We started off by going the wrong direction, taking a left turn and following the wash instead of going uphill. There used to be an obstacle here, but we've never seen it. We turned around and got back on the trail, and we didn't get lost again.
It started out as a fun trail with rocks and ledges here and there. Monica headed up Which Way and slid about 15 feet sideways before her tires caught. Everyone else just went up that final line instead.
We were going through a small ravine and we met some other people. They were very friendly and happy, and would eventually show us what it looks like to come down Rocker Knocker.
We kept going, hurrying along so we could get to the major obstacles. It didn't take long before we were at the Tube, the beginning of the big obstacles.
It was a series of rocks, with a few lines through it. Monica took a line that ended up dropping her on her rocker guard pretty hard, so everyone else but Bob went around it. Bob had the clearance to get over it.
Everyone played on the way out, and Bob tried to get up on the big rock near the exit. His front tire went up fine but the rear tire missed it.
We headed up the hill and when we got to the flat area at the top Cheryl realized that the streetlocks part to her rear driver's side rim had been torn up and the center cap was destroyed. Don took it off completely, and that was the first of the trail damage.
Around the next corner we checked out the big ledge but it was too big for us so we went by it. Damen's Hot Tub was next to the ledge and we all got in it and found a line that worked for us.
Monica went up the right side, straddling the small hot tub with water in it. Cheryl, Eric, Matt and Ladd all took the left line. It was a difficult line but they all made it through. Bob tried the center line but the sand made it too difficult, so he ended up going up the left line too.
Around the next corner we found ourselves at the base of Rocker Knocker. We'd watched some videos and read about how to do it, but it's a different thing when you finally get to it. Monica gave it a few tries but couldn't quite figure out the weird line through it.
At that point a group of three Jeeps came up behind us to watch and offer pointers. The first in their group asked us if we wanted to watch them go through it, and we happily said yes. The Cherokee went through it without any issues, but the shorter wheelbases (a CJ and a TJ) had a few more issues. We tried to watch and learn but it was difficult because many of the lines didn't work.
Once they got through, Monica tried again. She could get to the right point where her front tire needed to drive up on the next ledge a bit, but the 3.07 gears weren't cooperating. Her Jeep is locked front and rear but it didn't have enough power. Once the clutch started smoking she backed down to let it cool off.
Eric tried next, and it really looked like he had it. He was really, really tippy and close to the left side where he needed to be, but his rear tire wasn't up on the ledge yet. He tried to back down but even with a few guys holding his Jeep down he wasn't going to do it safely. A tow strap was tied to his front rollbar and the guys held him down from the top of the obstacle as he carefully backed down and got out of the way.
There was a large group of Cherokees getting impatient behind us, so we thought it would be best to let them go by us. The line they took made it look easy, but it wouldn't work for our shorter wheelbases. One of the Cherokees got going too fast on the sideways slide and flopped over on its side. They got it upright and he went around to the bypass instead.
After all of the Cherokees had gone by, Bob took a crack at Rocker Knocker. It seemed like he would get close, but then not quite get his rear tire where it needed to be. Automatic transmissions were definitely easier here than Bob's standard. He gave it a good try but he wasn't going to make it this year.
Monica tried it again after Bob. She tried the Cherokee line but at that point everyone had realized that it wouldn't work. She tried a few more lines but her clutch started smoking again. That was going to be it for Monica on Rocker Knocker.
Ladd wanted to get on the obstacle and just pose for pictures, but then when he got up on it he actually got his rear tire up and found the right line. He got a little high centered near the end at the left but the guys got on a tow strap and rocked him back and forth (even though he was really tippy) until he could get through. He made it!
Don got in Cheryl's Jeep and tried to follow the line that Ladd just found. He made it look really easy, just driving right through it. We had two Rubicons in the group and they were the only two to make it. Nice!
Bob gave it a few more tries but he couldn't get to where the Rubicons were. It was a tough line to follow.
We were glad to have the extra time to experiment, but it was time to move on. When we got to the sign that marked one way as "harder" and one way as "easier" we took the harder side, but it wasn't difficult at all.
