Every year since 1966, there has been an Easter Jeep Safari at Moab. This year, Kai Serrano helped to organize a bunch of Unimogger's to come to Moab for the week. Some of the Rocky Mountain Moggers were there. We all stayed at the
I set out for Moab on Friday, the 26th of March. I arrived late, and found a camp spot in what turned out to be "Unimog Row".
The next morning, we got up, and found that "Unimog Row" consisted of:
me, Ron DePugh, and Cassidy in my 1963 Unimog 404.1 VLF, from Boulder, Colorado,
Dan Johnson in his Unimog 404.1 Troop Carrier, from Indiana, and
Bob and Wylie Newsome in their Unimog 416 Expedition from Cody, Wyoming.
Over on the other side of the campgound, we found:
Eric Johnson & some friends with his Unimog 416 Crewcab from Salt Lake City, Utah,
and Kai, Tina, and Parker Serrano in his new Unimog 416 Crewcab from San Diego, California. This is his 2nd Unimoog... The first one is a 406.
A little later in the morning, Bob and Kitty Ragain showed up in their 404.1 Radio Box "HamMog" from Denver.
The next day, Kelvin Kurkowski showed up with his Unimog U1700 RHD and a 411, with Max Kurkowski and Ron McLaughlin.
Later in the week, we met up with Rob Pickering and some friends in his newly completed 404.1 Crewcab with a 300TD Diesel engine and Don McCarthy and some of his family in his 404.1 Swiss troop carrier.
On Saturday the 27th, since we got a late start, we decided on a short trail ride. We went up the Moab Rim trail. It starts out pretty steep, with some tough obstacles, large steps, off-cambers, and the really exciting drop-offs where the road follows the edge of the cliffs. The views were incredible. We had little trouble with the trail on the way up. Even the Devil's crack was easy for the Unimogs.
When we got up to the ridge that has a view of the town of Moab, we stopped for lunch. There was a large group of Jeeps further up the trail, so to avoid a traffic jam, we decided to turn around and head back down.
The town of Moab...
As we drove back down the trail, we found a rollover accident. A Toyota pickup with a Wildernest camper on it, completely stuffed with camping gear had rolled over on its top. Fortunately, no one was injured. With the help of Kai's and Dan's winches, we uprighted it. The roof was crushed level with the hood, so with a High-lift jack we did some emergency body work. The engine wouldn't run, and Kai hooked a strap to him to pull him down the trail, and Bob hooked onto him from behind to slow him down. We loaded all of his gear onto a few Unimogs, and proceeded down the trail.
A little further on, I ran into some trouble at the Z-turn. I drove a line a bit to the left of everyone else, and dropped the left front wheel into a hole while the right rear was still up on a shelf, and the VLF very gently tipped over. The point of impact was the top front corner of the cab, and a large rock stopped me from rolling over completely. The seatbelts worked well, and no one was injured.
This is a set of images from the video that was taken by the Salt Lake City TV news crew that was riding along with us...
After uprighting the truck with help of Dan's hydraulic winch, it took a few tries to get it to start. The engine was locked up at first, but then it turned over and started. I suspect that some oil had run into a cylinder, and that stopped the engine from turning. Once the oil drained back into the sump, the truck started and ran fine. The top of the cab was crimped into the door frame, and the door wouldn't open. I also had a smashed vent window.
After this little bit of excitement, we continued on down the trail. The Toyota ran into a rock shelf a bit too hard, and broke a tie rod, so we had to abandon it at the side of the trail. We had passed most of the tough obstacles, and a tow truck was able to retrieve the Toyota later. We unloaded the Toyota's contents on a trailer at the bottom of the trail, and went back to camp.
I tackled the damage on my Unimog, and with the help of Bob Ragain and Dan Johnson, managed to get the driver's door working again.
On Sunday the 28th, most of the Moggers went to run Metal Masher. I stayed in camp for a while, and worked on my VLF. A bit later, Kelvin and Max Kurkowski and Ron McLaughlin showed up in Kelvin's U1700 towing a large flatbed trailer. The trailer had a Unimog 411, and a Ford pickup with Mattracks on it. I went over and met them, and helped get the trailer unloaded. We towed the 411 around the parking lot with my VLF to get it started, and then decided to go give Pritchett Canyon a try. So, we proceeded to the canyon with 3 generations of Unimog, a 411, a 404.1, and a U1700. The entrance to the canyon crosses private property, and we paid the required fee to enter. The first obstacle was a 3 to 4 foot drop-off, with a good tilt, and the stream bed way below to roll into. I was still a little skittish from the tip-over the day before, but with Kelvin's spotting, it was no trouble. We drove on up the canyon, until we got to the bathtub, which we played on for a while. The 411 with tractor
tread tires was an amazing climbing machine, and the sheer size of the 1700 made large obstacles easy. The 404 kept up OK. We turned around as the sun set, and drove back down the canyon in the dusk.
On Monday the 29th, we ran Hell's Revenge, including the Bath Tub, the Tip over challenge, and a Colorado river overlook. (more on this later...)
On Tuesday the 30th, we ran a trail called the Golden Spike. The first part of the trail is actually part of the Poison Spider trail. The obstacles include the Waterfall and the Wedge. Then, the Golden Spike trail begins. When we came to the Launching pad, we found a bit of an emergency. A Suzuki Samurai had rolled, and a very young girl in it was hit in the head by a loose tool box. She required medical attention, so I pulled out my old 3-watt cell phone, and called the local sheriff's department. They dispatched some local paramedics. I thought they would take a long time to arrive, but they showed up fairly soon, riding dirt bikes. They stabilized the little girl, and called for a helicoptor to transport her to the hospital in Grand Junction. We waited until the helicopter arrived, and then went on.
The rolled Suzuki.
The paramedic's bikes.
The flight-for-life helicopter arrives.
Kelvin's 1700 on the way down the hill.
Eric's 416 crew cab...
and Dan's 404.1 cargo.
Bob's 404.1 radio truck.
The view from the edge.
The next obstacle we came to was The Crack.
Kai led the way...
Kelvin's 1700 takes on the crack.
slow and easy does it...
the Ag crawler gears really help.
Dan approaches the crack,
gets the front across,
the rear wheels approach,
and Dan completes the crossing.
Bob's radio truck gets it's turn,
the front wheels drop in,
and and he finishes the crossing.
When I looked at the crack at first, I wasn't sure that I could make it across, but after watching the other 404's make it, I gave it a try. Kelvin gave advice, and helped spot me through.
The first wheel drops in,
and starts climbing the wall,
and the other wheel drops in.
The VLF reaches maximum articulation,
and the rear wheels make it across.
Eric gets some air.
The next major obstacle we came to was the Steps. This obstacle is a little tougher for a Unimog, because the steps are spaced almost exactly the same as the wheelbase of a Unimog.
Unfortunately, Bob Ragain got a little too much tilt trying to climb the steps, and the HamMog tipped over. The truck's windshield was mashed, but no one was injured.
The dragon is slain...
Kai backed up the hill and hooked up his winch to pull the HamMog back on it's wheels, and Kelvin connected his winch to keep the Mog from rolling away down the hill before we got it upright again. After careful rigging, the rescue went smoothly.
On Wednesday the 31st, the group ran Pritchet Canyon, and I stayed in camp and helped Bob Ragain repair some of the damage on his Mog. We straightened up the windshield frame, and got it in shape so that a glass shop could make some temporary windshields for it. Then I headed for home.
Thanks to Dan Johnson and Bob Newsome for the photos!