- Brendan McKay
My good buddy Austin picked up a Toyota 4Runner a few months back - naturally we decided we needed to take it offroading to make sure it could perform as-advertised (it came with the Off-Road package, after all). These shots are from earlier this year, and I can attest that the truck still drives like a champ after our SoCal winter adventure out near San Bernardino.
Did we air down pre-trail? No.
Did we have anything other than the standard jack that came with the truck? No (and now that I write this I'm pretty sure we didn't even have that).
Did we know where we were going? No.
Did we have a kick-ass time? Abso-f'in-lutely.
We passed a few other trucks on the trail, including some Raptors, Wranglers and other 'Yota Tacomas and 4Runners. All of them were nicely kitted out with lifts, meaty tires and obligatory LED headlamp racks. Next time I see Austin I'm going to highly encourage the need to completely overhaul his truck with a 4" lift, 35" tires, a roofrack and a bumper winch. Because everyone needs a bumper winch, right?
About halfway through we decided to put the truck through its paces and went off in search of (a) mud and (b) hills, both of which we found in abundance. Unfortunately we were a bit late to the game after some of the heavy winter rains in SoCal, and I imagine if we had gone a week or two earlier, the truck would've been a nice shade of brown after our adventure.
After a test pass through a larger puddle to make sure there weren't any monster rocks under the water's surface, Austin circled back and hit it full steam twice. End result - smiles for miles.
At long last we found our final drop in, and it was perilous enough that I jumped out to scope a route or two and hang near the bottom to help guide a bit. Unfortunately these pictures don't do justice to just how steep this incline was, particularly as a first-timer. In retrospect this was probably a double black for us as newbies, and the buttpucker factor was particularly big for me watching the entire thing from the bottom. Huge ups to Austin for saying, "F' it, let's go" - I can't say I wouldn't been as eager to do this with lot-fresh car with only 150 miles on it...
The truck handled like an absolute champ though, and I can't describe how awesome it was to watch a beast straight from the factory take all of this on like a easy drive on the PCH.
It was fairly easy going after this and we eventually meandered our way out of the trail with the aid of Google Maps - thank god for cell reception all the way back there. A few more road miles have since accrued on the 4Runner and I think it's a fine time to get her back out onto the trail (hint hint, buddy).