|Trailridge Runners 4WD Club
Post Safari Trip
|by Kathy Howell ' photos by John and Kathy Howell|
|April 20 - 26, 2003
|The Trailridge Runners had a great turnout at Post Safari this year with 13 vehicles - Greg Beery, Richard Boddy, Ryan Boddy, Bill & Roberta Boitano and friends, Jonathon Brooks, John & Kathy Howell and friends, Alan McCumber, Mike Moore, Matt, Angie & Bailey Nunn, Don Owen, Gail Straty, Darrel & Judy Turner, and Ken Wood. Gail had been there for the previous week as trail leader for the Easter Jeep Safari, but was happy to see some familiar faces. It was the first outing of the season for most of us so we had a chance to see all the vehicle improvements that had been made over the winter - Richards had been painted, Ken had installed a coil spring suspension system, John had a new bumper, and Matt had a completely new vehicle which he referred to as a Chevrolet Blazer disguised as a Jeep Commando. It looks like a Jeep Commando, but Matt is having a hard time admitting that he has a Jeep.
The first day, Kathy suggested a trail she had never done before - Top of the World. Everyone agreed and off we headed east along the Colorado River to Dewey Bridge. Mike Moore had done the trail the day before and took the lead. What a view! At the 7000’ viewpoint we lunched on a cliff edge above Fisher Valley and Onion Creek with the La Sal Mountains in the southern background and vistas of distant plains and the Book Cliffs to the north. Our plan was to turn around and retrace our steps to Dewey Bridge and then back to Moab through Thompson Canyon. However, in the interest of time, we opted to return via Rose Garden Hill instead. This route allowed us to do the downhill version of the steep and rocky Rose Garden Hill. With gravity on our side, only two vehicles were high centered. One was winched off a boulder and the other was pushed over the rocky step by just applying a little body weight to the rear of the vehicle. Although tired after a long day, Gail persuaded us to take a small detour and travel the spectacular narrows of the Onion Creek stream bed on the return trip. We all loved it and were glad to have traveled it. Thank you, Gail.
The next day, the majority of the folks did Poison Spider, which is one of Darrel’s favorite trails. Matt, Richard, and Ryan joined the group as they had arrived the evening before. This was the first day out for Matt’s new vehicle and at the very beginning of the trail, the Blazer part of his vehicle broke down. Matt and Ryan quickly changed an axle and then caught up with the rest of the group. This was Bailey’s first 4-wheel drive outing and in spite of the rough terrain, she managed to sleep through most of the trail. John, Kathy, and Greg were on the other side of Moab exploring Picture Frame Arch, Balcony Arch and Pritchett Arch. This was an easy trail for Kathy to practice driving and spotting while enjoying some wonderful scenery. We kept hearing static on Channel 1 of the CB and soon figured out that we could hear the rest of the crew who were miles from us on Poison Spider. We made our dinner plans via CB and then all met later at the condo that Bill and Roberta Boitano had rented and dined on a wonderful taco salad dinner provided by the Boitano's and their friends. We ended the evening with a birthday cake in honor of Ryan.
On Wednesday, Matt, Richard, Ryan, and Ken did the extremely difficult Pritchett Canyon. Although I didn't see it first hand, Wells’ book says it is “considered by many to be the toughest four miles in Moab.” That description along with the stories of the day’s outing convinced me that the trail deserved the most difficult rating of “5.” The obstacles are “Rocker Knocker” with its nastily angled ledges, “The Rock Pile” which is a several foot ledge that requires a pile of rocks just to get wheels on the slope, and “Yellow Hill” where the road reaches for the canyon top on a very uneven ledge. There are bypasses, but they are almost as difficult and hazardous as the main trail. All the vehicles made it with only a minor scratch to the caterpillar yellow paint on Matt’s vehicle. The rest of us took a LONG trip through Lockhart Basin. We decided to do it in reverse of the suggested route, so that we would end the trail closest to Moab. We entered the trail from the southern end, east of the Needles District entrance to Canyonlands National Park. Don had done the trip before and agreed to lead. Don provided a very interesting commentary on the geology and cultural history of the area. We took a side trip to the Colorado River where Darrel’s dog, Bud, enjoyed some lizard chasing. As we neared the end of the long and easy trail, we rescued a 4 Runner with Alaska plates that had managed to get hung up. The driver was trying to use his climbing gear to get his vehicle over the rocks. Greg winched him over the obstacle and we continued to the end of the trail and the only obstacle of any significance - a difficult rocky canyon. Kathy had been driving and had gotten out of the car to switch places with John, but Greg yelled, “Come on, Kathy.” So, she got back in the vehicle and let Greg and John spot her through the obstacle course. That was the most difficult terrain she had ever driven and was quite pleased to have made it down with “no problem.” Thanks guys for the good spotting. As we got all the vehicles through, the 4 Runner appeared again. Greg offered to help spot him, but he declined and turned around. We suspect that he is still out there. At the end of the trail, it was still a long ways back via the Chicken Corners Trail, over Hurrah Pass and finally along the Kane Creek Road to Moab. We were glad we did it, but it was such a long trip that we won’t do it again for a while.
On Thursday, Matt, Richard and Ryan did Flat Iron Mesa. Although I thought it was supposed to be a more challenging trail, Ryan described it as “boring.” He says it was all down hill and the obstacles were too far apart. Ken spent the day on his bike riding the famous Slickrock Trail. It is a very difficult trail and would be rated a 4 ½ or 5 on the Jeep Safari scale of difficulty. The rest of us had an easy day with a trip on one of the back roads in Arches National Park to Tower Arch, Marching Men, and Eye of the Whale. Bailey took her first hike out to Eye of the Whale and giggled all the way as she walked in the sand and climbed the slickrock. We were quite disappointed with the sandy hill we had been warned about along the way. There wasn’t much sand and it wasn’t much of a hill. At the end of the trail, some returned to Moab and others continued to tour the park. In one parking lot, Matt’s Commando was the center of attention. People were asking about it and taking pictures. For a brief moment, Matt admitted to someone that it was a Jeep.
On Friday, we did an all time favorite - Fins and Things. The “fins” are the Navajo Sandstone slickrock and the “things” are what remains as the fins erode. It’s a fun drive of climbs and descents with the La Sal Mountains providing the scenic backdrop. We did only the north side of the trail which Wells describes as “starts gradually but ends with a roller-coaster ride you’ll never forget.” It’s a great trail. We went back to town for lunch and spent the afternoon shopping for books and maps and getting another Moab t-shirt. That evening we grilled steaks at Turner’s motor home.
By Saturday, there were only a few diehards left to enjoy the Car Show in the city park. While it was interesting to see the beautiful restorations, my observation is that those cars are to be LOOKED AT and our vehicles are to be USED.
It was a great week. Many TRR friends. Good trails. No major breakdowns. Beautiful weather. I have already picked out trails for next year