Friday, April 28, 2017

What a Playground !

Gopher Flats
Moab, UT
April 21, 2017

Moab is a perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts.  Jeeping and hiking are at the top of our list of fun things to do, but there is so much more.  Moab is a small town with a population of under 6,000 people.  But with all it has to offer, tourists pour in by the thousands...ummm, make that hundreds of thousands or a access thousands of square miles of amazing red rock landscapes and the waters of the Colorado River.       

Joe and I are excited to say that we are getting lots of seat time in our new toy, a 1988 YJ we named Wile E.  Last Friday, we joined Dee, Warren (a local), and Dave and Debbie (friends from Maryland who don't get to Moab as often as they would like) to do the Pickle.  But first, to warm up, Dee suggested we run Mashed Potatoes...I like the way she thinks !  Mashed Potatoes is full of beautiful scenery as it runs high above Hidden Canyon along mounds of white sandstone (hince the name Mashed Potatoes) and into Bartlett Wash.  But the main reason for my excitement was the Gravy Bowl.  For years...gee that sounds nice!...Joe and I have taken the by-pass to this daunting deep hole that a jeep hardly fits into. 

Our day started out heading up the shelf road to the trailhead.  Dee lead, followed by Warren, then us, and Dave and Debbie. 

Views as far as the eyes can see.

Up and over mounds of "mashed potatoes" add to the fun.

Then its Gravy Boat time.  First Dee...
One of those rare times there was no gravy in the boat ! was Warren...

...then it was Joe's turn to dip in, 

back up and get lined up,
and drive out...
 ...and last it was Dave's turn.  Wahoo !
We all took a break after Gravy Boat to take in beautiful Hidden Canyon.
From there, a ride through Bartlett Wash among the old gnarly cotton wood trees...
...landed us at the Pickle trailhead (our hardest trail to date).

 Charles Wells describes the Pickle as a short, hardcore route through a narrow canyon with three nasty obstacles.

Just a short ways into the canyon you are greeted by a tall double ledge...Obstacle #1. 

 Our lunch stop was in a curve in the canyon in the warm sunshine with the canyon walls blocking the wind.  
Dee parked alittle ahead of us more in the curve.
 Up next the curve in the road was tricky and tippy.  According to locals, it used to have a hump of rock on the right hand side and most folks made an off camber climb up and over.  The hump has eroded almost completely away. Before it broke, if you flopped off the hump you ended up sideways in a very narrow curved spot placing yourself in a pickle...hence the name, the Pickle.

Obstacle #2 required the correct angle which took us a couple of tries to get lined up.  Here Warren watches as Dee makes the climb look easy in Blanche.

 Obstacle #3 is a fun climb out of the canyon.  Here we watch Warren crawl his way up...

...then it was our turn...(Thanks for the picture Dee.  I am having so much fun riding in Wile E I haven't gotten many pictures.)

...and last out of the canyon was Dave.

From here it was time to head home.  Warren made a left turn of Hwy 313 towards Hwy 191 and the rest of us made a right turn and went home via Long Canyon to Potash Rd. 
What a beautiful ride...
This narrow section on Long Canyon is called Pucker Pass.

 Until next time...


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Easter Jeep Safari and a Happy Jack !

Gopher Flats
Moab, UT
April, 2017

In the past few years it has been impossible to get   reservations in Moab for Easter Jeep Safari. Thanks to Dee, we were good to go this year and experience our first EJS.  Joe and I didn't sign up for any safari trails.  With all levels of skills and equipment it can be a very long day when 25 to 30 jeeps are participating.  In fact, some folks didn't get off trail until 10:30 pm.  Thats a long day ! 

I did however have have an awesome day riding along with Dee on the first of four Pritchett Trail runs the first Sunday of the safari.  Jeff, a friend and past MFFW president was our leader with Dee, Melissa (our current president), Gary, and Larry as gunners.  What a great team.  It was amazing to watch them in action as they maneuvered everyone up the most difficult obstacles I have seen.  No one broke and only 2 army hummer and a well built Dodge pick-up had to get strapped.  We were even off the trail and home by 4:30 !

