My Girl: Gettin' After It!!

My Girl: Gettin' After It!!
My truck on her maiden voyage in Moab 2012

Saturday, October 8, 2016

Moab:Top of the World~ Day 4 I think. It has literally taken months to complete this...

What happened to me? I used to be so well-balanced and methodical.

Let's just throw together a story here. First: upload some pictures.


Now: Try to remember what happened 5 months ago.
 I do remember that I was not necessarily 'cocky' at this point, but my confidence in the capabilities of the rig were reasonably affirmed. We had zero over-heating issues with the truck through 3 days of travel  pulling a trailer or on 3 days of trail riding in high heat. We had jumped up to a Red-level trail and not really been in anything too crazy. Yes, I did have the concerns with the random "Slip/VDC" illumination, but we chalked that up to just having the steering wheel at too sharp of an angle for too long while in 4-lo.

The boot to the tie rod was torn, but...whatever. And no one was particularly concerned about the very slow seepage of power-steering fluid. I still had well over 98% of the original volume still in the reservoir. We were going to let it ride.
 There were some built rigs accompanying the crew. Once again, Bill was leading. And once again, I was to be his shadow. I was supremely confident in his leadership, but I still wanted to be close enough by where he could see me in the rear view and wave me off from any hairy issues.

 This was perhaps the first time that Keith and I would be wheeling a trail together. We were both out here for Moab 4 years ago, but I was literally the newest of the new and would have had no business on any of the trails he was running that year. Even now, I still had some anxiety as to whether or not I was pushing my luck.

The main thing I found from the first red trail was that really one just needs the ground clearance for a few select, non-bypassable sections. You could probably get a lesser built rig through but it would either require some technical excellence or a willingness to incur some pain. And with several greenish vehicles, it could end up being a slow and painful progression.
 But as we got underway, and things generally weren't too crazy, I was kinda thinking, "Man, this is just the cool kids gate-keeper. These trails aren't THAT bad." But then again, maybe I had spoken too soon.
 I'll have to dig up video from the section right before this. It might actually be this section. Basically there was a large void that appeared as if it would swallow my truck. I thought, "There's no way Bill wants me to follow him on this line". And then Bill got out and said, "Back it up and follow me on this same line".
 The long wheel base of the Frontier actually allowed me to surfboard right over the void by just keeping the passenger side on the narrowest of lips. It was actually quite incredible to mee.

This shot kind of depicts the ledge, but at the wider portion. Keith actually wanted more of a challenge; so, they intentionally had him try a few redirections on the way up.
 The Tacoma took the bypass that I had been eyeing. No shame in that.

 So we came to a second portion of the trail. There were really only one other tough section to this trail. Once again I was tucked in right behind Bill. I saw him direct Princess 2.0 pretty much up and over a pretty considerable shelf. He maybe had to realign once or twice to crest over. No exaggeration, it was probably 3-4 feet high. So I went to do it too. He didn't intend for me to attempt this.
 I locked her up front and rear. I sidewinded a bit to the passenger side. Bill instructs me to turn hard driver. I respond that the steering is really fighting me to reverse course. Veronica was not letting me turn back to driver. I disengaged the front locker, trying to avoid binding up the CVs. We're only at it for another 30s or so. Bill waves me off. Just as I throw the truck into reverse. POWWWW!
 A single tear rolled down my eye. I don't know what has exploded. But outside of 4th of July and Vin Diesel movies, explosions generally are not a good thing. I blew up the very same CV I had just swapped in at the beginning of the week. Ain't that a blip?!
 As it turned out, I finished the trail and the drive home on the very same CV that I was worried about in the first place. The swap was actually pretty uneventful. I learned a very important lesson that I will share here:

Whether you are with the R180 or an M205, if you have a front locker on an independent front suspension Nissan rig, one has to be careful not to steer too heavily in either direction during high traction situations. I'm pretty sure that's what grenaded my two CVs on the NH trip. I was cautious (so I thought) not to turn to too extreme of an angle on this approach either. But the slickrock offered even more traction than the moss-covered rocks of NH. Basically, if you aren't going straight up and down, you probably should not engage that front locker. My problem was that the locker itself was likely still bound up even after allowing the pressure to decrease, the locker itself may have still been engage. That ultimately led to the joint exploding.
 This actually started as a pretty fun stair climb.
 Bill had gotten out to spot a few of us. I actually was climbing with some gusto and taking really good lines. Bill was proud of me, and I was glad to have earned his praise. As I crested up the last shelf, Bill came bounding towards my driver side window before suddenly disappearing beneath my vehicle. "Did I just f*cking run over Bill?!?" Sheer terror filled my entire body.

