Chasing Dust: Prerunners on the Mojave Road
These days, few landscapes in the Southwest remain largely untouched. Metropolitan expansion in the deserts of California have pushed out into previously barren regions. But one part of the desert remains mostly intact, resembling life as it was in centuries past. The Mojave National Preserve between Barstow and the Colorado River offers adventure seekers the trek of a lifetime along the iconic Mojave Road. Once used by Native Americans, and later, settlers in the old West as a route from the Colorado River to the Pacific Ocean, the Mojave Road runs 127 miles East to West, and offers unmatched desert terrain and historic landmarks. Our Truck Editor, Matt Moghaddam, is no stranger to this seemingly barren desert, as he has completed the Mojave Road crossing in its entirety on multiple occasions. On this week's Chasing Dust, Matt brings you along as he and his friend, Rylee Walker, saddle up in their purpose-built prerunners to make the voyage across the mighty Mojave Road, ending at the SNORE Racing Rage at the River desert race in Laughlin, Nevada.
After nearly a nine month hiatus, Matt's Toyota pickup, nicknamed Scarlett, is back up and running (well, sort of), and ready to take on the trail. After suffering a broken motor mount and subsequent oil starvation at King of the Hammers earlier this year, the 3.0L Toyota V6 under Scarlett's hood was seemingly doomed. But as any old Toyota owner will tell you, it takes a bit more than that to kill one of these trucks. Matt replaced the broken motor mount, refilled the fluids, replaced the brakes, and addressed a few other items that didn't survive the hibernation in an effort to make this trip happen. For now, the 3.0L is running, but it's on its last leg. Matt's Toyota features a Total Chaos Fabrication long travel system, Deaver F67 leaf springs, King Shocks and a full steel roll cage. Under Scarlett is a set of KMC Wheels Machete beadlocks, wrapped in 35x12.50x17 Nitto Ridge Grapplers, for an effective grip both on and off-road. Matt knows what it takes to make this crossing successful, and he's put a lot of time and effort into getting his truck ready to take it on.
Joining Matt is fabricator and race prep expert, Rylee Walker. Rylee has years of experience in building and maintaining race trucks, as well as building his own adventure vehicles. He owns everything from a VW Baja Bug to a full-blown race truck, and has also completed the Mojave Road crossing several times. Piloting his 1995 Ford F150 race truck, Rylee is looking forward to a clean trip, free from mechanical issues that have prevented him from finishing this trail in this truck in the past. Rylee's F150 features equal-length twin I-beams, a 4-linked rear suspension, King Shocks, a GM LS-based 6.0L engine, Turbo 400 transmission, and 37x12.50x17 Nitto Trail Grapplers for maximum off-road traction. Rylee's co-driver is his girlfriend Wile'e, who enjoys the desert just as much as he does, possibly even more.
Together, Matt and Rylee plan to begin their trip at about the halfway mark of the trail, due to recent rains causing the Afton Canyon water crossing to become too deep to ford, and the dry lake bed very muddy. Skipping the early sections of the trail will also allow them to take their time and stop at some of the many attractions and points of interest along this route, such as the Lava Tubes, the Mojave Mailbox, the Frog Shrine, the Joshua Tree forest and the many expansive vistas. Follow along as they make their way across the desert, and see for yourself why the Mojave Road is the granddaddy of all desert excursions in the Southwest.
Don't forget, Matt also made a map that details the Mojave Road in its entirety, plotting their routes and points of interest along the way. Be sure to save this link for your trip to this amazing trail.