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Desert Trip 2020- San Raphael Swell Utah

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#1 Zoomad

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 09:10 PM

Details prior to the start of the trip:

 

Discussions started in January between the core group deciding the target week and location of choice.   General location is central Utah within the San Raphael Swell.  We all do our own research for trail choices and voiced ideas and I went to work nailing down at least a couple of days worth of trails and a general heading south from the campsite on trail day two.  The request was made to have the group move into the current century and upgrade the trail communications with FM/GMRS units.  We all agreed. 

 

As the months leading up to the trip flew by and got to weeks and then days out the typical smack talking commenced via the group email and text message.  One topic of discussion was the Covid-19 virus and if the state of Utah was going open back up enough so we could use the campground reservations most of us made prior to the virus locking things down.  A week out and they lifted most of the travel bans and we knew we could be able to pull off the trip.  It’s on!

 

The Cast of Characters and their ride:

 

Larry, one of two original desert rats with his ‘78 K10 on tons, 8.1/nv4500 and a Phoenix camper.

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Bill the other original desert rat with a ’18 Tacoma with a hard shell RTT on a custom rack he built.

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Ian, another K5 guy but his is a genuine military issue CUCV on one tons, 8.1/nv4500 and a RTT on a custom rack he built.

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Ty & Jody, ’05 Dodge Ram 2500, Cummins diesel/6-speed manual trans and a Phoenix camper.

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Don and his son in a ’16 Ram Power wagon with Carli suspension and Four wheel camper.

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Phil came with his ’08 Power Wagon also running a Four wheel camper.

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Hugo was back for a 2nd run in his Tacoma now sporting a hard shell topper for sleeping quarters.  

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Nick and Family in his vintage Suburban with a Cummins diesel and nv4500 rolling on one ton axles and a load of custom touches throughout.  He carries a 14,000 pound rated pull pal land anchor so he means business. 

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Me, Rob  in my ‘91 K5 Blazer with the Four wheel camper.  Trail boss and map minder

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Departure time 6/13/20 7:00am

Plan was for the Pueblo 4 (Larry, Me, Ian and Bill) to meet at Larry’s place between 6:00-6:30 so we could make sure we get out of town on time after BS’ing for a little bit.  Capt Ron was going to leave at the same time to deal with weekend traffic up I-70 from the front range causing some slowing.  Everybody else was arriving from CA and AZ the same day in the afternoon. 

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We pull out of Larry’s place on time with me in the lead since mine is the slowest.   I waved bye to the dealership I work at as we passed it going through Canon City. 

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We stopped in Salida for some Mickey D’s breakfast and made our way over Monarch Pass and with the highest climb of our trip behind us rolled into Gunnison and then Montrose for a fuel and pit stop. 

The Black Canyon of the Gunnison River, below the dam of Blue Mesa reservoir.

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We had got some texts from Ron that he was having a problem with his truck outside of Parachute and wasn’t having any luck getting it ironed out.  We took a look at the map and the clock and decided to change course and head to Ron to help out and get him running. 

 

Larry plugged in the location to his google maps and make our way up to Ron to find him on the side of westbound I-70 just past the exit for Parachute.  We quickly realize the side of the interstate was not where we needed to be working on a wounded truck.  Since Ian’s CUCV still had the pintle hitch on the rear bumper we hooked up to Ron’s truck and pulled him to a spot off the highway on a side road with a wide dirt shoulder to safely check out his truck.

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 We go over what he did and start going over the basics.  We had fuel, but no spark.  We checked connections to the coil and ignition module for the L29 big block and they seemed to be ok.  Larry pulled out his Tech 2 and we struggled to get communication with the truck, but that turned out to be an issue on what to call the truck on the tech 2 to get it to talk in the first place.  Once we could talk we could see we had a couple of codes but also could not see the crank signal was not showing any RPM when cranking. 

