It was Saturday, the last day for Jeepin' in Moab. Texas Jack and Joe had safely returned from their river boat trip, and I was looking for one more good trail to run. I had wanted to do the Golden Spike trail, but Joe was really not too excited about doing it. His CJ-7 has a spot on the frame where a welded patch is letting go and he really didn't want to do the Golden Crack as it really does put some twisting stress on the frame. So, Metal Masher was chosen as my last run.
I might as well tell you right now, I didn't make it up the "Widow Maker". It was the last obstacle on the trail and all day long, I was getting myself psyched up for it. Maybe it was bad karma.....the stars in the wrong phase....or maybe just a couple of pounds too high in my tires. I am not sure. But I was bummed to say the least. We got to the hill just as a couple of Jeep Cherokees were attempting it. One had some difficulty and the other took it on the first attempt. Here is a movie of the locked Cherokee that had no problem. He did it justice for sure! I didn't want to get my right foot into it too hard, as this is another obstacle that can easily claim drive train components. As we were kicking around at the bottom of the obstacle, we found broken u-joint parts in the sand.....enough said! It will be there next year and I'll give it a try then. This was the only required obstacle (not optional ones) that I did not make during the entire 7 days. What a way to end the trip!!! ARGH!!!!!!
This is an optional obstacle on the trail, called "Rock Chucker". It is another famous one for taking its toll on the vehicles who attempt it. Joe and Jack were teasing me about doing it but it did no good....Lady and I both agreed that this was not in her immediate future! However, Lady decided that it would not hurt to climb up on it, just a bit, and pose for a couple of pictures (you know how females are!).
Getting back in is no easy matter when the front sits about as high as you do. I found the rear tire was in a pretty good spot and afforded me a good location from which to hop into the driver's seat.
After Rock Chucker, the trail goes just a bit further and you find yourself at the beginning of Mirror Gulch. I picked a good line through the lower portion and did not have to fold my mirrors in, although as the name implies, it has taken a few of them off in the past. This photo was taken about half way through Mirror Gulch, were you encounter a steep rock ledge. As you can see from the tire tracks, just a bit of rubber is laid down while getting up to the next part of the obstacle.
We cleared Mirror Gulch and continued on up the trail. Soon we encountered some slickrock switchbacks.....pretty tight ones I might add. I had done a lot of slickrock during the week, and had done a few switchbacks, but I had not done slickrock switchbacks. Boy, talk about the tires howling in these tight turns! Lockers are great for climbing ledges, but they hurt when you got to do a tight one (OK....all you ARB folks can now stand up and cheer!) But remember, I wasn't the one making repairs on my Detroit Locker in the parking lot and on the trail! OK....that will keep you air folks quiet!
Joe clowns around and poses for a picture at the bottom of the "Widow Maker". Yes sir, it is the tallest ledge I have seen all week! And they have the nerve to rate this trail as a 4? Who are they trying to kid here? Well, all I can say is that I will give it a try (or two) and see what happens.
After the Cherokee cleared it on the first attempt, I was a bit nervous to say the least. Everyone was standing up on top looking down and the guy that spotted the Cherokee up was motioning me to get into position. Oh boy....I hate crowds, especially when I don't even know these guys! So I gave it a try and didn't make it.
I gave it a second try and I still didn't make it. My rear tires were hopping a bit on the rock and I didn't really want to pop a u-joint, driveshaft, or an axle shaft when I was scheduled to be driving home in under 18 hours. After everyone left and things calmed down, I thought it over a bit. (I also hadn't seen the above picture at that time either, although now I wish I had because I think attempt #3 would have been done.) I probably should have dropped a couple more pounds of air from my tires. I believe I also crawled too slowly at the beginning of my attempt....just a tiny bit of momentum is required on this one when you have a short wheel based Jeep (again, my opinion). In the above picture, I had made it several feet up the rock when this shot was taken. I am not sure it I was still on the way up, holding my own for a split second, or already starting my back slide when Joe took this picture. Which ever the case, another couple of feet further up with the rears would have put me onto the rock. Oh well....there is next year and I already have my plans as to how to try it again!
Oh yeah...this is what it looks like when you slide back down the rock. On solid ground, the departure angle that exists between the rear tire and the bumper misses the spare tire completely. In this soft sand, everything settles in a bit, including the spare tire. Sure am glad I had it mounted as high as it was.
Texas Jack must have had the same black cloud over him that was following me around. He tried 4 times but could not make it up and over. This was a first for Jack as he has done this obstacle many times before and has always made it on the first attempt. Both lockers and a Tera 4:1 LO kit didn't help him get over....I didn't feel too bad considering I was only running a rear locker and stock t-case gearing. Yes sir...it will be there next year and we'll do it then!
Reluctantly, Jack and I backtracked the mile or so needed to catch the bypass trail to get around Widow Maker. We took the remaining ledges in stride as we headed off of the rim we had struggled up all day. After we got to the highway, I stopped and aired up, the first time in 7 days. The new BFG MTs had done there job and were ready to take me back to Phoenix.
Well....you are probably wondering if there was any damage? A couple of little scratches on the right rear rim (right on the lip). A few new ones in the gas tank skid (oh yea, we whacked a couple of times), and a couple of scrapes on the front bumper from nudging the rock ledges while trying to get a tire up on them. Other than my pride, that was it. A solid week of Jeepin' on some of Moab's toughest trails and I went home looking pretty darn good. Next year....oh yeah...next year will be the year that the Widow Maker becomes another obstacle that Lady has done!
I hope you have enjoyed these Moab pictures. If you haven't done Moab, you need to really give it a try. Find someone who has been there before and let them show you around a bit. It is a place where beauty and testosterone run neck and neck (at times).
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