Iâ€™d like to welcome everyone to the Land Rover National Rally and thank you for attending. The Solihull Society executive committee and Land Rover National Rally committee have worked hard to make this event happen, but it means little without Land Rover owners like yourselves coming to our event. Iâ€™d also like to thank our Sponsors and Vendors; without them it would nearly be impossible to have the event. I look forward to meeting many of you and hearing stories of your adventures in your Land Rover, be it what you were able to accomplish with it wheeling here in Moab, or where it took you on other trips through snow, desert, or mountain passes. We all share a common appreciation of what our Rovers do for us in our dayto-day lives and on various trips and outings.
I want to thank each and every one of you who were able to come to the rally this year. If you are reading this and were not able to come, we hope to see you at the next one. The rally is always a blast to go to and a challenge to put together. This is the second rally that I have coordinated, and I would like to thank the amazing team of dedicated, hard working people who helped put this event together. They all have put many hours into this, and I know it brings joy to my heart to see how their work can bring so much happiness to so many people. Please put your hands together for the rally staff ! I would also like to bring attention to all of the sponsors this year as we all know that the times have been tougher than in years past. Their support and dedication to our event make it possible to offer a much greater experience for everyone. Many of them have donated products for the raffle, and I urge you all to jump in this year as we have some great things that are up for grabs. Thanks again for participating in this yearâ€™s rally. Without you we would not have such an event. Chris Doty, Rally Coordinator
I guess it all started with the thought of “wouldn’t it be cool to rebuild an old car,” one too many episodes of Overhaulin’, and an old P.O.S. Jeep (yes, I said the J word), a CJ-7 I bought while I was in flight school in Tennessee. It hardly ran when I got it, but after some work and the help of a friend, we made it fairly reliable. At the end of flight school I moved to Puerto Rico and sold that Jeep. Fast forward to 1999, I was a year into my new job with Continental Airlines and decided that it was time to buy a REAL 4 wheel drive and always loved the Defender 90. I found a 1994 D-90 in Houston, bought it, and had it shipped to Cleveland. Fast forward again to the 2009 Land Rover Rally in Leadville 15 years and 110,000 miles after my 90 was born, looking at all of these beautiful trucks. You could see a rover with a galvanized chassis, one with a diesel, the next you see one with a new paint job, and another with an all new suspension, and at some point reality begins slipping away. Next my thoughts turned to, “If I ever had a D-90 I could rebuild, I would do this, and this, and this….” I guess a Rally has that effect on many Rover owners. During my last lunch at the rally, I was in a conversation deep in the world of the D-90 with Rob Dassler and Mike Beresni and posed a few hypothetical questions to Rob: What do think about a diesel in a D-90? What engine
would you use? Let’s say I ever decided to install one could I rent a piece of your shop and a bit of your time? That is where the itch began. On my drive home to Breckenridge that night, I got caught in a torrential down-pour. My 90 is dead on the highway just before I-70. I find out later that water had found its way into the computer under the dash and the rest was history. I decided the next day that it was time for diesel: no computer, simple, and reliable. So began a four month research process. I spent hours upon hours on the internet and even took a several-day trip to the U.K. for research at the source and a shopping spree for parts. As the momentum built, so did the scope of the overhaul, which also meant the parts list would be proportional. A galvanized chassis and a 2.8L TGV should be a nice starting point. The catch is, once you get into a project like this you can convince yourself, (and if you have a problem convincing yourself, Mike Beresni and to lesser extent Rob Dassler were there to nudge me over!) that a new suspension, tyres and wheels, doors with roll-down windows, an X-brake, custom steering wheel, stereo, a Chevy Lumina rear-view mirror, etc, were also necessary. Four months later I found myself in Albuquerque with a rented slip and lift in a garage, and a knowledge base (in Rob Dassler) that a person could only dream of. Mike and I attended swivel-ball class, plasma cutter class,
custom differential cover install and modification class, parts cleaner, bead blaster, class. The learning curve was brutal, but the learning experience priceless. Daily deliveries by FedEx and UPS brought things like 15 pounds of Dynamat sound reduction and all new exterior lights. There were many days of green chili followed by close proximity in, on, and around a 90. The night we turned over the diesel for the first time was awesome, it just sounded different. The first drive had a rattle but discovered it was just the pads on the X-Brake. I could not have hoped for more out of my first restoration.
