How I Died Trying

By Lee Arney

Die Trying
Greg Wall and his capable CJ-7

Western Colorado affords some of the best rockcrawling anywhere. From the mild challenges of 21 Road to the hard-core carnage of Montrose to the infamous trails of Moab, just over the Utah border, a 'wheeler can indulge to his/her heart's content. Now imagine living in Western Colorado. Ah, it just doesn't get any better than that. But what do you do when you get a little tired of Moab, 21 Road just isn't the challenge it used to be, and you've done most of the Montrose trails? Well, you grab a couple of rockcrawling friends and point your 4x4 toward one of the gnarliest, butt-kicking, parts-breaking, tire-shredding, metal-bending, mean-spirited row of rocks in Colorado. You take on Die Trying.

This is my second year of rockcrawling, and first year to take on Die Trying. In fact, our TJ ran Die Trying 1 1/2 times this year. I was going to name this story either, "One and one half times over Die Trying," or "I Died Trying." The astute reader has already sensed something must have gone wrong on one of the trips. Good guess. Read on about this 'wheeler's trips over Die Trying.

Last May, two friends, Jerry Stringfellow and Greg Wall, and I decided to crawl the Die Trying trail. Jerry and Greg both own well-prepared CJ-7s and have experience at hard-core rockcrawling. I wheel a 1998 TJ. All three of us have lockers in both ends and Jerry and Greg run 36x14.5 Swamper Radial. My TJ sports 35x12.50 BFGs.

Die Trying
Jerry Stringfellow getting vertical
Die Trying
Eric Crist flexing through a few rocks. Note: Its not recommended to do Die Trying without a winch.

Die Trying can only be described as roughly a mile or so of non-stop rockcrawling action. Montrose's Topless or Calamity trails have individual obstacles which are tougher than any on Die Trying (in my opinion), but Die Trying's obstacles are all formidable and packed in one after another.

Die Trying
Getting hung up on rocks happens quick on the Die Trying trail.

Die Trying is one big obstacle. There is no time to relax or daydream, unless the 4x4 is stopped. And when things seem to be looking up, they really are. Looking up, that is, because the trail turns left and ascends out of the canyon. Here, verticle obstacles are exagerated since the crawling process is already going uphill. Even after crawling the hill filled with rocks and loose dirt, the very last step refuses to allow you out without a fight.

We completed the trail in 6 hours without any mechanical damage between us, but I chose a line that allowed me to slip off a rock and begin to roll. Luckly, a large boulder caught the TJ's hood and prevented a complete roll to it's side. While teetering against the boulder on the hood, Jerry and Greg were able to push the TJ off the rock from the side so I could drive out of the situation. The incident left football-sized dent in the side of the hood.

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