Well, it was coming up fast. One of the biggest if not the biggest off road event in the world was about to happen and my rig was still tore to pieces in the garage. After a few more days off of work and a few late nights in the garage, and I was ready for EJS 2003!
Day One, Saturday, Lower Proving Grounds: I headed out early in the morning and made Moab in 6 Ĺ hours. The plan was to set up camp and hook up with some of the Steep Ďn Deep Offroaders out of Pocatello, Idaho to run a trail or two before they headed home early. After setting up camp and meeting up with Tim from 4x4 Iron and few of his buddies, we headed over to Lower Proving Grounds and found the Steep Ďn Deep club waiting for us. We sized up the trail, lined up and aired down.
This trial is not a very long one and overall was not too difficult to do. The first obstacle is a good one though. It is basically a climb into a slot. You can try to straddle the slot or put a tire into it and scrape and grind your way up it. This is when the problems started for me. The first thing I noticed was that uncut boggers are not a very good rock tire. The second was that I was instantly overheating. I was running a 7 blade clutch fan with an auxiliary electric mounted in the front on a 4 core radiator. I was also running a full shroud. I banged my way through the first obstacle and then pooped the hood to try to figure out what was going on. Everything looked good so I forged on. The trail would have been much more fun had the power steering not overheated and blown all of the fluid out. I was even running an extra cooler for it. I could stop and run the engine high for a while and that would help cool the motor down but not for long.
We ended up making out way through the trail and headed over to the entrance to Upper Proving Grounds. I let the 454 loose some driving over and the high speed cooled the engine back down and then I shut it off to watch a few people give the first obstacle a try.
The first obstacle is basically a wall with some loose rocks at the bottom. A long wheelbase and a light rig would be the ticket here. After some time, I gave it a pretty good shot. I actually moved up it some at one point and thought that I might have it. But, I was denied and slipped back down. I didnít see anybody make it while I was there. A buddy and I took some time to walk up some more of the trail and it was just as well. The next real tough part was unreal. Light weight tube buggy was what was needed here. Anybody who has seen this second climb in person knows what Iím taking about.
It started getting dark so we headed out back to camp to call it a day.
Pics from Pritchet Canyon
Day Two, Sunday, Pritchet Canyon: We got up early and we all met at the Movie Theater to stage up. The idea was to get an early start and avoid any crowds. Last year the Rocker Knocker was a traffic jam. Turns out that traffic was real low and it was still early enough in the week to avoid the rush.
After paying the campground fee, we headed in. The first obstacle past the campground is a ledge type of drop off that seemed to be a little worse this year than last year. We had a small group of 5 rigs so we took our time and dropped off the ledge one by one and on we went. The bottom part of the canyon drive is very nice and offers a few sections were you can take the easy way or make it as hard as you wanted it to be. We played around some on the different ledges and eventually ended up at the bottom of the Rocker Knocker.
I have seen rigs walk up this and I have seen built rigs not make it at all. Last year I got to watch a Toyota roll on this one. Last year, I made it but I was on the winch and I also ended up bending a rim in the process. Thanks to Matt at Red Neck Off Road for giving me a hand with that one. This year all of the vehicles in the group happened to be Blazers. Now there is a line for us that works well. Tim from 4x4 Iron explained it out to us like this: There is a rock at the base of the obstacle about 10 feet or so from the left side where you need to climb up. You put your left tire on this rock and go forward at an angle until you hit the next ledge. Crank your wheels all the way to the left and crab walk your way over to the left. As you approach the notch o the end, the right front tire starts to climb up. Donít stop! It will feel all wrong but if you flow with it you end up driving right up. All of us used this method and all of us drove up it like it was no big deal. We climbed up to a flat area above and stopped to eat some lunch and watch some others give it a go that were following us.
So far, I was having some good luck with the heating up issue that I had the day before. I had been running the extra electric fan all of the time and I was driving very easy and shutting it down whenever I could. I never did overheat that day but I also felt restrained in how far I could go. Oh well.
The next hard part is an unnamed part that is right before the Rock Pile and it seemed to be much worse than last year. I was able to drive up but a few of us took the cable. Next was the Rock Pile.
This year I noticed a bypass trail on the other side of the wash. My thoughts are if you cannot drive or winch your way up the trail, then you should not be on the trail at all.
Tim from lined up his red Blazer, hammered the throttle and shot right up. He was pretty pumped up as this could easily be the most difficult part of the trail. The rest of us gave it a few tries and took the cable and drove to the top of the canyon.
Since time was on our hands we decided to drive backwards up the Behind the Rocks trail to play on White Knuckle Hill.
Now there is a reason it has this name. It is a big drop off with a long slop after it. A roll over here could go a long way. I tried going up and it caught once and was heading up, forgot to steer to the right and my left front tire hit another ledge and sent me back down. After that Tim gave it a try and after playing on it for awhile, made his way up it.
The drive out of there is a long dusty one and was uneventful except a few places where we stopped to play around. We ended up hitting the highway around 2 pm and headed back into town and back to camp.
A few people headed up to watch the fun at Potatoes Salad hill and the Dump Bump. I decided to stay at camp and try to figure out my overheating problem. Turns out that I had a bad clutch on my clutch fan. After paying through the nose for one in town I replaced it and presto, no more overheating!
Pics from Upper HellDorado
Pics from Lower HellDorado
Day Three, Monday, the Helldoradoís: We had a few more rigs meet up this day. Stephan from Off Road Design was leading the trial today and we headed out to Lower Helldorado. The year before, This trial had been a real challenge for me. There were a few spots that I ended up with body damage and the last obstacle was a real challenge. This year was completely different. Our complete group easily made it up the wash with little trouble. More than one person remarked that it did not seem as hard. I donít know if it was better setup vehicles or what, but it was not that bad. The last obstacle where I crushed in my door last year on a rock, I just drove over the rock this time and continued on. Some of us played around on the exit to the trail and then we headed over to Upper Helldorado.
Now, Upper was not easy. It was a fight to get through this trail from the beginning to the end. This trail is where you figure out what you need to do to your vehicle before you try it again. I spent some good time on the winch in here but I wasnít the only one. There also were not any other full size rigs in there while we were there. Iíll let the pictures speak for themselves here. Easily the hardest trail I ran and it gave me the only body damage that I received the whole week.
Pics from Rusty Nail
Day Four, Tuesday, Rusty Nail: I liked this trail. It would have been much more enjoyable had the weather not taken a turn for the worse. It was miserable for the people with open cabs, me being one of them. After the day wore on, It became warmer and became OK for a while. We headed up Gold Bar Rim trail and turned off early before the Golden Spike trail. This trail had a few good obstacles and had some very nice views. It runs back into the Golden Spike trail close to the Golden crack. Almost a shortcut if you were in a hurry to get to the Golden Crack to watch the action there. We finished the trail and then came out through the rest of the Golden Spike trail. Really a very good run for the day.
Day Five, Wednesday, Golden Spike: This was about the last wheeling day in our group and we were all pretty blown from the week. We ran the trail backwards to the Double Whammy played there and ate lunch, headed to the Golden Crack for a while and then turned around and drove out. The only real thing of interest to watch was a jeep that tried the Double Whammy and flipped over. We used my winch and anotherís to flip it back over. I made it up on the second try. Wheelbase is really the thing here.
All in all, it was the best wheeling trip Iíve ever had so far. I ran the trails I wanted and didnít have too much trouble overall after the overheating was fixed. Iím already tearing my rig back apart to see what I can do about the limitations I saw and weíll see how next year goes. Maybe weíll see you there.