Moab, Utah, back then


I will work on the next installment of the Hole in the Rock.

Da Frenchman
Does this mean we can expect to see HITR on next year's EJS trail list? Going to have to sign up if so!! :)

I started going to Moab in 1999 with a group of Jeep engineers as a vacation in May. Even just the 20 years since then have see a whole lot of change... Dan Mick and Kevin Hawkins led us around back then. Stories of racing flat fenders side by side up Lionsback, and exploring to find routes that were passable by Jeep made me so jealous. IMO, no real opportunities to explore like that anymore, at least not in the lower 48... :(


Expedition Leader
I can not say as I do not know anything in the planning works about" Hole in the Rock Trail". I have given the club all of the information that they need for the new 10 year permit. What a lot of people do not know is because of the location of Hole in the Rock this is total new set of permits. It is in a different BLM district and then enters Glen Canyon recreation district (this is run by the National Park Service) and requires a separate permit and different set of rules.

I know that I have promised to continue more information on Hole in the Rock. I have not forgot! Excuse #1 I returned from Mexico with some medical issues. Excuse #2 My mind has to be in the right spot to sit down and write. Excuse #3 I have been busy helping my next door neighbors who both were in the hospital and recovery centers at the same time. Excuse #4 I got the first meeting at the cardio office done yesterday. Then tomorrow I will be at the cancer center for a follow up visit. Then next week it is to see the Cardiologist about the next hospital stay. This is the, if and when, that has been on hold for over 15 months now. We are going to check out a possible new operation.

Many things on my mind, sort of puts a damper on my writing. If I can get some good news then they will get me pointed again in the right direction again. Do not give up hope, as I have not given up.

Da Frenchman


I wish I knew about you guys when I started doing off-road adventures with my first wife in 1977. We really liked Utah and did everything in the Canyon Lands area, and many parts of Utah. Since we travelled by ourselves, we didn't venture too far on little travelled trails. Getting lost was one concern but breaking down was another. My FJ55 Landcruiser was very reliable and never stranded me. I had confidence in my driving ability because I drove heavy equipment including trucks in some fairly extreme terrain in Viet Nam with out any issues. But I didn't want to take too many chances with just one vehicle.

I am glad I eventually found groups to run with off-road around 2000. Now, I have have assistance if needed. Fortunately, I have not needed much of it.

I always enjoy your stories Frenchie and your early history off-road is very worth while listening to. I would like to have been there to join in on the fun.

Wishing you the best on your health.


Expedition Leader
I have the house to myself for a while as the wife left to go see her parents for a while (up to 2 weeks).

I do not remember from one trip to another exactly the dates. I will put out the stories as I remember them. Trust me they will not be in any order.
When I asked to have Hole in the rock added to the EJS. It was not felt as if it would be that popular. The reason was it took people out of town for 3 days, ans people would miss the crowd event. After a couple of years another of the club members asked about it being added as the EJS was getting bigger.

The trails were filling up and getting harder to manage as I remember, Poison Spider when I did it one year we were over 100 vehicles.

The club decided since I had asked about doing "Hole in the Rock" trail first, I was asked to lead it. With 2 people wanting to lead it we offered it twice during the pre-runs in the week. I took the first 3 days. The way it was laid out I would leave at 8:00 AM on Saturday and the second group would leave at 8:00 Am on Monday. We would cross paths at Cal Black Airport about noon. This was the opportunity for many pranks to take place. You will hear in the upcoming posts.

Typical group would get moving after a short information sesion and getting the paperwork done. We would leave would leave for the road trip to get down to near lake Powell. We would do some introductions and pass out information of EJS and the history of Moab and the areas we would be going through. This included some of the geology, flora and fauna, The stories of the Rock Peckers, mining history and ranching and farming.

This included about the reasons for the settlements being built where they were. This is a bit of a challenge as we are going in revere the direction that the pioneers were traveling.

With a quick stop for fuel at Shirt tail Junction for fuel, restrooms and snacks. We would make a stop for some Indian ruins. quick stop, at some historic pioneer points of interest having to do with the Pioneer trail. Arriving at the airport near noon we would air tires down and each lunch. We would have some people coming from different directions and they would meet us also at the airport. They could trailer their vehicle there and leave them in a parking area.

If people would need fuel they could top off the tanks get some snacks from Cal or sodas from the machine. I wanted a cold soda on year I put in my money and my soda came out, then another and another. If stopped when the machine was empty. I went in and got Cal with the key. I only paid for one so that was the only one I kept.

