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Moab 2000
May 5-7, 2000

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Ray Lobato climbs an obstacle on Steel Bender

David Meisner on Steel Bender

Sunday morning we split into two groups. The first group included a real mix of machinery. Many who decided to come along on this “difficult” rated trail were driving nearly stock Explorers. The rest of us had highly modified rigs.  I was extremely impressed with how well the lightly modified late model Explorers performed on this run. They were able to tackle all, but one of the obstacles on their own. Only on the toughest ledge near the end of the trail did they require a strap, but to set things straight, many of the modified Explorers chose to have a strap hooked to them at the same obstacle!   

Click here for a MPG video of 
Guy descending this hill

There were a few incidents along Steel Bender. First, Joe Dietz took a bad line placing him in a precarious position on the trail. Joe opted to be pulled back with a strap at this point, he was then able to reposition himself and drive off without a problem.   

Ryan Penner in a bad spot
Photo by: David Meisner

Ryan Penner in a bad spot
Photo by: David Meisner

The next incident involved Ryan Penner. It seems that Ryan sort of “bounced” off to the edge of the trail. This placed him in a difficult off camber position and he also called for the strap to be sure he got back on the trail safely.   

From my vantage, the most exciting moment came when Rob Robertson “launched” his Explorer over a rocky set of ledges. Afterwards Rob said “I don’t know what came over me, I was taking it so slowly until now”. Rob’s Explorer got some air under both front tires as he “jumped” the obstacle. When he came to a stop he had two punctures in the sidewall of his front right tire and the plastic rocker panel cover from his right side was “removed” by a rock. The punctures were quickly repaired with a few Safety Seal tire plugs and a shot of compressed CO2 from a 5lb Air Source bottle from FLY-N-HI Offroad Centers.  

Rob Robertson on Steel Bender
This is an animated photo wait for it to fully load

When we were through with Steel Bender most of us decided to go to Potato Salad Hill. The hill was named when a Jeep rolled, emptying the contents of it’s cooler on the hillside, including their potato salad. The hill is just an obstacle it’s not part of any trail. Our group lined up on the hill side for a photo. After the photo I turned my Explorer around to get a good look at the hill. I had been there the day before when Dave Meisner attempted to climb the hill with Michelle who was one of the Ford reps. Dave nearly made it to the top a couple times before he called for a strap. The hill is very steep, rocky and has a few shelves thrown in at the top.   

Rick Horwitz on Potato Salad Hill
Photo by: Gerald Jarrett

I thought I had found a good line while eyeing the obstacle from the bottom. Just in case I told Ryan to go to the top with a tow strap so he could hook onto me if something did happen, or should I say, if I couldn’t make it over the top under my own power. 

Ryan took his position on the top of the hill and I proceeded to climb. Everything was going well. I was crawling up slowly and steadily and my line seemed to be working when I reached the top. Suddenly my left rear tire dropped into a hole forcing my front right tire high into the air. I heard Gerald yell whoa! whoa! so I got off the throttle and just hung there with a tire in the air. Dave Meisner took this opportunity to take some photos of Charlotte and I sitting in the truck at  this precarious angle. Instead of finding panic stricken faces he found us grinning ear to ear! After a few moments, Ryan had a strap on us and pulled us over the top without a problem. 

Next up was Rob Robertson, Rob used Gerald as a spotter, which is what I should have done! Rob got stuck on his first attempt, but after Gerald guided him to a good line he made it up and over the top with his own power. Rob was the only Explorer in the group to do so! 

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Copyright 2000 Rick Horwitz Photography
All Rights Reserved