At the last day of March we drove in to the area of Pazardzik because we wanted to go for a walk in the small nature park Eledjik. We found a nice place to camp, a field at the bottom of a hill with a lot of big rocks. A really quiet place and Binkie really enjoyed running uphill and climbing the rocks. We had no problem driving in to the field to the place where we wanted to camp. We enjoyed what was left of the sun and had a relaxing evening.
The following day we left at noon, to drive to the starting point of the hike. Well “left” may be a bit of an overstatement. We drove roughly 15m and got well and truly stuck in the mud in a matter of seconds. It hadn’t rained but it was suddenly very wet. We had no choice but to dig out the van, the back wheels had sunken into the ground right up till the axle. So we dug until we could put the sand plates under the wheels.
Kilian reversed but we couldn’t get out; the sand plates slipped away from the wheels. OK, so we used the air jack to lift the van up higher, and then dug some more until we could shove the sand plates further under the wheels. We also used the wedges to give the front wheels something solid to drive on.
And this time it worked, The van got out and Kilian drove backwards on to a dry piece of land. The only way out of the field was forwards however. To use a different track I cut down a small bush. Well Kilian drove of and got stuck about 15 m from the first place! And this time it was worse. Kilian was just about to drive up a small hill when, again within seconds, the back wheels disappeared in the mud. This time they sunk so deep that the bike rack touched the ground. In order to get free, the bike rack had to be removed. For that we needed tools which were in the back of the van. We couldn’t open the back however because of the bike rack, talking about a catch 22! So we first dug away the ground behind the bike rack and finally managed to move it enough to open the back just enough to get the tools out.
Kilian managed to remove the bike rack. There was no room for the air jack at the back of the van so we put it on the left side. It lifted out the van but the placement of the air jack, although the only option, wasn’t ideal and it folded itself around the sliding door sill, causing a dent in the door. Damn, but at least we could get the sand plates under the wheels again after more digging.
Before driving backwards we decided to explore the terrain on foot and noticed it was soggy just about everywhere…. We think the sunshine and the sudden rise in temperature defrosted the ground beneath the top layer. We also noticed a little stream coming downhill that wasn’t there yesterday. We decided to use a different track. Kilian decided to drive back to where it was dry and then to drive as fast as possible to the dirt road. He reversed and got out of the second hole, only to get stuck again! before reaching the dry spot. What the F…!!! Were we ever going to get out of this field?? So more digging, inflating the air jack for the third time and try driving backwards again. The first attempt failed and Kilian used more power to get out, the van shot out, slipped a little bit sideways and the front of the van scraped along a small tree with such force that the left blink light came off, as did the bark of the tree. It also caused a few scratches and dents in the left front side. As you can image we weren’t to happy about that, but the van was now on dry land at least. We decided to take a break and have some tea.
After some deliberation we decided to empty out the van as much as possible, reducing the weight. We got out the drawers, the boxes with clothes, the bags with food, Binkies food and litter box, the heavy crates from the roof, jerrycan, everything really. We even emptied out most of the water tanks, about 70 litres, using a hose to dump the water as far away from the dry piece of land as possible. Kilian let out some air of the tires to reduce surface pressure and increase grip.
We also used the sand plates and some rocks to fill up the worst of the soft spots in the terrain. Then, while I stayed behind with all our stuff and Binkie, Kilian gathered as much speed as possible on the small piece of dry land and drove as fast as he could across the 150m of now soggy ground hoping to reach the dirt road. And it worked! Yesss!!! Thank goodness because there wasn’t anything else we could think of any more. So now the van was on the dry road, “all” that was left to do was to carry out all of our stuff and put it back in and on the van. That took another hour.
By the time we were ready it was 16.00 hours. So it had taken us 4 hours to ‘drive” across 150m of land… we had lunch and decide to camp a little further down the dirt road as we were pretty tired by now. Kilian managed to fix the headlight back on and we’ll just have to live with the scratches and dents. Well at least we got out ourselves, without any outside help. We stayed calm and worked well together as a team. At least if we don’t count in Binkie 😉 Binkie spend most of the afternoon out of harms way, his line attached to a tree and he enjoyed himself just fine!
A bit later as we sat in the van, Kilian remarked that he could really use a vacation right now…..