I cried out, "Bill!"
 I didn't think I had struck him, but I quickly rationalized too things, "If I did hit him, if he isn't dead, he's going to get up and kill me. I don't want to have killed Bill. I also don't want to be murdered."
 What had actually transpired was that a portion of the rock ledge had broken free under his weight which sent him cascading down maybe 15 feet until another larger rock outcropping halted his descent.

We didn't know the severity at the time, but he actually ended up breaking one or more bones in his leg/ankle.
 This dude still got up and spotted the next several trucks. He thankfully did not murder me, as I had nothing to do with the calamity.
 However, when we got to the Top of the World, it was apparent that a pre-existing condition of Bill's along with the apparent severity of the injury itself meant that we needed to get the big guy down off the trail and to more serious medical supervision. We were fortunate that one of our companions on the trip was an EMT and had done great work to stabilize Bill's condition. Nonetheless, it was to be a bumpy and drawn out descent to get to town. And we were going to take that descent as quickly as we could comfortably get Bill down.
 A lot of times, people will get their trucks positioned up here. As long as I had known about Moab, I had wanted to put my truck up at this position. But now that I had the chance, it didn't seem to matter to me. I wanted to make sure the guy that had continuously looked out for me over the past two days got the care and attention that he needed now. So when we put it up to a vote, I along with several others indicated we would forego the poser shots in an effort to get down quicker. (It takes a while to position each vehicle up here one at a time. It could have easily added another 45 minutes or so).

 We snapped a few pics up there individually while folks got a quick bite to eat.
 Then we started the descent.
 Because I had the big CB antenna and the Ham setup, I was entrusted to relay instructions back to the rest of the group over both bands.

 The trip down was largely uneventful. At one point, in my haste and strict adherence to instructions, I hugged the passenger side of a descent with a bit too much commitment and sheared my tow mirror completely off the frame. All that retained it was the power wiring. (I was able to repair it once we got to the convention lot).

The second thing was this obnoxious Jeep driver.

Mind you, we're hauling @ss trying to make sure we get Bill down off that mesa/mountain/whatever-the-f*ck as quickly and safely as possible. It's largely only a single track. And there are portions that are only one rig wide that are shared by up-travelers and down-travelers. Well, apparently for one Jeep guy, we weren't traveling with enough haste. And although several people had attempted to relay to him that we were trying to keep our group together, he kept doing precarious maneuvers to overtake members of our convoy one by one.
 Even though Bill was laid up, he was still very much concerned with trying to make sure all of our group were able to make it down together. There were a few people who were either newly taking on red trails or newly behind the wheel of a new-to-them rig and we didn't want anyone left behind.

I'm not quite the physical specimen that I used to be, but with Bill taken out of his normal role of protector, I felt it was incumbent upon me to take action. I summoned Angry Black Man.
 "If he passes one more of you, key up on the radio and I'm handling it!"

He passed, and I flew out of the truck.

"Hey! What's your f-cking problem?! I DON'T CARE. I've got a f-cking medical issue two trucks up that we're trying to get down off this...whatever-the-f*ck this is...and we're trying to keep our group together as quickly and safely as we can. You  need to BACK OFF. We good? I don't want to come back and make myself any more clear."

 I'm normally smiley and happy. But Papa Bear woke up and I didn't like him jeopardizing Bill or the rest of my adopted family for this week.

So, I probably wasn't as intimidating as I had hoped, because when we got down off of the...whatever...someone relayed that he had passed one more truck before settling in on his final position.
 When we got to the trail head, several of us extended our onboard air leads to be able to expedite airing up Bill's rig before they headed to the hospital. The Jeep guy did drive up to me and apologized, saying he didn't realize what was going on, and that he hoped our friend was ok. I had mellowed out some and just explained we were all one edge and just trying to keep everything moving, but that, aside from the trauma, it was a great day and a great trail to experience. He waved and left. Then they told me he had still passed one of us and I got slightly hot again. Just slightly.
 I knew Bill would be ok. The raffle was coming up. And I also knew there was some great scenery to be had on the return leg from there to the Spanish Trails arena.

 So I just slowly made my way back into town snapping pics of the rig against the beautiful backdrops.

 Raffle Night!

 I didn't get the top prizes I had gone after (like the awning or rooftop tents), but I did manage to walk away with another Trasharoo. At first, it was like, "Well what am I going to do with TWO trasharoos?" But now I have a V8 Pathfinder and it can maybe sport the other one. I've probably not talked about the Pathfinder yet. Yeah. We have one now. It's mainly because I dogged the hell out of this poor truck and the family was getting sick of me imperiling my ability to reliably transport myself or the kid from point A to point B.
 Apparently someone reminded me that I had also completed a trail by the name of "Busted Nut". I would think I would have remembered such a strong monicker :)

 I think they do this every year. It apparently  never gets old for them. :)

 Alright. I finally finished Day 4. Tune in February 2017 when I tell you about the 5th day at Moab.