Moab December 2005 - Trip Report

                                                           The Discovery Short Ass takes its first jump, hope you can play it!

The above video AVI file was taken in Moab at New Years 2005 / 2006. The file is about 9 meg so may take some time to download. It is the first time we jumped the Discovery Short Ass when testing it's suspension. 


If your wife came to you and said “Where do you want to go for New Years this Year?” what would you say? Well Trish expected me to say Paris, London or somewhere else exotic [she had been hinting at these places for a few months now], or at least she hoped I would. Instead I informed her that the Club had a trip planned to Moab and that we should all head over. She smiled, gritted her teeth and reluctantly agreed.

Since we were leaving mid week we agreed to swing by Keith Kreutzer’s place to pick up him and his daughter as his wife could not get off work. That was the start of a 12 ¼ hour trip from Denver to Moab ; it should have been more like 6 1/2 hours. We passed through rain, dust storms, snow and of course traffic jams on the I70. You can guess how happy my wife was and how attractive Paris was sounding to her after all this.

Hidden Canyon & Hidden Canyon Overlook

We met up with everyone on the Friday morning at the Moab Diner for Breakfast to discuss our options. Unfortunately Mike Hansen’s Discovery II was stuck in high range so our options were limited. We therefore chose to take on Hidden Canyon Overlook trail which was of medium difficulty and Hidden Canyon Trial which is rated as easy. Access to this area is approximately 16 miles north out of Moab along Highway 191 off Blue Hills Road .

When we went to turn off Blue Hills Road we noticed a small bog with a bypass. So as not to go through the bog we took the bypass but were surprised to find out when we got closer that the bog was not muddy ruts filled with muddy water but ice frozen solid. Yes it was cold here in Utah !

The area is very confusing with many side trails and dead ends. There was no signage to help so the trusty old GPS was used to help plot our way. Our leader [no not me] became somewhat geographically embarrassed taking the wrong turn off into the Lunar Canyon area. It’s times like these that an old trusty map and compass come into their own. Once we worked out that we were off the intended trail and in Lunar Canyon it was a simple matter to find the trail and follow it through and back onto the canyon overlook trail.

The view from the end of the Overlook trail is spectacular even though the drive out is quite easy and of little challenge except for navigation. We stopped to enjoy a nice lunch at the overlook and from this vantage point could see down into Hidden Canyon itself. The return is a reverse of the way you [and we] came in although this time we did not venture into Lunar Canyon , navigation in reverse is soooooooo much easier. If you venture out here make sure you have your camera to get some great photos over the lookout and down into the canyon proper.

Once back out, as it was still early, we decided to drive into Hidden Canyon so as to get both an external and internal view of this area. Most of this trail is sandy and hence can be a lot of fun. We were last in our group so let the others in front get ahead then raced up a  bit to slide around corners and get into a little mischief with. I would not recommend you do this if you do not know who is in front of you or who may be coming the other way. The trail basically meanders across, through, alongside and around the creek bed at the bottom of the canyon until its conclusion at a dead end. Out of the wind this would be a great place for a BBQ or party with a group of Land Rover friends if you are ever in the area.

Pritchett Arch

After a great breakfast again we all met up on the Saturday morning with Yosef Hameaz joining us in his Discovery II.

Ron Brown from Pennsylvania and Mike Hippert of North Carolina also came over to our meeting point to introduce themselves. Ron and Mike were on a cross country adventure from the East Coast to California to deliver one of the earliest Defender 110’s around to its new owner. Checking out the Defender we all felt it was lucky they had made it as far as they had. Everything seemed to be held together with duct tape, cable ties and luck. Apparently they went through one section of the trip driving 5 miles; stopping to fill up the radiator, driving another 5 miles, stopping again with this going on for more miles than my patience would have lasted. They were viewing this delivery as an adventure in survival. Due to its heating problems they left the old Landie at our hotel and hopped in with Yosef to join us for the day. The resilience of the vehicle is testament to how much Land Rovers can take with a little TLC form rover enthusiasts on a mission.

