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RimRocker trail and Blazer Bash in Moab

Rimrocker moab montrose blazer fwc

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#1 Zoomad

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 01:37 AM

This is the trip report for my trip to Moab for the event called Blazer Bash.  Think of Easter Jeep safari, but with full size GM trucks and less crowds.  My normal Buddies I wheel with couldn’t make it, but a buddy from Denver was planning on going too and we had suggested drving out together.  He’s got a ’77 K5 with a similar FWC Blazer camper on his like mine.  His is running with a L29 Vortec 454, NV4500 and one ton axles.  It’s pretty well set up.  Here’s his setup:

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Ron had made the suggestion to take the Rimrocker trail from Montrose to Moab on the way over.  I was all for it.  160 miles of dirt and wide open western Colorado vistas. 

Before I dive deep for the full blow trip report, some trip stats. Over the 5 days we were out, we covered 816 miles getting an overall average fuel economy of 11.36 mpg. With the route over highway 50 and the climbs over Monarch and other minor passes and La Sal pass in Utah we gained a total of 40,780 ft in elevation and spent a total of 39 hours in the truck over the 5 days. That's a lot of seat time for sure! I'll skip back to the beginning now.

 

The plan was to meet up with Ron and his son Mason in Pagosa Springs Wednesday morning. We were mainly packed up the night before and just had to add the last essentials before bugging out that morning. I did manage to forget the fixings for our fajitas I was going to cook for the four of us on Thursday. Missed the tortillas, cheese and peppers. I did forget my hoodie, but lucky for me the heat in Moab made it ridiculous to need one to start with.

Waiting with a view of Monarch Pass.

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Ron got caught in some construction traffic on 285 and I left a little early which meant we had a little time to kill. So we stopped for some breakfast burritos at Sonic in Salida and found a spot at a gas station a stones throw away from the intersection of 285 and 50 in Pagosa.

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We boogied over Monarch pass to Gunnison and then on into Montrose. Monarch was fun to climb in 2nd (ugh) but pretty.

Who's on my ass? I swear now that my friend Larry got his vintage Warn bumper and KC's if I only glanced in the mirror I'd think it was him behind me and not Ron.

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Monarch Pass:

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Rolling to Gunny.

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Blue Mesa is full from last winter and spring snow pack. You Southern Cal guys are welcome for your water!

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The beginning of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison river.

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While in Montrose we stopped at the chamber of commerce office to pick up a free map and stickers for the Rimrocker Trail. If you plan on taking this trail get the map. The Rimrocker is really a collection of existing county roads and forest service roads drawing a fairly direct line from Montrose to Moab. The issue is the trail markers on the ground are only lined up with the paper map. We found several inconsistencies with the GPX file I downloaded from the website to use with my Gaia map software with my iPad.

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A quick note you may notice of our photos while on Rimrocker. It's not a hard trail at all. Remote yes, but not technical at all. There's a couple of good steep climbs, but even a bone stock K5 or any 4wd truck with decent clearance can do it. Neither Ron or I shifted out of 2hi on any section we went on. Could be a trail fit for a Subaru, but there would be some spots you'd drag the belly on where ours never came close. However, the lack in technical challenge is more than made up by the views. Wow, the views. The topography change is rapid which goes along with the change in environment. Pine forests to green valleys, then to red rock desert landscape and back into the trees. There's quite a bit of the trail on the edge of a bluff or mesa. So you still have to pay attention to driving or a wrong move could be one you won't have time to regret. Let the passenger take the pics if you got one.

 

The first part of Rimrocker is county roads out of Montrose that starts climbing up into a pine forest. There were many a hunting camp set up for the coming season. Eventually we came across a sign for an overlook so we stopped to check it out.

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We could see weather ahead so we took a couple of more shots and hit the dirt again.

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We stop and take some shots when the scenery changes.

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I caught Ron coming in hot too. He had a little leadfoot fever as well.

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The trail climbs up and down, but for a good chunk rides the canyon wall above state highway 141. One thing you'll see is this part of the state is dotted with mines. Most of them of the uranium variety. We passed this one below the trail where it's kinda hard to see.