When we left for the dirt and cross the HITR trail and visit the wagon wheel marker on the trail. We would not be able to pick up the trail at this point as the route the pioneers took went across the natural sand dam at Lake Pagahrit. This has washed out and is impossible to enter or exit the canyon at this point. For this reason we take a route out and around the canyon. The route will take us past the ruins that have different thoughts of what it once was used for. I will hold my thoughts for a while on this subject.

We would Join the route of the Skully oil and mining companies road.

I will pick up some important information in the next post as we cover history and fun fact's.

Da Frenchman
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Expedition Leader
Things pop into my head why and from where it is a unknown to me. Hole in the Rock was one of thoes places where things just happen. Some of then were not so good and others were great or just strange. We will get through this eventually or maybe not!

Over the many times I have run the trail I have seen most everything. Many things were worth acknowledging. After a few years of the Safari trips I would print out blank certificates to have with me (just in case they were needed.

There was the year when we had a older couple who came out in a pick-up truck. The wife did not want to sleep in a tent. Well the husband bought a $50.oo truck shell cap. That was very smart thinking or was it? The cap did pretty good out to the end of the trail and back to camp. They were happy being out of the weather. The fun began when we broke camp to head back to the Cal Black airport. The attachments decided that this was a lot of work in holding everything together.

Well they decided to loosen their grip on things. Well the bouncing along the food framed cap slipped off of the side of the truck bed. We lifted the cap back on and reset the clamps. That did not hold up to the next few bumps. We needed a better way to carry it out. We gathered some straps and rope. We continued down the trail. Next the lift gate fell off and that went into the truck bed with all of the stuff they had bouncing around back their. When we made it back to the airport it was time to distribute the certificates. I inserted their name and the award they got was surving Hole in the Rock trail with The Beverly Hills Camper Mobile! They were proud as could be to get the certificate.

This was just one of the many distributed over the years.

We did take this trail very seriously and I pumped out the information for 3 days. Those who went on the trip we would always have a single group campfire. We would share stories and great experiences.

I would even gather door prizes most years for our own raffle for the participants of the trail. Everyone's name was on a hat then we would get a child to draw names. This only gave you the order to pick a plastic egg. Each plastic egg had a number in it. Once every driver had a egg we would let them get the door prize that matched their number. The door prizes were what I would buy during the year. They were items like CB radios, recovery straps to what ever I could see when out shopping.

Much more coming,

Da Frenchman
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Ace Brown

Adventurer, Overland Certified OC0019
I rarely stopped in Moab in my early days passing through. But I remember the place around 1975 when my brother and I stopped there on a X/C road trip. There was nothing there. They even rolled up the sidewalks and put them in storage. True!


Expedition Leader
Flip, flop and on the top!

The HITR trail is beyond what is considered overlanding. I would consider it light Rock Crawling. Stock vehicles can make the trail, with a experienced driver.

Part of the art in being a good leader, is getting a grasp of the drivers abilities with a group. You can listen to them, but more importantly is watch how they drive. This is not wait until you get to a big challenge to see how they drive. It starts with the small bumps climbs and gotchas ( a gotchas, is a rock, bump, hole or something that if you were paying attention you would avoid).

If they make a poor decision you need to plan on offering advice when you get to the challenges. Whether it is getting them out and discuss the possible routes, offering to spot for them or what ever it takes to get through safely. This is not always as easy as this statement as it sounds. There drivers who think highly of their skills which can exaggerate their actual skills. The” macho” in the person comes out. At that point you have to let the person make their own decision as it is their vehicle. You then have to switch from the leader to the director of safety in a instant. You have to get any spectators back away from the area as what your experience will move everyone to a safe watching area.

At this point another item which is generally harder to do, is to remove the spectators from being spectators. Getting the crowd away will sometimes reduce the Macho pressure and the driver may allow for a spotter or assistance.

The club policy was to allow the people to try the challenge on their own. If they need help, do not force yourself into the situation. Many times they are with a friend and they will offer to guide them. This could be good for a couple of reasons, #1 they are fimuliar with the driver and skills. #2 If something happens you are not involved. #3 is you have enough to do keeping people safe and watching them with one eye and the vehicle with the other.

Well enough education for now you want the fender bending, frame and skid plated fighting it out with the rocks to see who will win?

Over the years I have had at around 15 flips, flops or rollovers on the trips. Some were soft and easy to others total destroyed. I will pick out some of the most unusual ones.

