Get This Party Started
Festivities Take Off with No Sign of Slowing Anytime Soon
A new Sun means new adventures. Rejuvenation from the prior 24 hours of debauchery – refreshing all which reside within the confines of Hurricane, Utah this week: the landscape, the patrons and the events. To restate yesterday’s report, “A Storm Is Coming…” and by mid-AM, a wave of vehicles poured into the various venues to snack, stroll, cruise and crawl. The first three days were just a test run. The next three will be full throttle, a true battle of attrition. With an exciting lineup of activities ahead of us, who will be the last (wo)man standing?
Not all rallies are created equal. But few actually become juggernauts of their industry quite like this, sure to exceed the headcount of 33,280 from the last year. The Trail Hero has been at it for seven years, and their trajectory hasn’t faltered since its inception, consistently providing attendees with new and old affairs to enjoy throughout the day. And Thursday kicked off with a full schedule including the Veteran’s Access Ride, Amateur Rock Crawl, some trials at the sand drags and the opening of Vendor Row and the Trail Hero Music Festival – bringing in all the usual suspects. And some, a little bit unusual. In the greatest way.
The Access Ride was a bit different today. Not just because over 70 cars showed up, 98% of them tricked out Jeeps, trucks and buggies (sadly not so many side-by-sides). Or because the guests are all former soldiers. But, perhaps due to that fact, the atmosphere felt a bit more relaxed than the previous days. With 99% Jeeps pulling up to Lonny Boy’s, many driven by the veterans themselves, this experience was less of an introductory tour and more of a joyride. Hell, for many, it’s therapy. Most of the VIP participants have endured injury in action or suffer PTSD…Or both. And joining niche gatherings such as the Veteran’s Access Breakfast & Ride gives them the opportunity to let go of some emotional burdens, have some fun with friends and de-stress – at least for a little while.
This particular convoy represented the core of The Trail Hero through and through. What began as an excuse to give veterans a dynamic form of healing – granting small bursts of excitement, problem solving and focus – is now, many iterations later, a full-fledged internationally recognized industry meetup, giving back not just to one important group, but to the community as a whole. Because who can possibly hold onto anxiety when you’re trying to clear a stone ravine, climbing on a 45-degree incline? Or maybe while skimming the face of a dune or, instead, flying through the sand equivalent of a bobsled track? It’s all here in Sand Hollow State Park, and the ride leaders took full advantage.
The crescendo of their journey took place on a trail called The Fallen, rated Level 9 – named as an ode to those who have lost their lives in service. For smaller vehicles (those with tires under 37”), a workaround was created and dubbed The Fallen Lite. And both routes lead to a special location where tokens are laid by loved ones in memory of fathers, mothers, sons and daughters killed in action. Obstacles here at The Drill Ground each represent individual conflicts in which the US has had involvement. And as you might imagine with this pack, Iraq War is a goliath adversary many intended to defeat.
Not everyone can appreciate the symbolism here: conquering a metaphorical enemy, who in reality, tried to conquer them. Empowerment by strategy and thrill. A way to let go of the past for a moment, see the end of a difficult situation, possibly surmount it, and find hope for the future. Worst case scenario, it’s a reminder not to give up. Even if you’re unaffiliated with the military, this sentiment is still true. Iraq War, among several others, are not easy challenges by any means, but Founder Rich Klein assured everyone, “We’ll get you through it. No matter what.” And his statement was not for nothing. It seemed every few thousand feet a new, precarious outcropping called forth new challengers daring to take on these broad, lurching stone giants. By the end, a few cars took a quick nap, others took one on the chin. One Jeep decided to tear off its tire. But this was “but a scratch” for a huge team of like-minded, generous enthusiasts.
Not much after noon, traffic was already backing up at the tunnel. If you aren’t aggressive, you’ll be stuck in the bottleneck baking in the sun for some ungodly amount of time. So, some came prepared – making the most of a frustrating fight they’d inevitably encounter. One legit champion came equipped with a circa 1940s Flat Fender Willys, no cage, window or cloth in sight. He elbowed into the tunnel with a parade of Jeeps pumping “Move Bitch” by Ludacris out of a reasonable enough sound system, all the while steering with his palm and swilling water out of a plastic bottle like a prince. Now that’s a “trail hero” if you’ve ever seen one!
Aside from the alarming speed at which the population grew, a relaxed vibe seemed to spread even faster. Off-road monsters devoured all the earth it could reach within the park. Outside the fence, menacing machines had invaded Hurricane, Utah, scattering themselves over the pavement when it was convenient and into the dirt when it wasn’t. They left a trail of good times in their wake, proving this Off-Road Mania! was quite infectious.
At the Outlaw Sand Drag strip, contenders and fanatics alike tested and tuned and just blasted a beachy contrail as they flew down the lanes. Tomorrow, Qualifying will determine which of these daredevils will move onto to the Finals. Back at elevation, Amateurs put their suspension to work on the same rock crawling course that the Pros will confront Friday and Saturday.
A competition for the unhinged, Trail Breaker will undoubtedly deliver onlookers a tray full of chaos. And we can’t wait. For a little break from wheelin’ before bed (or, let’s be real, some boozin’), guests either strolled down Vendor Row to survey the brands present – mega to mom ‘n pop – and to sample some slices of Dang Brother Pizza or post up stage-side soak up some live music by the likes of Matt Ferris and Darryl Worrley. As the sun finally set, preparing to restart again tomorrow, the lights from the concerts drew in listeners like moths to a flame, ready to bob their heads, sing along or all-out dance their asses off.
It’s tough to sum up a festival of this magnitude just for it to begin again with the dawn, losing zero momentum. The fire has been lit for several days, but the coals are finally hot enough to cook up a powersports feast. If you’re not here, you should be. If you are, then you’re probably having too much fun at the party to be reading. We’ll see you on the trail.
Stay tuned all week as Trail Hero unfolds with special morning rides, favorite vendors, a drag race, concerts, crawling and more. Find the schedule of events here: https://www.thetrailhero.com/event_details