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We still have daylight, but I can tell it's getting scarce. Looking at the map I can see the trail keeps diving up and down and in and out of side canyons. The trail crosses the highway we are above and on the east side of, I just need to find a way to it to cut some time getting to the trail on the other side of the highway. We came to a turn and I checked both the Ipad and paper map to see this road would take us down to the highway. Back on pavement we made the run north up the canyon to find where the trail takes back off from. Pretty quickly we are climbing up the west side of the canyon gaining elevation.

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#2 CougarCouple

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 02:03 AM

Thanks for the trip report! Zoomad been a while since I've been out to Moab. I'm looking forward to the rest.

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#3 Zoomad

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 02:13 AM

This gives a perspective of the climb up the canyon.

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The views just keep getting better climbing up.

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This big dome really tripped us out.

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Like I said, it's pretty photogenic.

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With clouds low, the sun setting, the light is getting less. We need to get a move on to make it to Buckeye.

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With light fading, I'm now in the get our ass moving mode. No more photos as the light was almost gone anyway. I radio back to Ron and let him know we aren't much more than 10 or so miles from the target but the trail isn't straight and with darkness setting in I'm going to find a spot to camp in. Ron agrees and I keep my eyes peeled but the trail is on the side of the mesa so zero places to stop are seen. The trail hooks a right turn for a climb up and just as soon as it levels out I see a little section of road off the main trail that out of the way. Perfect. The sun just set and we still had enough light to set up camp.

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In some of our pre-trip conversations, Ron had indicated his son wanted to cook dinner on the first night, I had planned on taking a night to cook for all of us so I was all for it. Plus after driving from Pueblo we had been on the road a solid 12 hours I was not in a mood to cook. Robbie and I got the top popped on the camper, broke out the chairs and cracked open some beverages and soaked in the darkness. Ron's son Mason got to work on the camp stove with a kick ass pot Kielbasa, peppers and potatoes.

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Amazingly we had cell coverage out here and got to talk to my wife and sent some texts back and forth with my normal wheeling buddy Larry. Larry's normal MO on a run like this would be to set up camp in the daylight, so with him tracking us on Spot he was wondering what we were still doing on the move. We hung out for a while in the dark telling stories and finally sheer exhaustion set in and we settled into our respective mobile homesteads for the night.

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We went to bed in the dark and as my normal schedule goes I get up in the dark. It's one of those things that you can't switch off in a day or so. I manage to sneak out of the upper bunk with ninja like stealth so as not to wake up the boy in the lower bunk. Who am I kidding, like any twenty-something he can sleep through anything including his gorilla like Dad lumbering off the upper bunk. I grab a can of V8 out of the fridge for an eye opener and head outside. The sun is just peeking over the horizon through the pine trees. I grab a chair and my phone and get ready for the show. It's amazing how relaxing it is to sit alone in the forest and watch the sun come up through a meadow.

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As the sun crept higher, the other Dad in our group sneaks out of his camper to fire up the campstove for some coffee. I surprised Ron when I came around my truck as he thought he was the only one up. We chilled for a little bit and were checking out the surroundings we couldn't see when we stopped that night.

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This was the last bit we climbed up the night before stopping.

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Both boys eventually made their way out of the campers and we started to pack up the trucks and get on the move again. As I suspected the night before we weren't far from Buckeye lake and the state line. It was probably only 10 minutes down the trail to the lake.

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Open range area too. Many a future burger wandering around here.

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One decided to take an early morning dip in the water. It looked cold to me.

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#4 Zoomad

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 02:29 AM

Passing by the lake and the campgrounds (which looked pretty nice BTW) we pressed on for the state line. We finally made it into Utah.

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Shortly after crossing the line you are made very well aware that the land the trail drives through is private. No hunting signs are on almost every tree near the trail. It's low foothills and we are switching between trees and open meadows for a while until the trail turns due south. La Sal mountain is in sight clearly and we are on the watch for the turn to make off the Rimrocker.

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The southern view stretches on forever, devoid of peaks. But if you looked east you could still just barely make out the shadows of the San Juans back in Colorado from here.

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We make the turn for the trail over La Sal pass and start working our way northwest. By this point the trail is still Subaru easy and we had seen a few 5th wheel trailers and other RV's set up for early hunting camps. The view is very familiar to me as it's like many of the mountain trails we run back home.

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The trail starts getting more rocky. We've been climbing/gaining elevation but still nothing radical. Just a constant pull up.

