Trailridge Runners 4WD Club
Golden Spike Trip
April 2004

story by Kathy Howell, photos by Kathy Howell
As our week in Moab came to end, we decided our last day would be spent on Golden Spike. For years I had heard about the Golden Crack, a well known obstacle on the trail, so it was time to see it firsthand. And, Patrick wanted to do a tougher trail. We knew it was a long trail, so we planned an early start and planned to push ourselves to make it to the Golden Crack by lunch time. We met at City Market - Greg Beery and Edith Burch, Matt Nunn, Patrick Davis, Darrel Turner, and Kathy and John Howell. In addition, three vehicles from the Big Thompson 4-Wheelers joined us - Greg, Kevin and Jim.

To reach the start of Golden Spike, you must first drive 5 miles of the Poison Spider Mesa trail climbing the Waterfall and then the Wedgy. The Wedgy is a V-shaped groove which is most easily traversed by straddling it. Some did the Wedgy; others opted for the short, but steep, bypass.

As the trail split we then followed the symbol for the Golden Spike which was a spike with a circle around it. It is easy to get lost here and end up back on the Poison Spider Loop, but we managed to stay on the trail. We quickly reached the Launching Pad. Edith was in the lead vehicle. As she told us later, all she could see was unending blue sky, especially near the top when she hit the little, but noticeable, bump. When I saw Launching Pad, I closed my eyes and told John to tell me when we were at the top. Wow - what an adrenalin rush. The Launching Pad is aptly named. Kevin, from the Big Thompson 4-Wheelers, was driving a Toyota pick up which stalled about three quarters of the way up. He had to back down and do it again. The second time he made it to the top with no problem.

While I had heard much about Launching Pad and the upcoming Golden Crack, I wasn’t prepared for a trail filled with countless rocks and challenging ledges. I cringed with every scrape of the skid plate. We dropped into ravines and climbed out. We zigzagged through tight and difficult obstacles. We dropped down high ledges and around the next turn climbed out another set of ledges.

By noon we had made it to the Golden Crack as planned. We stopped for lunch, enjoyed the fabulous scenery including Jeep Arch and lined up to cross the Golden Crack. It’s pretty straight forward. Just ease the left front tire into the bottomless crack. As it starts to climb out, the right front tire falls in. Then, the left rear tire goes down. By now, the vehicle looks twisted and contorted and makes for some great photo ops. Then, the right rear tire goes down - often with a bang. As the right rear bumper hits, paint is transferred from the vehicle to the rock. Nothing to it! Textbook crossing of the Golden Crack. As we were getting all the vehicles through there were two motorcycles coming from the other direction. In Evil Knievel style, they made several practice runs up to the edge of the crack and then stopped. Finally, they made the flying leap across the crack and were on their way.

By now, I thought we were through the tough stuff, but this trail just doesn’t quit. The ledges were quite a challenge for the clearance of the Rubicon and a tow strap came in handy more than once. We still had the Golden Stairs to climb. Some of us took the bypass. Then, there was Double Whammy and all of us opted for the bypass and speculated what might have been if we had tried it. Just past Double Whammy was a climb through a narrow, steep chute called “The Body Snatcher.” I know how it got its name.

As the trail comes to an end, it then connects with the Gold Bar Rim trail. It's not over yet as this trail hugs the rim and climbs over several challenging ledges. Eventually, it does get easier. We stopped to find ourselves on the map and gave directions to motorcyclists. We managed to not get lost in what the map calls the "confusing sandy area."

It was a long, hard day. We all made it through in good time with no breakdowns. For us, this was a pretty good test for the Rubicon. We do thank Greg and Matt for all the help spotting and the tow strap. In retrospect, this was a fun and challenging trail.

We headed back to town to meet everyone for dinner. After dinner, we again went to the t-shirt shop. We decided that we needed Golden Spike t-shirts to commemorate this trail.

Every year we do a harder trail than the year before. I guess that means that next year we will do Moab Rim, Pritchett Canyon or Behind the Rocks. Maybe we should get the Rubicon lifted before next year.

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