One of the most notorious trails in the Moab area is called Pritchett Canyon . This should not be confused with Pritchett Arch trail which is only of medium difficulty. The trail is moderate and stock vehicles can make it although I would caution that some form of underbody protection be seriously considered as the last few miles of the trail are deteriorating somewhat and will catch the unwary or inexperienced driver. The trail is harder now than it was in 2002 when I first ran it.

We were staying at the Moab Valley Inn so getting to the trail meant simply turning south [that’s left for those without a compass] on the main road, Highway 191, and driving about 10 minutes south to the turn off normally used to enter the “Behind the Rocks” area.

The area is filled with lots of different trails but is well signposted. Just follow the brown markers with the Pritchett Arch tag and you should not go wrong. Since we had been in the area a few times before we veered off on a few side trails for a bit of fun. After about 2 miles from the entrance there is a dry creek bed surrounded by 6 – 8 foot high sand walls. The main trail does not enter the creek bed however we chose to follow it as it presents a bit of fun driving in soft sand and a different driving perspective on the area.

After about a mile driving parallel to the main trail we came to the Sand Dunes area. This is marked on most maps and is to the north and east of the main trail. At the time we were the only ones there so decided to have some fun. All let tires down further, I took my Simex down to about 10 psi, and hit the dunes. OK the dunes are not large but they are fun. Whilst starting off tentatively everyone raced up and down the steepest dunes gradually building momentum to let their Land Rovers “fly” just a little, we became Fly Rovers [Solihull please note the term “Fly Rover” is copyright but I will consider selling it to you for an appropriate remuneration].

As this was a test session for the Discovery Short Ass Keith and I started slowly to check out the suspension travel and feel. The set up seemed to be working fine so we “launched” ourselves a few times only a few feet but enough to increase our confidence. By this time Keith was getting enthused so we decided to give the Discovery a make or break test. I drove the Discovery at about 75% throttle [Ok I got a bit apprehensive for my pride and joy and backed off the throttle] and launched it up one of the steeper sections. After coming back to earth we measured the jump, 32 feet from where the rear tires left the ground to where the rear tires touched down again. We had so much momentum that as soon as the Discovery touched earth we were bounced back up for a further 15 foot glide. WOW. That was fun. After immediately stopping to check everything was in working order the others ran over to show the video tape. The Disco had survived with no injuries. The other discoveries also did small jumps but hey sensibly chose to be conservative.

Once the fun was over it was back onto the trail and off to complete our mission. Next stop was Picture Frame Arch which is about 2 miles on from the sand dunes. This arch is part of a large monolith called Lone Rock off to the right hand side of the trail. The arch was given its name as it is rather squarish in shape reminding people of a picture frame. From here on the road starts to deteriorate a little, regularly changing from sand to rocky patches. There are some slick rock sections that are a bit harder to navigate but if you follow the markers you will be fine. There are also some rock steps and ledges to navigate but these are easily conquered. Mike Hansen in his Discovery was stuck in high range and made it so if you have low range it will be relatively easy. Just take your time and have someone guide you if you need help.

At the bottom of the steep section we intersect with one end of the “Behind the Rocks Trail”. Now we did have some debate amongst us about tackling behind the rocks but common sense prevailed due to the wounded Discovery. It is only a short run up to the arch from this intersection and lunch. We chose not to go for the hour long walk to the Arch, been there done that sort of thing, but if you are contemplating going on the trail then the walk is worth the effort.

Our tip back out was fairly uneventful although Mike Hansen’s High Range only Discovery needed some guidance in a few spots to get over the rock ledges. Other than that we were all back in time for a cold beer and to exaggerate our exploits beyond reality, especially those massive 100 foot long jumps in the air at the sand dunes.

Hells Revenge

What a name. When looking at trail names around Moab I often think that the original namers must have always been trying to outdo each other and must all have had some pessimistic streak to their nature. Hells Revenge, Lower Heldorado , Metal masher, Steel Bender, Poison Spider etc.

