Jeff M (WA) - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 11:29

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 11:29
Depending on the situation. For gravel roads I was always taught to go through the middle as it will be hard and compacted, going around the outside will just be mush.

However this is more for well travelled roads, bush tracks you'd need to make a decision on the fly depending on the circumstances.
AnswerID: 122515

Reply By: Member - Duncs - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 17:14

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 17:14
I was out playing one afternoon. I had a car full of guys all dressed for church not digging in the mud. We came across this mud hole in the middle of a track. Encouraged by my passengers and the fact that I knew the area pretty well I drove in.

Got stopped, no probs engage both diff locks and try again. Try in reverse, try forward, try reverse. Still no good. Try forward and then reverse reel quick still no good. This was starting to look bad. I mean with two diff locks in and still stuck, I was feeling pretty stuck.

I stopped to think for a while before getting out of the car in my Sunday best. One last try I thought. Put it in reverse and went back about 1 car length before stopping. I then tried again to reverse and out she came no problems at all.

What was happening was that the water piled up in front of the car going forward or behind the car going in reverse was too heavy to push out of the way. When I went back then stopped the water had time to flow past the car. I was then able to back out because I wasn't lifting so much water. This was a very deep hole, it had been dug out (by people getting stuck and wheelspinning) so that the bottom was about 1m below the surrounding ground but the water was only about bumper bar deep. Because of the depth of the hole it could not get away easily.

The thing I learned is if you are going out to play in the mud don't wear your Sunday best.

Also if you do get stuck take your time think about it and be prepared to try different things. Remember the throttle will get you into trouble if you use it wrong.

AnswerID: 122579

Reply By: Exploder - Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 19:10

Thursday, Jul 28, 2005 at 19:10
As most have said, every situation requires a different approach and an assessment of the conditions.

90% of the time go straight through the middle, but what is the point in going thro the middle if there is 30 inch of water and below that 14-inch deep wheel rut’s and holes that you can’t see, your going to go diving in end up on the diffs and be well stuck and unless you have brought your scuba gear or a water pump you will be going no wear fast. (If you are alone)

If I came up to a big stretch of deep mud and water and I was not sure of the condition of the track under it all I would be using the “Chicken Tracks” (If that was the only other option) If you happen to get bogged you can still Jack and dig the car out and apply traction aid’s to the surface to get moving/ out, You can’t do that when half the car is under the water stuck in mud.
(If in a national park I would not do this I would ether find another track around or call it a day.)

Remember always ask yourself do I need to go there, is there a better way around and if I get stuck how can I get out

No point playing hero if you are looking at 50 odd thousand worth of 4WD Decomposing into the mud.
AnswerID: 122598

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