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With the wiring checked per GM procedures I pulled up on my phone we felt we at least had a dead crank position sensor which would explain the lack of spark.  NAPA was a mile back on the frontage road and so Larry and Ron set off to get one before the joint closed. 

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They got back and Ron stuffed it in and it still only cranked.  We pulled a plug wire to check for spark the old fashioned way with a screwdriver. After fiddling with wires near the back of the intake somebody cranked it and I got zapped but the engine fired too!   Ron shut it of since I was getting zapped but we were able to restart.  Once running we checked the vitals with the tech2 and started picking up our tools.   That’s when the engine stalled on it’s own again.   But we knew Ron had wiggled the wires at the connector between the main Howell L29 harness and the factory injector harness that runs under the upper intake plenum.  We wiggled it again and it restarted.  Ron added a zip tie to anchor that connector to a nearby bracket but it didn’t seem to be a lasting fix as it stalled again. We could get it started again after wiggling that connector more.  As it looked the terminals were ok, but we couldn’t see anything wrong.  It meant since the wires and terminals looked ok at the connector the problem is most likely in the factory injector harness under the plenum.  That’s not something we can do on a roadside.  Ron felt bad about eating up so much time and asked us to continue on our way to Green River.  We didn’t feel right leaving him on the side of the road. So we made sure he was able to drive back into Parachute where he coordinate his own recovery while we pressed on to Green River. 

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It bummed us all out for sure as it would have been cool to get the other Crawlabego out on the trail with us.

 

The drive out from there was pushing a major headwind most of the way into Green River.  The wind didn’t stop us from putting the hammer down and staying at or above the posted interstate speed limit in Utah at 80mph. 

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#2 Zoomad

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 09:11 PM

 My fuel mileage took a hell of a hit but we got in before dark and allowed us to meet up with all that had got there before we did. We met newcomers to the group and greeted those we hadn’t seen for a year. 

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Next up first day on the trail..


Edited by Zoomad, 11 July 2020 - 09:11 PM.

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#3 Zoomad

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 09:11 PM

The plan was made to meet up at the Loves on the west side of town at 9:00 am for the departure for dirt. 

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With the fleet gassed up and ready for some “social distancing” from the rest of the world we hit I-70 west to the trailhead 30 miles away for Fix It Pass.   I was deemed trail boss with the routes planned out and led the crew down the interstate through what I have to think is one of the coolest views of epic scenery one could see while driving on the highway. 

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That section is one long pull uphill going west which had me flat footing the 5.3 to keep the speed up and sometimes seeing second gear to do so.  Shortly after the long climb is completed we were pulling off at an exit that seemingly leads to nowhere.  My Gaia track led us south of the highway on a lonely dirt road that within a mile or so had us pointed back north toword the interstate again.  It was a good spot to stop and let the air out of the tires and lock in the hubs (for those of us that had them at least). 

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Tires adjusted and hubs locked in we headed to a box culvert that leads us under I-70 and into the northern section of the San Raphael Swell.  

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Some of us had been here in 2017 but the plan was to steer clear of the Devil’s Racetrack and the problems it could create for a large group.  I kept the group on track for Fix It Pass which roughly runs parallel to the racetrack but only having one main rough spot on the western side of the pass.  This selection had some of the group a little spooked of that one section due to previous reports of the section being strewn with boulders and making it quite a difficult 100 yards to cover.  However in my research I found reports from a Utah based ATV forum that indicated a local club led an effort to clean up the trail for maintenance. As it was stated it was more of clearing the boulders than it was trail cleanup and that now Fix It Pass was “fixed” and no longer needing the difficult rating it had held before.  A recent YouTube video posted a couple of weeks before the trip also confirmed this with a side by side flying through the normally hard section in seconds.  I knew we’d be fine on the trail and it proved to be a good warm up to the week. 

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Fix It Pass follows along the side of a canyon going down, switching sides and climbing back up again multiple times with amazing views along the way. 

