Die Trying, The World's Hardest Trail

Mike catching some air
Mike catching some air
What started out as a little training run for the Warn Rock Crawling Championship turned into a marathon four wheeling adventure. It took our group of five trucks 18 hours to complete a mile and a quarter of trail. In the group was Bart Jacobs in his built '93 XJ, Mike Garner in his '82 CJ-5, Steve Smith in his sleeper '83 CJ-7, Roger Wild in his tricked out '72 CJ-5, and me in my '45 CJ-2A. All five trucks are fairly well prepared vehicles, but Die Trying is no ordinary trail...

Bart is entered in the Warn Rock Crawling Championship and Mike is spotting for him. Since Mike "The Farmer That Likes Rocks" is from Iowa and Bart if from Utah, they wanted somewhere in between to do some training. Colorado seemed the logical choice, so they asked Steve Smith and me to organize the trip. After this punishing trip, they might not be asking for anymore favors from us.

Bart's bad XJ
Bart's bad XJ
Bart on the first real obstacle
Bart on the first big climb
Terry climbing some rocks
Taking Zach for a ride
Roger reseating a bead
Roger reseating a bead
Steve throws a cable
Steve throws a cable
Mike working through some rocks on Day 1
Mike slipping and sliding with muddy tires
Boulders everywhere
Rocks, rocks, and more rocks
Steve works through an off camber section
Steve after the last hard climb of the first section
Bart on the easy part
Bart on the "easy" part
Day One

The first day got off to a slow start, and hence the need for a day two. We didn't get on the trail until around noon and two groups were in front of us. Both groups were repairing bent tie rods when we arrived. Common sense overcame the second group and they turned there tails and ran after fixing their broken Jeep.

Roger catches some air
Roger catches some air

Soon after the second group cleared out, we finally hit the first real obstacle. This obstacle was a big stair step with a "V" rock at the top. This obstacle is hard for short wheel base because it is so steep and hard for long wheel base because the break over angle needed to clear the "V". Needless to say, most of us needed to winched over.

After the "V" rock, there were several lesser climbs and it wasn't long before we had our first break down. Roger lost a bead, but he was able to air up his tire quickly with his ARB compressor and a Hi-Lift jack.

All things considered, we were making half decent time until it started pouring rain. An extremely hard trail becomes nearly impossible when you add water and we were breaking out the winch cables left and right. Roger managed to do pretty major body damage to the passenger side of his jeep when he slipped off a rock. Since things, were moving so slow on the wet rocks and it was likely we would continue to do more damage to our vehicles with no traction, we sent Roger back to camp and he brought back his pickup truck to the trail head. We loaded into Roger's truck and headed back to camp to finish the trail the next day.

Day Two

Die Trying has a three parts: a hard part at the beginning, an "easy" part in the middle, and another hard part at the end. We were still in the first hard part after the first day, so we had plenty of trail to cover for Day Two. We returned to our vehicles bright and early, around 10:30am, with fresh food and drink and renewed hope that we would be able to finish the trail. The trail was still a bit damp from the previous days rain, but the sun was out and it was drying up.

We almost made it through the first hard part with no real casualties when we had our first true break down. Mike managed to snap a front axle shaft on the last stair step out of the hard part. Fortunately, he had a spare shaft a couple minutes walk away, at the trail head in his pickup. Bart walked back to the truck and returned with the spare shaft before we had the axle apart. It turned out the shaft broken because the bearings were loose. It took us a while to get the outer shaft end free of the spindle, and the end in the hub was in for good. Roger supplied a spare hub, and were moving again.

After the slow progress, it was great to hit the middle part and cover some ground. We made quick time though the middle part, but things were starting to cloud up again. The middle part is only relatively easy, it would be considered hard on any other trail. It is full of big boulders and stair steps. It's just that none of the stair steps are as big as the huge ones at the beginning and end of the trail.

At last, we made it to the final 100 yards of the trail. The first real obstacle at the end of the trail is a log that you have to drive around. It doesn't look bad, but it is slick and steep when you get on it. I tried half a dozen times and only managed to do one of those hops where you expect parts to fly. I was lucky, nothing broke, but I decided enough was enough, time to winch. It turned out, everyone except for Bart with his long XJ had to winch over this obstacle.

The tree was easy compared to the next stair step. I managed to get wedged in a bad spot, and I had to winch again. Bart lost a bead on this stair step and also smashed his rear quarter panel. Roger decided to winch over after both his front wheels came off the ground when he was trying to climb this stair step.

Terry on The Tree
Terry on the Tree

It took us a while to work through the last couple obstacles on the trail, but the worst was over. Everyone had done some body damage and most everyone broke something else as well. Mike's broken axle was the worst of it though, so I'd call us lucky. You have to expect to break parts when you run a trail of this difficulty.


Thanks to the Western Slope Four Wheelers for building such a great trail and thanks especially to Craig and Sherman of the Western Slope Four Wheelers for showing us the trail. Before running Die Trying, contact the Western Slope Four Wheelers for information. Also, thanks to Zach Krueger, Linda Shroeder, Roger Wild, and Bart Jacobs for the pictures.

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