Trail Report - Rusty Nail

Report and photos by: John Nutter Staff and friends on the Rusty Nail

Trail Rating: 4+
Location: The Rusty Nail Trail is located approximately...
Trail Condition: Mostly sandy dirt with occasional rock outcroppings. Hugging the edge of a cliff, the trail follows the most difficult of the several routes in this area. Eventually the Rusty Nail meets up with the Golden Spike, just after the Golden Spike crosses the Golden Crack. Crossing the Crack both ways is a fun possibility but entirely optional and best avoided if an actual Easter Jeep Safari group is already there. Many of the better known obstacles on the Golden Spike are crossed on the way out of the Rusty Nail, including Double Whammy and the Golden Stairs.
Obstacles: Numerous
Approx. Mileage: n/a

It started out pretty hairy, there weren't many rocks stacked at the Riff Raff and we didn't feel like adding a lot more. Riff Raff, the first obstacle on the Rusty Nail, is named for its tendency to keep out the less serious four wheelers (i.e. Riff Raff). It's sort of a gatekeeper for the Rusty Nail. I took a couple of shots at it and reluctantly added a few rocks. I got up the obstacle itself, but was left in a position where further motion would have resulted in a dramatic roll. Brian Simon and Dave Stauffer put a tree saver around a boulder and I winched off that until I was OK to drive again. Did I mention that I was the first in line? No one felt like adding more rocks so the majority of the group got into position and winched up. A few got way off-line and had no choice, but most winched mainly because the rock stack was smaller than normal and the hole in front of the obstacle was deeper than I remembered it.

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Vance Anderson on Riff Raff. Chuck Bydlan ended up on his side after misjudging a rock ledge... ...and gets some help getting his Jeep back on all four tires.

The notable exception to winching up Riff Raff was Dave Jacobs. Dave runs a Mustang 5.0 in his Jeep backed by a T-18. He's got the whole drivetrain shoved forward as far as possible to allow for the best rear driveline angle, but it worked aganst him today. Dave nearly crawled the obstacle on the hardest line, but got too tippy. Brian Simon and I jumped on Dave's bumper and cautioned him not to kill his two best friends. Dave smiled and calmy drove up the obstacle as smoothly as I've seen it done, except for the noise of his water pump pulley hitting his electric fan. The fan managed to make a good hole in the brand new radiator, so Dave backed down Riff Raff and was done for the day. Don Ryman helped Dave pull the radiator and they headed back to town for repairs and a new electric fan.

If there's a name for the obstacle after Riff Raff, I don't know it. It used to be a tight left turn that climbed some stair steps at the same time, but someone had installed what basically amounted to a road next to it. Dan Mick's Guided Tours was behind us, so we chose to put some space between us and went up the easy way. We were proceeding along to the rock that overhangs the canyon below when we got the call over the CB, "Chuck's gone over..." Eight Jeeps simultaneously shut off, the driver doors opened and eight Jeepers ran back to the scene of the accident. Chuck Bydlan of the Minnesota Trailriders had missed the line on one of the ledges. Chuck ended up doing a roll, but had the good fortune of rolling in a spot far from the canyon. After discussing the situation for awhile we decided the only thing to do was to finish the roll and pull the Jeep back onto its tires. The Jeep started immediately and was fine except for a torn soft top and a bunch of dents. All things considered this wasn't nearly as bad as it could have been and Dan Mick's group hadn't even caught up to us yet.

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Chuck Bydlan back on the trail after his rollover. John Nutter on the Rusty Nail Trail. Dave Stauffer climbing a steep slickrock ledge.

The rest of the 'Nail went as usual. Everyone who hadn't done it before was a little un-nerved by the off-camber parts near the canyon, but they all drove through it fine with a little spotting. The end of the Rusty Nail dumps out onto the Golden spike near the Golden Crack. It wasn't noon yet so we went to the Crack for the photo opportunity. If you're planning on driving out the Spike in the normal direction you'll need to cross the crack and then cross back because the 'Nail meets the crack just after the Crack. The Golden Crack crossings were fairly routine except for the suspension on Rob Eide's XJ getting funky, which made Rob just skip it completely. Tom Tellford from Warn rolled up while we were crossing back and we found out that they had 40 trucks coming up the Golden Spike behind us.

We knew it would take a while for 40 trucks to go over the Crack, so we had lunch and proceded to Double Whammy at a leisurely pace. Our timing was good because Tom and his friends came up to Double Whammy a few minutes later and put on a good show for us. I've never seen the short wheelbase line up Double Whammy, but a small flatfender with tires that looked like they came off an Oldsmobile bounced up it. Tom Tellford came next and did the same line, but with no bounce. It was very impressive. Next up was a Land Cruiser who didn't make the obstacle but did manage to bounce his spare tire and assorted junk out of the bed. An early Bronco tried next and also didn't make it, but at least he didn't make a big mess.

Dave Stauffer on the Golden Crack. Vance Anderson crossing the Golden Crack. Double Whammy...
Dave Stauffer on the Golden Crack. Vance Anderson crossing the Golden Crack. Double Whammy...

A few more people tried Double Whammy with no catastrophic results, but then Chuck Bydlan decided to give it it a shot. I think he was thinking, "I've already rolled today, what else could happen?" Chuck found out when his rear CV drive shaft grenaded, destroying the CV itself and the rear pinion yoke while puncturing his fuel filter. There was no way we were going to weld up this drive shaft. Mike and Brian from the ClearWater 4WD Club out of Eau Claire, Wisconsin, crawled under Chuck's Jeep and bypassed his fuel filter using some fuel line that had formerly been on my gas tank vent. Soon Chuck was able to drive in front wheel drive. The rest of the trail was fairly easy with Dave Stauffer of the Minnesota Trailriders pulling Chuck through the parts where he couldn't make it on just the front wheels. I ran back to check on Dave Jacobs and Don Ryman after we were off Gold Bar Rim. They were just finishing the radiator repair and drove out to Highway 191 with the rest of the group.

Brian taking on one of the many slickrock ledges on the Rusty Nail Trail. Dave Stauffer on the trip out from the Golden Crack. Dave giving Chuck a helping strap on the trip out. Chuck's driving on the front axle only.
Brian taking on one of the many slickrock ledges on the Rusty Nail Trail. Dave Stauffer on the trip out from the Golden Crack. Dave giving Chuck a helping strap on the trip out. Chuck's driving on the front axle only.

For more pictures, be sure to check out Gallery Section in the related links.