Easter Jeeps Safari 2003

Posted: 30 April 2003

Sadly, another Easter Jeep Safari has come to an end. Each year brings new and interesting things, new friends, reuniting with old friends, Europeans/Australians, wheels that fall off, oops, and learning that some legends come true.

Homeless people?...
First I would like to give a shout out to "Homeless Guy", one of the many new friends made this year. You see "Homeless Guy" is a mountain biker taking some time off from school. When I first arrived in camp for the Easter Jeeps Safari (EJS) "Homeless Guy" was in the next camp over. I first found him sitting at a campfire pit with no fire. Not really sure if he realized there was no fire, but I decided to invite him over to my camp, he looked lonely.

So as I sit there cutting my fenders we start to talk about the trails he has rode and the rubber marks he has seen where Jeeps have seemingly went up rather vertical walls. As I wrap up my fender trimming I invite him ride along with me and my group since we always have seats open and he's "Homeless Guy" with no place particular to be.

In a few days of trail riding "Homeless Guy" is now well versed on Jeeps, lockers, different tires, and many other Jeep related things. I have grown him into quite the shotgun. This is when jealousy first reared its head. At one fuel stop "Homeless Guy" got out to wash the windshield when all hell broke loose. Now others in my group wanted one of their own "Homeless Guys" to do their windshields and other things. At this point I had to keep a close eye on my "Homeless Guy" or he might have been stolen in the night.

Unfortunately, we ran out of food for him and he had to move on. "Homeless Guy", thanks for everything. Your a true Jeepers friend, good luck with school.

Old friends...
At last years EJS we came upon wayward new Jeepers and brought them into our group. Gary & Sunny were new to the whole Jeeping thing and looking a little lost. With a little instruction we had them well on their way to enjoying their new Jeep. Unfortunately I had lost contact with them. BUT... as the Jeep Gods would have it, we were reunited againl. You see we were getting ready to run Metal Masher when a Jeep started to round the Goonie Bird rock. Immediately we all scrambled for a gunshot start to get away from what we thought was a lonnnnggg group we had passed earlier. As the Jeep Gods would have it, Gary & Sunny had found me again. I believe the Jeep Gods wanted this so we could continue their rockcrawling addiction. Little did Gary know he would be tackling the famed Widow Maker later that day.

As we approached the Widow Maker you could hear the chatter about the obstacle. Gary still didn't know he was about to tackle it. So as we get out to check out the obstacle, and I'm explaing about the line Gary had said something about how difficult it looked. At this point I had a good evil laugh as I told Gary he was about to go up it. He was really quiet and said nothing with this deer in the headlights look. Gary listened intently as I explained how to do the obstacle. As Gary looked a little unsure about this wall I was about to send him up I told him I would do it first. With Gary having seen "T"ank "J"ammer do the Widow Maker Gary & Sunny climbed into their TJ and strapped in. Upon approaching the wall Gary now sees how steep/tall the Widow Maker is next to the front end of his Jeep. As we creep his Jeep up into a near vertical stand I give him the go to accelerate a bit and go up. First attempt didn't make it. At the break over point the Tj crabbed to the side over a vertical and down came the Jeep. Gary & Sunny trust me and my skills and faithfully lined up again. Second time being a charm, Gary & Sunny masterfully climbed the Widow Maker. My hats off to you two for not backing out of the obstacle.

Interesting Things and Legends That Come True
A member or our group, in additon to his YJ, drives a kickbutt Nissan Frontier with a solid axle up front. Sometimes he will run with the Nissan Xterra Club and I was invited to run Metal Masher with them. I have to say the Xterras did better than I would have given them credit for. With some work we got all the Xterras through the trail but the Goonie Bird did have its way with two of the Xterras before the day was over. You see when you run the Metal Masher you always run over the Goonie Bird's toes for good luck. In this group there were two that snubbed their noses at the legend. At about the halfway point Goonie Bird took down the first Xterra. One of the radiator hoses split wide open not being repairable. Fortunately with a little Jeepers resourcefullness I was able to repair the vehicle and we got under way. The next Xterra went down while heading to Gemini Bridges from the Metal Masher trail. It seems that the Goonie Bird removed one of his rear shackle bolts and flew off with it disabling the Xterra. Fortunately the group was able to come up with a substitute bolt long enough to limp it off the trail. Lesson learned... DON'T SCREW WITH THE GOONIE BIRD, run his toes over for luck.

Dirtroad Magazine joins us...
At about the EJS mid way point, Mac (owner/editor), from Dirtroad Magazine joined up with some of us to run Kane Creek driving the family Grand Cherokee equipped with wife and kids.

We took this trail because it's scenic, lots of water crossing (when were not in the 5th year of a drought), all the obstacles are in the last mile climbing out of the canyon, and we didn't need to destroy the Grand. When we started out we saw a number of Hummers and other huge monstrosities trying to do the trail. It wasn't long before they fell out from just being to darn big to go anywhere. The trail was pretty uneventful, just a fun trail ride as it was supposed to be.

Although the trail is only rated a 3.5 I have to say it has move up to a 4 (4.5 if its wet & muddy). Because of use and erosian the uphill rock garden has become more difficult at one point and I would say without the stacking alot of rocks it is out of the league for nearly all stock rigs.

At this point Mac and family had to leave us for other engagements in Nevada...