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 I located a nice wide spot on the trail around lunch time and stopped for a lunch break.  Temps were mild with lots of blue sky to go along with the looks of the terrain we were on.  We all fixed up our choice of lunch, chowed down and talked about the trail, trucks and catching up in general. 

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#4 Zoomad

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 09:12 PM

Lunch consumed we pressed onward on the trail and in a little while we came upon the summit of the pass and the known hard spot that we would be coming down.  It was right above that spot when we could see a lone side by side coming up.  I call it out to the group for them to stay at the summit where it’s wider and easier to pass and Ian and I find a wide spot to park in to allow the atv by.  He confirmed that was the toughest part of the trail.   We were above it and could see it was narrow but didn’t look any worse than any other sections we were on before. 

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After letting the guy by I rolled down to the spot and got out to inspect it.  It didn’t look too bad, but Ian did come down to spot me just in case.  It really wasn’t anywhere near the difficulty it was last summer and before, so I got down to the bottom and gave the signal for everybody else to come down.  

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It was at this point somebody in the back called out there was another side by side that had caught us going the same direction and wanted to get ahead of us.  Most of the group was on the slope above and had no place to go so the guy had to wait it out with us.  He was certain our large trucks couldn’t get through it.  The rest of the group rolled through the speedbump of what used to be hard and collected at the bottom of the hill.  I don’t think the atv guy was amused that we walked through it.  

 

From there the trail stays at the bottom of a canyon in a dry wash that had the most incredible washboards that proved to be punishing.   One could tell this dry wash isn’t always dry as there was huge amounts of debris stacked up 4-5 feet high on the base of most of the trees down here.  

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We pressed on slowly due to the washboards that just could not be overcome with any level of speed unless you had a trophy truck.  It was part way up the wash that we had our one main miscue.  With the group spread out to keep from choking on each others dust there was a misunderstood question when the trail merge with the Devil’s Racetrack came up. 

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Most up front had heard me call out to keep going straight and not to turn.  In the back of the pack the question came up if the intersection was with the Devil’s Racetrack and the response was yes it was.  Two in the group took the turn up the racetrack as they heard the confirmation yes, when all the answer was only confirming it was the racetrack but not that we were going on it.  The driver in front of those two also didn’t wait at the intersection to make sure they stayed on the main trail.  So even with excellent radios, due to reduced range inside of the bottom of a canyon and an assumption on my part that everybody understood normal trail etiquette would have people not letting the vehicle in behind not get out of sight and waiting at intersections even if we still had decent radio communication.  We lost almost 3 hours total in the regrouping effort.  Bill had run up the Racetrack to a high spot to allow getting a radio call out.  It cost a tire that got cut on that trail but our lost sheep were found and on the way to the first campsite on the trail.  There was no one person at fault to the misunderstanding other than I didn’t clarify route with the group and didn’t specify that each person waits at an intersection until the next one catches up.  It showed my lack of experience as trail boss and showed I couldn’t assume anything. We found camp while waiting for them and it proved to be out of the wind, on a section of slickrock that would allow Bill to move about with ease vs the course river sand which we found everywhere else in the canyon. 

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We all set up camp and those who liked it cracked open a beer to relax.  A short time later the lost sheep rolled in and got busy setting up their respective campers.  We all got to work making dinners and Larry, Ian and I had pooled our resources and tonight was Steak night courtesy of Ian.   I grilled them up on the stove while Ian made a quick tomato and cucumber salad to go along with it.  It’s about as fancy as we got cooking for sure, but damn was it tasty.  With dinner done and the cleanup completed we sat around telling stories, cracking jokes and staring at the stars in the clear night sky.  

 

Coming up, the climb back out on Eva Conover trail and Eagle Canyon.


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#5 Zoomad

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 09:13 PM

One last shot of our first campsite from Nick’s drone:

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Morning came with the sun lighting our little section of canyon and our sleeping in was cut short due to the bright sunshine.  Everybody went about the mode of making breakfast and then breaking up camp. I had a couple of good trails line up to go from this point for day two on the trail.

