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Die Tryin'

By Vernon Brandt
Photos by Fred Perry

Next, it was my turn. I did not like the looks of Shawn's line. Toooo close. I thought I could do a version of Peter's route. Well, with lots of ideas from all (there really can be too many cooks in the kitchen), I ended up doing a deal that would take way too long to describe.

Die Tryin'Mike "I love my '69 Five" was next. This hybrid has spring overs, a Corvette motor, Dana 60 rear, 4.88's, 465 transmission, and 36's. He took Shawn's line and, again, with the tilt as he crawled over big rocks etc. and some great spotting, made it over. "Well done" came to mind.

Tail Gunner "401" Dave, in his CJ-7 with a 401, Dana 60 rear, and 36's took that same line. This time the thickness of his soft top was the only thing between him and the boulder. Still, nicely done! Hope the top can be fixed.

Many trails around the country have names for their obstacles. This trail has so many that it would take a laptop to keep them straight. The trail never lets up. You always need to be lining up for the next obsticle as you come off of the present one.

Die Tryin' Die Tryin'

At about a third of the way through the trail you come to the first waterfall. It is steep enough that the front tires like to lift off of the rock face. There is a large V notch at the top, the left part of which is a sharp, pointy rock. Once you've passed through the middle of this notch you will want to turn right, however, turning left as you hang is what gets you over. Mike's Five was just short enough that he opted for the winch. We have some good air pics of both Shawn and I at this spot.

Die Tryin'There's more and more and then you get to the half-way point. We were told that this is a 2.2 mile trip. Remember, we are running down in a wash, and in Colorado that means there are HIGH banks... REALLY high banks.

There is only one place to get out of this and we were long past it. At this spot you need to drive up the bank, bumping up a small undercut ledge as you drive next to a five-foot high boulder on the right. When you get to where you are looking straight up, you have to turn right and let your front tires slide until you get around the bolder on your right.

That all sounds good and we had seen this on the video that Mike had bought. Peter and Shawn must have done it (we were at times a two-part group) but I was too far to the right. The difference between right and wrong is very small and I needed a winch. My mind somehow misfired (no kidding). As the winch loaded, my front end and pulled forward and I was somehow in reverse. Now, I had the winch control and I was driving, but I only did 2 of 3 things. I didn't think and I still have no idea what happened but the death of that right u-joint still haunts me. Mike was kind enough to pull my butt over to the left as I backed down. Out came my U-joint tool, and the fix was on.

Die Tryin'Then there was more and still more, including a punctured sidewall fixed by a plug, and finally, there was the end. The end is long as you turn left up a waterfall. The first part is a rock garden of medium sized rocks, followed by a left turn up a smooth rock with a vertical crack that your tire must ride in for a short stretch and then a stair step that resembles Rocker Knocker, only it's bigger and steeper. Up some more, over a ledge, a differential-getter, and a right, places you in front of a steep loose dirt hill with a double ledge at the top where wheelies were quite common.

We were finally finished and the sun was headed down. We headed back into town at an off-road racing pace. Fred had set up a dinner date with Terry and his bride where we swapped stories and learned the history of the trail. Oddly enough, the fellow that owns the restaurant is a Jeeper and had just finished a beautiful CJ-7 with a Corvette motor, Dana 60's, 38.5's and lots of neat custom stuff.

Die Tryin'The time was 11:30pm and the damage reads like this

  • 1 TJ JKS tie rod
  • 1 TJ drag link
  • 1 TJ U-joint
  • Mike's motor torqued so hard that the distributor had some damage
  • An assortment of bumps and scrapes to all.

We had three sticks and two automatics in the parade. The autos really shined on this trail. I get the most trouble award, though and Shawn gets the least noticed (no faults). Peter gets the thanks for leading award and to Fred, thanks for riding along, videoing, spotting and being open for new friends. Mike and Dave, it's always good to see you and I'm glad we did it.

Die tryin' is a truly great trail. Some call it the toughest trail in the country with good reason.

Terry and friends: Thanks so much for all of your hard work. By the way, the talk at dinner also included "have you done topless?" No. Maybe next time.