Given the overcast weather Ron Brown and Mike Hippert decided to test their luck with the overheating Landie and joined us. Mike Hansen had to return to Denver to get his kids back to school, I conveniently forgot and did not tell my wife our two boys would be missing a day of school so I could stay out and play more. Karen Kreutzer had also arrived in town the previous night so we were now up to 4 Discoveries and 1 Defender.

This trail is rated as hard however it is more visually intimidating than difficult to drive. A short drive out of town is the Sandy Flats recreation area. We had to pay a $5 per car fee to enter this area which houses the start of the trail. Now most people have heard of “The Lions Back” with its deadly reputation. The start of Hells Revenge is a mini Lions Back type slope although far less intimidating and not as steep.

I will not even try to give you a description on how to follow this trail. It is confusing and twists and turns all over the place. There are “Flame” symbols painted on the rocks to provide track guidance but these are not easy to find and have worn down a lot. Get a book such as that by Charles Wells or similar, and take your GPS and map in case you get lost. Instead of a guide I’ll give you a few notes on various obstacles we covered.

To help keep their Landie cool, Ron and Mike removed the bonnet on it as well as the front doors. Ok the front doors were for their comfort and not to aid engine cooling but the Landie did look cool as you can see from the attached photos.

In several places you will find two white lines painted on the rock just before a steep descent, firstly just into the trail and later near the road. Follow these guides precisely. Both places have extremely steep descents and you risk rolling over if you do not get the approach correct. The trail in consists mainly of slick rock and some sandy sections although there are a few rock ledges thrown in to keep your mind active. Suspension travel is tested along this section as Karen Kreutzer found out when one of her springs decided to dislodge from its bracket. Careful use of the Hi Lift jack had it repositioned in no time.

We drove out to the overlook for our lunch break. The overlook is a spur that heads almost up to the Colorado River which can be seen below and to the north from this spot. Bill Canyon can also be seen winding its way to the east of this section. If you get the chance the walk up Bill Canyon [form the Colorado River ] it is well worth the time and is quite easy.

After a scenic lunch Yousef attempted to conquer “Hells Gate” in his discovery II. This is a small side road that drops down into a small canyon to the west of the overlook and then comes back out about 100 yards further along. It is steep, very tippy and not for the faint hearted. With a bit of squealing tires he made it all the way to near the end before we had to winch him out. With lockers the Discovery would have easily made it out. This is probably one time when a stock vehicle with some traction aid would work far better than a highly raised vehicle. The lower center of gravity helps in such steep conditions. I had promised my wife that I would behave myself so reluctantly I let this opportunity pass.

The next obstacle of note is called “Tip over Challenge”. This obstacle which can be bypassed is a short climb up some slick rock with a tight turn at the top. Get your direction wrong and yes you could tip over. Karen Kreutzer in her Discovery found it quite an easy obstacle as did I in my Disco. Yousef for some reason got twisted around a bit and whilst making it he had a harder time. Craig Davis started the obstacle but due to a blown expansion tank cap had to bypass it with steam pouring out of his engine. Unlucky timing! Ron and Mike sensibly took the bypass.

There are two “Hot Tubs” which can be driven as well on this trail. We only went though the easier of these hot tubs which basically entailed driving into a big slick rock hole and out the other side. Quite easy but visually intimidating.

Rubble Trouble is a steep loose rock ascent that sometimes challenges vehicles. Luckily our group went past this with no difficulties. The rest of the ride out is fairly simple although the last section at the base of “The Loins Back” does require careful wheel placement as the trail is quite narrow with overhanging rocks on either side. And that’s about it. I would write another 4 or 5 pages about this area [if my wife would let me] as it is spectacular and visually stimulating as well as a fun drive.

The 2006 Land Rover National Rally will be back in Moab in late September so if you get the chance to come along or have organized a club trip to Moab, get out there, give these trials a go and enjoy the area.