Jeff spots a jeep up Chewy which is one of the first obstacles.  The picture doesn't do this obstacle justice is very ledgy and tippy.

Rocker Knocker is the scariest to me. I like tippy, but this is way tippy as you move along sideways on the ledge before you actually climb it.

If that's not enough, there are lots more challenges on this 4.2 mile extreme trail...Brickyard, Rock Pile with the only bypass on the trail called Son of Rock Pile, Axel Hill, and Yellow Hill all with huge tippy ledges.  Charles Wells and his crew chose to ride along with MFFW for the photo shoot which is in his Guide To Moab, UT Backroads and 4-Wheel-Drive Trails. 

The vendors come out in full force during EJS.  The inside and outside areas at the Old Spanish Trail Arena are packed with all sorts of jeep stuff from parts and accessories, t-shirts, clubs from all over the country, hard-core jeeps, and I even saw a doggie booth full of doggie jeep gear.  Names I recognized were Fox, Currie, PSC, Poison Spyder, EVO, Torque, Hercules, and Nitto. 

And look who we ran into...our friends Jedd and Camilla from Hercules Tires.  Joe likes their new 37" trail tire and when its time to replace the Nittos on Pearl, we will likely buy Hercules. 

We made one purchase...a pair of 4" flood lights for Wile E's front bumper for sunset and night rides...from Quake Led.
There was also a display of new jeep concept vehicles "down on Main Street".  This Wrangler gives passengers a better view with translucent doors and roof.  

My favorite, Jeep Quicksand, looks more like a hot-rod.  It has 32" tires in front and 37" tires in the back.

Joe takes a few minutes to "study" the 3.6-Liter Pentastar Engine that we have in Pearl.
It wasn't nearly as congested as I thought it would be in Moab.  I heard about 900 jeeps participated in this years trails.  We usually stopped by the City Market early right after the gym and even managed a Lionsback  breakfast at the Diner one morning.

Another highlight around Gopher Flats is a beautiful green doggie run.  Yep, our puppies are in heaven romping around on a carpet of plush green fescue sod. 

 Even Sally has done a sprint or two.
Dover on the other hand, loves to just lay in the cool grass and watch the world go peaceful !  

 Jack is one happy pup !

Good catch little buddy !

That's it for now.  Until next time...

  HAPPY TRAILS !  Go, Jack, go...

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Wile E

Gopher Flats
Moab, UT

Pearl, our 2013 JK, has been an awesome jeep.
Moab Rim...October 2016

All the modifications we have made to her have allowed us to successfully do some really hard obstacles on some difficult trails.  Not one time (knock on wood) has she faltered or spent time in the shop for repairs.  

Last October, we decided it was time to give Pearl a rest and invest in a jeep we could take out and enjoy without having to worry about breaking our only means of transportation.  

We found a 1988 YJ a friend had for sale and so the adventure began.

Work began at M4O (Moab 4X4 Outpost) before we left for the winter.  Below is our Dana 60 front axle being fitted with a M4O truss.

 New King coilover shocks being installed.  

And then, new Nitto 40" trail grappler tires were installed.

M4O installed PSC hydraulic steering...

and checked out all the running lights.

We headed out to run Hell's Revenge but discovered significant oil leaks at the trail head.  It took major will power to use good judgement and return Wile E back to M4O where we left it with Steve Nance and his crew to give the YJ a good going over during the winter.  Note the tire stickers didn't even get worn off.

So when we returned to Moab in mid March, we found Wile E  ready to hit the trail with a re-built head & valve train assembly, M4O doors and a brand new freshly painted hood.

Here we are bringing Wile E. through the gate at Gopher Flats for the first time !

We've run the north side of Fins n' Things once,  backward (south to north) Steelbender twice, and the Steelbender Loop once.  All those trails are close to home...just in case.  We've made several trips to town (at my request 'cause I'm loving it) and and in-between had Wile E back to M4O to change out rear coilerover springs and add bump stops, extend the exhaust pipe, and tweak the Teraflex transfer case linkage.
Our first pictures of Wile E on trail...thanks Dee !

So the fun begins...until next time,