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One thing we both noticed through here is the groves of aspens we are driving through are thick. Not uncommon to see but the size of the aspens were huge compared to what I've seen all over Colorado. Big trunks and towering well above any I remember seen back home. Near the top the trail changes quickly. Way more rocky and really tight with trees and brush. There was no signage to indicate the summit of the pass road, one just notices the trail starts going down. The steepness is much more than we had on the climb up. Up to this point we had stayed in 2wd as anything more wasn't needed. But as steep as it was, I felt more comfortable going to 4 low and locking the hubs in for the added stability and gearing.

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After winding down through the tight foilage the trail opens up to clearing across the mountain face on a pile of rocks. The trail goes across here and it's nothing but loose rip rap rocks that move quite easy under our tires. It's also the first vantage point where we can see the town of Moab straight ahead.

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I'm halfway across this section when I spy a bright red JK Wrangler coming up the trail as we are coming at them. He sees us and directly proceeds to back up to find a spot to let us pass. Thank goodness he did as it would have been a major pain to back up that stuff and there was no wide spot behind us to back into anyway.

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We thought was only one Jeep. Nope, as usual where there is one Jeeper, there is more. Turned out there was 3 and then a pack of top shelf modified 4 seater side by sides right behind them. The Jeep guys made room without much fuss and we thanked them for doing so as we passed by. The SXS guys were accommodating, but were showing they were slightly more than annoyed to see a couple of full-size trucks hauling campers on a mountain trail. We thanked them anyway and continued down hill in the thick brush that was pinstriping both sides of the trucks at the same time.

The views outside of the brush were showing us yet another landscape. One Robbie, Ron and Mason had not seen before. It's crazy to look down from the pass into Canyonlands and the greater Moab area.

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Dropping in elevation, the trail still had some challenges to discover. I came up to this section with a large rock on the passenger side, crawled over it and radioed back to Ron to be ready and I'd spot him. I suggested to go to 4 low if he hadn't already been in it. Just for the added control that came with it.

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Ron was about 50 feet from it and made multiple attempts to get into 4 low and it didn't seem to go into gear. Well, kinda. Ron felt it get into low range and as soon as he started to creep to the target the t-case came back out of gear and was in neutral. I walked back to see what was up and we agreed to just handle it in high range, granny and go carefully. He wheeled it just fine.

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We continued down the pass and started moving a little faster as the trail opened up out of the thick brush.

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Still there was some areas you had to tiptoe through that were fun to navigate.

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Once we got below this section we found a wide spot and took a quick break for lunch and to stretch our legs. The trail turned into a graded dirt road and eventually pavement. We were mere miles out of Moab and got onto 191 and booked it into town. Pavement was a nice smooth change of pace after the all the dirt we had been on. Plus we saw the temp rise a solid 25 degrees since getting off the mountain so running at highway speed helped our 2-65 a/c systems in both trucks. Knowing Friday on Hell's would start early we headed into town to stock up on supplies and fuel before hitting the campground. I had cooking duty since Mason took care of us the night before. I had fajitas to cook but neglected to bring tortilla shells, cheese or peppers. So we got what we needed and headed to camp. Even still we got in early, like before 4:00 and many were still out playing on rocks when we pulled in. We set up camp and chilled out in the shade with some cold drinks.

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We spied on our nieghbors...

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#5 Zoomad

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 02:30 AM

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We waited to let the heat go down slightly before I commenced to cooking. I turned the truck around to make some shade from the sun.

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We chowed down with gusto. Camp cooking at it's best.

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We had been visiting others about Ron's lack of low range and decided to check some things in order to rule issues out. Ron did find the shifter adjustment was slightly off to start, not allowing the lever to pull the shifter all the way to the end of the detent for low in the 241. Adjustment made, low would still not engage. We had 2hi, 4hi and essentially 2 neutral positions. We pulled the fluid to look for chunks and or flakes in the oil. None were found. Clean and fresh without any hint of metal. After much discussion, one person that came back to give a plausible reason for the lack of low being the low range fork either lost the roll pin that holds it to the shift rail or it sheered it off. Either way the only way low range was going to work required teardown. We agreed he'd try to run in high range with the low granny gear of the NV4500 and his rear ARB for added traction. So here's our first bit of mechanical adversity we have to work through. On Hell's Revenge no less too.


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#6 Mighty Dodge Ram

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 04:23 PM

Great report Rob. I’m itching to get out there and try the battleship out on that trail. And yes...thanks for the agua. Es muy delicioso.

