Pinion Mesa Trail
By Ken Womack

On Saturday, we were scheduled to run the Marble Rock Trail. The day before we had heard that it was much tougher than Ballhanger. Knowing I had 4 or 5 more days of 4-wheeling to enjoy in the San Juans of Colorado, I decided to take a little easier trail.

Scott Elmer, (our trail leader for Ballhanger), suggested Pinion Mesa as a scenic trail with choices of tamer or aggressive obstacles. This sounded good to me, and we all ( J.J., Swede, and Arlene) agreed. Seems like everyone on the Ballhanger group did too, cause nearly all of them joined in for the scenic, laid-back, but still challenging Pinion Mesa Trail. I think everyone had such a fine time Friday, they wanted more of the same Saturday.

Our run started with a short 10 minute paved stretch to the turn off to Pinion Mesa. You could see the large mesa from a distance, and we could tell we were in for some good 4-wheelin’ ahead. Scott led us up the steep incline and around Pinion Trees (small scrub-like trees with a cone that produces a tasty nut every so many years) to the top.

We ran the trail along the top, with a stop to check out Shiprock, a strange rock formation 29 miles away that looks like a ship and it’s sails. An awesome sight indeed. We soon came to a steep downhill section that would take us to a canyon and a wash. There we were in for our first interesting obstacle, an optional water-carved wash thru slickrock.

Scott went thru first, easily, followed by Swede and Arlene, who also went thru very well. I was next, and with some spotting from Scott, I was able to get thru pretty well. This section tests your suspension and gives you an idea of your vehicle’s real world axle articulation.


After all who wanted to try this one did, we were on our way back up again, climbing up to the top of the mesa. After traversing a narrow section with another view of Shiprock and a power station (where our tailgunner, Frank, worked), we were on our way to the Bowl, a slickrock formation with many Play Areas. Steep up and down hill sections, holes, and a chute thru and up slickrock walls on both sides. An off-camber spot had most vehicles all twisted up, and traction was real tough to get, unless you were locked up front and rear. One guy with a fine Scout Terra scraped his quarter panel, while our tailgunner, Frank, blew his right front hub. Here we ate lunch, and Frank fixed his hub. One of our group brought a spare locking hub, so Frank was in luck. Some of the group hill-climbed, while some just took a break.


When we were all ready to go , we left to go check out the Big Boys Trail, a section of The Intimidator. We saw the tail end of it, two sections called Crapshoot and the Graffitti Bowl. Here we got to see the trail and the folks and their fine hard core machines. This is not a trail for a mildly equipped rigs or the faint at heart. The trail has serious off-camber drop-offs, and vertical rock cliff climbs. A serious rig is needed, and double lockers, low low gears, 33" tires min., a winch and the attitude that body damage is no big deal. We got To see many of the hard core veterens at their best. It sure was fun to see them in action. Just made me think about how far my Jeep has go to go to get there, Whew! Swede could have done this trail, as he has his rig equipped well, and has done trails nearly as tough, but decided to take the more mellow trails this time. Expect to see him there sometime, I’m sure, as he was lookin’ real hard at the Intimidator.

After we all got to experience the Intimidator from a spectator point of view, we left to go back to town to get ready for the dinner, raffle and meeting. Scott got us back early, so we could take our time getting ready. Many thanks to our fine trail leader Scott Elmer, who got us there and back both days with a smile on our faces.

The SWFWDA Dinner, Raffle and Meeting was held at McGee Park in Farmington. A tent had been set up for the event, and it sure came in handy because it was raining steadily. Of course, a little rain doesn’t stop hungry 4-wheelers, so most, if not all participants were there for dinner and to visit and trade stories of the day’s events. B-B-Q brisket, beans, potato salad, cole slaw and tea was served to us, and it was very good.

After eating, the Cliffhangers thanked all of us for being there, we thanked them for having us, and the list of raffle prizes were read off. Many local and out of town sponsors had donated many great and useful items for us to win in the raffle. Winners of the the various prizes were happy, Swede and I were two of the winners, Swede winning a set of Rancho 9000 adjustable shocks, and I won a CB Radio. Everyone thanked the various sponsors for their genorosity, and those who decided to stay for the meeting settled in.

Many thanks to the Cliffhangers who held a very entertaining and successful event. Excellent trails and fine people working hard with the community and sponsors, gave us loads of fun and stories to tell. If you get a chance to run with The Cliffhangers, you’ll be running with some of the nicest people anywhere. See you on the trail, Folks!

Ken Womack.....