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Moab 2000
May 5-7, 2000

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The end of the Golden Spike Trail and the end of the Gold Bar Rim Trail come together at the same point. The Golden Spike Trail is normally run from South to North, starting with Poison Spider Mesa, continuing into Golden Spike and terminating with the Gold Bar Rim. The run takes at least a full day, longer if there are any mechanical problems. Do to time constraints, we decided to run only ¼ mile of the Golden Spike Trail, up to the Double Whammy. This obstacle is appropriately named. It starts with a ledge that is nearly as tall as my 33” tires. The top of the tires claw up onto the horizontal ledge easily with the help of locking differentials. At this point the front tires are up against a second ledge and the rear tires still need to make it up the first. I was the first to attempt this obstacle. I got my front tires up with no problem. I tried to get my rear end up and over the ledge, but my Explorer started acting like a bucking bronco, bouncing the rear tires up and down, but not enough to grip the ledge and pull me over. Fearing a repeat of my incident at the Truckhaven pre-run I backed off and let Matt Adams take a turn. Matt, remembering what Dan Mick had taught him got his front tires on the ledge, left a little room between his rear tires and the rock and then bumped the throttle. This bump put him up and over the obstacle! After seeing Matt make it up so easily I tried the same technique and conquered Double Whammy as well. A few others tried, but Rob Robertson and Bill Collins were the only other people to conquer the obstacle.   

Rick Horwitz Double Whammy
Photo by: Peter Weber

Click here for a MPG Video!

Rick Horwitz Double Whammy
Photo by: Peter Weber

After Double Whammy we hit the trail and headed back to Moab for a well-deserved dinner at the Fat City Smokehouse. Since Gerald and Ray had both celebrated their birthdays the week before we bought them a cake and even had one of the restaurant's waiters do a poor (but funny) Elvis impersonation for them.  

Saturday morning brought the entire group together, 27 Explorers and RangerX in his Sport Trac prototype (Ford Ranger). The plan for the day included three separate runs, I led the “Poison Spider Mesa” run, Paul Bredehoft led the “Kane Creek” run and Gerald Jarrett led the “Top of the World Run”. I decided to publish only one group’s story from Saturday and chose Gerald Jarrett’s article to represent the days adventure. 

Top of the World 
By: Gerald Jarrette 

Saturday started off a beautiful day with warm clear weather for wheelin'.  Four Explorers -- Gerald Jarrett (with "Ford Gal" Brit onboard), Barry Minnis and his father, Tom Wilk, and Ray & Sandy Lobato -- began the trek to the "3" rated Top of the World trail along with an F150 (Tracy) that happened by the City Market parking lot and wanted to join the Explorer group. 

It was a long 30 mile drive northeast of Moab to get to the trailhead.  However, the drive was an adventure in itself along Hwy 128, which snakes along the banks of the Colorado River in the depths of the canyonlands and offers breathtaking scenery and multiple photo ops for the entire drive out. 

Top of the World begins at the Dewey Bridge on the Colorado River.  After airing down, we proceeded up the 10 mile long trail. The first five miles are uneventful gravel/rock road through interesting geologic formations and scenery.  At one point Brit remarked "Bedrock!".  Upon looking at my "huh?" stare, she said to look around; we were driving through a place that looked just like where the Flintstones live.  She was right.   

Top of the World
Photo from Barry Minnis

Top of the World
Photo from Barry Minnis

After bailing off the main gravel road, the actual climb begins up 3,000+ feet to the top.  Gerald was trail boss at that point, with Tom and Barry surrounding the F150 visitor in the middle of the pack and Ray tail gunning.  A barbwire gate blocks the road toward the bottom and must be opened and closed behind as it is passed through.  There was an extremely strong scent of ammonia surrounding the gate area that smelled precisely the same as when a tomcat marks its territory. I commented on the CB my theory that we may be at the border of a cougar's territory.  Ray chimed in that was no worry for him since his trail equipment includes items to deal with that sort of problem. 

