Editorial & photos: Jason Stilgebouer
Video: Bryan (Bam) Mccarthy & Brant Page
Ever dreamed of selling everything, quitting your job, and living out of your van or Jeep jumping from trail to trail? (If you answered no, I’m not sure we can be friends.) Yolo and Yeti have done just that. Check out photographer and media director, Jason Stilgebouer’s account of what it was like to follow Yolo and Yeti around Moab during the Easter Jeep Safari. Be sure to watch the video to amp up your day and spark some inspiration for your next trip. Can’t wait to get started? Download onX Offroad and check out hundreds of thousands of off-road trails across the nation.
Moab is often referred to as the mecca for all things adventure, from hiking and mountain biking to white water rafting and kayaking; the southwestern canyons of Utah is a location with endless opportunities to explore. But we weren’t there to do any of those things; we were there to tell stories. We arrived just in time for the annual Easter Jeep Safari presented by the Red Rock 4 Wheelers off-road club. Our first thing to do was meet up with nomad adventure partners Yeti and Yolo before we would hit the trails along some of the most scenic canyons in Utah. It was their first time at Easter Jeep Safari, which was making for an incredible few days with them.
Our video and production crew, our director/cinematographer Bryan McCarthy, Cinematographer Brant Page, and yours truly are on a mission with onX Offroad to put their mapping software to the test. Our goal was to adventure through the majestic off-road trails and tell the story of the nomadic adventure partners in Moab, Utah, embrace Easter Jeep Safari, and experience everything else along the way.
Their Jeep, affectionately called the Yeti, is their machine of choice during our adventure. It is a V8-powered Jeep Wrangler TJ that looks fresh out of a Mad Max movie; a beautiful sight to behold.
The onX Offroad app highlights more than 400,000 miles of rugged off-road trails throughout the country. It opens up a world of trip planning for noteworthy sites and points of interest. Using it in Moab was a breeze; all trails were marked and rated on level of difficulty. We were able to mark the waypoints for our morning meeting locations and share them with Yeti and Yolo. This app was a crucial tool for staying on the trail and knowing where to go next; the last thing we wanted was to end up on a trail our media vehicle wasn’t capable of doing.
As we explored Moab, we fell in love with it. The small town nestled in the towering canyons upabove us, the majestic Colorado River flows at the edge of town, Canyonlands, and Arches National Parks attract thousands to experience some of the most beautiful landscapes in the southwest. This year the annual Easter Jeep Safari brought hundreds of other off-road vehicles out to go explore some of the most famous trails and come together as a community and share the experience. Yeti and Yolo are no strangers to Moab; when they heard about EJS they got in their Jeep and drove 1000 miles from the Midwest and encountered a snowstorm and a few mechanical issues along the way.
Eight years ago, Yeti and Yolo were both at a turning point in their life and wanted to trade in the mundane for a life of adventure. At the time Yolo had her Jeep and just met Yeti, they both saw that they wanted the same thing out of life – a life of adventure. Next thing you know, they sold everything they owned, moved into a small cabin in the mountains near San Diego to begin a life of minimalism full of adventure.
Yeti is a master fabricator specializing in building adventure-based off-road vehicles. It all started out when he built the Jeep, the 1997 Wrangler TJ with a 5.3 LS engine. 40-inch tires, dana 44 axles, lockers, and a crazy amount of fabrication done to it. This would be the foundation for a vehicle that would lead to them making a switch to full-time nomads and living out of the Jeep for over 500 days traveling throughout the United States, working on the road building a business known as Yeti-Built based around their adventures.
On our route to Long Canyon, we drove in parallel to the Colorado River; Jeeps everywhere driving past, giving the infamous Jeep wave gave us a sense of belonging. A sense of purpose, all these people in one area with one commonality, Jeep-based adventure. At stop signs and often while driving, Yeti and Yolo would open the doors to let fresh air help cool off from the heat radiating from the V8 – there isn’t any air conditioner. This is just one of the quirks of driving Yeti; while it may not seem pleasant, it was all a part of the adventure.
Yolo was a senior graphic designer at a large corporation while at the time, she was running half marathons, kayaking, and taking her Jeep out on the occasional trail to explore. Yolo didn’t want to wait until she was retired to go explore life, so she quit her job and took to the road with Yeti. Along the way, on their nomadic adventures, they would compete in competitions and rallies with their Jeeps. She even entered the navigation-based all-female Rebelle Rally with her Jeep TJ. She has the true spirit of the off-road enthusiast and inspires women worldwide to go out and explore.
We arrived and were taken back by the glowing red canyons. We drove through a boulder on the trail that has fallen on the trail creating a rock tunnel, leaving enough room for a full-size vehicle to drive through. We found a sandy hill at the top of the trail, and Yeti asked us if we wanted them to rip around in the sand. We willingly said, “of course.” Sand flew everywhere as the V8 roars around the small area. Then it became clear why Yeti built this Jeep because it is different, and that is the point. It isn’t the typical Jeep; it goes against the grain of function and form. But it works.
The views of Moab only got better once we were on the rocks, but it was also the end of our trip. The great memories made in Utah of the incredible people who take ordinary and throw into the wind. Adventure is a way of life for Yeti and Yolo, and no matter where they go or who they meet next, they will grace anyone with their heartwarming charm and sense to go explore. The earth is a big place, they have a lot of adventures make, and we can’t wait to see where they go next.