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Cruise Moab 2001

Elephant Hill, Canyonland National Park

Nolen Grogan Article, Cruise Moab 2001I could not believe the day had finally come. Cruise Moab was underway and I was there! How in the world had I managed to spend 32 years on earth and not have visited Moab?

Cruise Moab is hosted by the Rising Sun Landcruiser Club. Rising Sun is a small club with a big heart. They have been hosting Cruise Moab for over 20 years and they have it down to an art. Base camp is at the Slickrock Campground on the north side of Moab. Arriving into camp, one is greeted with the sights and sounds of a family of Cruiserheads, all ready for action.

I had arrived early in my white FZJ-80 after a roundabout route that led me from Ft Worth, TX, nearly 1200 miles to Moab. On the first day, my co-pilot, Nick Stone and I hooked up with Brian Williams, owner of Outback Suspensions, and did two awesome slickrock trails, Fins n Things and Hells Revenge, in our FZJ-80ís. I had tested my new Outback Suspension on obstacles such as the Bump Dump, Tip-Over Challenge and Hells Gate. Needless to say, I was VERY impressed with how my FZJ-80 performed on the rough stuff.

Thursday was the first day of the official Cruise Moab event. I was signed up for Elephant Hill and was very excited about it. To be honest, when I signed up for Elephant Hill, I thought I was signing up for a trail that ran the Lionís Back. That is how much I knew about Moab! After talking to Jeff Zepp, a Rising Sun member and trail guide, I realized my mistake, yet Jeff convinced me to keep the trail on my list. Thanks Jeff for talking me into Elephant Hill!

Elephant Hill is a 2-3 rated trail located in the middle of Canyonland National Park. Thatís right, we wheeled in a National Park! After rallying south of Moab

<BR><BR> <BR><BR><BR><BR> <BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR> <BR><BR><BR><BR> we convoyed 70 miles south to the Needles
entrance to the park. Along the way, we traveled through some of the most historic, scenic territory in the west. The road to the park passes through a privately owned ranch that has been the backdrop for hundreds of movies over the years, one of the most notable being City Slickers.

We were entertained along the way by our fearless trail boss, Greg ďCheesemanĒ Luer, and a soon-to-be Moab local, Karl Spielman. We were all surprised by how much Karl and Greg knew about the area. They kept a running commentary on the CB radio, making the 70 mile trip seem 10 minutes long. We were told about the 1000ís of Indian ruins in the area, the petroglyphs, and even some Billy the Kid lore.

The entrance to Elephant Hill is, you guessed it, Elephant Hill. It is a large hill with a trail cut over the top. We were convinced it gained its name after some cowboy had one too many whiskeys. We saw no rendition of an Elephant on any of the rocks nearby. For what itís worth, it really did not matter. The hill was fun!
<BR><BR><BR><BR> <BR><BR><BR> <BR><BR><BR><BR> <BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR>Our group consisted of
3 FJ-40ís, Greg Bowieís unique FJ-42, 2 FJ-55ís, 1 Mini, 2 4-Runners, 3 FJ-60ís, 2 FZJ-80ís and Jeff Zeppís HZJ-75. It was quite a nice mix of Toyota blood conquering Elephant Hill that day.

For a modified rig, Elephant Hill did not pose much of a challenge, yet there was plenty of action to be had by the stock rigs. This being said, it was really fun watching Nick pilot my FZJ-80 up and down the mountain. There are definitely some instances that give a new-to-the-rocks driver a major pucker factor! At one point on the downside, you must pull up a trail and back down the remainder of the trail! It was a riot to see some rigs going forward and some going backwards at the same time as we slowly progressed over the first obstacle of the day (in the rain.)
<BR><BR><BR><BR> <BR><BR><BR><BR> <BR><BR><BR><BR> <BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR> After the hill, the trail wound around through beautiful canyons
and up and down steep ledges. Some of the ledges along the way proved challenging for the wagons. All but 2 had open differentials. At one point, the most modified rig owned by Lynn, son "of DJ Traction Service FAME", could not make it up a rock where all the wagons had gone. Seems he forgot about the vacuum activated 4x4 switch for his transfer case. He was slightly embarrassed, but none the less unfazed as we headed toward our first destination.
Our first stop of the morning was a small backcountry campground called the Devilís Kitchen.
Here I saw one of the most beautiful campgrounds I had ever seen in the shadow of one of the most awesome rock formations from which it got its name.

As we made our way to the next stop, we heard from the ďtail gunnerĒ, Jeff Zepp, that we had locker problems with one of the FJ-60ís. Seems Ben Seydaís Canadian cruiser had a problem in the Detroit Locker and he and Jeff stopped to inspect the damage while Cheesehead Greg pressed our group on to the next stop.
After successfully negotiating a tight section of the trail called S.O.B Hill,
we found ourselves on the backside of the rocks called the Devilís Kitchen. Here, Scoutmaster Greg led us on a breathtaking hike through narrow slot canyons, up a stone staircase into the heart of the Devilís Kitchen. It was truly amazing.

While we were away, Steve Syzdek put a fuel regulator on Troyís FJ-40. Troy had just done a V8 conversion and had not worked out the bugs with his carburetor. Steve loaned him his regulator and we were off to the races again.

I say off to the races, because any time he found flat terrain, Greg would drop the hammer on his 4Runner and we would make up for lost time. It was so much fun blasting down the sand trails at 40-45 mph at times.

After a reverse negotiation of S.O.B. Hill, we scooped up Jeff Zepp and Ben and headed for the Confluence. The mechanic that had installed Benís Detroit had inadvertently left some critical bolts loose and his locker had all but come apart inside his differential. Those of you that know Jeff Zepp, realize Ben was in good hands. All was well and good and we were a whole group again.
<BR><BR><BR> <BR><BR><BR><BR> <BR><BR><BR><BR> <BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR> The trail to the Confluence took us down the Silver Stairs
and around sandy, ďBajaĒ like trails. After a short hike, we were 1000 feet over the confluence of the Green and the Colorado rivers. It was magnificent scenery. The colors of the two rivers, due to different run-off, were completely different as the smaller Green River merged from the west with the Colorado River. This view was worth the entire Moab trip.
<BR><BR><BR><BR> <BR><BR><BR><BR> <BR><BR><BR><BR> <BR><BR><BR><BR><BR><BR> The final leg of our journey
led us through a dry riverbed that was completely covered with ancient fossils. Scoutmaster, Cheesehead Greg, did his homework finding this one.
As we passed back over Elephant Hill,
we crossed our fingers that John Lescenskiís red and white FJ-55ís clutch was going to carry him over the top. We all breathed a sigh of relief as he topped the crest and pointed his tired pig toward home.

With a final stop at the Ranger Station, I ran around with my CO2 Powertank and helped air up 10 of 13 rigs. There is no substitute for 125psi with a mobile source to expedite air-ups!

On the way home, we drove through a small blizzard. The radio crackled with comments about wheeling in the snow, the beautiful sights and friends that were made. I must say, if you are going to Moab, do yourself a favor and take the time to run Elephant Hill. Yes, it is a little out of the way and yes, it is an easy trail; however, excellent guides like Greg Luer, Karl Spielman and Jeff Zepp make Elephant Hill totally worth while!

  • Copyright ©2001 Nolen Grogan

    P.S. This is a link to my page from Saturday at a place in Dallas called 360. It is an Outlaw place. No one really knows who owns it but let me tell you, it is some of the most hard core stuff I have ever wheeled!

    It is really amazing stuff out there! Click and enjoy more Shots.

    Nolen
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