Our driver Lane aimed the Jeep up sandstone rock face that looked vertical. “When you don’t have good equipment, all you have to work with is momentum, and then you break stuff all the time. With good equipment, you can take it slowly and safely, and go places others can’t.” Lane is the son-in-law of Dan Mick, the titular owner of Dan Mick’s Jeep Tours.
Moab sits in the midst of some of the most jaw-dropping terrain imaginable. We have learned over our time traveling that the font of knowledge is the local bar. When we asked about something to do, the staff at the Spoke were unanimous: “Dan Mick’s Jeep tour!” Driving on the slickrock is really popular and people come from miles around to test their driving skills with their own Jeeps. We decided to let someone younger and wiser do it for us.
So it was at 9:00AM sharp a Jeep pulled in to our parking lot, and I met Lane. He’s a hometown boy, who grew up slamming around Moab on just about anything with wheels. To me he looked barely old enough to be out of high school, but he’s done two tours in Afghanistan as an Army Medic, and now is about to be a father. We met up with Dan’s Jeep at the entrance to the trail, and off we went. Trails are easy to spot, as tires leave a smear of black on the sandstone. Wide black marks from vehicle tires and narrow black ribbons from motorcycles and mountain bikes. In a few places, the trail crosses the “Slickrock Bike Trail,” a motorcycle and mountain-bicycle trail. The Lion’s Back formation is nearby, and Lane helpfully pointed out a Toyota that went over the side in the 80’s and is still lodged in a deep crevice. We saw a few people struggling around some of the “features,” which is code for something only a crazy person would try to drive up and over. That’s when Lane made his observation about knowing what kind of equipment you need. When you look at the pictures below, be sure to click on the links to see the movies I shot.
What struck me about Lane and Dan was the care in the way they treated us and the young mom and her two kids. They took some time to talk about fossils, shared some Moab insider history with us, and genuinely seemed to be glad to be with us. At one stop I asked Dan if he ever got tired of the gig. “Nope. I’ve got two more runs today and I enjoy it every time.”
At the end, Lane drove us back to our campground. He is so proud of his wife and baby-to-be that we got to see the baby’s sonogram and of his wife (Dan’s daughter) in her hospital gown prior to the sonogram itself. She’s lovely, even in a baggy flowered dress. He told us they will have to wait a few more weeks to find out what the baby’s sex will be. Ben asked what he wanted, and Lane replied “healthy.” Ben showed Lane his antique Schwinn cross bike, and the two of them chatted about the pros and cons of Jeep chassis. Then he hopped into his Jeep to pick up the next bunch of flatlanders. I’m kind of sorry I won’t be around to hear about the baby.