by Misty Tena
So many stories, so many words to describe how I got to be a quirky, goofy, nerdy seeker of adventure …We’ve all had hard times that have shaped us into the wonderful human beings we have become and are still becoming. Life is about balance and finding peace and joy while being good to yourself and others around you.
I have always loved the outdoors and camping, (rough it style of course) but didn’t really dive into this off-road, four wheeling, and invigorating world until Dec. 2017. After 15 years of marriage I divorced in the beginning of 2017 and started spending more time in the mountains. I love listening to the forest, getting lost in that fire wicking the cooling evening air or the sounds of all the birds, chipmunks and squirrels singing, squawking and gathering their food in the morning. These things to me are heaven where I felt freest and at peace.
The real adventure begins in Oct 2017. I took my first grand solo adventure to Ireland in Oct 2017 for 2 weeks, did I say solo???!!! Biggest out of my comfort zone thing I have EVER done! I highly recommend it to everyone. When I got back I totaled my Kia, no major injuries and it wasn’t that bad but it brought me to purchasing my 2011 Army Green FJ Cruiser, my new love of my life! So of course I had it out on the fire service roads within weeks of owning it. One of the guys at work previously owned an FJ and told me about the FJ Cruiser Forum. Between my co-worker telling me all about these awesome treks he was able to do and how much he learned on the forum, I dove head first without looking back at all!
Shortly after that I got a business card on my FJ from Empty Pocket Crawlers (EPC) whilst grocery shopping, it was for a four wheeling group. OOOH YEAH!!! I messaged as soon as I got home. Lots of FJ’s in the group, made several friends, went on some minor outings with them and then started getting into more and more groups on Facebook. I am currently in 30, WOW didn’t know that until now.
I went on a run with 2 Jeeps to a place called Tahuya ORV Park in Belfair, WA. This was the first obstacle course style trails I have ever been on and didn’t even know they existed. I’ve only been on Fire Service Roads. I thought ORV parks were for quads. I smashed my FJ around (no damage – this time), up and over rocks, had some gnarly hills putting you off canter quite a bit. One a little too much, which was my first time on 3 wheels! Couple of water crossings, learned how to use my lockers while stuck on a stump in the mud, in an embarrassing manner of course but the only one way to learn! Also was brazen enough to go through Mud Lake as they call it, but only after I followed someone else’s lines as I’ve heard stories of this place swallowing trucks on 40’s, I was still stock on 28’s. Once done with the 2.5hr trail my adrenaline was going and I was ready to go again!!! Absolutely HOOKED!!! LOVED IT!!! Modifications list has begun after this run.
In February I started seeing things about FJ Summit. Oh My Lord!!! I can’t believe they have this kind of event! So I looked into it further and decided this would be my summer vacation. Learned about all this and agreed to go 2 weeks before registration opened. Also learned it sells out in about a minute, so I was ready to go. 2018 FJ Summit I heard sold out in 28 seconds but I was in! YAY!!! So my 2 friends Sean & Tricia started making the route they wanted to take and I was tagging along on the journey to Summit. First time I have let go of planning in my life, little stressed about it but it was an adventure and our start and destinations were the same. I chalked everything else up to be a grand adventure, and it was. Before I went I got some modifications, 2” lift w/1” spacers, new bumper with winch, went up to 32” mudders, rock rails, light whip/cb, I built a roto pack plate onto my roof rack rails and got a bunch of recovery gear as well.
We set out with 2 rigs out of Cle Elum, WA. We hit OR, ID, UT, AZ, CO & WY together. We stopped at a lot of National Museums and National Parks, highlights for me - Barley Brows Brewery in ID (we all need a beer every once in a while and they have a Jalapeno IPA to die for!), Landcruiser History Museum in Salt Lake City, UT, Baby Lions Back in Moab, UT (first really scary place – put my FJ on the front two wheels), Monument Valley in AZ, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, CO, FJ SUMMIT!!!! Ouray, CO (San Juan Mountains), Fossil Butte National Monument (favorite museum ever) in WY and of course Grand Tetons & Yellowstone!
Summit was the most spectacular busy event I have been to for off road enthusiasts. It was super organized and well set-up, easy for us newbies to keep in line with what’s going and what we’re supposed to be doing. I chose easy and moderate trails (Alpine Loop, Imogene and the Gulches) these were very long days but the scenery and trails were fantastic. The people were great! It was fun interacting with like-minded people. I even won a set of Icon Alloy Rebound Wheels!
My friends and I parted separate ways from Yellowstone as I had extra days so I chose to go out and up the Bear Tooth Highway and camped and hoteled my way thru Montana and Idaho. Before I left Montana I found a ranger station and asked for a nice day trail/hike and ended up going to an alpine lake named Moore Lake. It was 14 mile drive in and .5 miles walk to the lake. It was so clear, crisp and beautiful. I was the only one. I felt like I was on top of the world nestled in amongst the brilliant green trees and blue skies. But the best part was when I came back to my rig there was a gentlemen there having a beer on his quad. We said hello and we started chatting. 2 hours later I know this gentleman’s whole life story and it was awesome. My friends and I did this same thing in Bedrock, CO as well with the owner of The General Store. Funny enough they were both from Jersey and had colorful stories of their lives, love, trials and tribulations. I absolutely love getting to know people and to do this once but twice on my journey was amazing.
So my trip in total took me 15 days, 8 total states & 3900 miles. This was a very enlightening journey of self-discovery and learning a lot in a short amount of time.
I have found the offroad community is a unique clique of adventurers who all have found their way here one way or another. We all have the love and passion for our sport. We get out and help people when we can and we like to go above and beyond for others. We lift each other and sometimes push each other as well. I love off-roading, I love the people, I love the adventure but most of all I love how it has transformed me into the person I am today. I love me! I love my life! I love my FJ
“The purpose of life, after all, is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.”
Posted by: Dulcy Rojas