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Paying for a rookie error

Marty McClelland got bogged while four-wheel-driving last weekend.

Last Saturday I went for a drive with my dog to check out the waterfalls on Valentine Spring Road.

After negotiating the easier section of gravel road, I decided to check out the track into Hidden Springs as I hadn't been there before.

It all looked good enough to drive alone and without a winch and at each water crossing I came to, I got out and checked carefully to make sure it was sound to cross.

The base felt firm beneath and there was a few inches of sand for most of them, so I eased through them in low-range four-wheel- drive.

Enjoying the lovely views, I began to relax, but my concentration on the state of the road went out the window and suddenly I drove straight into a 20m-long pool covering the road.

I might have made it through if the wheel ruts hadn't been so deep, but the chassis bottomed out on the sand and developed a severe case of hydrostatic adhesion or, in other words, I had glued the car to the ground.

That snapped me out of my daydream and I cursed myself for letting such an avoidable mistake happen.

The car wouldn't gently back out - the wheels spun and I knew I wasn't going anywhere so I spent a few hours collecting rocks, digging sand and digging trenches to drain the pool.

I rigged up a tow rope to my hi-lift jack and tried to winch it from a nearby tree with the car running in reverse gear, but it still didn't flinch.

I decided to start walking because I thought I had no choice, but suddenly logic kicked in.

By the time I would arrive at the main road (5-6km away) it would be about 6.30pm, and from there it would be another hour to Buttons Crossing, where there would possibly be the first chance of sighting help.

Everyone would have long gone home, so I turned back and decided to camp the night.

Luckily for me I had water and apples to eat, but it was a humid night and I lay there sweating like a pig while all the nightlife made a huge racket.

I woke at 4am and started digging, adding rocks and winching one more time, but it was all to no avail so I grabbed some water and started walking before it got too hot.

I was back on the main road in just more than an hour, and by sheer luck after half an hour of walking Hairy Dog and his missus Jane drove up the road, saving me hours more walking.

They took me to a high point up the road where their smartphone picked up reception, and I rang two people I knew who had winches.

Ben Durrans got to me first and we drove back in and tried to winch my car out.

It didn't work, so we conceded we need to go back to town and get more help.

On the way out we came across Phil Normandale, the other friend I'd rung for help.

By now the crossings were getting chewed up and harder to get through, but with sheer power, and a bit of winching, we got to where my car was stuck.

I could not believe how stuck mine was and feared Phil's winch would burn out, but after a few Herculean attempts I felt my car move a little and then up she popped and we were free.

I couldn't describe the relief, but now all three 4WDs had to get back to the main road.

When we got there I thanked the guys and said goodbye before heading home to wash the car and have a swim and a beer.

I like to consider myself as a smart four-wheel-driver.

I carry rescue gear, tools and a tent, but sometimes I make a stupid mistake and I curse myself for not sticking to my own rules.

Last Saturday I broke the cardinal rules of four-wheel- driving by not telling a soul where I was going and when to expect my return (I didn't know I was going there either to be fair). I went on my own without a second vehicle for rescue and I had no way to communicate with the outside world.

I was very lucky I had water, shade, the temperature was moderate and the walk very doable.

Things could have been a lot worse.My lapse in concentration could have been a life-changing moment any other time and it was a wake-up call to be extra vigilant at all times.

No matter how beautiful this country is, it doesn't have a conscience for the welfare of humanity.

It's been four years since I last got bogged, and unless you do it intentionally it is generally not fun.