Edited by Mighty Dodge Ram, 15 September 2019 - 04:32 PM.

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#7 Zoomad

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 05:34 PM

The next morning we were to meet at Moab’s old city park to gather up for the trail ride for Hell’s Revenge.  Many a Squarebody and first gen Blazer were lined up.  Plus a couple of Jeeps, GM truggies and one Toyota truggy that identified as a Squarebody that day. 

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Links and coil-overs for even more fun.

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Lining up at the trailhead. 

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The trail gets going pretty quickly and had us stunned at what we were getting into.  Being noobs to the Bash and having somewhat top-heavy center of gravity our trail leader Wade took great care leading to let me and Ron know what lines to take when the stuff got interesting. I know we appreciated the effort made to keep us out of trouble and the group moving at a decent pace.  Also since we were noobs we really weren't sure if Robbie could hop out and take pics of our truck on different sections so we didn't get a lot of our own pics through this trail.  But it was just as fun to see other's rigs go through the fun stuff.  

 

On this section, our trail leader Wade had us take the easier line to the right which was much less of a vertical climb.

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Ron's taking the line here.

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Still the surroundings are out of this world.  Robbie and I felt like we were wheeling inside a Coyote and Road Runner cartoon all day.  We didn't find any empty ACME crates around though.

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Wade leading us up the next section.  Never having seen that truck in action I was surprised how well the go fast setup did on rocks. He’s running full 4-link and coil-over shocks front and rear on this Jimmy. 

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We watched the guy in front of us attempt the section with his 205 t-case with a twin stick having the front output in neutral.  Bonus for us, he showed us the line we probably shouldn't take!

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Ron's truck was moving right along despite the lack of low range.   Our other trail leader Mark did dub him the "tricycle" by the end of the day though.  He had a habit of hanging a tire from time to time..

 

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Random shots from the trail. Mark one of our leaders with the doorless K10 and a college student and his dad all the way down from North Dakota.  We had trucks from Texas, California, Connecticut and many states in between.

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One of the Texas guys, Kurt had "I identify as a squarebody" on the hood of his toyota based truggy cracked us up.  That little tractor idled up everything with zero drama.  So cool to watch.

 

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Another Texas guy David has a Burb that is no slouch on the rocks either.  Really fun to watch it work too.  All the trucks were for that matter.

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The Off Road Design K30 with Stephen Watson’s 14 year old Kid at the wheel.

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We got up to the overlook and Robbie hopped out to get a shot of the river below.

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Rigs going up/down the overlook.

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#8 Zoomad

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 06:45 PM

Since we didn’t end up getting may photos of my own truck on Hell’s I’m thankful others did take some cool shots of mine getting work done on the rocks.  Dean from CA in the black K5 with the soft top got a lot of these on Hell’s and shared them with me.  Much appreciated to see my truck from a different perspective.  So I’m going to get caught up with a series of his shots before we get to hell’s gate on the trail.

This is within the first half mile from the start of the trail.  Looking back through Dean’s K5.

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Another one from the start.

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I can’t get over the scale of this area.  There’s no doubt I’ve got a large truck, but the rocks dwarf it in size. 

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So much pucker factor on this trail that the photos don’t give it justice.  The trail leader stopped to spot Ron and I through this spot.  I’m part way down in this shot but the drop in was completely obscured by the hood.  It’s a complete leap of faith to listen to the spotter and let the foot off the brake.  It’s a pucker factor moment for sure.

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At a stopping point.

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Just a couple of Blazer Campers on the rocks, nothing to see here.

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The traction was as reported.  Amazing.  The way the truck stuck to the rocks boggled the mind as we climbed and decended down without sliding.

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Parked along side of one of the hot tubs.

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This was the scariest drop we made.  Wade had to get in front of us from the hot tub in order to spot us coming down.  Just behind where I’m at in this pic had  two yellow lines on the rock to point you in the right direction down this hill.  You can’t see anything but the horizon from the seat at that point so you don’t know how steep the drop was.  To me it felt like standing on the top of the high dive, but not being able to look down.  I just had to follow our spotter and creep down slowly. 

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Ron’s truck coming down. Remember he’s got no low range on this spot and he’s sitting taller than mine by 2-3 inches at least. 

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Now to get back to the fun on Hell’s gate.

