The We Be Jeepers went on their first annual Fruita adventure this past weekend.
Jim was the trail leader and event organizer and had us all leaving from the Moab cinema at 8:00am on Saturday with a brief stop by the Castle Valley turn-off to pick up Matt and his son Jacob.
Our first turn off the pavement came at the Onion Creek trailhead. I was very happy to find out last week that Redroxx was fixed and would be ready to go on Friday afternoon so I got to drive after all. If you’ll remember, Redroxx lost a wheel a few weeks ago on Metal Masher and I upgraded her to a Dana 60 and some new airshocks, etc. Jeff, builder of Samurai’s, did the work and did a fantastic job. Thanks!
Anyway, after a few minutes admiring and discussing, airing down and getting situated, it was off to Rose Garden Hill.
Rose Garden behaved itself today and was a nice warm up for things to come.
Beautiful scenery! And….a great way to get over to Fruita, Colorado. Next comes the crossing of the Dolores River. The water level was nice and low so the crossing was exciting but safe, water barely reached 1/2 way up the tires.
After we reached the other side, the trail became easy 2WD and we sped along, raising clouds of dust.
We had a couple small detours but found our way through the Colorado National Monument and drove over and through it down to Fruita. We found our hotel at around 4:30pm and the rigs had a rest while the rest of us cleaned up for dinner. After a nice meal at a local Rib place, everyone hit the hay in preparation for 21 Road on Sunday.
21 Road is a few miles outside of Fruita and begins as pavement, leading to a 2WD road, leading to a 4WD road. Along side this moderate 4WD track is a wash where the boulders and obstacles are. Basically, this is a working wash and is carved by water so it changes from year to year and storm to storm.
Here are the rigs in their line up, airing down and preparing to enter the wash. There are multiple spots to get in and out of the action. Many rigs were anxious for rocks and jumped in right at the beginning on an obstacle I call, “the old car.”
I know that I was eager to try out Redroxx’s new axle and off we went through the first boulder field. You can’t see it in this photo but there’s an ancient car smashed in the rocks, almost flattened by the forces of past floods.
Pick your poison through the wash. There’s usually more than one choice…from hard to ridiculous. Often it was follow the leader.
Bad Cat had a new driver most of the day, John Brown from Denver, a friend of Jim’s.
Matt too recently had some work done on his Rubicon and found that the new M/T tires and long arm kit liked the rocks and performed very well.
DaVon met up with us in Fruita and brought some family out for the day to show them some wheelin’.
Larry found that some of the boulders are bigger than the tires. He tested his new superior shafts and although many of us winced and turned away, they held and he got over and through the first challenge.
Everyone started to get into the grove, picking different rocks and different lines. This one’s not working so well……let’s back it up and try again!
John and Kathy also met up with us in Fruita and were out in their little Sami. They always seem to have a blast in their rig. Plus if it gets stuck, we can just get Monte to pick it up……Monte, where are you?? This was a rock stacking, Sami moving kind of day……..right up your alley! Next year you’d better be there!
Okay, we’re almost through the first 100 yards of the trail! Next comes a squeeze rock that has claimed lots of paint and a tail light or two. I watched Matt carefully go through. Will he keep it clean?
Nope! The hard top got its mark. Does that count as body damage? If so, that’s Jeep number 1. Don’t worry, it’ll get more intense than this!
How about license plates? Oh well, Larry won’t need that plate anyway. Just take it off and stow it somewhere in the Jeep. If you saw my e-mail update, you know that there’s more trouble ahead!
This was a great obstacle, a big break over rock with a giant ledge on the other side. We found to avoid body damage, it’s best to go further left……further left John!
Oh NO! More body damage and it ruined the MFFW sticker! But, is that enough to stop this group? NO WAY!
Here’s the ledge. Fall over slowly…..then roll on out. Roll out John!
Whew! Bad Cat uses another of it’s nine lives but keeps it shiny side up. After that experience, who else would try such a thing when there’s a convenient bypass?
Well, maybe Jeff in the DrtSqrl. Yes, he fell into the same line and yes, he got body damage in the same place. Poor DrtSqrl is in need of some plastic surgery……no, it won’t buff out. And no, it won’t hold the door now either.