I will start with one of my helpers the (late) Mark G.. This happened in the “Chute” and the last person coming down was my tail gunner (last person in the group). I had walked back to spot for people if needed. Well when I saw Mark coming down I started walking back to my vehicle. Mark was about 1/3 of the way down and people below started yelling. As I spun around I saw marks Samari resting on the drivers side. Mark was just sitting in the drivers sear looking at me. Myself and 2 others ran back up to lift the Sami back on its wheels. As we approach Mark hands us his bag or Oreo’s off of the rock. We lift the drivers side up and have Mark steer left as he starts to roll down the hill. He asks for his cookies back (he forgot the service call to right his vehicle charge, was a bag of cookies). When we level the Sami from side to side we inspect the vehicle. The only damage was the glass on the drovers side was broken. There was no scratches in the paint a small ding to the plastic mirror surround.

We did have major damage to one of the cookies on the ground. We stepped on it during the lifting the vehicle back up.

Other then Mark eating cookies and not looking at the horizon to keep the vehicle level. We were relieved that it was only one cookie who suffered catastrophic damage.

I have many more frame twisting, destruction coming. My short attention span I need to do it in sections.

Da Frenchman
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I'm loving these stories Frenchie.
That wagon wheel marker was in rough shape but interesting to find (circa 2009, 2010) .



Expedition Leader
All right, now that was nice and easy, but you want more. Rip them up bang them hard and here comes one.

The year of this, as in all of these is between 1990 and 2015. I will guess 2005 (give or take 10 years either way). The group of people attending were great people. Which is one of mu favorite parts about EJS. Everyone was per-screened, washed and hung out to dry. If they were still wet when we departed we left them hanging out to dry.

We had made it to the airport from Moab. We had some people in our group who were coming across the ferry to Halls Crossing. This was a shorter route for them getting to the stare of the trail head. They had towed their vehicles to the ferry crossing leaving their RV on the other side of the lake. The vehicles in this group were a nice Grand Cherokee and a Fantastic CJ-7. I point this out as this was the first trip with the CJ-7 after a year long restoration on the CJ. It was actually nicer then a new showroom Jeep. I was impressed with how it looked. It was built well with all of the goodies and some nice custom work.

We had made it out to the top of the Little Hole in the Rock. Here we spend about a hour or two as people eat lunch and do some short hikes. We get a nice view across the lake to the Hole in the Rock cut. After eating we return facing the opposite way on the trail we had come in on.

We had got to the obstical called the "Toe Tapper". On our way in I pointed this out that were not using this anymore as most of the dirt had washed or blown away, over the last 100 years. My late friend Marcel M. was behind me in his Grand Cherokee. We were using the sandstone fin just below it to bypass the "Toe Tapper". I had just reached the top of the climb and on the flat top. On the radio I here "Frenchie we have a vehicle on it's top". Being in the front I had a good hunch it was not in front of me. They said"Right behind you"! In my mirror all I see id the front of Marcel's Jeep grill. I pull up a little to give Marcel flat parking and off of the steep climb.

I hurry back to look down the climb to see 4 tires in the air. They are sitting on the vehicle width back of the fin. As quick as I can get there I get access to the passenger door. The wife is hanging upside down by her seat belt. I check and they both say that they are all right. I do the quick scan and they both look to be fine. The seatbelts did save both of them from possible other injures.

While they are just hanging around, we look and the vehicle is solid from rolling down to the next level below. It is safe for a removal of the couple. We could not get the seatbelts undone as their weight was keeping it locked. I got on my back and slid into the area between the crushed in roof and the wife and between her pushing and my pushing her back into her seat we got her unbuckled and down safely. We got her further checked out by the other ladies in the group. We got her wrapped up to keep her warm. The ladies stayed and kept talking to her. I went back inside to help get her husband out. This was much easier as the steering wheel gave him a way to push up and get out easier then his wife had to get out.

I did a further check on the husband and he was fine after getting him out.

Now with our route blocked with 22 vehicles behind the upside down vehicle it was time to get the vehicle out of there. We did not want to drop it over the edge and we discussed a plan. We all agreed it was the best we could come up with. We got all of the strongest men and spun the vehicle around on it's top, 90 degrees. This would give us room to roll it over back onto its wheels. That was a success then we got to look at the actual condition of the vehicle. It is not the worst roll that I had seen by a long way, BUT the grill was pushed in front of the motor The mechanical fan got scared also and was hugging the engine for comfort. Nothing was going to be running under that hood today. We checked the steering, brakes and got it into nurtural. With that we started the route back to camp.