 

The trails would be Eva Conover leading south back to the highway and then a short jog on pavement to the entrance of Eagle Canyon.   Those of us that were on the ’17 trip made the way down the Eva Conover trail, but due to breakage and cut tires we got out of the swell and ran back to Moab to make repairs.  So From Eagle Canyon on the entire group would be experiencing a new trail together.  

 

On the way out of camp, on Nick’s suggestion I advised the group to use the buddy system and to wait at trail intersections to make sure the one behind you stays on the main path.   With dedicated tail and mid gunners with more powerful base unit radios and vehicle mounted antennas I knew we could maintain the group’s heading on the same path with no lost sheep this time.   I was clear to call out the turns when they came up and made sure everybody heard them.  

 

With that quick bit of instruction we headed south in the dry wash to enjoy the wicked washboard sections again. 

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As we made our way down they gradually got better but never went completely away.   The canyon walls seemed to close in on us the further south we went which eventually leads us to the official start of the Eva Conover Trail. 

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 It’s the climb out of the canyon we’ve been in for the last two days and the first climb seemingly comes out of nowhere.  It would seem the trail follows the narrow canyon further to the right when it really leads up and out over your left shoulder with a tight 180 degree turn marked with a single arrow pointing left in front of you.  The longer wheel base trucks had to make multi-point turns to navigate the tight turn.  

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This is also where I realized in ’17 that I had broke a front axle shaft and had a hell of a time getting up this section before.  My Crawlabago scrambled up the slope in low range with ease proving to me that indeed it is easier with actual 4wd vs the last time without.  I parked well ahead and walked back so I could take pics of the rest of the group as they came up the hill. 

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The trail from there stays as a shelf road as it meanders along the edge of the canyon for miles. 

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The trail curls back in to the shallower fingers of the main canyon and back again, allowing for great photo opportunities of the other rigs as they were on the opposite side from my position. 

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#6 Zoomad

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 09:14 PM

Eventually the trail ends by popping up on a local side road about 50 yards from I-70.  Driving down the highway you’d never know this gem of a trail was even there.   I stopped on that road to let the trail regroup so we could all get down to the start of Eagle Canyon together. 

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After a little run on pavement the trail started downhill in earnest. 

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You can see in the pic above Larry taking the pic below.  Gives a sense of how quickly the trail dropped into the canyon.

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The decent down was loose with a couple of shelf sections strewn about to make line choice important for those that didn’t want to drag bumpers down it.

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 Pretty quickly after some more fun downhill sections we are at the bottom of Eagle Canyon and heading south.  Within minutes the graceful arches of the twin bridges that I-70 crosses this canyon with start coming into view. 

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They are great feats of engineering that we get to see from a viewpoint that not many get to see.  Most are flying over these bridges at 80 mph and don’t have any chance to stop and look down into this canyon.  

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Timing was right on as it was really close to lunch time and the shade cast by the westbound bridge was perfect to get out of the sun to eat lunch. 

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I called out the lunch break and group ate and talked while the world rolled by above us at 80mph. 

 

From this point forward, the pre-planned route of trails would end and go by what lay ahead that was interesting.  Swasy’s cabin was near the end of the Eagle Canyon route so that was set as the next waypoint to check out.  In the meantime we still had the southern half of this trail to finish.  Which proved to be just as spectacular.   We followed along a heard of bighorn sheep with young babies in tow and came up to the Eagle Canyon arch, which is just as impressive as any you would find in Arches National park but without the crowds. 

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Eagle Canyon Arch:

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Trucks for scale..

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From there we made our way to the cabin and parked the trucks to hop out and take a look. 