Twenty-three 15 hour days and twelve pounds of weightloss later it was complete (and they said it couldn’t be done!) I drove it out of the shop and gave it it’s first real test drive, an eight hour trip home to Breckenridge. Although the project was for all intensive purposes complete, the tweaking continues. It is currently getting a custom soft top from Tuff River Stuff in Salida, Colorado, and I am mentally designing a custom roof rack which I hope to complete shortly after this year’s Rally in Moab. HUGE thanks go out to Rob Dassler at Southwest Rovers. He has been a great friend and mentor. As it was coming apart he said “there is nothing you can take apart that I can’t put back together” (except maybe the doors!). Thanks also go to Jim (Pendy) Pendleton for delivering the goods to Liberal, KS and tolerating my incessant questions like “What’s a diesel fuel filter look like?” and “What kind of oil do you put in a diesel?” Finally, thanks go to Mike Beresni, as without his support and encouragement, the cleaning lady at La Quinta would have found me on day 18 hanging in the shower by an old fan belt!
Trails! Secret Spire trail follows the mesa top between Spring and Hellroaring Canyons. It crosses the upper portion of Spring Canyon to visit a tower that the trail was named for, the Secret Spire. The trail consists of sand, dirt and a little rock. There are great views into the canyons as well as being able to see the San Rafael Reef and Book Cliffs in the distance. There is a spur road that goes to the Dellenbaugh tunnel, which is a usually dry watercourse that goes through the sandstone and limestone and ends up at the brink of Spring Canyon. It is around 100 feet long and tall enough to walk through. The trail is suitable for all stock vehicles, although sometimes there can be washouts which could cause problems for vehicles with low ground clearance.
Chicken Corners trail is actually a combination of two trails, Hurrah Pass and Chicken Corners. Both trails are relatively mild and are passable by all stock vehicles. Like most of Moab, there are some fantastic views from both Hurrah Pass and Chicken Corners, with the Colorado River far below, and Dead Horse Point across the way. There are also many interesting rock formations along the way. Chicken Corners is reached by Kane Creek road, southwest of town, and is west of Kane Creek Trail. The surface is dirt, some slickrock, sand and some smaller rocks. While you do drive close to the cliff in spots, it isn’t that close, and the trail is more than wide enough.
This trail is a combination of several roads north of Moab and near the western boundary of Arches National Park. It lies east of the Moab Fault, so is in younger rock formations than many of our trails. Its slickrock is the top of the Entrada Formation, and its views are often of erosions into that formation. Prominent scenic exposures are in an area called Klondike Bluffs; you may have seen a preview on your way here from Highway 191. Some of the roads are on the softer Morrison Formation, which can be impassably slippery when wet. In case it is completely dry, most of the trail could have a lower rating, but there are eroded trail portions that can challenge stock vehicles.
Hellroaring Rim trail follows the mesa between the deep Hellroaring and Mineral Canyons, and follows Mineral Point out to the west. The trail is fairly easy, and is suitable for stock vehicles. The trail consists of rocky ledges, broken rock and sandy dirt. Depending on vehicle height, it is possible to scrape low parts on some rocks/ledges for low vehicles. The trail culminates in a spectacular view overlooking the Green River.
Hey Joe Canyon, a site of some mining ruins, is a short tributary to Labyrinth Canyon of the Green River. After a faily long approach, upstream along the river in Labyrinth Canyon is Hey Joe Canyon. The trail along the river is subject to rockfalls and collapse. The trail was down-rated a notch this year because of the county maintenance on part of the trail, but there are many more rocks poised to fall on the road along the river.
