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Moab, April, 2006

After last year's epic all night battle against Golden Spike, one of the harder trails near Moab, Utah, most of the same crew came back for revenge. We headed out at different times. I left on April 27 with Scott riding shotgun, so we were the second rig to arrive behind Matt and his daughter Emma who came in on the 26th.

Thursday

After a largely uneventful drive out, Scott and I made our way to Sand Flats, camp D19 and found Matt who was happy to get my old rear window glass; his shattered the previous day! We unpacked, pitched tents, set up camp. By then it was 4:00pm and, wanting to avoid another night run, we decided to stay put and hang out and watch the sun set.

Arrival


Camp

Friday

The plan? Bull Canyon and Gemini Bridges, the latter named after a dual arch rock formation at the trail's end. Bull Canyon follows a roughly parallel path and takes you to the canyon below the Bridges. Well, we didn't have time for the upper trail but we explored the crap out of Bull Canyon, a nice mellow trail with lots of variety. We got a chance to shake out our rigs on rock ledges, rocky sections, narrow trails, sandy washes, a giant sand hill to descend and climb with foot to the floor! (6.2MB AVI Movie) and I got to do a 20 point turn at the end of one spur where all I could see in front of me was air.


Bull Canyon


At Gemini Bridges

After playing around in the sand hill area, and accidentally exploring one spur, the group turned around and found the correct turnoff and drove that to its end and hiked in a few hundred feet to the bridges on the cliff above. In that kind of setting you start thinking a lot about the kind of time where breezes and rain showers add up to crumble mountains.


Michael exiting Bull Canyon


Unknown trail

We headed out on the long, dusty road by Gooney Bird and then up and over the narrow roads climbing over some ridge or other, then back to the highway to run Fins'n'Things, right near camp, so if anything went wrong it'd be a short walk.


Gemini Bridges


On Fins-n-Things

After descending steep slopes and banging our bumpers on ledges for awhile (to us, this is fun, of course) we were back at Sand Flats and heading for camp. It was time for beer. Well, right after swapping out the oil pressure sending unit on my truck.

Saturday

Today was the big day. Time to exact revenge on that dastardly series of trails that kept us out until 4 in the morning the previous year. We were going to show it who was boss and we weren't going to need flashlights to do it!

After a long breakfast we were at the trailhead for Poison Spider Mesa by 9:00am. I tried airing down to 12psi, abut 8lbs lower than I ran the entire previous, traction-challenged season. The trail has some good challenges but nothing tedious or scary, except when you stall on one of the steep climbs like I did. Otherwise, we made good time, walked up the obstacles, rolled down the steep descents, no problem

Golden Spike begins where Poison Spider ends. Boy o boy. Crazy ledge climbs, crazy long descents. We bypassed the launching pad (that is legal, right?), and crawled our way along. On one series of obstacles you have to climb through some sketchy stuff, turn left, and ascende a short but steep ledge. Flint and I got up but Matt was having trouble, spun up the rpms and then, that sound you don't like hearing on a long trail: bang. We strapped and winched his rig to flat ground where he could swap out his driveshaft, the end of which was completely twisted off!


Michael on the Wedgie on Poison Spider


Major descent, Poison Spider

Repairs done after about an hour, we motored along. There's one section that I swear is at a constant 10 degree slant towards the driver side and every bump and ridiculously offset ledge keeps one question at the forefront of the driver's mind: how stable is my rig?? Now, it looks and feels horrible in the cab, but it really isn't as bad as it looks, most of the time. Even when you lift a passenger rear tire and you feel like you're done for you aren't. You still have three tires on the ground, so try to relax, hm?


Carnage on Golden Spike!


Tilting

A few, tedious hours on this section feel like days and it really grinds you down. By the time you get to Golden Spike you're pretty well shot. I've never done the crack for real, last year we put a 40" spare tire in to help us across because it was just past sunset. This time we had light on our side but we also had an audience. Well... it was actually easy! We spotted each other through after watching a couple get through. The wheelbase and the right line made it look simple.


Getting tippy!


Matt traverses Golden Crack

The rest of Golden Spike is less of a worryfest and is really just a bunch of wicked ledge obstacles. The only other eventful situation was when my motor kept stalling trying to get over the climb that claimed my passenger rear door last year. We took a more radical climb this time, and before the tires would hook up and pull me over the motor kept stalling. It was getting late and we still had Gold Bar Rim to drive, so I asked for a strap up, and proceeded to look for problems for about a half hour.

Well, we got rolling again, encountered Gold Bar Rim and had no trouble finding our way (in daylight), and made it off the trail right at sunset, then that long dusty drive again, over the ridge, and back to the highway.

About the only other problem was a fuel delivery problem my truck developed.

The beer and burger at The Moab Brewery were definitely earned as was the comfy bed back at camp. After 2 days of wind and sand in the tent, still air was quite welcome.

Matt's and Flint's Pics

Michael's Pics

Michael's Blog: Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday