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Easter Jeep Safari - Moab

Charlie Thompson has contributed a "happier" version of his trip.
Click here to read his story.

We decide to tackle 4-rated Rose Garden Hill, so named for the ridiculously long, steep, rocky climb which is the only major obstacle on the trail, really. My other two crew members again poke around in the morning and we're late again but only by 10 minutes this time thanks to my prodding. You tell me. How bad is it when I am the one prodding someone else to prevent us being late?

We meet Mark Holzhauer in his 72 Wag "Mack", Larry riding with Kevin in a 92 YJ, James Junkin (in a TJ but has an SJ at home), Dave and Mark (TJ), and Glenn (Cherokee WT). We end up getting lost trying to find the trailhead but instead discover a neat alternate trail that presents some nice challenges, especially a super steep decent down loose dirt. Steep enough that a few small things from the back of the truck find their way to the front.

After much driving thru a dry creek bed, we come upon the hill. We have two full-size Chevy blazers who have joined in behind us. The hill proves tremendously challenging for the 85 GW but the locker helps out in several spots. The springs articulate far more than I expected. Aside from thrashing severely at one point along the trail, I make it up generally without incident. Unfortunately I have to use a fair amount of momentum to make it up most of the top half. When I say long and steep, I mean this isn't a hill you want to walk up, because you'll be exhausted by the top. Anyway the others made it up fine, Glenn did great except for a minor problem towards the bottom, the TJs didn't even notice a change in terrain from asphalt, and the Blazers both put on a show, one from bouncing and spitting fist-sized rocks at onlookers, the other due to driving skill of the woman behind the wheel.

We get to the top, head back down.

We get back and decide to run Hell's Revenge. What a mistake on my part. Being that I'm not the expert James and Mark and others are, wheeling takes a lot out of me. Takes lots of concentration. Makes me tired. All that. Well, I did it anyway because apparantly I have something to prove to someone.

Hell's Revenge turns quickly into something to be reckoned with. A moderate but tough rocky climb leaves the 85 teetering on 2 wheels in the direction of a 100 foot drop. So. This is what a 4-rated trail is like? Unteetering, we wind our way up to the end of the trail. We reach "Tipover Challenge" a slickrock climb in which the vehicle is prone to tip, and roll as it is going nearly straight up. Kevin tries the other climb instead, and is thwarted after a valiant effort. James wows us all by going up the first time and deftly skirting the line between success and rollover like a tightrope walker. We head home. It's getting late. We get to an area that is basically rock walls both sides, with some rock outcropping along the ground that is apparantly an FSJ-width or less. As I surmount some rocks, suddenly the truck is RACING FORWARD--my foot isn't on the pedal-- apply the brake-- no effect-- rushing towards huge rocks-- neutral-- CRASH!!!-- motor racing-- turn off key!!

What th' ?? I'm shocked. What just happened? Like someone stuck their foot on the gas for me. My truck is wedged in between rock. It just got posessed and drove itself there. Am I insane? Am I incompetent? My codrivers act like they think that's the answer. Gee thanks. Confusion and chaos, a dozen people gathered around, each pelting me with questions. Did you do this? That? Was this like this? Or that like that? What happened when? What was that noise? Did this break? How about that? I'm pissed, I'm frustrated, I'm confounded and I try to keep a lid on it as I answer all these questions. I'm only mildly successful keeping my cool.

I'm convinced I'm completely idiotic, lost my mind, tromped the gas and crashed into the rocks. But crap, in 15 years of driving I've never goofed that bad, and all that racing I did taught me my left foot from my right just fine, thank you. Am I an idiot? What? Prone to self-doubt like whales are prone to swimming I continue beating on myself some more. Eventually forcing myself to some level of calm to figure out the problem with Mark's help and the help of others, they determine that the throttle housing has pulled out of the grommet on the plate attached to the carb/manifold. In other words, the body/frame twist yanked the accelerator cable, shooting me off into a hell of a predicament.

So now my left front is wedged in a tire-sized gap in the rocks, the remains of my left rocker panels are resting on a ledge of rock, the right side is inches from damage. Nowhere to go but back. With the accel cable restored, I carefully back out with the help of ten spotters. A word to the wise: if you're being spotted by ten folks, pick the one guy with the most experience and listen to him and ignore everyone else.

I make it back, and we try a slightly new line, as MarkH does a sitting leg press against the truck to keep the rear bumper from grabbing some rock and tearing off. We make it thru, but the accelerate-upon-articulate problem is still present! It makes the remaining very hard obstacles a real challenge, but with more spotting we make it thru. It has been pitch black for more than an hour now, so we are finally getting in our night run. Next night run I do will be over a somewhat easier trail. Like Guanella Pass. :/ It gets kind of old always being the one that gets stuck on the trails.

We get lost again and run across unruly teens burning things in the middle of the road. Expecting a riot and Grand Wag tipping and torching, we turn tail and find our way to the right spot. We. No, =I= got lost. I'm getting really pissy at this point, people treating me like I'm a complete idiot, then me fulfilling their soaring expectations like this. Lovely.

No more two-runs-in-a-day. Thanks but no thanks.

Michael