Santiago Canyon

We were lucky enough to get the opportunity to run this excelelnt trail before it was closed in early 1999. This run was to be the end of nearly a week in the southern California desert for myself, Terry Johnson and Randy Burleson. I had driven down the Sunday after Christmas '98 to Hemet California to have my stock steering converted to a cross-over design at All Pro OffRoad. Terry and Randy met me in Hemet and we took off for the desert. Unfortunately, Randy had urgent matters to take care of at work, so Terry and I took off on Tuesday morning for Joshua Tree National Park.

Prior to leaving, Terry had arranged with Luke Miller to meet with a few other folks near the Littlerock area trail. So, bright and early on New Year's Eve, 1998, 4 Toyotas aired down and headed up Santiago Canyon.

Luke takes the V-crackLuke in the V-crackHere's Luke coming up the first difficult obstacle. The creek comes through a V-crack and you can either straddle the crack or try going up the side as Luke is attempting. His open front diff. was probably what prevented him from making this line.

Brian climbs the VHere, Brian Rosa negotiates the V-crack with ease in his nearly stock '85 pickup.

Dave spotting TerryHere, Dave gets out to spot Terry up and over a large boulder. Basically the trail is a road up a rocky creek bed, with sections that are washed out, so its just a rocky creek bed. Then, there are rocks or all sizes scattered about, some water, and sand, and a few more rocks.

Terry and Dave spotting meThat's a big rock!Then, Terry gets out and they both watch me take the same obstacle. Glad those nerf bars are down there, I think that rock got pretty close as I went over it.

This isn't too bad.Turn a bit to the right!Luke and Brian keeping me off the rockAfter another rocky stretch, there is a narrow squeeze turn around a large rock on the driver's side. Its not too bad, except that to swing wide enough to supposedly miss that rock, your passenger tires start climing a large rock, tipping your rear quarter panel into the rock you thought you had cleared. In the 3rd picture, Luke and Brian and trying to keep me off the rock (I was tilted to 35°+ at this point according to the handy Clinometer). I managed to kiss the rock with the UPPER edge of the body, right where my CB antenna attaches. Also smacked my rear fender flare, which is unprotected with the skinny 33x9.50 BFGs.

Look, another big boulder!Giving this one a wide berth Did I mention there were rocks on this trail? If not, there are a few, in fact quite a few!

Why am I stuck?Stacking some rocks Here is one of the optional difficult sections of the trail. A climb over some rather large boulders. I got high centered and thanks to Dave's well stacked rocks, got up and over this section.

Back into the creekThe original parts of the road are the worst part of the trail, especially where the creek has eroded the old road bed.

Off-camber action!Just when you think you are over the tough part of the trail, you come to the last tough section. After 6 hours of hard wheeling, the deciscion to take the "easy" road or the "difficult" creek-bed seems obvious. BZZT! Worng choice. The old road is the tippiest section of trail I've ever been on. I made the mistake of selecting too low of a gear and had to crawl slowly across the side slope.

The survivor's!Anyway, we all survived the Revenge of Santiago Canyon, emerging at about 3:30 in the afternoon. From left to right are: