Every big event, especially one as huge as the 50th anniversary of the Moab Easter Jeep Safari, requires a TON of planning and preparation. When you decide 4+ months in advance that you’re attending the hoopla, sign up and commit, at first it seems you’ll have plenty of time to gather everything needed. Add to that the challenge of working hard at work to allow “playing hard” for 9-days, the long hours and late nights add up. That time quickly whooshes by, and in the Jeep world there’s a never-ending list of maintenance, modifications, and upgrades to get ready just in time!
This year was no different. Tremendous efforts spent every weekend leading up to Moab EJS 2016, and crazy amounts of work during the “day job” to allow time to get-away. Of course, the travel on an adventure like this is fast-faced, and all the action and activities during the week also keep you hopping from place to place with a sensory-overload of scenery, friends, and experiences. Coming back to reality and a gnarly work-schedule also takes some getting used to, catching up on tasks…
All of this impacted my ability to prepare all these photos, and nobody was more anxious than me to see all the images and re-live the pilgrimage to one of the best places on Earth. So I am very happy and proud to finally have these ready to share, and if you were lucky enough to be in this magical place this year you’ll love checking them out. And if you couldn’t make it, you can live vicariously through these images to see what happens. Only in Moab.
Once again, our JK-Forum leader Frank Hansen put forth an amazing effort to arrange some AWESOME events with the best of the best in the off-road industry. Monday, Moab’s only DIY garage, #GoToMoab Garage, was the meeting spot for our exclusive trip to Flat Iron Mesa trail, hosted by #SpiderWeb Shade. This is a 5-Rated trail, with some optional obstacles that can take it beyond that, and has beautiful views of the La Sal Mountains. Slight miscalculations on Easter Egg Hill can easily take out your passenger door. The Intimidator forces you within inches of a terrifying cliff. Tilt-a-Whirl (a.k.a. Tilt-a-Wheel) tips you the the brink. The Chute is pure fun, and gives you the option to shoot up a waterfall type ledge that seems impossible to even climb up, let alone subject a Jeep to. Breakfast, lunch, and special-edition T-shirts provided made this a trip to remember. Monday night we headed back to GoToMoab Garage for a unique open-house meet-and-greet to check out what this shop can do, with some tasty mexican food taco bar served up to fill our bellies!
Tuesday was packed with an invitation-only trip to Rose Garden Hill trail, with Chantelle and the Topless for TATAs gang. We were treated to an honor of having the legendary Dan Mick as our trail leader, along with sponsors Carolina Metal Masters, Factor55, SpiderWeb Shade, Teraflex Suspensions, and of course our own JK-Forum. Listening to Dan Mick narrate over the radio as you cruise through amazing red-rock terrain, changing colors and rock formations, is such a memorable experience. Dan has a way of sharing history, landmarks, points of interest, and details that are unmatched. Add to that the company of Teraflex with their now famous personalities Dennis Wood, Joe Thompson, and more is just too much fun. The views of the canyon leading to Rose Garden Hill, and all the water-crossings is just spectacular, and difficult for a photographer when EVERYWHERE you look is postcard perfect scenery. I managed to survive with only a couple-hundred photos. So hard to resist. The climax is the climb up this ultra-challenging hill, where things were not so easy for everyone with a few straps whipped out to yank people up, and some carnage with broken axle-shafts.
Wednesday, can you believe, we had Dan Mick with us again as trail leader, this time on the Kane Creek Trail! Now were really starting to feel ultra-priveliged, since any trip is instantly better with Dan there to guide. Sponsors Northridge4x4 and Teraflex were in charge of making this a one of a kind trip. These guys really know how to spoil you and make for a special adventure. Besides the incredible off-road fun, they whipped up philly cheesesteak sandwiches for lunch and offered up swag-bags to all. We were even graced by the beautiful “@hotyogaholic” of Instagram fame, posing here and there throughout the day. Add in some bitchen built JK’s, a classic flatty Willy’s Jeep, and RFA Racing’s “Juggy” from King of the Hammers competition with its roaring V8 LS motor (damn that sounded good!), and there was a lot to see and do.
Thursday we were finally able to sleep in a little, mosey into town to check out the local quilt shop (Lynn just had to see!), and then made plans to hook up with our friends for a trip to Fins-and-Things. This is one of those classic trails up and down slickrock formations that can make you uneasy of you’re afraid of heights or unusual climbs/drops, but so much fun. You can see so much in the Sand Flats area, with Hells Revenge to the West and Porcupine Rim to the East. But what we didn’t expect to see was one of the new for 2016 Jeep concept vehicles also on the trail with their Marketing team and Photographers! The Jeep Crew Chief Seven Fifteen!! I was leading the group around a bend and couldn’t believe my eyes, when there it was perched on this red-rock ledge! This is one of those bad-ass Jeeps you just hope they consider making. We’ve drooled over it for weeks before Moab and again when seeing it posing in town. And, here it was out in the middle of “nowhere” on our trail run. The Jeep guys welcomed us and were happy to see our enthusiasm, and had no problem pausing while we scrambled our Jeeps around to get some group shots with this one of a kind concept. That will be remembered for a long time!
Thursday night we were visited by SuperDave (David Lawrence), unfortunately without Anne who was working hard. We made plans Friday to visit Corona Arch for a hike to take us to this interesting site that we were able to see last year from the “Where Eagles Dare” trail. Peering over the edge of the high cliffs last year to get a peek at Corona Arch from up above was amazing, and now we were headed to that arch to look back at that ledge. Very nice. This is a simple hike, and highly recommended with the ease of getting to this cool arch. Friday we also hooked up with our friends for a quick trip to Gemini Bridges and further tested many of those with a fear for heights. Friday night we headed to the Spanish Trails arena hoping to see if any of us would win the 50th anniversary Red-Rock Jeep for raffle, but it wasn’t to be.
Saturday we plotted our course home, this time with a special detour for one of my personal “bucket list” items of viewing the Horseshoe Bend Overlook. Another small hike gets you to this view of the Colorado River where it winds around a 270° curve around the Navajo sandstone with a 1,000-foot cliff. Of course I had to plop down with my Nikon, and capture photos with my feet dangling over the edge. This might be one of those photos worth printing REALLY BIG to hang on the wall!! We were also able to witness Monument Valley, Mexican Hat, wild horses, and more.
Below is a collection of 300+ images, and to see the entire gallery of over 800 hi-resolution original photos, you can simply follow this link or click the Shopping link below. The links bring you to the SmugMug page with many options to easily purchase prints, wall art, framed images, photo books, keep-sakes, and more. If it is a password protected gallery and you do not have access, please contact me so I know you are part of the event!