Each year as the Easter Jeep Safari (EJS) rolls around, we look forward to meeting up with old friends and scoping out the trade show for the newest gadgets, gismos, and gear. We also dig heading out on the trail for some of the best wheeling in the country. The thing is, the Jeep Safari (and related magazine coverage) always seems to be dominated by Jeeps. Now don't get us wrong: We still like Jeeps. Drive 'em all the time. But we wanted to give some coverage to the guys and gals whom you might otherwise not see, those in the 4x4 trucks. Last year, we set up an "all-truck" trail ride (sorry, Jeep guys), and this year we were back at it again. Part one of this story (this month) covers the 2006 event, while part two (next month) will highlight the 2007 run.
This wasn't meant to be a formal event. It wasn't an organized Off-Road magazine gig - just a bunch of guys we either flagged down on the street or met at the Moab Brewery or while gassing up at Maverick's. What we ended up with was a pretty well-rounded group of trucks and truck guys: a Chevy 1/2-ton and a monstered exoskeletal S-10; a vintage Toyota Hi-Lux and a newish four-door Tacoma; a couple of Ford Rangers; and a handful of Dodges, including a Power Wagon, a 2500 diesel, and an '80s ex-Forest Service four-door pickup. Yep, just a bunch of truck-loving, slickrock-wheeling truck owners soaking up the incredible vista, clean air, and warm breezes of a perfect spring day in Moab.
Our Truckin' Moab trail ride started near the banks of the wild and muddy Colorado River, the trailhead for the Moab Rim Trail. The Rim Trail holds a special place in the hearts of long-time EJS participants. Forty years ago, a handful of CJs, Scouts, and flatfenders meandered their way up the Rim Trail on the inaugural Easter Jeep Safari. It was a simple event with only one trail, a few guides, sack lunches, and... ice cream? Legend has it that a small plane did a surprise midday airdrop of ice cream to those first Jeep Safari participants.
The sun crests the La Sal Mountains midmorning this time of year, working its way up the 2,000-foot sandstone reaches of the Moab Rim and flooding over the lee side. Spreading long warm rays of light down the length of the trail and into the red river below, it came though our windshields like a warm blanket on a chilly morning. Chasing the sun for a few hours landed us a panoramic eastern vista high above the waking town of Moab.
The second half of our Truckin' Moab trail ride found us on the opposite side of Moab Valley for an afternoon on the Hell's Revenge Trail. To experience Hell's Revenge on a perfect spring day is to experience Moab's slickrock at its finest. Winding though its chutes and ladders, sand washes and hot tubs, Hell's Revenge provides a great sampling of Moab's terrain without threatening body carnage at every bend. It also receives the last rays of daylight as the sun settles into Canyonlands National Park.
We like the impromptu, freewheeling approach to our Truckin' Moab run: show up, grab some guys, and go wheeling. We picked up few new people on the trail and lost a few who went home early, shook some new hands, and made some new friends. We may not remember all the names, but we never forget a rig. If you're driving a truck around Moab during the Jeep Safari, don't be surprised if some dude with a camera flags you down. It just might be for the unofficial OFF-ROAD Truckin' Moab run.