If an automotive journalist cuts down a tree in a forest…

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Let’s talk about a walk down memory lane, about halfway through my 1,800-mile stretch of our 7,700-mile odyssey through the Trans-America Trail last summer, when we ran into a problem: a part of the trail we were on had washed out, and by “washed out” I mean there was a 5 foot muddy wall going down to more mud where the trail once was. Friendly locals, on quads and armed, had alerted us to the situation, but told us there was an ATV path through the woods. In fact, they were just coming from said lane. We might, they thought, be able to get the two Rivian R1Ts through the narrow path. Probably not our massive long-term 2021 Ram 1500 TRX, though.

We gave it a try, and yes, as expected, the relatively narrow electric trucks slipped through the grove of trees. We advanced with a bit of hesitation because to create the new trail, several small trees had been roughly felled and the Rivians had to roll over the remains of their ragged stumps. Luckily for us, the R1T’s 20-inch Pirellis refused to jump. Queuing was our long-term Ram, and it immediately became apparent that it just wasn’t going to fit. The R1T is 81.8 inches wide and 217.1 inches long. The TRX? 88.0 inches wide (a Hummer H1 is 86.5 inches wide) and 232.9 inches long. If you’ve ever tried to fit a large sofa through a door, you can imagine how our multiple attempts turned out.

After sandwiching the Ram between two trees and denting its rear fender, we made a decision: a tree had to go. It wasn’t ideal, but we didn’t really have a choice. We were about halfway through the day, and even though we didn’t exactly have a military schedule, turning around then would mean not only wasting a day, but having to stop and find a way to charge the two R1Ts. This would derail the plan. We were the second wave of five, plane tickets were purchased, hotel rooms were booked, deadlines were set in virtual stone. Simply put, there was no turning back. Could we have split the group, just sent the Ram back while the Rivians continued? Maybe, but that presented its own logistical nightmare as the Ram was crammed with gear on the roof. No, the tree had to disappear.

Luckily we packed a chainsaw. I have to say, Brooklyn born and raised Christian Seabaugh bought a small electric chainsaw. The idea was that if we came across a downed tree somewhere on the TAT, we could see it in half. One look at the miniature electric chainsaw, and we all quickly realized that if the supposedly felled tree was big enough that the trucks couldn’t get it out of the way, there would be no way forward. . Luckily, the tree we had to fell was only about 4 or 5 inches in diameter. Piece of cake, right? We plugged the small chainsaw into the TRX’s 110 volt 400 watt outlet and…nothing. Insufficient juice.

Then I said, “How about plugging it into a Rivian?” It meant two separate things. First, we had to risk blowing out tires to get an R1T back on the chunky MTB path. And second, if the electric truck could power the chainsaw, an otherwise eco-friendly Rivian would be used to chop down a tree.

Fortunately, we had better luck with the Rivian than the Ram; the Rivian’s 1,500-watt outlet fired up the small chainsaw with no problem, and after a few minutes of intense sweating and swearing, the tree was gone. The XXLOL Ram TRX was free to continue west along the TAT. Job well done, problem solved, keep going, or so we thought.

It turns out that, MotorTrend is littered with, I mean made up ofa group of former scouts, and once back in civilization, I found myself embroiled in a Slack battle having to justify why exactly we had to cut down the tree. Leave no trace, walk lightly, all these slogans came flying to Miguel Cortina and me. We were shocked by our team, how to put it nicely, lost worry. The world’s fastest Google search found that Mississippi’s forests are home to “830 million dry tons of aboveground living tree biomass.” [Or at least they were—Ed. ] I have no idea how many trees that is, but I was able to pick up the tree we felled. He weighed at most 200 pounds. Thinking about it now, let’s change “misplaced worry” to “overworked hysteria.” Which was sort of nothing compared to Rivian’s reaction.

Some more internet research, this time on Rivian’s corporate philosophy (emphasis added): “Rivian’s mission is to keep the world adventurous forever. We believe there is a more responsible way to explore the world and are determined to make the transition to sustainable transportation an exciting experience. We designed our emission-free electric adventure vehicles to challenge the possible.” As you’re no doubt beginning to understand, felling a tree in Mississippi didn’t sit well with the Rivian crew who n was not there.” Rick,” one of the Rivian team members who accompanied us on our coast-to-coast trek, pulled me aside and said, “They have a meeting about the tree.” That’s when I lost my mind.

“I hope they talk about it,” I shouted, pointing to the (very nice) wooden trim of the R1T. “Because I would like to know how they could stick this piece of wood here without cutting down a tree!” I think I’ve scared enough silent people by suggesting out loud, “Can someone be at MT or Rivian hold a funeral for that damn tree and leave us alone?” Now listen, on some level I understand the concern. Rivian is a new company trying to build a green image, make the world a better place, everything I accept it, I support it, I’m cool. On the other hand, it was a total overreaction. To put it better, it was bananas.

As Miguel said, “The day after the tree felled, I felt like my mother was about to punish me. The funny thing is, the idea of ​​not chopping down the tree never crossed my mind.” Exactly.

Like everyone on the ground in who knows where, Mississippi could attest, if we were to be the first to drive two electric vehicles (and a Ram TRX) 7,700 miles across the US completely off-road, the tree just had to go. However, for people sitting at home wringing their hands through Slack and Zoom, things certainly looked different. As with so many things in life, perspective matters. Eventually, 12 hours of a 24-hour news cycle passed, and people in California stopped bothering Miguel and me about the tree. I’ll end by saying, hello tree, RIP. Thanks for letting our Ram TRX through.

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