By Paul Hearn
Departing from Houston in the early morning hours for a wheeling trip is always exciting. This time was no exception. A small group of us was loaded up for a week long run in Moab, Utah. For most of us it was our first time out to Moab and everyone was very excited to say the least. There was the usual last minute wrenching and packing that goes along with this hobby. We all met at a truck stop on highway 290 for the caravan out. After helping some locals change a flat on their horse trailer we headed out. Let me say that these locals were going hog hunting with horses, dogs and their bare hands as weapons. I’m so glad my hobby is wheeling. ;-)
We headed out to Albuquerque, New Mexico for our first stop. Jay Albrecht and Karl Pretzer were in Las Cruces, NM the week prior and planned to join us in Moab later. On second day of traveling we awoke to a light snowfall but the roads were passable so we headed out. We made good time towing and the long haul went smoothly.
We arrived to the sleepy little town of Moab surrounded by scenic mountains. The accommodations exceeded our expectations and were located central to the area. We got settled and started planning our first day’s trail run. Steve Snyder had recently purchased a GPS unit for his Jeep. It turned out to be a priceless gadget. I wouldn’t recommend running the trails at Moab without a GPS or an experienced trail guide.
The first trail we ran was named Steelbender. The morning was cold with snow flurries but the beautiful scenery set the tone for what we could expect during the week ahead. In the afternoon we ran the Moab Rim. We headed up the trail ascending about one mile to an awesome view of the entire town of Moab. The obstacles weren’t particularly difficult but not suited for novices with stock rigs. You are forced to traverse some ledges that are very high and lockers are a must.
The second day out we were joined by Karl and Jay coming in from Las Cruces. We headed out to Fins and Things and Hell’s Revenge. Both of these trails were scenic with good obstacles along the way. Fins and Things resembled an ocean of rolling rocks while Hell’s Revenge tested you skills and nerve with steep climbs with some ledges that would make anyone pucker. The Hot Tub is a famous obstacle along the way and was a great place for a group photo.
We awoke the next day to a cold and windy morning with a few snow flurries. We headed out for Poison Spider and Golden Spike. Poison Spider was scenic and challenging. Golden Spike proved to be a great trail with obstacles like the Launch Pad and Skyline Drive. It so happened that this was the trail I would surprise most everyone. During lunch, as the sun came out to expose a beautiful blue sky, I took advantage of the moment and kneeled down during a group photo and proposed to the love of my life, Bobbie. She said “Yes” which is what I was hoping for. ;-) Thanks to Steve for keeping my secret and taking the memorable photos.
With the excitement of my surprise out of way I was finally able to breathe normally the first time on the trip. We headed to the Golden Crack. We all had a fun time crossing this famous obstacle. By the end of the day Jay had managed to blow out his rear ring and pinion. Karl and Jay decided to stay home the next day for some repairs and relaxation.
The next day out we ran Prichett Canyon and Behind the Rocks. Prichett proved to be a very challenging trail with both the entry and exit being deceivingly difficult. The scenery was awesome with the canyon trail winding deep between the huge canyon walls. Jay and Karl caught up to us in the “short bus” by mid afternoon. After the canyon we headed to Behind the Rocks. It seemed we’d been “Behind the Rocks” all week so I couldn’t figure out the origin of this trails name. White Knuckle Hill and Hummer Hill made this otherwise slow trail worth the drive. Both obstacles had a pucker factor and they were challenging for everyone.
The next day Jay was up and running again so we all headed out to Flat Iron Mesa. It was filled with obstacles and not well traveled. Steve’s trusty GPS kept us from getting lost. Actually many of the trails were hard to follow at points. Having wheeled for 8 or more hours everyday we were all tired and headed home early to get some rest. The trip was winding down and it was decided to run some trails recommended by the locals. Our goal was Helldorado. We had a hand written mapped we used to take us there. We found a trail just after Steve decided to play and rolled over. “bye-bye”.
It so happened that the final day my Jeep didn’t wouldn’t stay running and there wasn’t time to diagnose, repair and still get some trail time in. I decided to ride with Jay and video everyone. The trail we ran was extreme and turned out to be a no name trail which was rarely wheeled. Only three rigs braved this extreme trail. It took about 5 hours to traverse less than a mile. What a blast!
We headed back to the Moab Retreat for some eats and adult beverages! We loaded up and prepared for the long drive home the next morning.
Moab is something every off road enthusiast should experience. The trails aren’t the some of hardest we’d experienced but make no mistake there are rated fairly. The scenery and elevation combined with the traction of the slickrock is awesome. We took pictures each day and each evening we’d view them at the house only to discover they don’t do it justice. The best way to describe it is by simply saying “MOAB”! Don’t miss out on a chance to experience it!
- Paul Hearn