This trail explores the highland area east of Arches National Park and north of the Colorado River. It is a little more than 30 miles north of Moab, off of Hwy 128, and starts on the north side of the highway just past Dewey Bridge. Dome Plateau is a large highland area north of the Colorado River and east of Arches National Park. The area sees little traffic these days. The trail goes up the Colorado River to leave the highway just past the Dewey Bridge. It follows below the Entrada Sandstone cliffs which have three sandstone arches in the first few miles. The plateau slopes towards the south but crosses two canyons on the way to a spectacular view overlooking the Professor Valley and the Fischer Towers along the Colorado River. The trail consists of sand, rock and dirt. With the exception of one hill near the overlook, the trail is fairly easy. On the northern section of the trail, arches in Arches National park can be seen off in the distance.
While Fins ‘N Things isn’t a difficult trail at all; it is a very fun trail for almost any vehicle. It is in the Sand Flats Rec area, and as it’s name suggests, it follows up, down and all over the slickrock fins. There are also some dirt and sand sections, as well as Sand Flats Road sections between parts of the trail. It starts on the south side of the road and ends up on the north side of the road. While many of the fins are rather steep, they are easily doable by stock vehicles. However those which still have the front air dams may scrape them in places, as well as trailer hitches scraping on the LWB vehicles that don’t have a lift. The trail also travels along a part of Negro Bill Canyon, and the beautiful La Sal Mountains can be seen in the distance. Most any vehicle can drive this trail, just keep in mind the above mentioned caution about scraping air dams and hitches for lower vehicles. Air dams should be removed if you don’t want to damage them.
Trails! Seven Mile Rim trail winds tis way up to where it follows the canyon rim for a while. There are a lot of old mining roads in the area, and the trail also passes the old Cotter Uranium mine along the way. Route finding can be difficult for those that don’t know their way. Most of the trail is fairly easy driving on sandstone, with small ledges here and there, and mild climbs. Part way through the trail, it passes close to Uranium Arch. It joins other trails in the area of Merrimac and Monitor Buttes. There is a harder section if trail on the south side of Merrimac Butte which includes a squeeze, and a sandy hill near the end of the trail. Both can be bypassed due to the maze of roads. Also by Merrimac Butte, the trail has a slickrock sidehill section just above Wipeout Hill if that section is run. Depending on how it is run, it is suitable for most stock vehicles, please note however that Range Rovers and Discoveries with front air dams [i.e. the plastic skirt below the front bumper] may find these dams will scrape and may get damaged, therefore it is recommended that such be removed.
Awe inspiring views. Nothing more really needs to be said other than bring lots of film. The road in is pretty bumpy, but the views at the end are amazing. This trail is ideal for stock standard vehicles. Owners of such are encouraged to sign up. Please note however that Range Rovers and Discoveries with front air dams [i.e. the plastic skirt below the front bumper] may find these dams will scrape and may get damaged, therefore it is recommended that it be removed.
Gold Bar Rim is a cliff rim that stands about 1200 feet above Highway 191’s path in Moab Canyon. Because the rocks behind the cliff slope downward to the southwest, the rim has a 360 vista. Gold Bar Canyon drains away from the rim into the Colorado River. After doubling back from the rim, the trail begins a loop to include Bull Canyon bottom for a view of Gemini Bridges from below. The Gold Bar Rim vistas take in almost all of the local country, including Moab and its valleys, the La Sal Mountains, the Book Cliffs, and parts of the Colorado River canyon. The most difficult driving is up the final slopes to Gold Bar Rim and returning across Gold Bar Canyon. The trail might be rated 3½ except that heavy use has dug out the base of a big rock ledge on the return across Gold Bar Canyon.
Flat Iron Mesa is about 17 ½ miles south of Moab on Hwy 191, with an entrance on the right that is easy to miss. It starts out a little slow with mellow dirt trail, then later on gets into more interesting slickrock obstacles. The main ones are Tilt-A Whirl, which is a steep and tippy slickrock descent, and Easter Egg Hill, which is another tippy descent which is complicated by having to drive between a gap between rocks. Body damage is possible on this one without very careful driving. Both these obstacles have bypasses, though the Easter Egg bypass is relatively long. The trail can be driven without lockers, though at least a rear locker is highly recommended. You also need good articulation, rock protection and at least 32” tires. There are several cliff overlooks off short spurs off the main trail. If you find a wedding ring, contact Jim.
