Meeting Minutes June 27, 2001

Meeting called to order by Vice President, Marty Boetel at 7:03 p.m. followed by the pledge of allegiance. President Glenn was missing in action. Welcome to guests.

Members Present: Charlie and Becky Babcock, Matthew D. Parkes, Micah Coleman, Joan and Ernie Bender, Scott Nixon, Jim Smith, Fred Blanco, Ken, Debbie, and Colten Bell, Don Munzer, Rick Micola, Tim and Nicole Kennedy, Norman and Carol Harris.

Old Business-

Scott Nixon reported on the Moab trip. See elsewhere in newsletter for all the details.

Glenn, Matt, and Micah went wheeling in Martinez and had fun. Matt’s Landcruiser got stuck pretty good.

Don and Marty went on a Trail 42 run from 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. They reported that the run was short but sweet.

Marty’s wife had a baby girl who was named Kaitlynn Marie. Welcome the new club member.

Break Time-Moab video

Future Runs-

Night Run on Axle Alley, July 21, 2001 Meet at the Texaco in Florence Junction at 7:00 p.m. Call Micah at (480) 982-6485 if you are interested in doing the run. Make sure to wait until after 6:00 p.m. to call.

August and September - Ernie and Joan Bender will be in Ouray, Colorado if anyone is interested in doing some runs.

Meeting Adjourned at 7:30 p.m.

Meeting Minutes Submitted by Becky Babcock

Editors Corner

As you may have noticed from last months meeting minutes our very own club newsletter was chosen for the "Best Newsletter" award at the recent ASA4WDC quarterly.

I'd like to take this opportunity to thank everybody who was involved in making the decision. I've spent quite a bit of time reading other club newsletters online, so I'm well aware of the excellent work other club editors are doing. I'm very honored and still quite surprised at being chosen.

I'd also like to take this chance to thank everybody else who makes this newsletter possible. First, my wife Lynn; without her proofreading and grammatical suggestions my ramblings would be a whole lot harder to read. Secondly, our club secretary Becky Babcock who does an awesome job taking notes. The main reason the newsletter is published is so members who can't make it to the meetings know what is going on. I'm often amazed while reading her notes, even though I was in attendance I still read things I missed. Maybe I should try and pay attention better.

Ed Lyons, our ever-reliable Treasurer, somehow manages to get an updated roster with new member's names and addresses on it to me less than three days after the meeting. If I didn't know he used his home computer to do it, I'd swear he was mailing it on the way home from the meeting. Finally, I'd like to thank everybody else in the club who has sent me material over the last year and a half. Without your trip reports, pictures, jokes, and general information my job would be a whole lot tougher. I may not have used everything you've sent me, but believe me I appreciated getting it. Filling up six pages each month is much easier when I have too much stuff, rather than not enough.

I should also thank Jay Kopycinski, who sent me an email a year or so ago pointing out that the name of the newsletter should be "Trail Tales" and not "Trail Tails" as I had been using. Winning "Best Newsletter" is probably a bit easier if you get your own title right!

Scott Nixon,


Trip Report: Moab

By Scott Nixon, Photos by Scott Nixon and Mike Tutor

Trip participants:

Nixon family, Dodge Ram

Babcock family, Chevy Blazer

Binder family, Jeep Cherokee

Don LeClair, Toyota pickup

John Tash, Jeep Cherokee

Mike Tutor, Dawn Stokey, Toyota Tacoma

Linda Luik, Jeep Grand Cherokee

Couch family, Dodge Ram

Friday/Saturday: The Long Drive

Everybody else was doing the long drive on Saturday, but Lynn and I decided to split it up and spend the night in Tuba City. The Babcocks met up with us Saturday morning, despite the fact that we had told them we were staying at Holiday Inn. There is no Holiday Inn in Tuba City, so they just checked all the motels in town (i.e. both of them) until they found a lifted Dodge.

The rest of the trip up was sweaty but uneventful. By nightfall everyone had made it to the KOA and set up camp. After a quick bite to eat we all turned in, eager to hit the trail the next morning.

Sunday: Fins and Thangs

Once everybody was up and about, we decided to go check out "Fins and Things". On the way to the start of the trail we passed the infamous "Lion's Back" and just couldn't resist. After coughing up the five bucks it costs to pass the gate, I lined up at the bottom, fully convinced the laws of physics were against any truck being able to climb something that steep. The black tread marks up it indicated otherwise, so I eased my front tires onto it and headed up.

It was steep. It was long. It was narrow. Pictures and video do not do it justice. Although it was a simple climb from the truck's point of view, it was easily one of the scariest things I've ever done off road. Once on top I radioed down for next in line to come on up. Only Charlie and Don had the nerve to follow me up. After shooting a few pictures and carefully turning around we headed back down.