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#7 Zoomad

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 09:14 PM

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Not sure where to go from there I did some digital recon on my Gaia maps and saw a promising campsite not to far away that promised to have some epic views of Reds canyon.  I set the group in motion and may have put us on a ATV trail that was pretty tight for those of us with campers, but not so tight we couldn’t get through.   That trail connected to another that was more of a graded dirt road but lead right to the campsite I had on the map and sure enough it was right on the edge of a huge canyon with panoramic views.  Everybody pulled in and set up for the night. 

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Our dinner by committee was kabobs Larry and I brought and Hugo’s famous smoked beans.  I had an overabundance of kabobs so I offered up to Nick and his family to save them the effort of cooking for at least one night.  

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The only downside to the view was the fact that it was a bit smoky from a far off forest fire laying low into this canyon.  It did add to the color of the sunset though.  

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It was also the first night of use for Larry’s outdoor shower off of his camper complete with hot water. Truly a luxury but after two long dusty days on the trail it was totally needed.  Cleaned up and fed well we again told stories well into the darkness and eventually wandered back into our own little beds for some shut-eye.  Well, everybody else went to bed.  I emptied SD cards to my laptop and took a hard look at Gaia for a good trail choice for the next day.  Then I crashed in my upper bunk.

 

Next up Reds Canyon and who knows what else…


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#8 Zoomad

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 10:27 PM

The next morning has the group working their respective morning routines.  I wake up when the sun is lighting up the camper.  I get up and prepare my PB&J sammich for lunch and start stowing gear to prepare for dropping the top.  I hop outside and see who else is up and start putting the gear I had outside away.  Pretty quickly it’s all put away and the top dropped and latched in place. 

Reds Canyon in the morning light.

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Roaming around camp I see most are close to hitting the road.  Nick and family was planning on heading in a different direction today and our buddy Bill was feeling the last 3 days on rough terrain on his body and might boogie to head back home too.  We all saddle up and line up to take off.

 

I had managed to find a track that leads us down into the bottom and loop around the canyon we camped on the rim that night.  It’s known as Reds Canyon Loop and the lead in is just a mile or so away from our campsite.  After a couple of turns we hit the point where Nick and family are heading off and Bill decided he would take off too.  We stopped and said our goodbyes and took off in our separate directions.  

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Our track and us quickly descending into the canyon and running along more dry river beds.  The red walls towering above us for majestic views. 

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The trail itself was well graded dirt, free of washboards mostly and capable of supporting quicker travel than we’ve done in the last two days.

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 The trail winds along the base of the northern rim for quite a while as the sun is lighting it up from over our shoulders.  Each turn gave a new vista that was photo worthy.

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 Along the way I spied some vintage sheet metal in the distance. 

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I figured it would be a good spot to stop and get out to stretch and check it out in person.  What we found was a 30’s vintage truck cab that was riddled with bullet holes and not too far away a newer International straight six engine. 

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The two International employees within the group got a kick out of seeing the company logo cast into the side of the block. 

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Photos snapped we loaded back up and headed back out again.  The trail started looping back to the south and the east and getting into more flat country. 

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The tower we camped in the shadow of the night before was coming back into view and getting larger again. 

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The trail eventually ends up within a mile of the start.

 

The general plan was to keep heading south generally and eventually get near the town of Hanksville to allow for refueling and restocking supplies.

 

 So we made our way down to Temple mountain where there was a nice stopping point with pit toilets.  We pull in to make a pit stop and regroup to find the next trail to hit.  I had the Behind the Reef trail marked out that started just outside of the parking area we were in. Other than the track on Gaia, I did not have a lot of info on it for difficulty.  Comparing notes with Phil and Don had us at a crossroads.  The waggy’s needed fuel with a possible run to Hanksville or backtracking to Green River.  They also wanted to backtrack north into the swell to check out more Indian pictographs. The fuel situation in the squarebodies was good.  Larry, Ian and I had dumped our extra 10 gallons of fuel each into our tanks the night before.  Ty and Jody had a surplus of diesel too.  The lone Toyota left driven by Hugo was at a good jumping off point to get back to southern California to be able to be back to work in a couple of days so he was going to leave us from there.  So we had a family meeting and although we wanted to camp with Don and his son and Phil one more night we did not want to backtrack.  We said our goodbyes for the second time today and we headed out for Behind the Reef and they headed north. 

