Group on the Gold Bar
Moab, Utah is a
paradise for outdoor recreation. Hiking, biking, kayaking, rafting and some of
the most famous four wheel drive trails in the country attract tourists from
across the country and around the world.
Lions Back is a
great example of slickrock
of the magical attributes of Moab is it’s famous “slickrock”. The rock is
anything, but slick when you combine it with the treads of sticky rubber tires.
The fact is that our tires grip tenaciously to the Navajo sandstone. This
“slickrock” gives our four wheel drive vehicles the ability to climb and
descend unbelievably steep hills and also allows us to traverse wildly off
camber side hills without loss of traction.
website, www.explorer4x4.com, has hosted several “Serious Explorations” over
the past two years. These events bring Ford Explorer owners together from around
the country and occasionally even from beyond our borders. The Moab 2000 trip
was the most talked about and highly anticipated event to date. There were over
500 messages discussing which trails we would run, who would lead and which
weekend would be the best time for the group to gather. It was decided that the
weekend of May 5-7 would work out best for the majority of those who were
interested in attending.
arrived in Moab a couple days before the main event. Since no one else from our
group was there, I decided to tackle an easy trail by myself. I had heard that
the Gemini Bridges trail was well traveled by mountain bikers as well as four
wheelers so I wasn’t worried about traveling alone. The trailhead to Gemini
Bridges starts about 7 miles North of Moab on Hwy. 191. After reaching the
staging area I aired my tires down to a modest 20 psi to help smooth out the
graded dirt road which leads towards Gemini Bridges.
first portion of the trail is an easy ride through some switchbacks. The view
from here is incredible. As you gain altitude the view of Hwy 191 quickly
broadens. You can see for miles in either direction and there is a shear
vertical drop below the graded road. While taking in the view don’t let your
eyes stray too long as there are usually mountain bikers on the trail and there
are plenty of blind curves for them to pop out of.
the switchbacks are complete it’s a short drive to the beginning of the
well-marked Gemini Bridges trail. The trail offers several small ledges in the
first 2 miles. Once you are within ¼ mile from the end the ledges become
steeper, but there are bypasses that most stock 4x4 vehicles can handle. When
the trail ends you are left asking yourself “where are the bridges”? Once
you walk a few feet from your vehicle it become apparent that they are right in
front of you! The tops of the “bridges”, which are natural rock arches, are
even with the surrounding terrain. There is a huge amphitheatre like opening to
one side and an extremely long drop into the canyon below on the other side. The
two bridges are separated by a VERY narrow chasm 5-10 feet across. I parked my
Explorer on the wider of the two bridges for an incredible photo opportunity.
Rick on Gemini Bridges
morning our group of Explorers met in Moab’s City Market parking lot. A few of
us had met on previous trips, but most had only been previously acquainted
through our discussions on the Internet. We spent a good deal of time
introducing ourselves, checking out each others Explorers, and meeting with the
11 Ford reps who were there to ride along with us.
was the third time that Ford Motor Company sent a team of representatives with
us on one of our “Serious Explorations”. Vivian Palmer who is Ford’s
Marketing Plans Manager from Dearborn, Michigan was leading this group. Vivian
had rode along with us on our Truckhaven 2000 trip in Southern California so she
wasn’t new to fourwheeling.
a short drivers orientation meeting we all headed out to the Gold Bar Rim trail.
It had been decided that the “moderate” group would follow the
“modified” group as far as they possibly could and once they could proceed
no further they would turn around and run the Gemini Bridges trail.
first couple of miles on the Gold Bar Rim Trail were very easy. A few small
ledges made things interesting for the moderate group. Those without
modifications easily bypassed the first major obstacle. The obstacle was shear
drop off a ledge that was nearly 3 feet tall. The object here was to slowly
crawl down the ledge as far as you could until the front tires lost contact with
the rock, at this point the four doors had the advantage. The four doors were
able to slide down the ledge while their rear tires kept firm contact with the
ground. The two doors however were getting high centered. A bit of bouncing on
their rear bumpers gave them the traction they needed to continue on.
Matt descending rocky trail
Matt descending steep decline
after the ledge the moderate group had to break off from the rest of the pack
and head back to Gemini Bridges. At this point there was a section of trail with
no bypass. It started out very rocky with plenty of large loose boulders. The
trail then took a sharp left turn down a nearly vertical section of slick rock.
Most of the rigs got air under their rear tires as they made the sharp left and
dropped down the slickrock to the desert floor below. After this obstacle the
trail was filled with many smaller ledges and steps. It even had one section
that resembled the famous “Golden Crack”, only on this trail traversing the
crack was far less exciting.
we found ourselves near the end of the trail. The last obstacle was probably the
most difficult of all. The obstacle consisted of a steep climb up a very narrow
chute. Tire placement was very critical at this point to maintain the rigs on an
even keel. I believe one of the group received a bit of body damage at this
point on the trail. Once past the chute we were within eye site of our
destination, the famous and spectacular Gold Bar Rim. From atop the rim you are
immediately overwhelmed by the incredible 360-degree panorama. Looking East,
straight out over the rim gives you a view of Highway 191 and Arches National
Monument, some 1500 feet below the edge. To the South is the Colorado river, the
view to the West is an impressive display of slickrock and vast canyons. To the
North you can follow the ridge running along Highway 191 for miles.
Jay atop Gold bar Rim
Rick atop Gold bar Rim
We decided to take our lunch at this incredible
location. After we finished eating we paused for a group photo, assembling all
of the vehicles and participants for a one of a kind photo opportunity. After
our photo shoot we decided to try one of the more famous obstacles on the Golden
Spike Trail, Double Whammy.
Jay atop Gold Bar Rim
Photo by: Peter Weber
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