This trail leaves the graded Sand Flats Road above the Slickrock Bike Trail and drops down to a ledge above Negro Bill Canyon. It crosses the headwaters of that canyon and is the only vehicle access into the vicinity of Coffee Pot Rock, a prominent landmark seen from several other trails. The climb is gradual to the cliff rim, called Porcupine Rim, above Castle Valley. The trail has good variety with some challenges for stock or slightly modified vehicles and some of the best scenic vistas we have. Be advised that much of the trail is continuously bumpy. The Sand Flats Recreation area fee required of ordinary visitors is waived for our Easter Jeep Safari trails because we pay land-use fees in another way. Approximate mileage: 32 total, 28 off highway. Early in the day are a few sandy hills and some slickrock slopes. Along the rim of Negro Bill Canyon are some small ledges that may hold up traffic. The vicinity of the rim has a few more ledges and some of the bumpiest driving.
Rose Garden Hill is actually part of the Kokopelli bike trail system. It can be run several ways, with various difficulty depending on the route taken. If run as an out and back trail starting at Onion Creek, you must go both up and down Rose Garden Hill. At least a rear locker is needed to run it like this, as traction is hard to come by when going up the hill. It can also be run from the road by Dewey Bridge (or what’s left of it). Going this route also has several options, either following Entrada Bluffs Road to Cottonwood Canyon trail and down Rose Garden, or following it down and crossing the Dolores River a couple times, water level permitting, and then taking the Dolores Canyon Overlook trail up to the Cottonwood Canyon trail and down Rose Garden Trail. It is easier in this north to south direction, and lockers aren’t needed. Rock protection and at least 32” tires are recommended either way due to the big ledges on Rose Garden Hill. Expect to scrape something whether going up or coming down. There are some great views from the top of the mesa as this is the same mesa the Top of the World trail traverses.
Trails! In addition to the views inside the rugged canyons, there are beautiful vistas of colorful rocks, forested slopes, and the snowcovered La Sal Mountains. The easy parts of the trail are sandy dirt with enough bedrock poking through to keep the speed down. The difficult creek-bottom parts have rocks, boulders, and ledges, and the most difficult hills have large, loose rocks. Two hills have loose dirt and rocks that cause poor traction. The canyon bottoms have large rocks and rock ledges that can change with every flood. Strike Ravine is ledgy and rough, with a combination of rock steps and loose dirt. Tall tires, short wheelbase, and short overhangs are the order of the day. A minimum of 31” tires and rock sliders are recommended. The trail is located approximately 12 miles south of Moab along Highway 191.
Wipe-Out Hill trail was named after its main obstacle, Wipe-Out Hill. This is a steep rock section with two routes, both of which have ledges as well. While it is possible to make it up without lockers, the chances of doing it, and doing it without breaking something are low. Good ground clearance and breakover angle are needed. There is also a sandy wash which must be driven, some more mellow slickrock and some dirt or sand hills. This trail is northwest of Moab, where it also passes by both Monitor and Merrimac Buttes and Determination Towers. Vehicles should have at least 31” tires as well.
Cliffhanger, as it is more often called, is an apt description of this trail. It starts on the right, about 6 miles down Kane Creek Road and climbs onto a high isolated plateau. Part of the trail, and one obstacle are along a shelf road on a high cliff face. There are several difficult obstacles along the trail. Vehicles need at least a rear locker, front is recommended, 32” minimum tires, good ground clearance, and rock protection. There are great views from the end of the trail, looking down on the Colorado River and the potash plant in Jackson Hole and up towards Dead Horse Point.
Hells Revenge is one of 3 trails off of the road to Sand Flats Recreation area. It starts on the left, just past the fee booth, and is mostly slickrock. The trail follows slickrock fins up and down, some of them being rather steep. The steep ascents and descents will test your nerves, as there are no bypasses except on some of the hardest obstacles. This is a trail that stock standard vehicles can attempt as their “hard” trail however you have to be prepared to pay out lots of money in repairs if your driving skills are poor or you make mistakes. Range Rovers and Discoveries with front air dams should remove them. In addition to the slickrock there are rock ledges, broken rock, sandy dirt and some blow sand. The views are of the La Sal Mountains, the Arches National Park and the Colorado River Canyon. Vehicles should have at least 30 “ tires, and traction aides are helpful.
