Cruise Moab 2002
Golden Spike Trail
Contact Jim Brantley
We tackled the Golden Spike Trail on Saturday, the last day of Cruise Moab 2002. Our small group was led by Greg "Cheeseman" Luer. Most of us had wheeled together during the previous days and everyone had proven themselves up to the challenges presented by Moab's trails. We knew we were in for a great day of wheeling on one of Moab's most famous trails.
All the rigs were well set up for the trail. Only one lacked lockers, but it was driven by Bruce Loewen who has proven himself a very capable driver. For example, our leader, Cheeseman was quite impressed when Bruce drove the open diffed shorty across the Golden Crack unassisted! The rig, a diesel powered BJ42 owned by Bruce's girlfriend Charla (who is also a very capable driver) was built by Bruce and Charla just days before the event. The orange cruiser, aka Agent Orange, is no trailer queen either, it was driven to the event from Alberta Canada.
One of the less assuming rigs was Brian "Beach Boy" Wilson's FJ60. This beautifully restored brown wagon was mildly lifted and sported only a rear locker. As a longtime owner of two wagons myself I was very impressed watching Brian's son demonstrate his excellent driving skills. He had little trouble getting the elongated cruiser through the 4+ challenges of Golden Spike. Note: The only souvenir of the day occured while dad was driving when a Moab rock lightly brushed the beautiful paint job. Even the precious snake blinders survived intact.
I believe the rest of the rigs had double lockers and most were lifted with at least 33-inch tires. One of the most extreme was Peter Straub's big brown wagon "Tippy the Behemoth". Sitting on 39-inch Michelin military tires and an 80 Series rear axle, including the links and coil springs, it is a very impressive rig. It's truly amazing to see this wild beast in action. Only Peter could control this monster.
Another interesting and capable rig was Ken Hanna's green VJ40 with it's custom coil over suspension. This beautifully crafted light weight cruiser flexed, flexed and flexed some more. Getting Ken to lift a tire was almost impossible. Nothing looked difficult as this comfortable ride traversed the rough terrain.
On the more civilized side, our group also included two FZJ80's. Madison, from Colorado in his white '93 wagon and myself in "Ruby". We provided some sophistication to the motely group. The 80 Series are well suited to Moab trails, simply adding some larger tires and side bars allow these comfy cruisers to tackle the even the hardcore trails. It's just a matter of pushing buttons for the three diff locks and then point the wheels where you want to go. I found it useful to be able to use the full-time four wheel drive in low range but "open, open, open". This eliminated drive train wind up and made turning much easier. The Moab rocks still provide plenty of traction - most of the time. Locked up the 80s climbed the ledges well and provided plenty of the tire "chirp, chirp, chirp" that we all love so much. Of course, closing up the power windows with the AC on recirculate during the dusty sand sections ain't bad either.
Rounding out our small group was a couple of well set-up mini-trucks. These light weight. long wheel base rigs with their crawler gears made short work of the steep ledges and big steps.
The Golden Spike trail is a long trail which includes part of the Poison Spider Mesa Trail and the Gold Bar Rim trail. The famous obstacles include the Water Fall, Wedgie, Golden Stairs, Golden Crack and Double Whammy. We found several more unnamed obstacles and optional challenge routes.
We were fortunate to escape with essentially no carnage. A close inspection of Ruby after the run revealed a slightly bent rear control arm, some roughed up control arm mounts, a dented muffler, a slightly striped tail shaft, along with some scrathed skid plates and sliders. The control arm and driveshaft modes likely occured during an agressive attempt to "bump" up a very large optional ledge on the poison spider portion of the trail. At that point I had to admit I shouldn't try to follow Tippy the Behemoth everywhere it went on its 39-inch tires. Oh well, I've got some new ideas for protecting the dangly bits now that I have iDENTified them. Enjoy the snapshots...