Then it started raining. We got to Suicide Hill and nervously watched as a buggy perched on the top, tippy and sliding off the side. He got down okay, though, and then it was our turn.
Because of the pouring rain, we decided not to take the left line. It would be easy to slip there. Instead, we started from the bottom and tried to work our way up.
Monica went first and didn't get too far up the slickrock portion. It was completely wet, with wet sand at the bottom. We discussed it for a bit, but then it seemed obvious that we'd have to winch up. The rain didn't look like it was stopping anytime soon.
With a tow strap around a rock, Monica winched herself almost to the top where she could finally catch her tires on some rock. Cheryl came next and it was really pouring rain at that point and it was windy. She caught her rear differential on the rock at the top for a bit but managed to get over it. No one had doors or windows and it was a bit chilly.
The rain calmed down a little and Eric went up. Bob went up after him. Then Bob turned around and used a snatch block to winch Matt up. Ladd brought up the rear and we were off to the next obstacle.
We got to the Rock Pile and had to laugh -- there was no way anyone was going up that, especially in the rain. The rocks were drying up a bit but the obstacle was a wall of rock. Unfortunately we didn't get to see anyone do it before we got there.
The bypass right next to it had lots of rocks stacked at the bottom so it seemed like the obvious choice. Monica got up on it first and the rocks were like a ramp, making it easy. Cheryl followed after the ramp was restacked.
It was starting to look like rain again so Monica and Cheryl decided to finish the rest of the trail and go check out Yellow Hill while everyone was slowly making it through the Rock Pile bypass. They both went up the left side of Yellow Hill without any troubles. It was like a short Launch Pad (an obstacle on Golden Spike).
Eric was next to go up the bypass of rocks and he managed to catch the ledges wrong. He blew up a u-joint, ripped the sidewall out of one tire, and spung a leak in another tire -- all in one try! He hobbled out of the way for the next Jeep, making a plan on how to fix everything.
Matt went next and needed a strap to get up the rocks. The same ledge that gave Eric trouble also gave Matt some issues, bending his tie rod. He wobbled out of the way to let Ladd through.
Ladd went up the bypass and slipped in the rain, and his front tire fell off the side. He balanced on his front differential, teetering on the edge but not going over. He slowly worked his way back off of the edge, then tried again and made it.
Eric replaced the u-joint and put his spare on. He used Matt's spare for the other flat tire, so he had a little bling on one of the rims. Matt was going to switch out his bent tie rod for a straighter stock one that Bob had, but decided to hobble back to Moab instead and buy a beefier one there.
It was pouring rain again, but luckily it let up so the guys could work on Eric's Jeep. Don wandered off to do some rock climbing while the rain had stopped. While they worked we were also treated to a show as a buggy and a CJ worked on the real Rock Pile. The buggy powered up it but the CJ couldn't get up. A bunch of guys got on a tow strap at the top, attached to the front of the rigs. That seemed to be the trick -- that and a powerful engine and good gearing. Maybe we'll try it next time.
Once everyone was ready to roll again they all went up the left line on Yellow Hill. It wasn't slippery, even in the rain, and it was no problem.
We left the wide area at the top as the sun finally went down, working our way off the trail. It was easy to find our way back to the highway, even though it took a long time. The rain had made the usually dusty road muddy instead, which was probably better.
The drive back to town in the rain was fun, getting water and mud all over the inside of our Jeeps and inside the windshields. We finally got back and dropped from exhaustion and an awesome day.
Matt ended up not finding a better tie rod so he had to buy a new stock one, but it worked. Eric trailered his Jeep home so he didn't have any issues. Monica had some vibration issues that slowed everyone down a little, but then we hit the first blizzard of the season on the way home. We heard that I-70 was basically closed, so we went south through Leadville and to Highway 285. There was a lot of snow and it was a mess. It took us 12 hours to get home.
We're already itching to get back to Moab.
Reports from Other Days: 2
Use the arrows or dots to flip through the previews of the other reports for Pritchett Canyon. Click one of them to read more and see all of the photos from that day.