In the June '05 issue of Off-Road, we ran a feature on a long-travel Toyota suspension kit. In that feature, the subheading stated, "The end of drop-bracket lift kits." The intended purpose for the truck in the feature was high-speed trail running and heavy backcountry use. For those purposes, the long-travel kit definitely ended the need for a drop-bracket lift kit. Did it mark the end of drop-bracket lift kits? Of course not, and we shouldn't have said it.
It's hard not to like high-dollar suspensions that work well in the backcountry at high and low speeds. Long-travel kits are expensive. Sometimes, they're way more expensive than drop-bracket kits. The engineering that goes into these kits and the components included require this higher price point. This price needs to be paid by those pushing the envelope of off-roading. Not everyone can afford these kits, nor do they care about pushing the off-road envelope. They just want to lift their trucks for larger tires to make it look tougher and work better when trying to get to that favorite fishing hole or ghost town.
Drop-bracket kits are engineered and built to work well in their application. They don't offer as much travel as their expensive counterparts do, but then, they don't cost as much either, allowing many more people to enjoy life off-road. They certainly have their place in the marketplace. Once again, when thinking about that subhead, I have to ask myself, "What were we thinking?"
Let's change the subject. The nature of magazine production schedules means I'm writing this shortly after returning from the Moab Easter Safari. Some obstacles were open that were closed earlier, while others were closed that had been open before. The Escalator, on Hell's Revenge, actually had a fence along each side of it to keep people on the obstacle. At least it was open. Maybe I should say at most it was open, for when a couple friends of mine climbed the Escalator, they then crossed slickrock to join the Hell's Revenge Trail, as they always had. Imagine their surprise when a BLM ranger roared up with lights blazing and siren wailing. He then proceeded to cite them for being in a closed area. He not only cited them, but was out of control with his rudeness. When they asked where they were supposed to drive, he pointed to an area no one used to go that wasn't marked in any way as the exit from the top of the Escalator.
Why funnel people up an obstacle with a fence, then not mark the legal exit route? Could it be the BLM wants vagueness so they can selectively enforce the area? Also, this area is slickrock, not dirt. In fact, the legal way down actually traveled right next to the only tree and patch of dirt in the whole area, making it possible there could be some impact sometime. The route we've always used to get back, the one my friends were on, traveled only on slickrock and exhibited no impact from years of use.
Enforcement such as this just widens the gap between the BLM and users of public land. At the least, some rangers need an attitude adjustment. A gestapo-like attitude pulled on someone out in the backcountry could lead to problems none of us want. Also, when there are changes in routes (closures and openings), everyone needs to know what's been changed before the yelling and citing begins. A ranger coming out of left field, gesticulating with spittle flying from his mouth, just doesn't cut it.