 

 

 


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#9 Zoomad

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Posted 15 September 2019 - 08:39 PM

Hell’s gate.  What’s there to say?  Well I gave a hard NO on the idea of running it from the beginning.  I know everybody in charge didn’t want to deal with either of us going up it and having a problem mid way.  So we parked the rigs to enjoy the show of those that took it on.  My son Robbie scrambled down to get a different vantage point to take shots from.

This solid axle swapped Yukon made short work of the climb without drama.

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One of the tube buggies on the way up.  From down below you can get an idea of the scale and steepness of the climb. 

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This shows how you get out of the climb if the truck can’t do it on it’s own.  The vehicle is a Opel Wagon body transplanted onto an early pathfinder chassis.  It was built for the Gambler 500 and is actually a decent wheeler.   The climb proved to be too much without lockers

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The ORD K30 with the kid still driving.

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The texan Suburban has some serious flex for a big truck.

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Dean’s K5 making it easy.

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More showing how to do it:

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Onward to the famous hot tub.

 

 


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#10 Zoomad

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Posted 17 September 2019 - 05:13 AM

Given all the action that was had by the buggies in the tub we only got pics of the S10 truggy in his attempt right before it went over on it’s side backing down into the hole.  The batteries in the camera went flat and we missed it.  These couple of photos show the insanity what it takes to get out of the tub.

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That wall on the exit is no joke.  The ORD K30 flopped in a similar way coming back down from a failed attempt to get out.  But man it’s cool to watch.

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We spent enough time at the tub we ate lunch and looked at the crazy surroundings.

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Coming down from the hot tub has this nasty little way down. 

From the top without getting out it just seems like you’ll be driving off of a cliff.  Our trail leader made sure to get in front of us camper guys (or Crawlabagos as they started calling them) to spot us for the way down.  Key point, there are a couple of yellow lines on the ground that you should start out in between.  Once the nose drops you can see the trail and a little help from my co-pilot we keep the tires on the black and tip-toe down to the bottom.  It’s no joke though. There are deep holes on either side you don’t want to enter. 

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Making our way back on the trail we got a pretty good overlook of the town of Moab itself.  Pretty cool views in any direction for sure.

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We made our way off the trail and had a couple hours to kill before the BBQ and raffle for Blazer Bash back at the old city park.  The ORD crew did an excellent job on the food and it was pretty cool to see all the prizes donated for the raffle by all the sponsors.   We got back to camp in the dark and parked the truck for the night.  Thankfully I’ve got the order down for a quick get into camp mode.  Level the truck, unlatch the roof, pop the top up and get the gear set to sleep.  We hang out with the folks for a while before calling it a night.  Flat Iron Mesa is the next target and we have an early meetup time to get to.

 

Flat Iron is a different trail compared to the mounds of sandstone we experienced on Hell’s revenge.  Theres more vegetation, more dirt and less of the extreme steepness of open climbs and decents.  Don’t get me wrong it’s got it’s own fun in store as we discovered but it’s just different in many ways. 

Just a sampling of the vistas.   We are south of Moab where the trail starts right off of the main 191 highway.   It’s so subtle, if you didn’t know where to look you’d miss this gem from the highway.

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One of the participants in front of us taking the climb. Funny thing was I notcied the Georgia plate and struck up a conversation at stopping point.  Turns out they live in Colorado now and actually live a couple of miles from where my parents place in Arvada.  Small world.  Plus the Jimmy they have is powered by a rowdy sounding 6.0L LS engine too.  What’s not to love.

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The trail goes up and down constantly and it has little or big sandstone shelfs or ledges to climb up or down from.  Some are steep, some not so much, but they are all fun to crawl over.

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We found from our run the day before that we had a little time to take pics of our own truck as we went without holding up the group.  Robbie was a stud at jumping out, getting the shot and jumping back in as I came by. 

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As much as we loved the wheeling side of this trip, the scenery just still blew us away.  I love this area for sure. 

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As quickly as we would go up, we’d climb back down again.

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I really can’t complain how the truck and camper have a bit a flex to stay on the rocks.  Despite the radical change in CG the truck felt pretty darn stable all weekend. 

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It was pretty cool seeing these chunky trucks out on the trail.

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Our leader getting his 3-wheel motion going.  This was coming up a large rock dome that had a pretty steep initial climb onto it and then slightly off camber across the face to the top where it leveled off. 

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