The trail itself is a fairly easy 2.5 rated rock road with various slickrock, sand, and rock ledge sections that snakes up out of the valley.  As the climb begins, a 360 degree view starts to unfold of the surrounding country.  None of the vehicles had any problems negotiating the trail and it isn't until nearly 8 miles into the trail that the first interesting obstacle appears.  From that point on it does become a 3 rated trail and offered a good mix of fun wheelin' for the more-than-capable stock Explorers as 4wd low range was finally required.  The F150 did an admirable job also.  The last mile of trail is a loop that we turned right on and proceeded counterclockwise to the top.   

Paul Sabin stands
 "On Top Of The World"

The Top of the World is properly named. The trail stops at a ledge that juts out over a sheer 3,000ft drop offering a (literally!) breathtaking view down of the entire Moab Colorado River Valley on one side and a look all the way to the state of Colorado on the other.  This is one of those places that words cannot describe and pictures don't do much better.  You just had to be there to experience it.  After Gerald talked Ray into getting way too close to the edge a few times for photo ops and parking his Explorer on the ledge, Ray's wife Sandy declared Gerald a bad influence and "separated" the two and (tried to) prevent further playing together until the end of the trip. 

This is a perfect example of a great reason to own a 4wd Explorer that gives us access to experience a part of nature other people will never get a chance to see in their autos. We took turns with photo ops, many included parking our Explorers right out over that ledge.  Brit wanted to pose with all the Explorers lined up on top and we got several photos of the vehicles with their owners. Photo trade time will come soon.  Barry took several photos up top in addition to Ray taking digital shots. Gerald is hoping for the best from his throwaway camera.  

After that it was time for a rest and lunch break and where else would be better than to do it right there at the Top of the World? 

As we started back down Ray led, followed by Barry, Tracy in the F150, Tom, then Gerald tail gunning.  Well, actually, Gerald was not tail gunner, Brit was. Gerald handed over the driving to Brit who was born and raised in Detroit and had never been fourwheeling before.  Trust me, she is hooked now! 

The loop down was a very interesting series of obstacle ledges that would have proven quite a challenge had we gone up the loop the other way and tackled these ledges going up.  A note was made among the group through discussion on the CB pointing out that should there be a next time, we should go up the loop clockwise instead of counterclockwise.  (NOTE: Gerald did just that with Rob Robertson the following Monday on the way back to Texas and can report that it changed the personality of the trail completely and made it a very challenging and fun series of ledge climbs to the top. Clockwise is definitely the way to take this trail!)   It was during this section of the trail that the long wheelbase F150 scrapped bottom so hard that the whole group could clearly hear it, including Gerald who was two vehicles and 70 yards back with all windows closed! Tom was right behind him and witnessed the full effect of the hit.  No permanent damage though as far as we could tell. 

The trip down offered the view we couldn't see in our mirrors on the way up and presented even more photo ops as we snaked back down to the bottom. 

As we aired back up at the Dewey Bridge we said our goodbyes to our newfound F150 friend who had to continue on, and reflected on the awesome wonder of nature's beauty we had just witnessed. 

Ray and Gerald, with slightly modified vehicles, had no problem whatsoever on the trail.  Barry proved himself a pro on the run by the loud silence of his presence: he simply took great lines, never had any incidents, and coolly negotiated the entire trip with hardly a peep.  Tom was fun to watch as he began to learn a little more of what his (almost) stock Explorer can really do, and topped the day grinning ear-to-ear. 

This trail got five thumbs up from its participants and should be considered a "must-see"  4wd trail on any trip to the Moab area. 

Gerald Jarrett

By 6:00 Saturday evening all of the groups had returned to Moab. Dinner Saturday night was provided by Ford Motor Company in appreciation for us having them along for the trip. After eating our fill at the Arches restaurant we held a raffle for various door prizes, including off-road lights donated by PIAA, T-shirts from Kurtz Kustom Motorsports, and hats, videos and stickers from www.explorer4x4.com. Ford also used this opportunity to hand out backpacks to all of the drivers. Afterwards we sat around and exchanged stories from the previous days travels. Before long we were saying our goodbyes to the Ford reps who needed to head back to Michigan early Sunday morning.

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