I found my thrill on Elephant Hill
As I asked "Yes could I," I felt my stomach tighten. What was I thinking?
Iím 58 years old, I donít need to prove anything to myself (or anyone else) at this point in my life!
But, being me, once I said that "yes", there was no changing my mind. Lose face? Never!
It had all started as a fleeting thought about two-thirds of the way through the Beef Basin Trail.
What if I drove over Elephant Hill when we get there? Elephant Hill is one of our favorite places
in fact, just having gone over it the day before from the opposite direction. Todayís trip being
about our fifth time over, so Iím pretty familiar with it.
No, the thought was gone, replaced by the awe of the beauty of Needles area. Wait, there it was again
what if could I? Was that the third or fourth time it had flitted through my mind? OK, a bargain with
myself, Iíll make the final decision when the base of Elephant hill comes in view, plenty of time to decide.
The Canyonlands is one of Godís most beautiful spots on earth. I pity the poor motorists who fly by
on Highway 191, maybe driving through Arches National Monument and say "Been there, done it."
(NOTE: this photo is NOT from Elephant hill)
Oh my gosh, there it is Ö Elephant Hill! This is it, now or never. Now! No Ö Yes!
"Honey, want me to drive over the Hill and give you a rest?" Did I really say that out loud?
I must have. My husband, Bob, is looking at me like, "Did she really say that?"
He says "Do you want to drive over it?" No backing out now. "Yes, could I?"
"Sure," said my husband, who could have given me an out by saying,
"I donít think youíre ready for this." Climbing out of our 1980 vintage CJ7, I felt an odd
sensation in my knees. "Probably the altitude," I told myself. But they managed to hold
me up as we exchanged places in the Jeep, Bob now becoming (in my opinion) a brave passenger/husband.
Now, this was far from my first jeeping experience. We are semi-veterans of most of the trails in the
Canyonlands and have been on probably three-fourths of the trails in the Moab area. We trek over from
our home in Parker, Colorado, at least twice a year for our favorite fun thing, "rocking" in
our dependable old Jeep. We have done the Golden Spike, Steel Bender, and Behind the Rocks (including
White Knuckle Hill), just to name three. I have driven over a few of the "gnarly" spots, but
this was to be my first long, continuously "gnarly" spot. Could I handle it? Oh sure Iím fine
on short obstacles, but this was going to takeÖ minutes!
Our CJ, which I fondly like to call "Timex", for obvious reasons, is well-equipped, and
I have ridden in it up and over things that no vehicle should be able to do. It never ceases to amaze me!
So, needless to say, I have unending confidence in this four-wheeled wonder, but confidence in myself?
Is Bob actually going to ride with me? He is; that says something.
OK, here goes; put Timex in "granny gear", no pun intended, and let out the clutch, and weíre
already up and over the first ledge! Small turn coming up; itís hard to see over a hood that seems to pointing
straight up, but made it and over the next shelf.
Bob is telling me that Iím doing great; what a husband! Does he have white knuckles? No time to look;
hereís the place where we have to pull in forward and then back up a section about fifty feet long.
Can I do this without backing off the hill? Yes, Iím a good "backer." Is my confidence building?
I think so. Into reverse and up that fifty feet; no problem. Now, forward again. Wait, I donít remember
this next section being so steep and rough. Bob is still telling me how good Iím doing. Are his teeth clenched?
I find the easiest thing to do is to just point Timex in the right (?) direction; give him a little gas;
and he does all the work, seemingly effortlessly. Ah, up over that, and hereís the next (last?) really steep obstacle.
Halfway up, Iím almost there! Oh, no! I stalled the engine! Iíve got to start the engine and get us going again
without rolling back down the hill! But Lady Luck has intervened and our back wheel is on the good side of a rock.
So, weíre moving again. Last leg; pull over the ledge in front of us; too tight to make a turn, so back up and
forward over; what seems by now, a baby difficulty. Weíre on top! I did it! What a rush! I am Woman!
I am Invincible! Well, letís not get too carried away, but I am immodestly proud of myself!
Both sides of Elephant Hill are sort of "hairy," being rated a 3+ (Moab rating).
This is, by no means, a tough trail for veteran "rockers," but for me, for my "virgin voyage,"
it was great! I highly recommend it to "get your feet wet" and, hopefully, youíll have the encouragement
of a husband-wife team like mine.
Lynn Marvin is a freelance writer, living in Parker, Colorado
with her husband of 45 years, Bob (look for his brown jeep on this site). They have been "rocking"
for only about four years, but it has become their main vacation passion.