PUCKER FACTOR: the direct effect caused when the severity of oneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s actions exceed the limits of rational thought.
The incident had a pucker factor of 10. The moment the laws of physics threatened to punish me for testing the boundaries, my nether regions clamped up tight as a vise.
I have joined the Southern Ontario Xterra Club for their 2nd Annual Adventure Weekend. 3 days of trail riding, biking, swimming and loads of great food while camping on crown land directly beside lovely CooperÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Falls. Located on the border between the Muskoka & Kawartha regions, the CooperÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Falls area is the entry point to a network of trails that lead across the rugged Canadian Shield. It has been a hot, dry summer so the trails are dry & dusty with the occasional puddle of mud caused where small rivers once crossed the road. For the most part, the trails are pretty tame, with only the occasion bump from a rock touching the bottom of the truck. There are some sections however that require the assistance of spotters to guide the drivers over large chunks of rock that look poised to break any vehicle that dares try to pass. It was on one of these sections where I became verklempt.
I was driving a 2003 Nissan Frontier, the pick up truck brother of the Xterra. The truck is more that a foot longer than the Xterra, which actually helps it when climbing these steep steps of rock. But the problem with the extra length is that the back end sticks out farther and tends to get caught up when coming back down these same hazards. And so it was that when I approached a whale sized rock with a nearly vertical drop off, that I decided to take the easier path down. I chickened out & took the simple route. Of course the simple route involved sweeping wide to the right to avoid a large rock on the left, while traveling so slowly the speedometer does not even move. I had watched an Xterra take this route and it was a piece of cake. Where life became difficult was when the longer truck took up more space on the hill and suddenly the road fell away from below the left front wheel. The truck dropped so fast that I thought for sure it would roll over, until a quick thinking Xterra owner jumped on the back bumper. The drop stopped and the truck teetered on the edge while balanced on 2 wheels. When it became clear that we had some stability, I crept forward until a third wheel touched the ground, and then the fourth.
The rest of the ride was smooth sailing and was rewarded with a cold swim beneath CooperÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s falls, a cold beer, a great meal and good times with some new friends. Next time maybe a shorter vehicle will help prevent another dose of Pucker.
This article originally posted on an old site I owned which has been retired.