Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Moab, April 19 - 24, 2016

In April a large number of Patrol 14 headed to Moab for some fun adventures again.  Tom Hester and Sam Sanford headed to Moab on Tuesday morning, on Wednesday morning they hooked up with some of the guys from Patrol 6 to run Steel Bender.  From what I know this isn’t a trail for the faint of Heart, however they both returned in one piece and ready to go again.  Several of us arrived on Wednesday afternoon and were given the opportunity to run Fins & Things, with Gene Day, Frank Eichenlaub and Mark Woodworth.  Most of us had never run Fins & Things so having Gene lead and narrate greatly added to the experience.

On Thursday the entire group headed to “Top of the World” trail.  I had never run this trail nor had a lot of the attendees.  We met up at Dewey Bridges and aired down.  Thom Hester took the lead since he was one of only two members that had ever run this trail.  A bit of history, one of the previous Patrol 14 members was married on “Top of the World”.  The trail starts pretty easy before you begin to encounter some rocky sections, and, the first obstacle.  Thom Hester was in the lead and took the first shot that was not a fruitful attack.  The second approach put Thom up and looking good.  Next up was Harold in the Blue JK 2 Dr, following Thom’s line Harold was able to walk up the obstacle without any issues.  It just looked too easy.  We had a perspective member along on this trip in a stock JK 2 Door.  She and Bill Finkel took the bypass.  She just didn’t have the clearance and Bill’s jeep also was just a little low.  The bypass was not a cake walk, but both of them made it look easy.  Sam Sandford was up next; he lined up the silver TJ and walked it up with ease.  Next up was Bill David, he was anxious to try out his new Eaton E locker.  With a little spotting from our guest, Chad Boudreau, Bill was able to walk the little red YJ up on top with ease.  Next up, Chads dad Gary Boudreau, who was anxious to try out his new front ARB locker.  I think Gary had his doubts (since he is only locked in the front) but we all encouraged him to give a shot.  With the right line you would have thought the little Green YJ was a Rubicon on 35’s.  When he popped up on top, he was grinning from ear to ear.  Lastly, Chad Boudreau driving a borrowed (he told us it was a loaner but we had our doubts) JK 2d on 37’s, Chad made the wall look like a speed bump in the mall parking lot.  We continued on up the trail, most of us not knowing what to expect.  After several obstacles, we reached the top and all of us were in AWE of the beauty that was before us.  If you haven’t run “Top of the World” in Moab I highly encourage you to do so next time you are there.  It’s a fun trail with a beautiful end.  After lunch we turned around and took the harder side of the loop back down.  It was slow going due to the stair step ledges but not at all impossible to navigate.  At the end of the trail several folks wanted to run some smaller trails we had on the agenda and several wanted to stop at the Winery.  So we split for the day and planned to meet up on Friday and head for another trail.

On Friday we all met in town for a departure to Bartlett Overlook, it wasn’t a good start since the lead Bill David, couldn’t find the turn off.  Persistence paid off and we did finally find the start of the trail.  We all aired down and headed out.  Not too far down the trail we encountered a medium sized Obstacle.  Being that the obstacle was not enormous Gary Boudreau and Jan Finkel providing spotting to various jeeps.  Chad Boudreau driving the “loaner” jeep was playing around (after everyone was up) trying to make the obstacle a bit more challenging, and did in fact, make the challenge impossible when he broke the driver side tie rod on the JK half way up the challenge.   You would think Patrol 14 could go to Moab without breaking at least one jeep?  We winched the jeep up onto flat ground and then jacked the front up to straighten the tire and provide access to the tie rod end.  The only solution was to pull the draglink and tie rod, go back to town and weld it up, since this is an aftermarket system and the Moab Outpost didn’t have just the tie rod end.  Father and Son decided to take on the repair and the rest of the group headed on down the trail.  Fortunately for Trudy and Nicole (Gary and Trudy’s daughter), our perspective member Catherine Felson was happy to share seats with them and they continued on with the group.  We found a beautiful outlook and took time to shoot photos and have some lunch.  We headed further down the trail and encountered some nice challenges and some great downhill descents (which at one point made Cheryl gasp and grab the “Oh S**t” bar in the little Red YJ).  Of course, I had to chuckle (but not too loud, I know where my bread is buttered).  As we neared the bottom of the canyon Bill David was leading and missed a turn, the trail continued on but we didn’t realize we were going in the wrong direction until most of us had made a rather difficult crossing and the trail seemed to just stop.  Nothing else to do but turn the wagon around and head back to where we missed the turn.  Sadly about halfway thru the turnaround ordeal Harold thought he spotted a trail across the low spot, Cheryl Minardi and Sam Sandford checked it out and yes it was a trail but we had no record of it in any of our maps so we decided to continue on the return route and work our way out of the canyon.  In the mean time, I received an ongoing status from the Boudreau boys regarding the repair.  They had managed to get everything welded back together and returned to the jeep, re-fitted the draglink and tested the strength of the welds.   Once confident that the welds would hold, Chad drove the JK back to the area where the trailer was parked and loaded the jeep up and headed back to camp.  When we reached the outlet of the canyon some headed back to town while a few of the others wandered down “Tusher Tunnel” and a few other surrounding trails.  Though not challenging the Tunnel is a great scenic area.

Friday evening we were all treated to a delicious Crawfish and Shrimp boil hosted by Thom and Nance.   If you’ve never been to a southern Crawfish and Shrimp boil you are indeed missing one of life’s treasures; and Thom and Nance, who are familiar with how to host this kind of an event really pulled out all the stops.  We ate till we thought we would grow claws and climb into the swamp.  Nance didn’t bother telling us that she had made chocolate covered strawberries and cookies.   Who can pass up chocolate covered strawberries and cookies?  I certainly can’t, nor could many of the others who attended.  A big thanks to Thom and Nance.

Saturday, the day so many of us were looking forward to, was Poison Spider day and we all knew the challenges that lie ahead.  We opted to encourage our perspective member to sit this one out since she is on 32’s, open on both ends and had only experienced Moab and Slickrock at the beginning of this trip, we knew this would be a busy day on the trail.  She graciously accepted our recommendation and decided to hang around town until we returned.  We all met in town and headed to the trail head for a 9:00 departure.  I had invited an old Patrol 14 member (and his brother) to join us for the day’s activities.  He encountered some mechanical difficulties and was being delayed.  After seeing a large group of about 30 rigs show up at the Poison Spider trail head we decided to head out and let him catch up with us along the trail.  Things went well as we progressed along the trail, we didn’t experience any difficulties but instead really were enjoying the challenges.  About the time we hit the “Notch”  the large group we saw at the trail head caught up to us and we decided to let them pass (they had nearly 30 jeeps in their convoy).  We visited with them as they passed, they were headed for Golden Spike.  They had a tag-a-long visitor from British Columbia who asked if they could join us since they had no intention of doing Golden Spike.  Of course, being the congenial group that we are, we welcomed them to tag along.  The day was uneventful other than the moments when Harold (leading that day) thought he lost the trail.  In reality we really weren’t lost we just didn’t know exactly where we were.  After we broke for lunch, we picked up the trail again and headed down.  Gratefully we all hit the end of the trail without mechanical issues, other than the extreme winds (40 -50 mph winds).  It was a great day to end our time in Moab.