We’d spent the morning driving back down into Sedona, Arizona, from the Flagstaff area, on Schnebly Hill Road. Until this point, our off-road adventure was merely off-tarmac.
We’d cruised down past scenic vistas unlike just about anything else in the country and watched Robyn fly her drone a couple times. Now, with food in our bellies, we set our sights on the 4WD trail which set this all in motion nearly four years prior – Broken Arrow Trail.
[ Did you miss part 1? ]
Where Schnebly was likely passable by any high clearance vehicle willing to slow down a couple places and endure a bit of a pounding on the undercarriage, Broken Arrow is a narrow, mostly single lane track with a monster speed bump at the start. The sign basically says, “If you can’t get over this, your vehicle has no business on this trail.
John and Jill introduced Vanessa and I to Broken Arrow sometime back in 2011, before we had either our Pajero or daughter, Penny. It was such a good time, I decided then and there to sell my Galant VR4 and buy a truck. Being a Mitsubishi man, I had to get a Pajero. Ironically, we never brought Rocinante out to run Broken Arrow.
CAUSE FOR CONCERN
As we made our way through downtown Sedona, with all its tourist traffic and roundabaouts, little Penny spoke up from her car seat in the back. “Me-me go nap.” And then she was out. As we left the pavement, Vanessa announced all the jalapenos at lunch were doing a job on her stomach. Great.
Here we were, barely 10 minutes from the start of the actual trail – the main attraction of our little day trip – and I had a sleeping toddler and seriously upset stomach in the backseat. It wasn’t looking good. I rolled up the windows, cranked up the AC, and shifted into 4H, doing everything I could to be smooth along the bumpy trail.
In time, V’s stomach ache subsided, but P continued sleeping. I’m still amazed by this. We tucked stuffed animals in next to her head to keep her from flopping back and forth in her seat, then pointed the front bumper up the 45°, red rock incline, and charged skyward.
The tow hitch ball scraped loudly, but P was unphased. In fact, we made it all the way to Submarine Rock, a large rock feature which, from a distance, sort of resembles a surfaced sub, and I backed into a “parking spot” to keep P in the shade and fresh airflow through the radiator while Fezzik idled away for 20 minutes before she woke up – while we were parked!
In no time at all, I was surrounded by overbuilt pink Jeeps.
While Vanessa, John, Jill, and Robyn hiked up onto Submarine Rock with the drone for some aerial video, I stayed with Penny and Fezzik, watching at least half a dozen Jeeps roll up, have a look around, and roll back out, typically with front and rear lockers engaged. I thought this was funny, as I didn’t need my rear locker – at all – to get there.
In this first video, you can see John, Jill, Vanessa & Robyn standing at the near end of Submarine Rock a couple times, and probably spot Fezzik surrounded by all those Jeeps off in the distance. Gives a sense of just how big this rock is and why so many people visit it.
P woke up about the time everyone got back from the drone flight, and we continued on down the trail. It’s something of a loop, and we soon found ourselves – and our vehicles – atop another red rock outcropping, overlooking much of Sedona.
It’s easy to see why Sedona is such a popular tourist location. The views are pretty incredible. Here’s another video Robyn shot from this location. This one includes some Jeep action!
After a nice break, we made our way to an obstacle called “Devil’s Staircase.” The route there gets a little challenging, and I decided to make use of my factory rear locker a couple places, mainly for better control (also to see if it actually worked). We always end up going down the staircase, and this time was no exception.
John scrambled down the staircase (on foot) to guide me while I shifted into 4L and locked the rear diff. Robyn went down to see if it would be a good place to do some more flying/video. V&P were sitting right behind me, and while Penny was excited to be “on top of the mount(ain),” V and I were asking each other if we were really ready to do this.
I should mention I did this trail on blown, bargain bin Gabriel struts up front, blown, 15 year old – electronically controlled – KYBs in the rear, and cupped, no-name 31s up front. With my wife and child in the truck with me. You could say there was a lot riding on this one.
Like most obstacles, pictures don’t really do it justice. (Robyn’s video, above, helps somewhat, but it’s still one of those you-have-to-be-there things.) Imagine an almost 45° slope, randomly terraced with boulder steps, lots of loose dirt and rocks along it, long enough to put a good three or four full sized trucks on, bumper to bumper. You can’t see anything immediately in front of you, and there’s lots of slipping and sliding as you make a slow, controlled bounce down.
Both my and John’s runs down the staircase were uneventful, reminding us once again you don’t need a seriously modified vehicle to have serious off road fun. We made our way off the trail, back out to tarmac, and found a scenic view spot to pull over, air up the tires, and double check all the gear made it back in the right vehicles for the drive home.
We stayed in radio contact with the Jeep on and off until we got back to Phoenix. Even though I was still going a little slower to limit vibration from the poor alignment and cupped front tires, we still went faster than I ever did on this road in Rocinante, with the windows up and AC on to boot.
I bought Fezzik because I wanted a rig comfortable enough for my family to enjoy off road adventures with me. I think this last picture pretty much sums it up.