Walleye Dan frequents this rural area of East Gull Lake, Minnesota, but the road ahead is not familiar. Thankfully, a passenger in the truck (me) claims to know the way. Eigen trusts me. Big mistake.
"Keep going," I say with a confidence that overshadows my cluelessness. "The lake access is up here a ways."
Walleye Dan watches a dead-end sign come...and then go in his rearview mirror. He is now on a one-lane road that seems to be tracing a path like a kite on a broken string. The truck and trailer creep through a tight canopy of trees, heading further into oblivion.
"This isn't right," thinks Eigen. "This isn't right," I finally admit out loud. "Our turn was way back there."
Oops. Now what?
Gold: John The Tactician
Did it with 50-plus feet of truck, camper and boat, taking out only a few brittle twigs.
"My main goal is to not back into anything."
John has to move his long rig 100 yards uphill...in reverse...on a one-lane ribbon of asphalt, before finding a driveway or a clearing wide enough to get turned around 180 degrees. "I'll take the time to get out and walk the road and find the nearest open space. If people in other cars come up, I'll apologize and ask for some room. I'll tilt the mirrors in, so I can see more of the trailer and only a sliver of road. My windows are down so I can hear verbal signals — like 'Stop!'"
Silver: Unflappable Fred
Never even had to leave the cab, but did leave a rough zigzag on the wet road.
"The big mirrors help a lot when backing up a hill."
Fred's head is on a swivel, looking left and right. "I'm not looking at the boat; I'm just looking at the trailer because it's wider than the boat's hullsides. In this case, I'm watching the trailer fenders and giving them a couple of inches on each side. Then I keep backing and correcting, backing and correcting, until some space opens up. The main thing is to just be calm and not hurry. I've gotten into this situation and there's nothing more I can do. Frustration just makes it harder."
Bronze: Walleye Dan
Got it done, though he nearly flattened a mailbox and a videographer while getting it done.
"Backing up a blind hill in the rain is tricky. I have to force myself to take my time, which is hard for a high-energy guy on the go like me. The whole time I'm backing up, I'm watching the top of my Verado [motor] to keep it centered on the road. Once I'm at the top of the hill, I'll get out to see which driveway gives me enough room to back the rig in. I need enough space to get the rig turned 90 degrees and pointed perfectly perpendicular to the road before I can turn it back the other direction. Otherwise, I'll need to keep backing until I find even more space."