The next plan in tailed that his friend and the Grand Cherokee would hold the rear from sliding off of the lower ledge. I got Marcel out of the way and backed down the fin. I hooked onto the front corner of the Jeep and with some pulling I spun the front around. The driver said that he could manual steer the vehicle and with the brakes working I was to going to pull him back out to camp.

His wife refused to get into any vehicle with anyone. She was going to walk with us back to camp. As much as I tried to convince her to ride back she choose to walk a couple of miles. After the walking she then got in my passenger seat for the ride back.

All was going well as I pulled the Jeep up to the top of the chute. It was here going up the challenging south (right side going up) his tire hit a steep climb and stopped. As I felt the pull my front tire bounced and when it came down, I heard a big pop and bang, My free wheeling hub had had enough. With the loss of the front wheel drive I was able to get it to up and on the top. He was ready so we continued on. Low range with no front wheel drive we motored on. We had a number of challenges but with a full Detroit locker in the back we made it into camp.

When we got close to their campsite the lady got out and went to here tent and that was the last time we saw her that night. We had our standard campfire and festivities. We discussed the plans for the morning. They wanted to get the early ferry across to Bull Frog. I gave them my word I would do my best for them. We departed about 30 minuets earlier then normal. We motored along and I got them to the airport and then the friend could pull him the last paved section to the ferry.

Well what happened to cause this roll over? There were a couple of things. #1 the Jeep driver did not look to see where the vehicle went. This is a unique situation you start part way up the dugway (Dugway - this is a route that was dug away from the side of the hill to make a route) then where the driver can not see the fin as you have to drop down to reach it. This was seen a little late. #2 The front of the Jeep was part way up the face of the sandstone. Instead of stopping he gave it more throttle. This had all of the tire spinning as he went to the right. The tires left a fan shaped of rubber on most of the rock face. The vehicle then rolled onto it’s top.

I talked to them the following EJS and they got the insurance to pay them for the vehicle. They did not join me on the Hole in the Rock trail after that situation.

I asked how his wife was doing and he said fine. I did not dare go any further with questions..

There are more “Flip, flop and on the top!” which I may mention later.

I had mentioned earlier we played pranks on others and this includes played on me as well. We can touch on some lighter side of Hole in the Rock.

Da Frenchman


Active member
I rarely stopped in Moab in my early days passing through. But I remember the place around 1975 when my brother and I stopped there on a X/C road trip. There was nothing there. They even rolled up the sidewalks and put them in storage. True!
Well...almost true. When I moved here in early 1974, Moab was a sleepy little mining town. Rock Crawling meant getting down on your hands and knees. The only businesses open after about 6 p.m. were a couple of restaurants and a few bars. The only place you could buy groceries after 6 was at a neighborhood store on Walnut Lane. It was wonderful. You could spend an entire day in Arches or Canyonlands and not see another human. Now, they "restrict access" at Arches before 8 or 9 a.m. on many days due to overcrowding.


Expedition Leader
Mom, They started it first!

I do not know, but it just happened!

These are words we all said when we were younger and got caught!!! If it was not these exact words it was close.

In the earlier years of the EJS it was much smaller. Moab was much smaller and people knew everyone. This may have been your first time to this town, but you were welcomed like a old friend. Everyone introduced themself to you, shook your hand and the conservation started.

The past Moab was a small ranching and farming town. Hollywood and the western movies found the backdrops it wanted for the movies around the area. Town was a wide spot along Hwy. 191 It was a North / South truck route. World War II changed that as the cake was baked in the area. Big Uranium deposits were found in the area and the mining took off. Imagion result for early Uranium mining in Moab, Utah
Uranium, a radioactive element, was first mined in the western United States in 1871 by Dr. Richard Pierce, who shipped 200 pounds of pitchblende to London from the Central City Mining District near Denver, Colorado. Mining for Uranium was not new to the area around Moab, Utah. The Chinese had been doing this starting in around 1900.

The Uranium had it’s ups and downs. The mid-1980's it had stopped for the most part.

The town of Moab chamber of commerce had started a 4X4 get together for some of the locals much earlier. This had become a annual thing and very slowly grew. In about 1985 the local 4X4 club (Red Rock 4-Wheelers) took over from the C. of C.. The event started to grow wild from there. By the 1990's the explanation grew and much of the event need to change to keep up with the growth.

The younger days of EJS there were shoot-outs in the streets and yards of others. The water guns, water balloons and raids on peoples yards were common. EJS was a wild party everything was very casual. People would do little things to others while on the trail or back in town. Fun was the real adventure!