Kane Creek Canyon trail is southwest, just out of Moab, at the end of Kane Creek Road. Most of the trail isn’t too hard, meandering in and out of Kane Creek many times before climbing up the canyon wall near the end. The creek can be non-existent to very deep, and deep water can hide rocks and tree roots beneath it’s surface. Also some of the easier beginning sections can get washed out, greatly increasing their difficulty. However, by far the hardest section is the climb up the canyon wall. This section has been washed out to where a winch is now often needed to get up, even with lockers, and it is along a far drop to boot. Pinstriping from the tamarisk trees is unavoidable. Vehicles should have at least 32” tires and a rear locker, rock protection, with a front locker and winch highly recommended. Sometimes deep mud and quicksand may be present.
This trail offers a 1300-foot high view from Arth’s Rim, which overlooks Highway 191 between Gold Bar Rim and the highway. The trail varies from easy dirt to high sandstone ledges with some relatively level slick rock. The trail passes Rock Chucker Hill, a playground for those mad of spirit and deep of pocket. The bypass is itself a difficult option including rocky steps and the infamous “Widow Maker Hill”. Much of the trail is routine four-wheeling, but there are a few spots, notably Mirror Gulch and Widowmaker Hill, where many will not make it on the first try. The narrow Mirror Gulch often damages full-width vehicles, and it is especially difficult for those with long front or rear overhangs. Widowmaker Hill is extremely challenging for any vehicle because it has become dug up at the bottom. A winch is almost mandatory to make it up. Fortunately, it is an optional part of the trail. This trail varies from easy dirt to some tall sandstone ledges, with some relatively level slick rock and sand mixed in. Vehicles should have rock sliders and 31” or taller tires. Traction devices are helpful.
Trails! This is one of Moab’s most popular trails which offers a wide variety of obstacles with bypasses for some of the tougher challenges. It is popular because the driving is challenging while still being drivable by a fairly stock vehicle. Much of the trail is on Navajo sandstone slickrock with one small stretch of bare rock. There are also some rock ledges sandy wash bottoms and two sand hills. The initial climb and switchbacks are rough but easy to drive. There are some rock ledges that make the trail difficult combined with some steep slick rock climbs. There is a potential for damage or rolling if you choose a bad line, though most vehicles make it through unscathed. You should have rock sliders as sill/door dents are a real possibility and at least 30” tires, though larger is better.
Steel Bender follows an historic wagon trail that works its way up from a beautiful canyon to elevations above 6000 feet. It features two creek crossings, numerous steep ledges and two rocky ascents that have bypasses. This trail will test those in stock vehicles as you attempt a procession of rock ledges. The trail crosses the creek a few times and travels a lovely part of its canyon. It overlooks the North Fork of Mill Creek as it climbs to the base of South Mesa on the skirts of the La Sal Mountains. It is another variation on the Canyonlands landscape, and it offers further variety to the scenery and the four-wheeling opportunities of the Moab area. The trip can be done in stock 4x4s that have excellent clearance, but only because there are bypasses around some of the challenging spots. As the trail climbs, a succession of rock steps can be difficult for stock equipment, but each ledge area has a bypass. A couple of minor tributary canyons provide steep, rocky descents and testy climbs. A rear traction aid, rock protection and 32 inch tires would be preferred on this trail. This trail is harder if run from south to north as a winch will probably be required to ascend The Wizard’s Chest.
Behind the Rocks is one of the harder trails in Moab. It has quite a few difficult obstacles including White Knuckle Hill, High Dive, and Upchuck Hill to name a few. This is not a trail for inexperienced drivers as it is easy to roll and breakages are common. Vehicles should have both front and rear lockers, a roll cage and a winch. 35”+ tires are recommended. Vehicle damage is very possible. The trail is south of Moab to the west off of Hwy 191.
