Photographer: Traci Clark
Once again, an informal gathering of flatfender enthusiasts was found at the north end of Moab, Utah, on a bright and sunny Friday morning during Easter Jeep Safari week. Willys of all shapes, sizes, builds, and capabilities converged on a dirt parking lot at the same time. After an hour or so of visiting with friends, old and new, and checking out the old iron, the group casually fired up their flatties and headed north out of town.
A few punishing pavement miles later the group turned off on a dirt track in the high desert red rocks. Brennan Metcalf called a halt to his faithful followers and advised that they air down a bit for the challenges ahead. The official number in his rusty flock totaled 34, with a few funny fenders—Brennan’s term for more modern Jeeps tagging along to provide support and parts runs to town if needed. The trail for the day was The Pickle, a 7-rated trail that challenges some of the best-built funny fenders in Moab. With obstacles named Dill Pickle, The Pickle Slicer, and Jalapeno Pickle, the day was sure to be long and full of adventure.
The Pickle trail is short compared to most of the trails in the Moab area, being only 1.2 miles in length. It should take the normal well-built Jeep and experienced driver roughly an hour to run it. Throw 34 flatties from bone-stock original to highly modified and it becomes a full day of fun, winching, and wrenching. The trail runs through a canyon and there are plenty of shady spots around the obstacles for everyone to hang out and watch all the action. For an extended day The Pickle connects with Hidden Canyon and Bartlett Wash Road trails.
Brennan had a vision a few years ago to bring vintage Jeeps back to Moab in force and to show folks that wheeling isn’t always about that $100,000, 40-inch-tire, built-to-the-hilt modern Jeep. Safari is celebrating its 52nd year after all, and these are the Jeeps that were on the trail in the early years.
This is a run we look forward to during Safari week every year. If you want to join the frenzy, find yourself a flattie, get it running or build it a bit, and cruise around Moab on Friday morning—follow the smell of 90 weight, rich-running carburetors, and burnt oil. You will find the group with the sun rising over the bluff behind them.
Here is a sight that brings a smile to the heart of any vintage Jeep enthusiast. Built to withstand the test of time, the Jeeps of that era cut many of the trails around Moab and continue to conquer the trails today.
Once the group hit the dirt a mile or so from the trailhead, Brennan called a halt to his faithful followers and advised that they air down a bit for the challenges ahead. The official number in his rusty flock totaled 34.
Can’t keep a flattie down. Last summer Stan Fuller was headed home from another event while Grandpa’s Jeep was strapped to the trailer; then the unfortunate happened—a truck and trailer rollover at roughly 70 miles per hour. The Jeep sustained severe damage, but with some man-hours, elbow grease, a new windshield frame, and a big hammer he had it straightened out and back on the trail before the end of the year. Stan made his annual pilgrimage to Moab for the Friday Fun Run.
It’s all about the smiles per gallon that an old flattie brings to the family. The look on this young lady’s face says it all. We love when the youngsters are enjoying the old iron on the trails; this flattie’s future will be assured with this one.
Willys of all shapes, sizes, builds and capabilities are welcome on the Friday Flat Fender Fun Run. Extra parts, spare fuel, and some safety and recovery gear are suggested but not required.
To get to the dirt turn-off for The Pickle you need to head north and west out of Moab, most of it uphill on Hwy 191 and 313. Some of the rusty relics handled the pavement and highway speeds a little better than others.
The trail runs through a canyon and there are plenty of shady spots around the obstacles for everyone to hang out and watch all the action. There are great vantage points from above and below the Dill Pickle obstacle.
The trail is very narrow in places and a couple of obstacles have no bypass. It offers steps over 12 inches high and grades of 25 degrees or more, and some side-hill sections of 30 degrees. Running it in a fullsize vehicle isn’t recommended, but it is the perfect trail to challenge a flattie!
We really enjoyed the visible checklist and artwork on the hood of this Willys. The owner must be a faithful follower of Rick Péwé and some of the projects he has built over the years.
A few friends had to pitch in to move Drew Barber’s flattie off the obstacle. It was being a bit temperamental, but after a little time-out and a pep talk it was ready to tackle the trail. Everyone is willing to jump in and help, and no one worries if several Jeeps need a tug up an obstacle or some assistance along the way. It’s all about the camaraderie and the love of these old vehicles. It isn’t about how fast can we go; it’s about the journey getting there.