The 4X4 runs were set-up maybe as early as the night before. Every morning the handful of restaurants were packed as the discussions were where are we going today? Anyone may say I want to go out here. That was all I took to get a group going. We will meet at City Market, Walkers, The Barn or some location. That was the plan and it worked fine. We always had the out of town people who would show up earlier and earlier each year (like myself).

Everyone of us we came from near and far for this annual gathering of friends. We all brought our friends and everything kept growing. This required expanding the event for more and more days to accommodate the needs of the people coming o town. EJS had grown to a 9 day event. Well that needed to grow as we moved the Hole in the Rock trail from a pre-run trail to a full trail starting on Big Saturday (the day before Easter). Being this was a 3 day trail it was the only one going out a day longer then the other trails. We had now moved to 10 days.

Steeping back to the earlier days before the year 2000. We had a group of close friends who that got along great together. For the most part we were all involved in the 4-wheeling business in some sort of way. This was not all of the group but most of us. We for many years had no name, we were just friends doing what we loved. We would get together at other events around the U.S. and at Off-Road shows and private invitational trips. Eventually we got into a little trouble at a event and took up the name the called what we did"Pirating a trail" the “Pirates 4X4 Club” got it's name. This was not the “Pirates of the Rubicon” which is a different group.

The original members are going the way of time. Time marches on and we are marching a little lighter ever year. There are fewer of us each year. Peter F. Is still leading trails at EJS, The rest of us have passed away or need to step back and catch out breaths. Many of our group are people who’s companies are still around. Some have been sold or closed. I know of only 10 of the 40+ of us who are still alive. I do not know Peter F. Will be leading trail for EJS next year or not. If you are lucky enough to get on a trail with him do it he is a wealth of knowledge. He is quiet compared to me. Get him started and sit back.

I need a break from this post. I have so much in the memory that keeps coming to the surface, I stop typing and just remember the days gone bye.

Da Frenchman
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Frenchie, you've dusted off some of what's left of my memory brain cells! One of my memorable events was the Poison Spider trail that now connects to Gold Bar Rim trail. Dan M gathered up a few of us, one of which was Texas Bob, and we blazed a new trail. However, not long after we started in uncharted territory, my Jeep was having fuel delivery issues and I had to abort. My son Darin was with me and after a little chat with Dan, decided Darin could ride with him, (and mostly) hiked the way to make the connection with Texas Bob who started at the Gold Bar side. And thus it was dubbed the Golden Spike! Darin was sooooo tired, as he had to scout ahead to make sure some areas were passable. By the time he got back to camp, it was dark o'clock and I was getting a bit worried. I was so bummed I couldn't complete the mission, but a least Darin got some glory!!


Expedition Leader

I remember that well! Tom and Dena McMullin and Redneck, George, Frank C. and some others. I know Zuki they came in with Dan from the Poison Spider side with others. We had come in from the Gold Bar side. I do not recall everyone who was part of the group. I think in all we had a dozen vehicles. 5 vehicles from the north and 7 from the south.

I do not remember if it was that first trip when we connected the two together or later trip. Jean A. took the can of gold color spray paint from Texas Bob as she did not like the way he was painting the Golden Spike. She started doing it her way, and George was taking still photos and Texas Bob had a video camera of her painting it on the rock. I then asked Jean "What was she was doing.". and as she turned to look at me she saw the cameras on her. I believe Brad and Jean have a copy of the video. The look on her face was priceless. I think Jean road in with some one else and did not drive her Bronco. We actually have got out many old videos of theirs when I get over for a visit to help us remember some of our antics.

It is the little things that make the memories is wonderful. We each retain a little something different. Then we put them together for a big picture and it is like we are there again.

Some of this may not seem as important to others, as it does to us. They are making their own memories which will mean more to them when they get older.

I may share some of the many other pranks we did back then. If we have a new generation who if they put down their phones long enough to try the things we did they would have memories of their own.

This is just a thought! I do not believe that it will happen, but just the thought of it makes me smile. If we could get a reunion of thoes of us from the past Moab adventures together. The great stories we could tell. The herd is getting thinned out. Some of us have limited time.

Karen was at Brad and Jeans last week. Jean is pretty much wheel chair bound. It is like when we talked on the phone a week ago it is wonderful! More memories! I have a lot to write and share. The world is changing and the today's generations will cherish the memories, of today as they get older, just as we have. I will just keep plunking along. I hope that these stories do not bore the readers.

My apologies to the people who may read this and only see names. These are not names to us, we knew these people they were our friends.

Da Frenchman
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