As this year's Easter Jeep Safari approached, we reminisced on years past and how much fun we had setting up our all-truck runs on Poison Spider Mesa and Hell's Revenge. They were warm, sunny days wheeling some of the country's most scenic locales in Moab's expansive backcountry. We even had a blast in 2005 when we got stuck on Poison Spider in a blizzard (in the dark) and had to scout the trail on foot in 5 inches of snow (the trail markers had disappeared at that point).
In past years, our truck runs weren't organized gigs, and this year was no different. We just hit the streets of Moab during the first few days, flagged down any drivers of cool trucks we saw hanging out at the Moab Diner, City Market, or on the street, and asked if they wanted to go play. Then, we'd encourage them to bring a few buddies along. When Wednesday or Thursday morning rolled around - voil! - we had trucks. The only criteria were that the drivers needed to have solid and reliable rigs, know what the heck they were doing behind the wheel, and agree that we are not babysitters, i.e., they needed to be prepared to take care of their own rigs if stuff hit the fan - like the radiator. After all, as photographers, we normally don't pack a Premier Power Welder, a welding hood, and tools in our bags. Our truckin' dudes (or dudettes) also needed to be ready to run one of Moab's 4-plus-rated trails.
Our Truckin' Moab trail ride began on a crystal-clear morning near the banks of the Colorado River, the trailhead for Pritchett Canyon. Out of respect for the Red Rock 4-Wheelers, which spends loads of time organizing the Safari and has paying participants, we chose Wednesday, a day that the trail was not being used for an organized run. For this reason, everyone else chose Pritchett that day as well. The good thing was that we picked up more trucks for our coverage - some of the more-capable Toyotas, Chevys, and Fords we've seen.
Jibing with our "no wimps" criteria, at the beginning of the trail there is a sign stating: "Trail rating 5. Locking differentials and winches highly recommended. Obstacles are extremely difficult with no easy bypass. High possibility of rollover and/or body damage."
Now, how cool is this? If you can read English (we're working on it), you have no excuses, right? Our group of trucks numbered about 15, with the addition of a few strays. All were lifted, locked, equipped with winches, and appeared, by the numerous dents, dings, and exocages, to be capable of tackling Pritchett's major obstacles: Rocker Knocker, Rock Pile, and Yellow Rock.
Because we can't shoot and drive, we joined 67-year-old George Breakall in his '84 flatbed Toyota. And we're glad we did, because George and his rig were one of the most capable combinations we've seen. One of the most modest and soft-spoken guys on the trail, George took the most extreme line at every obstacle and usually did it without spinning a tire. And, he got us back in time for the Primedia dinner (we never pass up a free meal). Many thanks, George.
The sun rises midmorning this time of year, and its declination is considerably south. Fortunately, Pritchett Canyon runs mostly east to west, and when the sun crested the La Sal Mountains it illuminated the towering red-rock canyon walls early, taking the chill off the morning and spreading its warming rays down the length of the trail.
Overall, it was a great day. Most of our guys opted for Pritchett's toughest lines and heinous off-camber ledges. By 4 o'clock, we found ourselves at the base of Yellow Rock at the terminus of the trail - and this is where it got really fun. Because the drive out is 17 miles of dust and we would have to contend with the crowd from Pritchett and the Behind the Rocks Trail, our boys decided to head back down the trail for another round. With gravity on our side and dinner on our mind, we turned our rigs 180 degrees and headed for the pavement. In just 40 minutes, we bounced down what took us 7 hours to come up.
If you are interested in joining us for Truckin' Moab IV, have a well-equipped and reliable truck, and will be in Moab for the 2008 Easter Jeep Safari, shoot us an e-mail with a photo and details of your rig. We won't be able to accommodate everyone, but we'll select ten Off-Road Magazine truck enthusiasts for Truckin' Moab IV.