Late-Model Rigs Can Wheel Too
The most common 4Runner spotted on trails around the U.S. is the first-generation, '84-'89 model. With its removable top, nimble size, and generous ground clearance, the 4Runner makes a capable trail rig. Late-model 4Runners, by contrast, are more likely to be spotted at the grocery store than in the dirt as a result of the increase in weight, luxury, and price relative to their predecessors. A small group of Toyota owners recently gathered in Moab in an effort to change that stigma. The bulk of the group consisted of third-generation 4Runners ('96-'02) with a smattering of fourth-generation 4Runners ('03-present) and Tundras.
Participants of the Moab 4Runner Foray ran a wide variety of trails over three days in early October. The choice of dates was ideal: There were warm temperatures and clear skies without the crowds sometimes found during other times of the year. The event followed an emerging trend in the four-wheel-drive community wherein owners of a specific make or model congregate to socialize and wheel. The Foray was small and informal enough to rely on volunteer labor and be free to all participants and their 20 vehicles, yet it was large and structured enough that stickers and T-shirts were produced and trail leaders reviewed proper trail etiquette each morning.
By the time we arrived on Thursday night, two axleshafts, a steering shaft, and a shock mount had already been sacrificed on Poison Spider Mesa and Hell's Revenge. The campground that served as the base of operations for the Foray was filled with vehicles bearing license plates from as far away as North Carolina, Washington, Louisiana, and North Dakota. This, along with the breakage, indicates that this group takes its wheeling as seriously as any we've seen.
On Friday morning, the better equipped of the vehicles traversed Golden Spike, while the less-modified rigs followed Gold Bar Rim. This offered drivers of vehicles without extensive armor to test the limits of their rigs without risking body damage. Gold Bar Rim drivers could park anywhere along the route if things got too hairy for them since everyone would be returning that direction. The two groups converged at the end of the Golden Spike Trail for lunch. After everyone had had his crack at the... well, Golden Crack, the united groups wheeled the rest of the Golden Spike and the Gold Bar Rim. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief that the combined breakage for the day was limited to one cracked radiator, which was repaired on the trail.