This is how a gear-geek four wheels. A military grade pentium laptop installed with the latest DeLorme GPS navigation system. Strap it in and cover it with dust, coffee, water, whatever...it's like a Timex "takes a lickin' and keeps on tickin'"
We lined up around 8:00 A.M., 47 vehicles in all. The trailhead wasn't too far, so this was the time to air down. I dropped my Super Swampers down to 10 psi and they still looked full. There was a full-sized Bronco in the group, but other than that, we were the only full-sized rock crawlers for the trail.
The trailhead was a few miles west of town on the Kane Creek Road (paved). We turned left and had to keep an eye on traffic as we waited for the others in front to start the ascent up the trail.
After several minutes, I finally made it up on the rocks. We sat here for about 20 minutes while we waited for the first few vehicles to negotiate the Devil's Crack. Our first casualty of the day happened when a Jeep fan's radiator had a little fight with a rock and the rock won. He was out for the day, while the rest of us went around him.
The first real obstacle is what I call the "Baby Z-Turn". It's an opposite turn of the real Z-Turn (after Devil's Crack). A few people hit the first step a few times to get over. This picture shows Bob's Jeep in the middle of the Baby Z-Turn.
This pic shows me past the second turn of Baby Z. So far a piece of cake. I wasn't even close to the edge. And that's saying something since I usually have to do three- or four-point turns to get this Beast around most tight corners. Pat, in his early Bronco, is starting the first turn behind me.
Devil's Crack. This was the toughest obstacle on Moab Rim. With my length, I was dropping my left front tire into the crack (did I mention that I hate heights). My APF was running a little high. I didn't get a good line the first try and spun my tires a little too much. This had the effect of thowing me further left (closer to the edge). The middle gunner was there and guided me backwards a few feet, gave me a new line and I crawled right on up. The crowd cheered! They always find it amusing (or amazing) when the Beast makes it.
Pat followed me without even breaking a sweat; it pays to have at least one axle locked up. I think it was around this spot where I managed to drift close to the left edge again (I think I was trying to watch Pat in the mirror). When I looked over I noticed my left tire was way too close for comfort. Keep an eye on this one; it's not hard but there are no guardrails so pay attention.
Z-Turn. Nothing special here...well, except for that big rock in front of me. I managed to modify my right-rear quarter-panel on that rock. The trick is to steer wide left before turning tight right around that rock. I could have made it by backing up once and realigning myself, but I thought I had plenty of room. And I did, except for when I started climbing the stair immediately after the turn (see the Bronco in the next photo). When my left tire went up, my right rear came down on the rock. Sure is nice to drive a beater! No worries.
Here's the other full-size crawler around the first leg of the Z-Turn climbing the step while going around "that big rock" (see photo above). It was kinda steep, and several rigs had to try different lines to get over. Over all it wasn't too bad. Oh, by the way, this guy was using loaner tires from BF Goodrich. I'd never heard of this before, but down in Moab there were several tire manufactures present who would let you try out their tires for free. He'd tried out a set of Goodyears the day before. So keep that in mind if you want to try Moab but don't have decent tires. Just borrow 'em!
Here's the last part of the Z-Turn. It's several small steps leading to a nice little shelf obstacle (see next photo). A long wheel base rig does wonders here. Even with my open axles I didn't spin once, just kept it slow and let my tires pull me up and over.
Here's Bill in his very short wheel-base 'Zuki. That little suzuki is locked and generally goes everywhere without problems. Bill tried crawling up this shelf but couldn't make it going slow. He sat there slowly spinning all his tires but going nowhere. The way he made it, and the way most drivers did, was to give it a little juice just before the tire hit the ledge and bounce it over. This gave them just the right amount of momentum to get a tire on top. Every now and then you'd see someone hit it pretty hard and bounce sideways. No turnovers, everyone made it fine.
During this part of the climb, we had to wait for several minutes while the Trail Leader got people over the next obstacle. I think someone had mechanical problems and had to stay behind so this kept us parked on the incline for about 20 minutes or so. The view was great.
Another shot as we started moving again. It's funny looking at this picture because I don't remember it being so much of a side hill climb (I must of been used to it). If any of you have been crawling the rocks of Moab you know that pictures do not show an accurate representation of the terrain. When looking at some of these photos, even I think to myself, "it sure seemed tougher than it looks." I guess you just have to experience it to know.
One of those drop-off ledges. I hate these. Not because they were tough, but because the overhang on the beast is about a mile long and I usually drop my rear hitch solid on these as I drop my rear tires. My departure angle sucks. Sounds worse than it really is, or maybe I just don't care.
One more stop as the boys and their toys clear a few obstacles. Right over this hill, we'd be stopping for lunch anyway, so no biggie.