This is probably one of the longest trails time wise in Moab, and the longest one at the rally. It actually consists of 3 trails: most of Poison Spider, Golden Spike, and Gold Bar Rim. The trail is rather difficult, with many obstacles along its high slickrock route. Route finding can be difficult at times and most of the obstacles have no bypasses. There are also some side trails off of it, like Rusty Nail and Where Eagles Dare, although you have to know where they are to find them. Total length is close to 35 miles and 10 hours on the trail if not more is not uncommon, especially with breakages. Vehicles need at least a rear locker, rock protection, good ground clearance, 32” minimum tires although larger is highly recommended. Bring lots of food and water as this is a very isolated trail and breakages are common. Sections of the trail have supposedly gotten harder, so YMMV.
Moab Rim is a difficult trail that climbs up a rim on the south side of the Colorado River just west of Moab. It is fairly steep for most of its length, with big ledges and sharp turns, occasionally at the same time, which must be negotiated. In fact, most of the first mile of trail is one steep obstacle after another. Most of the trail is on slickrock until you reach the top, where some dirt and sand are encountered. This is an up and back trail, so what you go up, you must drive back down. Body damage is possible on this trail as is rolling if you become careless, and if you roll, it’s a long way down! Vehicles should have at least a rear locker and 32” tires and rock protection. There are some great views overlooking Moab from the top. The trail starts just a few miles down Kane Creek Road on the left hand side.
This is the hardest trail outside of BFE. It has grown much harder recently due to weather erosion and use. The major obstacles are Rocker Knocker and The Rock Pile. You should have a rock buggy or extremely well built truck for this trail with large tires. Expect to break parts and possibly roll on this trail. Most of the obstacles have no bypasses. The trail is about 4½ miles down Kane Creek Road on the left, and is about 4 1/5 miles long. You will need front and rear lockers, a winch, roll cage, rock protection, and at least 35” tires to do this trail as well as LOTS of off-roading experience! Vehicle damage is likely. Thanks and credits: The above notes, photos and descriptions are a combination of personal experience of Dave Lane and a number of sources including the Charles A Wells Book “Guide to Moab, UT Backroads & 4 Wheel Drive Trails”, Red Rock 4 – Wheelers Inc , Hans Schulze, David Garbs, and WeBeJeepinMoab.com. Thank you!
Photo: Paul Donohue
Allen Memorial Hospital 719 W 400 n Moab, UT 84532 (435) 259-7191 amhmoab.org Grand Center Saturday October 23, 7:00 PM Banquet 182 N 500 W Moab, UT 84532-2211 (435) 259-6623 Spanish Trail Arena - 3641 U.S. 191 (5 Miles South of Downtown Moab on U.S. 191) Moab, UT 84532: Registration & Trails Fri Oct 22, 4-8pm Raffle, Vendor Moab Visitor Center 84 N 100 Moab, UT 84532-2446 (800) 635-6622 discovermoab.com City Market 425 S Main St Moab, UT 84532-2921 (435) 259-5181 citymarket.com Sunset Grill Thursday Oct 21, 7pm Cocktail Party 900 N Highway 191 Moab, UT 84532-2155 (435) 259-7146 moab-utah.com/sunsetgrill Napa Auto Parts Carquest Auto Parts Parts Store Inc 356 S Main St Moab, UT 84532-2511 (435) 259-6101 Moab Auto Parts 1010 S Main St Moab, UT 84532-2976 (435) 259-2413 partsplus.com Checker Auto Parts 1026 S Main St Moab, UT 84532-2976 (435) 259-9449 cskauto.com Canyonlands Campground LLC 555 South Main Street Moab, Utah 84532 (435) 259-6848 canyonlandsrv.com Sand Flats Campground Moab, UT 84532
Illustration by Corey Colombin | www.jacketflap.com/coreycolombin
I had heard about Wheeler Lake. I had heard about the V, and read the reviews that rated it difficult/vehicle damage likely. I also like the way my Disco looks, sans-rock damage. This made me a bit apprehensive, as I’m sure you can relate to. This apprehension is probably what led me to show up at the meeting site, Exit 256, a full 45 minutes earlier than anyone else. The lack of sleep didn’t help, but the excitement tempered the anxiety in that lovely dance they do. A few more rovers showed up soon enough. A handful of Discos and two Defenders made up the initial group, and we were to meet up with a few others in Frisco. All lined up, the Rovers make a beautiful site. Lifted, armored, battered and trail-hardened. And then my little Rover. I have made two modifications; first of all, after smashing away a piece of the wind dam on a piece of ice, I cut off everything below the actual bumper (anyone need a fog light, by the way?). Secondly, I installed coil springs after a very fun time with leaky airbag suspension in Telluride. That’s it. I have a bit of experience with driving off road, but have never done anything like I was about to do. We filled up in Frisco, and I had to chuckle at the fact that we probably doubled the stations’ hourly income with our eight-Rover visit. The drive to the trailhead was pleasantly uneventful. After everyone else aired down (adding to my apprehension), we started off. I was excited for the challenges that lay ahead, the rocks to be tamed, the wild frontier to be conquered. I was just gearing up, getting my blood pumping, when we came to the first obstacle.