Down was worse. Way worse. About half way down, a big hump of slick rock tilts you off camber. At the bottom, I fully expected my truck to come to rest on its grill. Fortunately, it didn't. As soon as the adrenaline wore off we climbed back in the trucks and headed up the road.

After paying yet another fee to get into the Sand Flats recreation area, we headed for the trailhead, stopping briefly for the less adventurous to play on the much smaller "mini Lion's Back".

"Fins and Things" started out just to the left of a campsite. After a bit of slick rock we were faced with a long hill climb through soft, ankle deep sand. Ernie's stock Jeep struggled a bit here, mostly due to his decidedly non-aggressive tires. A bit of back and forth combined with a lot of throttle saw him to the top though.

A little ways down the trail we came to a tall mound of slick rock with several steep sections to play on. An aerial view would have been quite humorous, as everybody's trucks drove up and down, passing each other several times and causing a few traffic jams. Play time over, we headed on, dropping down several steep sections, including one that had Mike's entire winch under sand as he eased down it.

Lacking any natural shade, we strung a tarp between two trucks and ate lunch. Shortly after, we were back on the main road, having completed the southern loop. A mile or so down the road was the northern loop. It started out by passing some awesome campsites, and then bumped along the bottom of several canyons for quite a ways.

About the time we were getting bored with the endless bumping, we reached the last section of the trail. Three of the vehicles had had enough, and doubled back to a common point in the trail. The rest of us wound up climbing and descending the steepest stuff we had seen yet. "Kenny's Climb" in particular seemed to be straight up. It was so steep at the bottom my tow hooks hit the wall, despite my six-inch lift.

The main road was close at hand, and once we got the stragglers back behind us we headed for camp. Potato Salad hill was on the way home though and, once again, we couldn't resist. We had hoped to see other people climb up it, be we were the only ones around. Mike was up first, and after a backup or two bounced to the top. Charlie gave it a go for awhile, then backed down to let more air out of his swampers. I gave it my best shot, making it almost over the last ledge before the bouncing and clanging got the best of me and I called for the strap.

Don pulled up to it, chose his line, and dropped the hammer. His red Toy made it up like the hill wasn't even there. Charlie hit it again; apparently eight pounds was the magic number as he walked right up. Mike climbed it again just for fun, and then we all headed for camp. A quick dinner, a long shower, and everybody went to bed early.

(Looking up the Lion's Back from tail to head)

(Don halfway up the Lion's Back)

(Don headed down the Lion's Back)

(Bottom of the Lion's Back, and yes the picture was taken level!)

(Ernie on the mini Lion's Back)

(Don descends the play hill on Fins and Things, while Ron waits his turn)

(Charlie gives Potato Salad hill a try)

Monday: Heading for the hills

Looking for slightly cooler weather, the Babcocks and the Nixons decided to head up into the La Sal Mountains. Everybody else followed Ernie down the "White Rim" trail. Our trail climbed steadily up to ten thousand feet. Patches of snow were still on the ground, and numerous mountain streams flowed across the road. The trail was easy, although a narrow shelf section across a loose talus slope did get your attention.

After admiring the view of Mt Peale from the pass, we headed back towards camp for a quick dip in the pool. A few hours later everybody else came back. From their reports the trail featured some awesome scenery.

Once again we turned in shortly after the sun went down. The next day looked to be a long one, so we decided on an early start.

Tuesday: Golden Crack!

We were up and on our way by 8:30AM. Factoring in the time difference, that was an hour earlier than I am usually at work. Oh well, might as well make every minute of vacation count. Charlie, Don, Mike and I had decided to try our luck on "Poison Spider Mesa" and the "Golden Spike" trail.

After promising Shelby we would stay in our trucks so the poisonous spiders wouldn't get us, we headed for the trail head while the rest of the group got ready for a trip to Arches National Monument.

Following a quick stop for gas, ice, and chocolate frosted donuts we drove the dozen or so miles to the start of the trail. Eager for action, Mike and Don hit every optional obstacle on the way in. I took the easy lines though, vowing if I was going to break my truck, it was going to be on an obstacle with a cool, dangerous sounding name.

The first named, albeit benignly, obstacle was the "Waterfall". The first three vehicles made it up no problem, but Mikes Tacoma was having a bit of difficulty. Attempting to climb the first ledge without his rear locker engaged, he slid over to a steeper section. With Mike working the throttle, the truck clawed and lunged its way forward, making little progress. Admiring the abuse the tortured truck was taking, Charlie commented "Wow, those Toyotas are built really well". Shortly thereafter, we heard the unmistakable sounds of very expensive metal failure.

A quick tug from the winch got the Taco headed back towards town with what later turned out to be a grenaded front ring and pinion. The three remaining vehicles headed up the trail. The next section of the trail was every four wheeler's dream. Cool obstacles, including the "Wedgie", the "Launch Pad" and "Skyline Drive" separated by easy sections of loose sand.

