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.
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.
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
At Gemini Bridges
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
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.
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.
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!
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,
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
Michael on the Wedgie on Poison Spider
Major descent, Poison Spider
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!
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.
Matt traverses Golden Crack
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.
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.
the only other problem was a fuel delivery problem my truck developed.
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.
and Flint's Pics