Author: Cindy Groth
In December 2017, I pre-registered with Red Rock Four Wheelers for Easter Jeep Safari 2018. This decision was just one of many I made during that month. I was determined to get out and check another item off my Jeep Bucket List again (I did the Rubicon Trail in 2017) even if my husband wasn’t interested or couldn’t get away. During this time, I also became a member of Ladies Offroad Network and was enjoying the 12 days of giving and Charlene Bower’s live chats, etc. and signed up for the 2018 Ladies Offroad Network Convention.
Mid-January the EJS 2018 handbook arrived and set-off another round of discussions of logistics and lodging choices. During my research to find a campground for the truck camper and Jeep I made a decision. If hubby couldn’t go then I needed to know, now. So I could start looking for a hotel room and just me and the Jeep (Max) would go. To my surprise and delight the hubby had already told his part-time work he was going to be gone for Easter week.
Fast forward to late March, and the Western US is receiving record amounts of rain. Since Southern California hadn’t seen any rain since November I wasn’t complaining. But, it caused our departure to be delayed and the three days of travel to be condensed into two. The wait was worth the better travel weather through the deserts of California, Nevada and Utah since we are in a high-profile vehicle.
We arrived in Moab on Saturday around noon. Got settled at the KOA Campground a few miles south of downtown Moab. Then headed into town for lunch and some tourist shopping, which turned out to be our one shot.
We had been in the Moab area before, a few times, but not to offroad. So, I had signed up for the First Timers Package. This package gives you three runs with the same leadership and fellow offroaders and was limited to 25 participants. Since we have done other Jeep Jamborees, etc. I am used to a big group and the camaraderie of sharing a first with like minded others. This package allows the driver to get their “feet wet” in regards to the different types of terrain in the Moab area. First was Chicken Corners, on Sunday March 25th, it’s a nice drive with beautiful scenery, West on Kane Creek Road at the McDonalds in Moab.
The “Tail Gunner” for this package was Mat Adair a Moab resident and past tour guide. He was a great choice for the First Timer Package and his local knowledge and bantering between him and the “Leader” Roger Peck made the day fly by. For anyone who doesn’t have a permanent CB in your rig you need to get one installed! Because, these were long days and would of been boring without the CB chatter. Numerous folks commented, “how fun the day was, and they hadn’t laughed so hard while Jeepin”. My hubby and I second those comments and noted such on the EJS Survey card.
Monday, March 26th, was the second trail day and we headed North out of Moab on Hwy 191, then West on Hwy 313 towards Canyonlands National Park. After a stop to air-down in a big rest area we turned right off the main road and headed towards “Secret Spire”. The terrain was totally different from the day before, rolling hills with low sage, juniper trees, and soft sand.
After lunch, we found the Secret Spire and then were offered the choice to take in some pictographs that were along the route back to the air-up location. About half of the group broke off and checked out the “extra” option.
When we mentioned the pictographs to my husbands Utah cousin, she asked if they were the ones that looked like aliens. That confirmed what Mat had told us about these pictographs. But, the “extras” were not over.
Once back together with the main group, we headed on down Hwy 313 towards Dead Horse Point State Park. At a “Y” in the road we continued into “Long Canyon and Pucker Pass”. Pictures and words fail to convey the awesome sights of seeing Moab area from the West side and then the road bends and looks like it turns into a small animal trail. Even though, you have been told by Mat that this road is travelled by “full size” vehicles you can see how it gets its name: Pucker Pass.
Tuesday, March 27th found us heading North on Hwy 191 again, but this time we turned East onto Willow Springs Road to find the “Copper Ridge” trail. This trail actually intersects with a number of trails which run along the East side of the highway North of Moab. Again the terrain changed and we found more slick rocks. The leader headed out over this large expanse of slick rock and then continued to create a serpentine line for a great photo op. With so many rigs, and we had picked up two Dana Spicer sponsored Jeeps, there were at one time four rows of rigs. Pretty cool!
Then we headed for the lunch spot where the trail is inches from Arches National Park boundary line. So close, but we did make it there a couple of days later. Our three day adventure ended at a Dinosaur track display about 20 miles north of Moab.
We had followed Cody & Katie, from Michigan, for the last two days and struck up a great friendship that has now extended to Facebook. It was their first time to Moab, and they were on their honeymoon, and having the time of their lives.
Once we realized we were the last of the group to air-up we had to hurry back into town, clean up a little, and find the high school where the Quadratec BBQ was being held. Chatted with Bestop regarding the new colored twill fabric choices, while in the food line and determined the black Sunrider top I already have is fine. But, I will be looking closely at the New Retractable Sunshade when it comes out in a couple of months to complement the Sunrider. Also, had a good conversation with Ripp Superchargers and felt better about Max’s performance with their unit. James from Rockhard 4x4 stopped eating and gave us both a hug and we discussed the new items they had been working on for the JL and how that rig will only continue to drive the offroad after market industry. Then quickly up-town to the BFGoodrich Garage and I walked up just as Charlene was rounding up the ladies for the group photo. (I’m far left front row).