Lunch stop. Here's the middle-gunner's rig. A bad little 'Zuki! He had no problems on any obstacle. I gotta say, if it wasn't for him giving me the correct line on most tough spots I wouldn't have made it as easy as I did. Some people can be a huge help and some can't...he was one of the good ones.
Slickrock Dome. After lunch we took our turns climbing this rock face. About two-thirds of the group tried it; almost everyone made it. The grade is about an 85% incline. I didn't know for sure if I'd make it or not, so I hit it a little faster than I probably should have (just to be sure). Again this photo doesn't really show the correct angle, I spun my tires for a good portion of the climb so it's kinda steep. Of course, locked rigs made easy work of it.
Here's the other side of the Slickrock Dome. As you come over the top, you're relying on whoever is there to guide you in the right direction. All you see is sky and hood, so there's gotta be a little trust. Coming down between these trees was pretty steep, and another opportunity to drop my rear hitch on a solid object.
My son Chris took some of the pictures here, and for some reason he snapped a bunch of this Toyota. He said he "liked the paint job". Anyway, here it is. One time, while four-wheeling with my Uncle (who owned a LandCruiser like this one) I watched as he followed me onto a side hill, then all of a sudden he rolled to the bottom. Apparently these LandCruisers are a little more top heavy than the old IH Scout I was driving. That was a fun beater!
An old flat-fender Willies! I love these Jeeps. My dad had an old "Hillbillies Willies" and it would go just about anywhere. The front steering shook out of control if you drove down the highway faster than about 40 miles per hour.
Sand Hill. Shortly after the Slickrock Dome, and quite a few ups and downs over the slickrock terrain, we came to a sand hill. It's a steep descent to the bottom. At the bottom there was an optional sand hill climb. It was a sharp left turn and this guy tried to hug right and fell into a mud hole. With lockers no problem, he just backed up and tried again.
Here I gave it my best shot to climb the hill and made it about 1/3 of the way up. Only a handful of guys tried this climb and only one other guy made it further than I did...about four feet further! He was in a fully-locked Toyota pickup. So my bragging rights didn't last long. At least I can say I got as far as I did with open axles, not bad.
The best way to get up this sand hill is to back up with your rear bumper up against the slickrock and give it hell. The problem is there is only about 10-15 feet of level ground before you hit the loose sand, so plenty of RPM and torque coupled with locked axles will probably get you to the top. The more initial launch speed the better, reminiscent of my early drag racing days.
After closing the short loop around the Slickrock Dome and the sand hill, we found ourselves back where we started, although heading down this time. With my 65:1 crawl ratio, I still had to ride the brakes every now and then to keep my engine from whining. It never seems as steep while you're climbing, but coming down seemed steep. Maybe it's because I hate heights.
There are a lot of steps and ledges like this one. These are what make Moab Rim fun. It seems there is just one after the other. Notice how nimble my front suspension is? I removed my steering stabilizer bar when I lifted it and there are no limiting straps. It's been called a "Daddy Longlegs" at times when it's crawling over uneven terrain. The front fenders have been trimmed by a few inches and I still jam the tires into the fenders. Chevys don't accept big tires very easily without stop blocks etc.
A different no-name obstacle. It looks steep but I'm actually coming down hill onto it. I don't think I even stopped for any of these, just slowed down and went as steady as can be.
The first leg of the Z-Turn coming down. As you can see, it's pretty steep, so you understand why so many rigs did a lot of tire-spinning getting up this one. Supposedly, this is where most vehicles break down. Broken driveshafts, u-joints, etc. I think we had only one minor casualty here.
This looks like the rock that ate my fender on the way up. This time I steered to the right of it and managed to miss it by inches.
Making the final decent before the last big obstacle. I was suprised to see that my right-rear tire was barely touching the ground in this shot. It didn't seem that I was that topsy at the time. I bet it wouldn't take much to put one of these on it's side while in this position. In fact as I was following Bob in his Jeep, there was one point where he did a balancing act and barely avoided a tumble. Before I could warn him on the CB, he was past the danger point...whew.
Over the Devil's Crack. More of a controlled slide and fall rather than a slow descent. Both camera people in this photo are from Petersons Four-Wheel and Off-Road magazine. I tried to shmooze the girl (on the right) to put the Beast in their magazine...shea right! I never did get this year's Moab issue, so if any of you have a copy and see the Beast in it, let me know.
Last ledge leaving the "Baby Z-Turn". It was a fun ride, slow at times and fun to watch others maneuver their vehicles over the rocks. This one has had a reputation for being kinda tough and I was anxious to try it. It wasn't too bad and well worth another run someday. This was also my first organized trail run in Moab, so that was fun too.
Later that day we stopped by the Spanish Arena, Easter Jeep Safari Headquarters, to check out the vendor's exhibits. It was a big boy's toy store! Out in the parking lot was one of the many casualties of Moab, looks like he didn't quite hit a line just right. Or maybe he was hotdogging and bounced over...either way this 'Zuki has seen better days.