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Moab 2000
May 5-7, 2000

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Tom Rios gets a little air on Dump Bump

Our next destination was Dump Bump, which is another obstacle just up the road from Potato Salad Hill. When I arrived at the obstacle I saw Collin Ignacio attempt to climb the steep slick rock wall. He couldn’t get his rear tires up onto the wall and kept digging his receiver hitch into the ground when he tried to back up. After a few tries he gave up and Tom Rios took over with his Navajo. Tom’s cousin Ralph was spotting and Tom seemed to be doing well, but every time he made it to a certain spot his right front tire came off the rock face and he started to tilt way off camber. After a few tries Tom gave up as well. I was next in line for this obstacle. Following Ralph’s direction I lined up at a slight angle to the rock face. I let the clutch out and slowly climbed up and over the obstacle barely squealing a tire in the process. This was my turn to be the only Explorer to conquer an obstacle!   

Gerald Jarrett descends Lions back

The day was nearly over and dinner was only a short time away, but a couple people in our group decided that they wanted to tackle the infamous Lions Back. I knew of a great location to film the event so I drove up to a high vantage point with Charlotte and Collin's friend, Winter. It wasn’t long after we arrived at our vantage point when we saw Collin coming up the immensely steep, long, and narrow Lions Back. His ascent seemed to take forever as he pointed his Explorer skyward and followed the dark black lines which had been etched by tires into the side of the sandstone mountain over time. Collin made it to the top and we saw him turn around, we all breathed a sigh of relief. 

When Collin finished his decent of Lions Back it was Gerald’s turn for a climb. By the time Gerald drove up it started drizzling steadily. I won’t even drive up Lions Back; I certainly couldn’t imagine doing it while it was raining. Gerald made it to the top without a hitch. Soon after reaching the top, he disappeared from view. He had traveled much farther along the top than Collin had. We were getting a bit worried about Gerald when finally we could see him turned around and heading towards us. For the trip down Gerald decided to open his sunroof! We couldn’t see it from our vantage point, but when Gerald was nearly to the bottom he popped his head out of the sunroof and gave a thumbs up! Sunday had definitely been filled with excitement, but now it was time to call it quits and meet for dinner. 

After Lions back most of us went back to our rooms to freshen up for dinner. It was about 6:30 when I drove to the Silver Sage Inn to check on the folks who ran Arches National Monument. When I arrived I saw Ray Hutchinson and Darien working on the rear axle of Ray’s Explorer. The center pin on Ray’s axle had broke allowing the axle housing to shift rearward. They were in the process of replacing the pin and decided not to stop for dinner. 

The rest of the group, about 20 of us had dinner at the Branding Iron Steakhouse, which is about 3 miles south of Moab. To me it was sort of a sad time, realizing that most of the great folks I had met would be heading back home the next morning. The weekend had gone by much too quickly. I wish we could have started over and done it again!    

I woke up Monday morning to the sound of a strong wind blowing outside. I looked out the hotel window and I was astonished to see that it was raining quite hard and steady. This weather was in stark contrast to the beautiful weather which we had enjoyed all weekend.

Those who were still in town met at the City Market. A few said their good byes and headed back home while the rest of us came up with a plan of action for our last day. Tom Rios decided to take the Shafer Trail on his way out of town. The 16 mile trail was rated as easy, but we thought it might be more challenging due to the rainfall.

Gerald decided to show Rob Top of the World on their way out of town. This would be Gerald's third trip to Top of the World and Rob's first.

I decided to ride along with Tom's group which consisted of Tom Wilk, Todd Curtis, Peter Weber and myself. By the time we hit the trail it was nearly dry except for a few puddles filled with red mud. The trail was extremely easy, yet it was one of the most scenic drives I had taken all weekend. The road gained altitude quickly in the switch backs and the views from the road were spectacular. 

Tom Wilk's '99 Explorer Sport

We ate lunch at the top of the switch backs  from a vantage point where we were able to look at the road that we had just driven up. We could see bicyclists on the trail. The bicyclists were barely larger than the dot made by the point of a pencil. This perspective really gave you an idea of just how high we had climbed.

The Shafer Trail group
Todd Curtis, Tom Rios, Tom Wilk, Rick Horwitz, Peter Weber

After lunch it was a short drive out of the National Park. We all pulled over, aired up our tires and said our final good byes.

I’m sure Moab will become a regular destination for our group of Explorers. To me Moab is a spiritual destination, displaying the most awesome gifts that nature has to offer. With 29 trails it will be a long time before I see them all. It’s just another reason to keep returning to this off-road wonderland.

My sincere thanks go out to:
Ford Motor Company

Kurtz Kustom Motor Sports

FLY-N-HI Offroad Centers
For making this an awesome event for everyone! 

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Copyright 2000 Rick Horwitz Photography
All Rights Reserved