January 10, 2023
Midland Radio caught up with a set of Jeepers that relied on GMRS walkie talkies to safely navigate their way around a treacherous trail after experiencing vehicle issues.
Learn how GMRS walkie talkies helped guide them to safety.
Stacy Bradley Salazar and her husband got into off-roading about four years ago.
“My husband Phil- his cousin had taken him off-roading a couple of times in Moab and on the Rubicon Trail. Our kids were old enough to leave home and he told me he thought this was something we would really enjoy as a couple together. “
The couple was attending their second Jeep Jamboree in Ouray, Colorado.
They were on one of the most intense off-road trails in the country when they noticed something wasn't right with their Jeep. The group was only about 500 feet from the top, almost at 13,000 feet.
"We heard this loud boom and we had both thought we hit a rock, but neither of us had seen a rock. We jumped out of our vehicle, looked underneath the Jeep, and couldn’t find anything. We got back in the Jeep and it wouldn’t move. They towed us to the top and the whole time we were going up, it was making a kabooming noise. When we got to the top, my husband crawled under the Jeep and realized the drive shafts- the bolts had worked themselves completely loose. They had fallen into the armor. When we were pulled up the mountain, they went up into the harness wiring to the battery. The bolts had severed the wiring," Salazar said.
They were able to tape some of the wiring back together. Along the trail, they got to a mining town where they tried to solder it, but it didn't make a difference.
"We didn’t even go maybe 500 feet and we just became a dead stick. We had absolutely nothing. We had to get someone in front us to pull us and someone behind us to act like our brakes.”
The vehicle was without power steering, making the entire trail ride incredibly tense.
“It was very stressful. My husband needed to focus and didn’t want me talking to him. There were times going around the switchbacks that he had to really strain to turn the wheel to go around the corner. It was just so stressful because if one of us went over the cliff, all of us would.”
The group's trail guide was at the front and instructed those in other groups to pull off to the side as they were approaching. Getting to the bottom of the trail didn't mean they were in the clear.
“Once we got down, they then had to tow us through the town of Telluride. That was also nerve-wracking. Our tires were still aired down and so they didn’t do a great on the cement. We had to go through stop lights and stop signs. That was stressful because you didn’t want anybody to come through and hit those straps. We would wait until we saw no cars and then we would all three go through the intersection.”
The Jeep was connected by straps to the Jeep in front of them and behind them to act as a tow and brakes, communication was important.
The Salazar Jeep had a set of GXT1000VP4 Two-Way GMRS Radio.
“As soon as this happened, we got on the radios immediately. We were only like the fourth Jeep back so when we stopped, everyone had to stop.”
Without the GMRS walkie talkies, they wouldn't have been able to coordinate a safe return. If you make one wrong move on these trails, the results can be catastrophic, In fact, just a week prior to this trip a Jeep (not affiliated with JJUSA) went off the cliff resulting in the loss of three lives.
“The radios played a huge role. They were very, very important. You wouldn’t be able to communicate otherwise. I’m not sure how any of this would have worked without solid communication.”
While they had the GMRS walkie talkies for years, they could have never imagined just how crucial they would prove.
“The walkie talkie was in my hand the entire time. It didn’t leave my hand or go very far from my mouth. We needed to be able to let the other vehicles know if they needed to brake us or keep pulling us along."
Once they made it down the mountain, Salazar used the GMRS walkie talkies to express her thanks to the fellow Jeepers.
“I got on the radio and said, ‘I want to thank all of you to be so patient.’ I then started to get really teary eyed and began crying. I think all that tension was just released.”
The Salazars were impressed with the performance of the GMRS walkie talkies as they navigated the particularly stressful trail ride.
“The walkie talkies were so great. We had absolutely no problems or difficulties with them.”
Once the group reached the bottom of the mountain, everyone was able to breathe a sigh of relief.
At the bottom of the mountain, the group celebrated the successful return with ice cream.
Midland Director of Marketing Shared Services, Andrew Kinsman himself was part of the group, driving for the first time while attending a Jeep Jamboree.
"Good communication is an absolute necessity, especially when things don't go as planned on the trail. I don't know how this would have worked without Midland's two-way radios," Kinsman overhead a trail participant saying.
Kinsman said he was glad to see Midland's GMRS walkie talkies in use while navigating this particularly difficult situation.
"This was a tough situation. I'm glad everyone was able to return to the bottom of the mountain safely. It really drives home how important reliable communication is when hitting the trails. We're proud of the partnership we've developed with Jeep Jamboree and this experience really underscores that," Kinsman said.