I had taken Charlene’s “Hands-On” class at King of the Hammers, but it is good to hear the specifications regarding winch capacity, etc. from the manufacturers. The guys were very giving with their time and a big thank you to BFGoodrich, WARN, Pull Pal and Hi-Lift for an informative event. I was so glad to see one of the ladies from our First Timers group make it also.
Wednesday found us with Ladies Offroad Network at the VIP trail run at AreaBFE. As part of the “2018 Gathering in Moab” event with partners BFGoodrich, Raceline Wheels, AEV, WARN and Mac’s Tiedowns. When I read the AreaBFE description and rating (extremely difficult) in the “Guide to Moab Trails” by Charles A Wells, I almost chickened out. But, I decided that I had signed up for the 33-35 inch tire class and that should keep it within Max’s and my abilities. But, this area is serious rock crawling - reminding me of Gold Mountain & Rubicon with the level of equipment needed - front & rear lockers were required to get up and over obstacles. By the time we got to the last trail, we had gotten so separated from the rest of the group that Val (BFE Mgr) walked us through each one of the remaining obstacles. Unfortunately, I did not realize how loose the rock was on the last climb and only engaged the rear locker. Fortunately, I had the winch checked and the hands-free sensor fixed before we left So Cal. Another learning or reminder of Charlene’s lessons on winching was to make sure you uncover the winch and re-locate the winch controller to the driver section of the vehicle before hitting the trail. As it turned out none of that was accomplished before I had my driver rear wedged literally between a rock and hard place (another rock or two). Val didn’t want to chance breakage so she called for a Razor to come and provide anchor for Max to winch out. When she asked about lockers and heard I had ARB air-lockers, her comment was “ARB’s should be on every time”. Which is very true, with the Core44 housing and G2 axles I have the equivalent to 60 splines with the ARBs. So, for the first time ever, we used the winch. When Charlene promised a learning day on the trail, she wasn’t kidding. Thanks go to Charlene for the very interesting, hands-on in my own Jeep, training day.
We barely made the lunch wagon for what turned out to be some fantastic pulled pork and fries. But, the day wasn’t over yet and we headed back to the KOA for some well deserved and needed shower and rest before heading to the shuttle stop for the nighttime entertainment portion of the Gathering. We managed to make the first shuttle and arrived at Grampa’s Garage for a cold beer. We talked with some of the folks on the run and one wanted my rating on the 33-35 trail. I told her, based on my past experience with higher rated trails, I felt it rated an “6-8” because anytime I have to engage my lockers the rating goes up.
Dinner was tacos and we managed to get a spot at a table inside the garage. Met a number of nice folks and chatted about Moab and other events. Turned out one of the guys was going to Marysvale, Utah to work part-time at a campground that we had been to a couple of years ago. We will touch base with him in August when we are in town for the Paiute Trail Jamboree for ATV/UTVs. As usual the raffle prizes were great and we didn’t win anything, but that’s ok we enjoyed the day and were glad to have been invited to join in on this special event.
Thursday, March 29th found us at the Spanish Trails Arena checking out all the vendors attending the Expo. We arrived around 10am and it felt good to walk for awhile after 6 days of riding in the truck & Jeep. My hubby is the shopper and since he is still in the process of creating his JKU, I was more than willing to shop right along with him. We learned more about the Premier Power Welder and its capabilities, and now wish I had joined Ladies Offroad Network earlier in 2017 when one of those was a monthly prize. After a full day of shopping we bought tickets and had dinner at the Boy Scout BBQ.
Friday, March 30th we were back to the Expo to pick-up the Tailgater Tire Table which we forgot to grab the day before. Then off to do some sight-seeing. Just north of town is Arches National Park and even though we had been there back in 1985 we decided another drive in was needed. With our National Park Senior Pass there is no excuse to not stop when we have the time. Then onto Canyonlands National Park which we will be going back to and drive the trail to Potash. But, we needed to get back into Moab and the arena for the big raffle that started at 6:30 pm.
No luck at the big raffle, but that’s ok because we couldn’t fit a lot of the prizes into our vehicles. The good news is, they hold a swap meet behind the prize trailer for everyone who either can’t fit and can’t use the item they won. I love that idea, kudos to RR4W for a great idea.
Saturday, March 31st found us packing and leaving Moab. But not before we reserved our site at the KOA for Easter Week 2019. We will be back and looking forward to joining the Sophomore group and learning more about the area and the Moab “bump” way of driving.