Mike Garner showing us how a farmer climbs rocks! His
super clean CJ-5 made easy work of the 'Nail.
people have heard of or wheeled Moab's Golden Spike trail, but
few have dared to try its nemesis, the Rusty Nail. This is a
shortcut within an already challenging trail. The nice thing
about the 'Nail is that you can use it to shortcut from the
bottom of Gold Bar Rim to the golden crack. (If you can make
it). Once at this point, you can tackle all of the tough obstacles
on the Golden Spike and end up on top of the Gold Bar Rim trail
overlooking Moab Valley to the south. This shortcut ( I use
that term loosely) will bypass all of the long, boring, less
eventful portions of the 'Spike and get you right to the good
stuff...like Double Whammy, Bodysnatcher, the Golden Stairs,
the Wall, and of course the famous Golden Crack.
warned...this 'shortcut' is UGLY!! Our group numbered 14 built
vehicles, most dual-lockered with 35's or larger, and all but
five had to be winched up the first obstacle! Our group was
a mixture of wheelers from all over the country. Most were members
of the Jeep-L, an e-mail jeep list. Others (a-hem!) were schmoozing
tag-alongs that knew several members of the Jeep-L. I must admit,
the 'Nail took me off guard....this was the first time I have
been on the receiving end of a winch cable. I ate crow big time.
I really thought I should have made it up the first obstacle
considering my 104" wheelbase and past abilities in ledgeclimbing
acrobatics. Not so here.
Jeff Durrant was excited to try out his Toyota's newly
acquired electric locker (thanks to the help of Carl
Whitmore). Little did he know that the stress from
the front locker and previous wheeling adventures had
cracked and weakened his horseshoe steering arm. Luckily,
Jeff scored enough spare parts before the trip to rebuild
an entire Toyota. Changing the arm wasn't a problem.
are basically two obstacles and a hairy section on the 'Nail.
The first is a tall, undercut ledge. The 'correct' line is going
up at an angle, throwing our rigs off-camber to the right. This
is one where your spotter says turn right and your reply is
something like: "are you crazy?!!"
being winched up this one, 50 yards ahead is a sharp right,
then a hard left and up a rocky section. We were calling this
one Riff Raff, as it resembled its namesake obstacle in New
Mexico. The final tricky spot is called No Left Turn. It is
basically a ledge just wide enough for anything smaller than
a full-size rig to drive across. The object is to keep paint
transfer on the wall to the right to a minimum while avoiding
the soft top eating tree on the left (as I later attested to.
Thanks for spotting me into that tree, Dan!) Oh, and don't drive
off the ledge on your left, its about 200 feet down at this
After No Left Turn, its smooth sailing up slickrock to the Golden
Crack. Jeep Arch is within view at this point to the southwest.
After playing on the golden crack, our group headed up to the
rim of the plateau and onto the Gold Bar Rim trail. En route
to the rim we came across a Toyota Landcruiser with a broken
rear ring and pinion. Yuck! Not the place to be with a disabled
vehicle. It is advised that anyone attempting the 'Nail be familiar
with Golden Spike or have someone with you who is. Routefinding
can be difficult in many areas, particularly if you grenade
an axle and it begins getting dark. Make sure at least one person
in your group has a winch and knows where the start button is.
Also, stay on the existing trail; don't go off screwing around
on other rocks that aren't part of the trail. This area is under
surveillance by the BLM for wilderness designation.
out more photos from Rusty Nail