Recently I was exploring a new trail with my kids. 

We were only about 20 minutes from town, but we had taken a gauntlet of old, barely-maintained forest service roads to get to the trailhead.

 It was a maze that would make it easy to get turned around and lost if you didn’t have a map or know where you were going.

The goal for the day was to explore the trail and soak up a little bit of the beautiful October morning.

After two fun hours on the trail, we returned to our car. Thankfully it was parked in a safe trailhead.

I loaded up our gear, buckled my kids into their car seats, and stuck my key in the ignition. We were in a rush, and I had to hurry home for a meeting.

But when I went to start the car nothing happened.

It was dead. The lights and radio went on, but the rest of the car wasn’t about to go anywhere.

I thought it was the battery, so I pulled out my phone and saw that I might have enough signal to call my husband.

I did a little happy dance, gave him a ring, and then was thankful when he was able to drive up the mountain to save the day.

While we waited, we walked up the road to link up with him. Thankfully, he knew right where we were because I had told him exactly where I was going before we left.

About half a half-an-hour later, my husband showed up in our old, beloved truck.

We tried to jump-start the car, but it still wouldn’t start.

Because of our location, we decided to try to tow out my car with the truck. The plan was to get to the highway and then call a tow-truck to take it to the shop to get fixed.

So, we hooked up a chain, and I sat in the car, trying to steer and adjust my speed to prevent slack in the chain while my husband towed us.

We made it about two miles and then started to climb to a huge hill that our old truck couldn’t handle while pulling my car.

So we parked it at the bottom of the hill near a little draw. We called roadside assistance and then headed to the intersection near the highway to meet the tow truck. 

About an hour later the tow truck arrived, we drove him down to the draw where we had left the car. He did his thing, and we all headed back to the town where we linked up at the shop.

My car is up and running again; it needed a new battery and a new starter.

This event was all pretty minor, but it could have been much worse. 

I like to learn when things don’t go as planned, so I had to put my thoughts on paper or WordPress. 

Hopefully, this will spark some discussion because whenever we leave the comfort and safety of our homes and venture into the wilderness.

We just never know what will happen, right?

What did I learn from this?

1. I had only packed food and water to last us for 3-4 hours, not 8. Thankfully I always keep an extra gallon of water in my car, but I didn’t have extra food. From now on, I’m never going to think that I’m just going to be on the mountain for a few hours and be prepared to stay longer.

2. Most of the time, I’m terrible about charging my cell phone, but I had left the house with a full charge that morning, and I needed it. I struggle balancing technology in the wilderness, but when this happened, I had never been so happy to have cell service in the middle of nowhere. I’m going to be better at keeping that phone charged for emergencies, but I’m also not going to depend on it. Cell phone service saved me a 4-mile hike out to the highway carrying two children.

3. I’m glad that I keep a double-kid carrier in my trunk. I don’t necessarily enjoy carrying a 4 & 2-year-old at the same time, but after our hike, there was no way that they could have made it back to the highway. But, I could have handled a slow walk to find help while carrying both children.

4. A few months ago, I took the jumper cables out of my car when I was cleaning it out and hadn’t replaced them. I should have been prepared with my jumper cables even though that wasn’t the problem. I feel better when I have a pair of jumper cables in my trunk.

6. My kids are fantastic. They missed lunch and naps, but they were happy throughout the ordeal. Maybe it was the excitement of pulling the vehicle or the tow truck or the trip to the mechanic. I think if I had freaked out about the situation, they would have too. Keeping the mood positive and fun was important. 

Here are a few more tips for what to do if your car breaks down.

Have you ever had your car break down after a morning on the trails? Do you keep any emergency or survival equipment in your vehicle just in case you need it?




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