I believe I uttered something along the lines of “Aw hell no,” but I may be mistaken. The first obstacle was worse than anything I had ever tried before. I shifted into 4 low, tried the line the hugely-lifted, battered, 32-inch-tired Rangie just tackled and immediately got hung up. I reversed, let Leif in his stock P38 drive past, and followed his line. I held my breath as we climbed… and my lovely Disco just went up. Just like that. Huh, maybe this wasn’t so bad. We all parked to watch each vehicle try to next challengethis one was even worse than what we just came up. Actually, come to think of it, I don’t think anyone else even acknowledged that the first obstacle was an obstacle. The rocks were so sharp looking and covered in rubber, oil, and paint, they looked like some sort of horrific postapocalyptic car killer. Or maybe that’s because I’m a newbie. In any case, Jeff just drove right up in his monster Defender. Thanks for making it look easy, Jeff. Note: If you are Eric’s wife, please skip ahead. Eric was next to try with his rather lovely Defender 90. He got about halfway up, high-centered the axle, looked like he was going over, scraped a bunch on the trail armor, than was towed off. This whole process took several minutes, and I’m sure the stress probably took a year off Eric’s life. Eric’s Wife may continue: Eric handled the rocks beautifully, and no harm was done at all. Luckily, Jeff sacrificed his arm to engage my center locker, which made a huge difference in the Traction Control. With some fantastic spotting from the rest of the Solihull crew, I made it up without much of a fight. Again, I was left by the ability of my Rover and the friendly help of Rover owners. We plodded along, minding the differentials and placing tires carefully. The trail was rough, to be sure, but nothing horrible. We had to stop a few times to allow the pack of Toyotas ahead of us get over obstacles, but made decent time. The third obstacle (or second, if you are everyone else) was quite intimidating. I believe they call it “The V-Notch.” Luckily, there are multiple ways to get over the thing. And again, I was able to just drive right on up, although I did scrape my trailer hitch a bit. All was well until we hit the Bowling Ball Hill. First of all, the Toyotas got stuck ahead of us, and
we had to wait quite a while for them all to back down and clear the trail. Jeff just drove up with no problem. The rest of us took a bit more time. The problem wasn’t necessarily the giant boulders everywhere, it was the layer of slick mud underneath the six inches of loose gravel. After watching the other lifted, armored, and skillfully driven Discos bounce and scrape over some of the worst parts, I decided that I actually did enjoy the ability to open my doors, and decided to sit it out. Leif ’s P38 made a valiant effort, but without a lift and some serious all-terrains, it just wasn’t happening. We turned back, and made it down without further incident. The rest of the crew made it down shortly after, and we all enjoyed some post “Oh dear god please don’t smash my lovely Landy to bits” camaraderie. Or maybe that was just my sentiment. In all, I’d say this about Wheeler Lake- Dude, have some armor. Seriously. Just ask Eric. I had a blast, and was left completely impressed with Land Rover and their owners. Thanks especially to Jeff and Leif for their generosity and spotting skills. Without them, I may not have made it. Or maybe would have made it, but not it one piece. One thing though—coming down some of those big rocks felt like going over a cliff. Only in a Land Rover.
