Summit Tour 2021 – Empowering Veterans Through Overlanding
The Summit Tour 2021, organized by the nonprofit Racing Anxiety, was a profound journey that not only challenged participants physically but also honored the values of camaraderie, teamwork, and patriotism.
From Price, UT to Telluride, CO, passing through Black Dragon Canyon, Moab, Ouray, and Telluride
Day One: The Mud Challenge and Emotional Beginnings
The first day introduced participants to the grueling terrain, marked by a daunting mud crossing that tested their mettle. Only a few vehicles made it through without assistance, while one unfortunate vehicle became buried frame-deep in the unforgiving mud. For a nerve-wracking 40 minutes, the team rallied together, attempting to dig it out. Eventually, Tapley’s 4Runner was strategically positioned in front of the stuck vehicle, deploying a winch to pull it through the mire. During this time, the fuel tank of the stuck vehicle filled with water, necessitating its removal and careful draining before the team could continue on their journey.
As they confronted these early challenges of the trail, a profound transformation was underway. The adversity they faced on day one was merely a foreshadowing of the trials to come, but it was in these moments that the bonds between participants deepened. The Summit Tour 2021 was about more than just conquering terrain; it was about conquering personal challenges, both physical and emotional, and forging lasting bonds.
Day Two: The Clutch Job in Moab and The Power of Teamwork
The trials continued on day two when BloodBath, the iconic 1995 Dodge Dakota with its red bedliner coating, faced a significant setback with a throwout bearing failure in the blazing heat of Moab, Utah. The repair effort was nothing short of miraculous. They had to undertake this task with limited tools and resources, under the relentless gaze of the desert sun. It was a grueling, unrelenting battle.
But it was during this struggle that the true power of teamwork became evident. Everyone pitched in, sweat and determination glistening on their brows. No one was content to merely watch, and the term “selfless” took on a whole new meaning. The repair of BloodBath’s clutch became a symbol of resilience, not just for the vehicle but for the participants as well. It was a reminder that challenges could be overcome with grit, determination, and the unwavering support of one another.
Day Three: CV Axle Replacement and Empowering Education
On the third day, the participants faced the dual challenge of repairing a damaged CV axle, which had failed and was cut out on day one, and absorbing vital lessons about mental health. This day marked the beginning of daily mental health classes designed to teach participants how to build a strong mental health support network, respond to signs of suicide risk, notice the warning signs of suicide, and establish habits conducive to mental well-being. These classes led to some emotionally charged stories being shared, underscoring the significance of the event in promoting mental health.
Day Four: Abandoning the Land Cruiser
Day four was a turning point in the Summit Tour 2021, as it presented challenges that tested the group’s resolve to the limits. Despite the best efforts of the driver and the repair crew, they faced an insurmountable problem with a Land Cruiser. The vehicle suffered from persistent overheating issues that proved elusive to resolve. Every repair they attempted seemed to beget another failure. They replaced cooling fans, temperature sensors, and performed coolant flushes, but the issues persisted, ultimately culminating in the difficult decision to abandon the Land Cruiser on the trail.
This setback was a stark reminder of the unpredictable nature of overlanding and off-road adventures. It demonstrated that even with a dedicated team and a wealth of expertise, some challenges couldn’t be overcome, and tough decisions had to be made. Despite this setback, the group continued on, carrying with them the memory of the Land Cruiser and the unwavering spirit that defined the Summit Tour 2021.
The Daily Flag Ceremony: Honoring Patriotism and Unity
The daily flag ceremony remained a cherished tradition throughout the event. Each morning, the American flag and the POW MIA flag were flown proudly over the entire trail, symbolizing the participants’ dedication to their country and the military. Veterans participating in the event played a pivotal role in this ceremony, selecting two individuals each day to carry these flags.
Carrying the flag remained a profound honor, with the recipients chosen based on their outstanding participation, teamwork, leadership, hard work, and overall improvement.
The Heroes Chosen: Jared and Landon
On the fifth and final day, the veterans unanimously selected Jared, the trail mechanic whose unwavering dedication and expertise helped keep the group moving forward, to carry and bring home the U.S. flag. Alongside him, Landon, one of the trail leaders who exemplified leadership and dedication throughout the journey, was chosen to carry and bring home the POW MIA flag. These selections were a testament to the values of unity, resilience, and honor that defined the Summit Tour 2021.
The Limitless Power of Perseverance
The Summit Tour 2021 was more than just a series of off-road challenges; it was a journey that tested the limits of perseverance and the strength of the human spirit. The struggles with repairs were not just mechanical; they were emotional and psychological battles as well. They were reminders that adversity could bring people closer, that the power of teamwork could conquer even the most daunting challenges, and that the human spirit could overcome the most trying circumstances.
In the end, the Summit Tour 2021 was a testament to the indomitable human spirit, the power of unity, and the resilience of veterans. It was an event that celebrated patriotism, camaraderie, and the unwavering support of those who had served their country. It was a journey of personal growth and empowerment, proving that together, we can overcome life’s most challenging obstacles and emerge stronger than ever.