Unfortunately, it didn't last, and we wound up on a slow crawl through another canyon, followed by several miles of bumpy slick rock. At one point we christened an unnamed obstacle "Double-Dodge-Whammy"; it's two slick rock ledges were spaced just enough apart to rebuff my truck's repeated attempts to climb it. Finally I got over far enough to get a decent line on it, and got the pleasure of watching both Charlie and Don struggle with it a bit.

After a quick stop for lunch at a steep overlook, some more bumpy slick rock, and a brief chat with the group at Arches National Monument over the CB, we finally made it to the crack. Although it didn't look as deep as we remembered from pictures, it was still plenty deep enough to eat a 33 inch tire. After showing off quite a bit of airtime, I pulled through and let Charlie give it a try. His big 38's laughed at the crack, his rear barely lifting an inch of the ground. Don showed off a bit of two-wheeling on his ride through, but made it easily to the other side.

We took a quick brake in the shade of an overhanging slickrock ledge, then headed on. Part way up a nice stepped climb, I heard the dread whoosh of a BFG sidewall giving way. I figured it would just be a quick tire change, but the truck had other ideas. The trail was off camber enough that every time we tried to jack it up it started sliding. Trying a bottle jack instead of the high-lift seemed like a good idea until the truck slid off the jack, walloping Don's shoulder on the way down.

Regrouping, we strapped Don's truck to my tow hook to keep the Dodge in place, and tried again with the factory bottle jack. As soon as the truck was high enough to get the tire on, Charlie kicked it in place and we put lug nuts on at a speed any Indy pit crew would be proud of.

Just around the corner we came to the true "Double Whammy". Charlie tried crawling it, then gave up and put his foot to the floor. The big 400 cid small block came to life and launched the K5 to the top. Don worked at it some, and eventually bounced his way up accompanied by the clicks and bangs of two well used Lock-Rights. I tried several lines, but it just wasn't going to happen with 33-inch tires, so I took the strap.

Next up was the "Body Snatcher". Once again my 33's were too small, as a good sized step kept pushing me into the namesake outcropping of rock. After a good scratch in the sheet metal told me I wasn't going anywhere fast, Don climbed the huge step that amounted to the bypass and tugged me up. Charlie made it look easy with his 38's.

Next up was our trail home, "Gold Bar Rim". After the long day on the trail, this was just more bouncy ledges and steps. We were ready for the end of the trail long before we reached it. Pulling onto a nice graded road, we though we had it made. Goaded on by Charlie chanting "go Scott, go!" over the CB, I threw it into 2HI and floored it. We blasted through miles of high-speed dirt road, all the while referring to the guidebook on my knee for the correct turns.

The GPS told me we were close to the highway; as near as I could tell from the tiny display it was less than an eighth of a mile away. What the GPS didn't tell me was it was over a quarter of a mile straight down from our position. A long winding shelf road finally led us to pavement, just in time for a dust storm straight out of the "Grapes of Wrath". Making friends with lots of semi-trucks, we limped back to Moab with 20lbs of pressure in our tires on the single lane highway. We made it in time for dinner, missing the leave-without-us deadline by less than ten minutes.

(Charlie gets a wedgie on Poison Spider Mesa)

(Yours truly getting some air time on the Golden Crack)

Wednesday: Candyland?

Sleeping in late, we grabbed a restaurant breakfast of Huevos Rancheros and a $30 spare tire and headed for one of the many National Parks in the area for an easy day of sightseeing. Hailey was quite excited when she heard we were going to Candyland; happily she wasn't too disappointed when we pulled into Canyonlands instead.

After a long windy drive out to the "Island in the Sky" viewpoint, we snapped a few quick pictures, posed for family portraits, and then hurried back for Mikes birthday dinner. Mike was unfortunately suffering a touch of the flu and wasn't able to join us. Everyone else went and had a very tasty but slowly served Mexican dinner. We did wish him a Happy Birthday, but he probably couldn't hear us back at the campground.

(Candy, er I mean Canyonlands)

Thursday: Mashed Metal on Metal Masher

The rest of the group had had enough wheeling, but Charlie wanted to do one more trail. I jumped in as navigator and cameraman and we headed for "Metal Masher". On the way to the trailhead, the driver's front wheel began making ominous grinding noises. Writing it off as a rock in the brake pad, we pressed on. Half way up a steep, two-wheel drive access road the brake petal suddenly dropped to the floor.

Deciding that turning around was probably a good idea; we headed back towards pavement. A little way down the road we found one of the brake pads lying on the ground. Back at a parking area next to the highway, we pulled the tire and hub to find the end of the spindle broken off.

Figuring the brake caliper would hold the tire on good enough to make it back to town, we loaded up and headed for town. The ride that followed made "Lion's Back" seem like a walk in the park. Since the caliper was at the rear of the axle, the driver's front tire had a tendency to swing out to the left, taking the rest of the truck with it. For some reason, this happened every time a semi-truck passed us. The grinding noises from the front axle got worse as trucks stacked up behind us, patiently waiting their turn to try and run us off the road. The twenty miles back to town crawled by.

Making it back in one piece, we decided to try a bit of shopping. Moab Off-road was no help, but Burt's Auto Supply was able to find us a spindle that would arrive after lunch on Friday. We piled into the K5, clenched up the seats again, and headed for the KOA.

After lunch, Charlie and I took the Ram back into town for more parts. Car Quest was able to fill out his shopping list, and even found a new spindle that could be in from Salt Lake City by 8AM the next day.

We stopped back by Burt's to cancel the used one; while Charlie waited in line I checked out a cool early sixties Scout with a folding windshield, factory twin stick, and stock Powr-Lok rear differential that was out front for sale. With little else to do, we headed back to the campground for an early dinner.

Friday: Are we there yet?

Up at the crack of dawn, we headed back to Car Quest to pick up the spindle. While Charlie made sure it was the correct part I chatted with a gentleman at the counter. His brother-in-law owned a local towing company; if you get stuck way out on a trail he will come get you with his Chevy dually (!) tow truck for the princely sum of $150 per hour from when he leaves his house.

After a quick stop at McDonalds for breakfast, we headed back to the KOA. As soon as we were done eating, Charlie tore into his front axle with a vengeance as everybody else packed up. Linda's Jeep had been having intermittent electrical and or fuel problems, so it was staying behind for a tow home later. Charlie hooked up to her tent trailer, while she jumped in with Don for the ride home.

We made it was far as the outskirts of Flagstaff, at which point Charlie's fuel pump decided it had had quite enough. A quick stop and a dousing with ice water woke it up enough to limp into town. After a stop for pizza, we headed down the big hill towards home. The K5 started chugging a bit as we neared the city lights, but it made it home.

Final thoughts on Moab…

Having never been there before, this trip turned out to be quite a learning experience. First off, don't go in June. We were blessed with some awesome weather most of the week, but the first few days were a bit too hot. Unless you are a smurf, there is no vegetation that will give you shade.

Although it was nice staying in a campground with swamp coolers and showers, we passed lots of nice places to camp. Next time I'd camp in the Sand Flats area; great location, incredible scenery, and top notch trails including "Fins and Things" and "Hells Revenge" literally right around the corner.

I'd also do "Poison Spider/Golden Spike/Gold Bar Rim" as an overnighter. By the time we got to the crack we were beat. With a large group of vehicles or any breakdowns, you're going to be out there after dark anyway. Might as well enjoy it. I'd really have liked to play on some of the obstacles more.

The long drive up and punishing days on the trail are hard on vehicles. Slickrock isn't slick, it's like driving in 4LO on concrete. Every day crawl under and over your rig, looking for loose, broken, or outright missing parts. Don broke a battery tie down, Charlie had a pitman arm nut come loose, and my trac-bar started coming loose.

If you do come up with a major failure, don't waste your time with Moab Off-Road. Although I had heard good things about them in magazines and on the Internet, they were useless and somewhat rude to us. Mike's truck couldn't be fixed or even diagnosed because "it didn't have hubs". They wouldn't touch Linda's Jeep, and were of little help locating Charlie's Spindle. Your first stop should be Car Quest. I know, the Car Quests around town are a joke; but these guys knew their stuff, were really willing to help, and even went so far as to loan tools. Chip's Grand Tire Company was also nice; I don't know how he stays in business charging so little, but if you need a quick spare or a rotor turned, head there first.

Oh yeah, one last thing. Don, you'd better go out in the driveway and check your truck. I think your radiator is leaking.

Calendar of Events

July 21: Night Run on Axle Alley. Meet at the Texaco in Florence Junction at 7:00 p.m. Call Micah at (480) 982-6485 if you are interested in doing the run. Make sure to wait until after 6:00 p.m. to call.

July 25: Free legislative workshop. 8:30AM-11AM at the Arizona State Capitol. Come learn how to make things happen through the state legislative process.

July 25: Monthly club meeting, 7pm at Peter Piper Pizza, Northeast corner of Alma School and Elliot.

August Trip?

August 29: Monthly club meeting, 7pm at Peter Piper Pizza, Northeast corner of Alma School and Elliot.

Newsletter Cover Photo

This month's cover photo features a couple of Toy's tackling the Waterfall on Poison Spider Mesa. Don Le Clair climbs the second step, while Mike Tutor gets ready to say goodbye to his front ring and pinion on the first.

Joke of the Month

No room for a joke this month, plus I've been too busy for a sense of humor.