editor’s note: Jim submitted this issue’s cover shot, taken of his G4 Discovery in while in Utah For my last job in a 20-year career in the Navy during most of which I flew A-6 Intruders, I was assigned in 2000 to the NORAD Command Center. I was on duty for 9/11, incidentally, deep inside Cheyenne Mountain just south of Colorado Springs. After a couple of years sliding around Colorado roads in the winter, my wife Karen insisted we buy a car that could handle the snow and ice. The winner of a drive-off among several “cute utes” was a 2002 Land Rover Freelander. We started to take it off-road the following spring, even though we had no prior 4-wheeling experience. We gained confidence by participating in day trips sponsored by Land Rover of Colorado Springs, and when the rocks on the trails got to be too big for the little Freelander, we bought a second Land Rover, a stock 7-passenger 2000 Discovery II. A year or two later, while lining up at the dealer for a weekend trail ride, we noticed a well-outfitted 2004 Discovery G4 on the lot; it had been originally purchased by the owner of the Colorado Springs Gazette, who had put only about 5000 miles on it in two years, and rarely, if ever, took it off-road. So, we traded our older Discovery for this one, and enjoyed it so much that barely 6 months later, when another G4 appeared on the lot, we traded the Freelander in for that one, too! We call them the “He-4” and the “She-4” and have enjoyed them every day since. As we increased our off-road activities, we joined Tread Lightly!, the Colorado Springs Christian 4-Wheelers (CSC4W), and the Solihull Society. Along with the dealer trips, that gives us lots of trail choices every season. Additionally, in conjunction with CSC4W, I use the He-4 during inclement weather to provide transportation for medical personnel
from their homes to their shifts at local hospitals, coordinated through the local law enforcement dispatch center. We have six children (five boys and one girl), the youngest of whom is a senior in college, and we welcomed our first grandchild this year, a girl born to our second-eldest and his wife. Here is some information on the mods I “inherited” or subsequently added to the He-4: • • • • • • • • • • • • •
ARB front bumper Safari Gard rock sliders and rear bumper ARB lockers front and rear, plus center diff lock OME 3” lift, front sway bar disconnects, and Bilstein shocks Protective plates around steering, both diffs, and gas tank 33” BF Goodrich M/T tires (narrow profile for wheel well clearance) Warn XD 9000 winch with braided fiber rope Towing package Bumper-mounted fog lamps and luggage rack lights Snorkel (handy when caravanning in dusty conditions) Rock Ware-installed custom limb lifters (added this year) Cobra CB, Amerex fire extinguisher, PowerTank, and Hi-Lift ARB tire repair kit, Warn winch accessories, and custom spill kit
Keep Your Wheels Where They Belong Going around obstacles widens trails, impacts vegetation and causes erosion. Challenge yourself by staying on the trail. Use caution when going over obstacles and remember to be courteous to other trail users.
Go straight through mud puddles while maintaining a steady speed. Don’t get stuck.
Switchbacks are designed to maintain the stability of a trail, cutting them destroys their integrity.
Rock N Roll
Stay In Line
Rocks are natural obstacles and part of the off-road experience. Go over them, not around.
Riding single file on tight, narrow trails will avoid braiding and trail widening.
Get Over It
Stay On Course
The challenge is going over the tree. If the tree is too big, go back and contact the land manager.
Stream crossings should be made by crossing them directly at 90 degrees and staying on the trail.
Whoop it Up
Go over the whoops (bumps on trails created by constant use). If you want a smooth ride, stay on the highway.
Wetlands are important and sensitive areas for wildlife and people. Please avoid them. © 2010 Responsible Recreation Foundation, All rights reserved. “Stay the Trail” & “Keep Your Wheels Where They Belong” are registered trademarks of the Responsible Recreation Foundation
Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition