The 2nd day of my Moab trip was a bit slower paced. After driving all day Saturday and doing Poison Spider Mesa on Sunday, I was ready for an easier trail. Joe's friend Jack had some Texas guests staying with him and they had a stock YJ. The front sway bar was still connected and they couldn't get it off with the tools they had on hand. So, we decided on 3-D. A nice trail that covers a lot of beautiful countryside. What the Moab Rim trail offers for a challenge during the 1st nasty mile, 3-D provides you the same level but in beautiful views. So, most of these pictures won't be awesome crawls over the obstacles....they will be some nice pictures of the Moab area. (oops, well, not all of them....there was that sand hill I got to climb!)
We find the start of the trail just a bit off of the highway. From this view, it looks pretty much like something I would find here in Arizona. There were 4 Jeeps in the group this day. Mine was the only TJ so I seemed to get a fair amount of ribbing about having coil springs. However, at the end of the week, no one was giving me a bad time about the TJ. She did just fine, even if the shocks were just a bit too soft.
A couple of miles down the trail, we came upon a big sand hill. This was unlike any sand I have rode on. It was extremely fine, the end result of millions of years of erosion of the slickrock. Even driving down the steep hill was difficult. It took a fair amount of speed so that you were actually going faster than the sand was sliding. If you did not travel faster than the sand, there was no way to steer and you would roll the vehicle in a matter of seconds.
The view from on top of the sand hill. As you can see, it is pretty high. It took quite a bit of speed and engine RPMs to power my TJ to the top of the hill. I was not able to do the steep sections of the hill. These require big V8s, paddle tires, and excellent driving skills to reach the top. With my TJ taching about 4000 RPMs, I was able to get to the top on my 2nd attempt. I was lucky to have the Detroit Locker in the rear, else I never would have made it. Coming down was kind of like floating on air, except that I had to do it in 3rd gear and continued to accelerate all the way down the hill to keep ahead of the shifting sand. After all was send and done, I could still feel the adrenaline rush of climbing the hill.
Here is the stock YJ (with sway bar still attached) going up a section of slickrock. With open diffs and limited articulation, this section of the trail caused some concern for the driver. A good flexing suspension and lockers is a requirement for almost all of the challenging trails in Moab. I had to strap the YJ up a hill later on in the day. Previous drivers with open diffs had dug out a few holes on a steep section of the trail and once a tire lifted, you were stuck in that spot.
Slickrock comes in many textures and colors. Not all of it is super smooth. This section we encountered was rather "lumpy and bumpy", forcing you to run it in a fairly low gear. Since this was not a heavily used trail, there were no painted markings to follow. Instead, we had to be on the constant watch for tire tracks and cairns (small stacks of rocks). It is very easy to take a wrong turn and get yourself lost. I strongly suggest using a good map and compass at a minimum. If you have a GPS and are fortunate to get a track made by a buddy, that is a really good way to navigate a new trail. Remember that a GPS is NOT a replacement for a good map. It is but another tool which will make your Jeepin' experience just that much better.
Here is a beautiful pic of a slickrock fin that has eroded away over the countless centuries. The colorful layers are exposes as the rock weathers away. Water is no longer the driving force of the erosion. It is now wind and sand that sculpts most of the rock. Millions of years ago, the water carved the rock into the shapes we still see today.
After finishing the 3-D trail, we drove down Long Canyon trail on the way back to Moab. This is pretty much a gravel road, with a couple of narrow spots along the way to keep your attention focused on the trail and NOT the beautiful scenery. Here is a large piece of cliff face that gave way several years ago and dropped down onto the trail. Luckily, there is enough room to get by underneath it. Wow, could you imagine if you had to crawl up and over it? To the left is a drop off that goes down a 100' or so, making that a non-option way to get around this obstacle. Although I did not see any, there are big horn sheep in the Long Canyon area.
The day ended with a late return back into Moab. This was one of the longer trail combinations I did during my stay in Moab. If you want a fairly easy trail with really nice scenery (and don't have lockers for the hard stuff), I would recommend the 3-D trail.
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