 

It was before lunchtime so way to early to camp, but we were keeping an eye out for fall back positions since the trail is a loop and will come back out the way we are coming in.  A couple of side canyons are noted and since the main trail is getting hammered by wind the protection of a narrow canyon could provide some relief.

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  We press on to the actual lead in to the trail and within the first turn I run head on into a sketchy section.  It’s off camber to the downhill slope, barely wide enough for the K5 and it looks worse by the next corner.  I radio back to the group to come up and check this out.  They hike up to the next corner and find it’s just as ugly and since we have to come out the way we are going in, there’s really no option to bail out to escape if it gets worse.  Phil warned us his book showed it was tougher than what the Devil’s Racetrack was, but we made it through that before.  Since it’s only Tuesday, going nuts and breaking here would be a trip killer so we decide the safest option would be to not take the trail and head back and look for another trail.  We did end up checking out one of the two side canyons on the way out and kicked around the idea of staying, but it was barely lunchtime and way to early to camp. 

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So we ate lunch out of the wind and I consulted the map again.  I could see something promising west of Goblin State Park.


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#9 Zoomad

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 10:28 PM

We came back to the rest area where we last saw the Waggys and Yota as somebody didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to use the facilities without being in the open.  On the way out we did come across a pictograph site of our own and stopped to check it out too.  Pretty impressive. 

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This is the part of the run where we are now in the “winging it” mode of navigation.  Some may like this, some may not.  Those of us in the small group had no problem with it as long as we got to see great sights and maintain distance from the masses.  Little Wild Horse Canyon was the trail we ended up on. 

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Again, it starts out in a dry riverbed. We plod along winding through the canyon when the trail opens up to what we could only explain as a moon-like lunar surface of dusty grey mounds of soft dirt and absolutely zero vegetation. 

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The wind was ripping through here at a high rate of speed too.  Soon the trail is on the floor of a wide valley with vegetation again and could see a creek on the map we will probably have to cross. 

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Sure enough the Muddy Creek is visible and tall reeds/grasses obstructing the view of the trail and I make the first of a couple wrong turns.  We go west instead of east and end up crossing Muddy creek in the wrong spot.  It’s not until we all get across that I realize it though.  I see no trail in front of us and almost get myself stuck turning around on a sand bar.  Going back the way we came is all I can see so we re-cross the creek to rejoin the trail.  Now I find the right place to cross and get over to the other side without too much drama.

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 Ian follows just as easy and we both jump out to watch Larry and Ty cross.  Larry took a slightly wider line to cross the creek and the left front tire dropped into a soft spot all the way to the axle.

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 He’s not going forward.  Ty hooks up to Larry’s rear bumper and gives the short tug needed to pop the big K10 back on more solid ground. 

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He and Ty cross without any further issue.  We have one more crossing that goes up a taller bank but everybody crosses and we press on. 

 

Climbing back out of the wide valley we are back on the moonscape that by now had the sun reflecting off of the large chunks of quartz or mica on the grey dust.  The trail winds around until we come across a sign for the Factory Butte OHV area.  Going straight puts us right into the OHV zone or taking a turn to the west will skirt the area.  The shadows were getting long and the wind was still brutal.  Main goal at this point is to find someplace to camp with some kind of natural windbreak.  We each take turn investigating side trails that looked promising.  The system was pretty slick. One would go off on the side trail, one waited at the main trail while the other two went ahead to scope more area.  If it didn’t pan out we would catch up where another would split off and the cycle repeated.  There must have been a few we shot down because the trail went away or lacked the protection from the wind we wanted.  Eventually we dropped in elevation and came around a wide corner with a nice flat spot right next to one of the large gray hills and was at least flat and in the shade by this time of day.