So, after that, who’s next? Why Redroxx, of course. She’s wide but determined to give it a try! And, we stayed way left and got out clean, no body damage.
But, being 109″ with 36′s that are now 35′s due to wear creates high centered situations, especially going over those BIG rocks. Those air shocks sure did try to reach but without luck sometimes.
Now, can Samurai’s go this way? Okay, we’ll let them……this time.
We eventually made our way to a giant undercut that felt like a huge cave. I thought we were all lining up for a group photo but in fact, there were more obstacles.
Here’s Jeff working his way up onto a giant rock.
Now he’s up there. Where to go next? You can see how high up the ledge is with the other rig going by underneath.
An interesting drop down over to the right and some off-camber pucker moments but all was well. What do you think Jeff? “That’s retarded!” the phrase of the day.
After the “cave”, we worked our way through some tricky areas and up to Toyota Rock and a spot called Carnage Corner. This one was for the Samurai’s only. Some waited back at Toyota Rock while others crawled up to watch the show.
Going down is definitely easier than going up.
Wait, I said going up, not going side-ways…..I’ve heard of riding side saddle and I know that DrtSqrl sometimes drives itself but come on Jeff, quit showing off!
BIG ROCKS are fun!
After Carnage Corner and a couple more tugs to get BFJ (Big Fat Jeep) off a high centered rock (NOT AGAIN), we made our way back down only to discover a dead Jeep. DaVon’s rig was electrically dead and nothing could be done to get it started. So, after an interesting pull from both the front and back to turn it around, we began towing it out using Redroxx as the tow vehicle.
John Brown was the designated driver of DaVon’s rig since DaVon was missing. He had hiked out for his truck, thinking that we had left him and gone on. With no power, that Jeep sure was hard to steer and bucked at every opportunity but eventually we were almost out.
A warning had come from the front that there was a semi-washed out area on the county road ahead. When we got to it, it was nasty but Jim spotted me over and then I gave a good and steady pull to keep DaVon’s rig safe. About this time we ran into DaVon making his way back in. Needless to say, he was happy to see his Jeep almost out and relieved that we hadn’t abandoned him.
We kept on moving past the wash out and over the next hill when we heard the news over the CB that there’d been a major roll-over. Being a nurse, I ran back to the ravine thinking I would find some injuries needing treatment or worse. Here was the view that greeted me. Larry’s rig was down in the ditch. In this photo, you can see that he’s okay, watching the rescue scene. But, at the point I got there, he was trapped in his Jeep. I called for 911 but after climbing into his upside-down rig, I had them cancel it. The seat belt did its job and he needed to be cut out of it but climbed out without a scratch.
It took nearly every winch we had to get Larry’s truck out of that hole but with a tiny bit of daylight left, we were successful. In fact, it was hard to appreciate the amount of damage without full sunlight. So, after the 2nd Jeep rescue, we got off the trail around 9:00pm and back to the hotel very hungry, thirsty, and tired.
We had some pizza and drinks and some left back for Moab late that night while the rest of us got a well deserved night’s sleep. The next day, I took this photo of Larry’s Jeep. It’s hard to believe that flipping nose over and incurring this much damage, that no one was hurt.
Let it be said that this is the worst damage I’ve ever seen……….on the road.
Yes, Larry was on the county road when he flipped. From this day forward, let this section of 21 Road be declared…..Larry’s Hole. So let it be written………so let it be done.
We left Larry back in Grand Junction to deal with the insurance agent and worked our way back to Moab town on Monday morning.
The last truck issue was that Jim’s Bad Cat decided to spit out all of its power steering fluid just before we crossed into Utah. Luckily there was a store about 5 miles back and Matt raced back and bought out their last 3 quarts of ATF. The hose with the small hole in it was removed and replaced, the ATF was replaced and off we went back towards home.
We backtracked over the Dolores River but turned out towards Dewey Bridge instead of going back to Rose Garden Hill. The group made it back to Moab about 2:30pm.
A wonderful 3 day weekend! I think next year will be a 4 day trip and include an excursion to Billings.
See ya on the trail!