Getting a new four-wheel-drive club off the ground is no easy task - especially when you drive one of the rarer 4x4s in the country. Because only three vehicles showed up for last year's rally, we were happy to have seven show up this year for our 2nd annual Mitsubishi 4x4 Club Rally. Held at the Hole In the Rock four-wheel-drive trail near Halls Crossing, Utah, this route offers magnificent scenery and history as well as an array of challenging obstacles. Our vehicles consisted of one Dodge Raider (which is the same vehicle as the Montero); one short-wheelbase Montero; four long-wheelbase, four-door Monteros; one D50 pickup; and one Montero Sport.
We all met at the trail head campsite Thursday, with a few late arrivals wandering in that evening. Many of us had never 'wheeled with any other Mitsu 4x4s and were happy to be in the company of like owners with whom we could share our experiences, such as the never-ending search for after-market parts. We discussed this and other issues around the campfire that night. We were hopeful that forming a new club would help us out in the area of aftermarket support.
We woke early the next morning and prepared to tackle the trail. Trail leader Lloyd Swartz gave a four-wheeling class for the beginners in the group before we headed out. We were prepared for just about anything - except the April blizzard that struck as soon as we hit the trail. The snow came down harder and harder and eventually forced us to set up camp for the night sooner than we expected. The following day, however, we were treated to some early morning sunshine, and the snow made for some interesting scenery.
The obstacles on Hole In the Rock are numerous. Most consist of steep rock ledges that can be easier to climb for vehicles such as Monteros, which have an excellent approach angle and are equipped with factory limited slips. (Some are even equipped with factory rear air lockers.) For those in our group with the long-wheelbase, four-door models, going down these same ledges wrecked havoc on our rear bumpers when the right line was not taken. The three of us in the group who were running 33-inch tires experienced less bumper scraping on these steep drop-offs. The extra clearance was just enough to keep the rear bumpers off the rocks. All of the vehicles on the trip fared well, though, including the '98 Montero Sport equipped with 31-inch tires and a factory limited slip.
After completing Hole In the Rock, we headed to the very scenic Arch Canyon and Hotel Rock trails, which are replete with Anasazi Indian ruins. The campsite at the end of Arch Canyon is incredibly beautiful and is within view of a magnificent natural arch. We held our first official club meeting here, electing club officers, discussing land-use issues, and raffling off a nice set of IPF lights that was generously donated to the club by ARB. We were treated to a bright, clear day following a cold night in Arch Canyon and decided to run Hotel Rock trail that morning.
Hotel Rock is short but very challenging. The trail climbs a series of steep ledges and eventually overlooks Arch Canyon for a breathtaking view. The trail ends at Hotel Rock, which contains several ancient Anasazi cliff dwellings that can be explored on foot. All those in the group made sure that everything within the cliff dwellings was left as it was found to ensure the enjoyment of future visitors.
After completing Hotel Rock, the group broke up into two groups, with one returning home to California and the other heading back to Moab for further adventures in Utah's backcountry.
The Mitsubishi 4x4 Club is open to all Mitsubishis and Mitsubishi-made Dodge 4x4s. For more information about the Mitsubishi 4x4 Club or next year's rally, contact: Lloyd Swartz, (505) 246-9430, firstname.lastname@example.org.