Shifter would pop out of fourth. It also felt kind of loose, Like the linkage was loose. Now it is stuck in third. When I drove it last is sounded like it might have a trans. bearing noise. May just be there was tension because I was trying to pull it out of gear.
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Are you sure it's not just the linkage jammed up with sand? If it is internal, drop the pan and you should be able to see if a solenoid has broken, as they usually come loose from the base. Good time to change filter and fluid too.
It could be the cable binding up inside the sleeve or stuck detents inside the transmission. Try to find the cables under the hood, disconnect it from the transmission then try to move the shifter in the direction it was stuck before (side to side or up and down).
does the clutch push normally or is the linkage broken not disengaging clutch, and then does shifter move around or locked and wont move, loose linkage in shifter or gears are jammed inside transmission and something went, if shifter wont move at all then trans is jammed inside and needs repair.
Does it feel like the shifter cable is actually moving the detent in the transmission? I've seen a broken shifter cable in a cavalier a while back with the same symptoms you described. Check the cable where it connects to the transmission. It's under the hood on the drivers side.
can you look under the vehicle at the transmission, look on top, do you see any linkages? I'm not sure you will, just want to check.
The 5 sp trans that is in the Ford Explorer is normally a "top loader" meaning that the shift linkage is internal to the transmission, if this is so, while your looking do see an access plate in the floor board above the transmission, if not to repair it you will have to remove it. if you are not comfortable with this procedure, I recommend that you find a quality repair shop in your area.