Heres a question for you to chew on: Do you have to have a hardcore rig and lots of experience to be a hardcore four-wheeler?
We suspect that there are lots of folks who might answer that question in the affirmative, holding that ones rig, and ones experience, are marks of a wheelers commitment to our sport.
Something we saw during this most recent Moab Easter Jeep Safari causes us to question that, however. We spent Tuesday of Safari Week out on Hells Revengethis is Moabs most famous slickrock trail, 8.5 miles of 4, or difficult trail, with nine members of the Xterra Owners Club. What we saw there suggests that enthusiasm, and a willingness to learn and to work together, are at least as important as preparation and experience.
This merry band, consisting of a mix of Xterras and Frontier pickups, was led by Ian Firth, of Aurora, Colorado, organizer and majordomo of the club. Like most of the other rigs on this run, Firths Xterra is mostly stock. But he made up for that with some hard-acquired driving skill, and he was more than willing to share his expertise with the others on this ride, most of whom possessed more enthusiasm for wheeling than they did experience. One exception to this was Steve Kramer, of Calmini in Bakersfield, California, driving an 01 Frontier, which benefited not only from a 3-inch Calmini lift, but also a factory limited-slip rear diff, a modified Nissan 300ZX limited-slip diff up front, plus Calmini skidplates and bumper, a prototype Calmini 3.6:1 low-range T-case gear reduction set, and 32-inch BFG tires. This was a truck that worked very well indeed.
Still, the stockers showed themselves off to good advantage, proving that you can do Moab in a stock vehicle. Sure, discretion and exemplary trail sense cause those stockers to take bypasses around the most difficult obstaclesthats what most of this bunch did when we came to Tip-Over Challenge, which isnt to be tackled without lockers in both ends. But even at that, everybody had fun, nobody broke anything, and everybody ended the day convinced that coming to Moab in nearly stock Xterras was a perfectly logical, perfectly rational thing to do.
Interested in joining the Xterra Owners Club? Contact club president Ian Firth at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the clubs Web site, www.xterraownersclub.com.