We all appreciate having a good guide when dealing with interesting obstacles on the trail. Being a guide is more than a t-shirt, a sticker, or a flag. A guide has to know the trail and the experience levels of the other drivers, so that the guide can anticipate where issues could occur. Unfortunately, the trails are always changing due to other off road vehicles and weather conditions, so being prepared for the unknown is key to a fun safe trip into the bush.
A guide needs to know....
A guide also needs to know how to attack different obstacles with the wide variety of rigs. We have CJ’s, YJ’s, XJ’s, TJ’s, JK’s, JKU’s, JL’s, some Rubicon’s mixed in and they all tend to wheel differently. A 4 door with the longer wheel base sometimes needs a whole different line than a 2 door, as do the Gladiator, Trail Hawk, Cherokees. Stock, lifts, tire sizes, skid plates, rock rails, steel bumpers, automatics, standards, lockers, winch, and even the ages of the rigs make a huge difference. The newest models have buttons for hill descents or climbs, disconnects, and even lockers. Older models have to do it all the hard way. This is where the experience levels come in handy. Guides have to be aware of all of this. This is why it is great to have at least 2 guides on a trail, but very best is to have 3 guides, one at the front, one in the middle, and one at the back. That way the drivers can be spread out with help close at hand. With a couple of guides, no one gets left behind because one guide can help a crippled rig out to the trail head and wait for help.
Trail Guide duties
How do the guides line up the rigs? The guides try to spread out the drivers by considering their experience and the capability of each rig. Well, it’s always a smart idea to put an experienced driver in front of an inexperienced driver with the same size rig, if possible, so that lines are easier to follow. Other things guides look for are winches and CB radios.
CB radios are key to warn the drivers of any unexpected issues as well as making sure everyone is ok. Sometimes, it is easier to guide a rig up an obstacle from behind using a CB., especially if there is a big water hole between rigs.
Guides try to carry everything with them from rescue equipment , engine liquids, tools, to first aid kits and bring a lot of experience with them. Many have taken guide /first aid training which helps immensely. Hopefully, when or if we ever kill this Covid, Tim Janssen can offer his excellent guiding course and Erin Burrell can train guides in basic first aid for possible trail injuries.
After all of this, why would anyone become a guide? I know I get a lot of satisfaction seeing the happy faces on the participants after a fun day on the trails. I take pride in doing a good job. We try to impart the rules of off roading by example, by treading lightly, being courteous to other groups on the trail, and taking more garbage out than we take in. We have several excellent guides in COORJC and are always looking for more. You don’t have to start as a lead guide. You can be a tail gunner or a middle guide and still be an important part of a fun, safe day. It is very rewarding. PLEASE CONSIDER VOLUNTEERING TO BE A GUIDE SO THAT WE CAN RUN MORE TRAILS IN THE FUTURE!!