Midnight Rendezvous (Tuesday ? Wednesday morning)|
1035 pm: Ring ring? ring ring?
4WD Hardware: Moab Man, we need help!
Moab Man: Where are you?
4WD Hardware: We don?t know. We?re on Porcupine Rim trail, virtually out of gas, and this cell phone is about to die.
Moab Man: Try working your way back, if you can. I will get gas, supplies, and be on my way as quick as I can.
At this point I had a number things going against me. First, I had never driven this trail. It is predominately a mountain biking trail. Second, the trail is no longer in Charles A. Wells, Guide To Moab, UT Backroads and 4-Wheel Drive Trails. Lastly, I am solo (no one seems to answer their cell phones after 11 pm and those that I could just drive to had had too many adult beverages).
If you have never been to Moab, it is a very small town with few shopping options. As a result of the late hour, and limited shopping options, I am only able to purchase two one gallon gas cans. Guess it will just have to do.
11:30 pm I arrive at the trailhead
Pulling into the trailhead I see a mailbox labeled ?maps.? PERFECT! Now I won?t be entirely blind as to where I am going. While I am getting the map out of the mail box, I notice on the other side of the parking area a large area map with the trails. Things were starting to look up to find these guys. Until?
Before any trail run we always explain to the drivers that it is ultimately their responsibility as to what happens and what they do while on the trail. Traveling solo is no different as I back up to shine the Jeep lights on the large trail map when suddenly it comes into the very limited lighting of the back-up lights that I?m on a sheer cliff. Not a hill, but a cliff. If I wasn?t alert before I sure am now.
Reviewing the Porcupine Rim trail map, I find a network of trails with a number of them leading to dead ends. Somewhere in all of this are the Kelly and the 4WD Hardware crew.
Shifting the Jeep into 4-lo I start down the trail not too concerned about what lies ahead. Online, prior to leaving, I had read the trail was listed as a ?3.? And while it is night, which adds a whole new dimension to things, the trail should prove no more difficult than driving the potholed roads of my hometown Detroit.
About seventy five yards in I come to the first obstacle. A ledge on the cliffs edge that continues to narrow until your outside tire is hanging off the ledge. Now there is a step below, but traveling solo in the dark of the night on a cliffs edge there is no room for error. With the precision of a brain surgeon, the Jeep creeps out onto the ledge grasping for every bit of space possible while grinding the passenger tires along an unclimable rock wall. Pucker factor 10!
Having cleared this obstacle, I wanted to kick the person square in the nads that called this trail a ?3.?
Continuing down the trail things became really messy as the higher altitude snow was melting down into the dirt. Melting snow + dirt = greasy snot on the next obstacle.
One of the skills you need to master here in Moab is step climbing. Normally this is not a particularly big deal unless the steps angle away from you and down hill? scratch that? down cliff. With plenty of greasy snot on the tires, I tackled this multiple step obstacle for a brief moment before the Jeep turned sideways with my rear-end once again heading for the cliffs edge for the second time tonight.
At this moment I pulled out my Builder Bob hardhat and went to work building roads. It would do me absolutely no good to be the rescue vehicle, hung up sideways, and or maybe fall off a cliff to my death. So build I did and they were hands down the best roads ever if I do say so myself.
With my new approach to construction the rest of the rescue went uneventful. Somewhere around 2:30 am I turned a corner to see people dancing for joy as my headlights fell upon them.
Kelly and her crew from 4WD Hardware were never lacking in the wheeling skills, but here in the Wild West there is still plenty of wild to get the unsuspecting traveler in trouble.
Day 3, Wednesday ? Hells Revenge
With 3 hours of sleep it was time for Hells Revenge. The trail was uneventful for our group. However the same can?t be said for the group we watched playing on the Escalator.
If you?re not familiar with this obstacle it likes to flop rigs onto the passenger side resulting in paint being left to color the rocks. For the first time ever we were able to watch a rig flop on both sides of the vehicle. Reason? The driver requests a spotter and then chooses not to listen. Hmm? why ask for help and then ignore it? Who knows but we thank the driver for all the humorous entertainment.
Day 4, Thursday - Steel Bender
The beautiful weather has left. Forecast? cold!
Arriving at the trailhead we line up, air down, and my tire gets ?screwed.? Somewhere in town my tire picked up a screw and now it?s time for a tire change.
In spite of the weather closing in on all sides we pushed onto the trail. What a day! The rain the night before had cleaned all the sand off the rocks and traction was phenomenal until the blizzard hit. Fortunately there were only two miles left and we high-tailed it out.
Day 5, Friday ? Triple Threat (Poison Spider, Golden Spike, & Gold Bar)
Rolling out on the trail there was plenty of traffic with this being the only day the trail was not being used by the Red Rock as an official Easter Jeep Safari trail.
The first obstacle of the day, the Waterfall, brought us plenty of Redneck Olympics fun. Cherokees are extremely capable vehicles, and other than clearance for a stocker, the Waterfall leaves little to no challenge unless you?re the guy in that black Cherokee. As we approach we hear a lot of tire squeal and a number of people hanging off every side of the vehicle. Not sure if they were trying to help or if they believed the Cherokee was a Jungle Gym. Either way, thanks for the amusement.
Pressing onward we stopped at the dead girl?s grave atop Poison Spider Mesa to leave the obligatory offerings of change for good Mojo on the trail. Others, Starbucks, left bills and change having been the last victim of the dead girls curse.
Failing to leave a proper offering at the girl?s grave has historically been quite painful for the vehicle failing to leave an adequate offering. Don?t Screw With the Mojo
With offering left we broke off from the Poison Spider trail and onto the Golden Spike. Not familiar with the trail? It has everything: scenery, steep descents/ascents, axle twisting climbs, gnarly steps, and of course the Golden Crack. Unfortunately some of us didn?t make it all the way through.
Tackling a particularly large step this TJ bounced on the rock with tires spinning until we heard a bang. Yep, rear axle had snapped. Seeing the axle backing out the side of the vehicle it was discovered that this front/rear locked 35? Toyo Open Country tired (large heavy mud tire) TJ was on a D35 axle. WHAT? Who sets a rig up like this and tries to rock crawl? In the drivers defense he was told one thing and sold another as this was his first Jeep we discovered while we had plenty of chat time as Starbucks ran to town for parts.
However, the snapping axle of this TJ was not to be the highlight of the afternoon as a couple of JPTrails company rigs started rolling towards us. As we did with each approaching vehicle we waved them over to the bypass. Unfortunately the driver didn?t see our waving and continued towards us and tried to tackle the obstacle. Due to the angling of the obstacles steps we now had a broke TJ on the obstacle and a JK not making the obstacle and with it rear pointed towards the broken TJ.
With a little maneuvering the JK was freed its predicament and started back down the incline right up until it found the very large hole in the rock and over went the JK. Now we sat with a TJ broken on the obstacle and another one at the bottom laying there on its side.
Having been well practiced at recovering vehicles, we up righted the vehicle and sent them on there way. Amazingly the damage to the JK consisted of a damaged windshield frame, broken off mirror, and a scuffed up door. Amazingly little for what had just happened.
As for the broken TJ? It spent the night on the trail as we could not get the busted splined end of the axle shaft out of the ARB locker.