Mac, The Return...
Apparently plans changed and they decided to stay. Since they had more time on there hands we decided to run Poison Spider Mesa. A good trail and we shouldn't destroy anything on the Grand. Most notable on the trail was when we approached the Wedgie. We stopped at it for them to see the obstacle and snap pictures when Mac commented to me that he thought it would be something more. I chuckled and told him its the way the obstacle feels when your doing it and what can go wrong on this rather simple obstacle. I think the Wedgie redeemed itself after Mac did the Wedgie and he told how it feels kind of freakie doing it.

Unfortunately I don't have any good embarassing stories to tell on Mac. I would like to say his kids were really well behaved and obviously trail raised. Macs wife was the best. She some how seemed to manage the kids and run up and down the trail snapping pictures of rigs. She was even a good enough to stand in the line of fire when I was asked to make a high speed run into Kane Creek for a photo. Lets see... 10 inches of water, plenty of room to accelerate up to some good speed, and a woman (Macs wife) standing on the other side in front of me just waiting to get nailed with a wall of water...???? Hmmm what to do.... PUT THE HAMMER DOWN AND GO FOR IT!! Chance like that doesn't present itself often.

Europeans and Australians oh my
Always amazes me the draw that Moab and the Easter Jeep Safari has on people. Every year you always come upon vehicles that have been shipped over to do this thing. This year we found Swiss, Germans, Fins, and Australians.

Where did that wheel come from?
I made mention earlier of the Nissan Xterra Club and the Metal Masher trail. There was another trail that we had been invited to run with them but didn't quite make it. The Nissans were running the Golden Spike trail rated at a 4.5 (highest rating with one exception) with there mostly stock height rigs although they said some of them were lifted. So we Jeepers couldn't wait to go watch some carnage as the Nissans would surely take some damage doing this trail. So here we are with the Nissans approaching the Waterfall on Poison Spider Mesa (Poison leads to the Spike). One of our Jeep guys decides to take the really hard line up the Waterfall to show off infront of these Nissans. As fate would have it the Jeep was struck down. The line is really vertical with little traction to be found for short wheel base vehicles. With a little to much adrenaline, everyone watching, and a little showing off in front of the Nissans the Jeep was cleared for launch.

***National Geographic moment: You ever seen a whale come rocketing out of the water and then come slamming down on it's belly into the water? Keep that vision in mind...

As I was saying, the Jeep was cleared for launch. Tires spun grabbing every bit of grip they could muster as the Jeep nosed up the wall and straight up into the air. At some point gravity took over and the front end of the Jeep was brought down hard like the whale mentioned above in our National Geographic moment. Upon impact the drivers side front wheel snapped clean off blowing out one ball joint, breaking the other, shattering the u-joint and axle shaft ears.

I only wished a camera had caught it.

It was a great EJS and I look forward to doing it again next year. Hope to see some of you there (again).

This is a temporary page for those coming to EJS03 to get some information on what is happening, when, and where.

Some of you know me and "T"ank "J"ammer. For those that don't, let me introduce myself. My name is George "Kickstand" Pandoff, I do alot of the trail leading and spotting. I am very much safety first on the trail. People that have run with me will tell you, I never ask you to do more than you or your rig is capable of. With that said, equipment can still break even if you do everything right. If breakage happens, we will repair the vehicle if at all possible. If it is not, we will at least get you off the trail. No one is left behind.

A few rules of how I, as well as the other Big Horn club members operate on the trail.

I will be there 9-20 April. The official EJS03 run time is 14-20 April. Feel free to come down and join us any time. People will be coming and going through the camp as they can make it and for however long they can stay. If you can only attend for a couple of days then so be it, but we would like to have you.

Here is a list of the trails we plan to run this year. The list is flexible and will be worked around the official run days of the EJS to minimize trail congestion the best we can. If you are not familiar with the trails listed below you can check them out at: Moab trails

As I said, none of these trails are set hard and always open to change by the group.


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Check out the extended forecast through the
Weather.com link in the magnet above.

This can be a tough one. The weather can swing from below freezing temperatures to upper 60's lower 70's with in minutes. Rain or snow can come rather quickly and with out notice.

Another weather related issue is the dry climate. Utah generally has very low humidity. Your body is constantly losing moisture at an accelerated rate with out you being aware of it. Drink plenty of water or sometime in the evening you will probably end up with a nice dehydration headache.

Things that CRAWL... and they aren't Jeeps

Utah does have Black Widow Spiders, Scorpions, and some Brown something or other that is also poisonous. They are not really an issue but know that they are around. Some real simple precautions can be taken. Shake your shoes out in the morning and don't play with the rocks laying on the ground. Enough said!

Driving Directions To The Campsite

Head south on U.S. Highway 191 heading towards Moab, Utah. Just to the north of town & the Colorado River is Potash Road (on a map it's state highway 279). Turn right, this is the road we are camped on. Head down this road and you will pass a small state camping area on the right, keep going. The next pull off area on the right is another area to camp. It's a long sandy stretch where you will see others camping. We will be located in about the middle of this long stretch. If you should come to a brown sign on your left about Dinosaur tracks, you have gone about 30ft too far. Turn around and we will now be on your left. Before then I will have come up with some kind of marker to put by the roadside for you all to know exactly where we are.


11 March 03: Here is another link covering trails. This one is put together by the Red Rock 4 Wheelers, hosts of the EJS. Another Moab trails listing.

4 April 03: Just posted pictures as it looks for EJS03 for those meeting up with me in Moab.

8 April 03: Now for those of you holding your breath as to what the mystery campsite marker will be... drum rolllll.... it will be a red bandana on a rod next to the road. We will be straight in from the marker.

As of right now it looks like rain being forecasted for the later half of next week with falling temps. So come prepared.