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The wind wasn’t as bad, but we still had to use the trucks as the windbreaks to cook or hang out.  It was home for the night.  While we cooked Larry and Jody took off up the hill to explore. 

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They both said the wind was way worse up on top than what we had down in camp.  We kept it simple for dinner due to the wind as it was killing the flame on Ian’s Skottle.  So I grilled up some brats on the campstove since it works well in the wind. 

 

Dinner completed we hung out well into the darkness with the conversation bouncing all over the place.

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 The high canyon walls obstructed our total view of the sky but the lack of light pollution and zero clouds due to the wind meant we had a crystal clear view above.  The milky way was lighting the sky and we would point out any satellites cruising by above us.  Unfortunately the International Space Station’s orbit would not have it in our area during our week in Utah.  It’s pretty cool to see and it was a previous Desert trip where I got to see it for the first time. 

 

Where to next? 

 


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#10 Zoomad

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Posted 11 July 2020 - 10:41 PM

***I went a little pic heavy on this one. It was hard not to with what we saw.***

 

By mornings light we all emerged from our shelters for another day of adventure.  Problem was we were not 100% sure of our location and how to get to a main road as some of the supplies were getting light.  My track I was following had us heading south and would make an immediate turn west and then north again, essentially looping us back into an area we had already been through possibly.  This is where Gaia’s version of a road map layer lacked the detail of the local roads.  I figured we were close to state highway 24 since the town of Hanksville wasn’t too far to our east.  I took the leap of faith and directed the wagons south.  Sure enough we ran into Hwy 24 in under 10 miles from our campsite.  Plan from this point is to air up for the highway, get to Hanksville and restock fuel and supplies. 

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The four trucks rumble down the highway and pull into Hanksville.  We unloaded trash, refilled fuel and got supplies. 

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I also picked up a trail book by FunTreks for Moab, UT backroad and 4wd trails.  I’ve used the FunTreks books for southern Colorado for years and can vouch for the accuracy and clarity of route guidance.  Plus a lot of the tracks I saved on Gaia came right from their website and would line right up with the book.  We had better cell coverage here so we each checked in at home and I reset for a new target.  Since we were already aired up another 17 miles south on the highway isn’t a big thing.  The next trail would be Poison Spring Canyon. A 42 mile ride into Canyonlands National Park.  It is such an amazing trail looking back now. 

 

The airdown happens off the highway.  I had also noticed that my aux battery voltage level was dipping below 12v with the truck bombing down the highway.  So during while we let the air out of the tires, I investigated the problem.  It turned out that my aux battery solenoid lost a nut on the terminal where the switch input  is and the wires were no longer on it.  I knew the 2nd nut was long gone, so I pulled the bottom nut and put the wire terminals below it and cinched it down.  Truck running and the aux battery voltage was back in line.  Ty happened to notice an odd smell off the side of my truck.  A quick look found a dead cow below us.  The smell was pretty ripe and I caught Ty gag slightly as he got a snootfull of the smell.  He quickly hopped into his truck and pulled ahead to avoid it.

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Tires down we motored down the trail and dropped elevation quickly into a tight canyon that the further we went into, the more vegetation we discovered. 

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We even got into some puddles of the creek the trail follows.

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The trail popped out of the side canyon into one that’s much larger than the last. 

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We stop for a lunch break on the edge of a rim. 

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Anybody catching on to the fact that we like taking panoramic shots out here?

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The trail drops quickly again. 

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The book indicates we will be crossing the Dirty Devil River at the bottom of this canyon and starts climbing up again. Unsure of the depth I went ahead and walked out into the river to check it out. I won’t lie, it felt awesome after being in the truck without a/c. The depth itself was only up to my ankle and the bottom was firm. Pretty simple crossing.

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