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Desert Trip 2022, Tour De Hanksville

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#21 Zoomad


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Posted 01 August 2022 - 12:15 AM

Day 5 


Last full trail day.   From our campsite under the orange cliffs of Glen canyon we were again under overcast skies and according to the NOAA station I was monitoring it was going to be that way until later in the day.  




Loose plans were set to get to the end of the trail near Hite and  pound pavement to Mexican hat for fuel and supplies.  From there we would venture into Valley of the Gods and find a place for the night.  


Southbound we head on the trail to Hite. 




We follow around buttes and in and out of washes the entire way down.   


Another picturesque drive even with the low clouds.   It’s pretty rare to see rain in these parts so it adds to the experience.  



Rain comes and goes through the drive but it never got to a full blown downpour.   But it was enough to cut the dust down on the trail. 





We make our way back to the highway and proceed to air up again.  




 Bill is leading the way now and we cross the bridge over the Colorado River and head to the Moki dugway.   52191222845_6d09377445_b.jpg



While on the highway we caught another group using the same GMRS channel that we were on.   We passed the group of Overland Jeeps going the other way.   It was pretty funny as they totally thought Don’s Power Wagon the was the one from the YouTube channel TrailRecon.  They kept calling it Brad’s truck.  It was pretty funny.  


We ran out of range for the others and made it to the dugway.   The Moki Dugway is a road cut out of the side of a sheer cliff that takes you down to the floor of the Valley of the Gods.  It’s just a lot of switchbacks but the dirt road is wide enough for two way traffic.  The ride down is fun.  











We get back to pavement and run down the highway to the town of Mexican Hat.   The refuel and restock mission complete we head back out to Valley of the Gods. 



 It’s still early but we were due for some extended time to veg out and soak in the scenery.  



Bill finds a great spot over a bend in a dry wash.   It’s a 360 degree view but the best is looking west with another storm rolling in. 52199375218_0f5f2c9a66_b.jpg 


We can sit back and relax in the sun and have some beverages.  




***** Continued..

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#22 Zoomad


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Posted 01 August 2022 - 12:16 AM









A view from Bill’s house looking out.



Siesta time..



Larry prepped the outside shower off the side of his camper.  The privacy enclosure was hosed from the wind two nights before.  So we got to shower Al fresco (individually of course).  Keep this in mind anybody with wheels can drive through the Valley of the Gods, as it’s a basic wide dirt road.  So basic that as I’m butt ass naked soaping up I notice a family in a minivan cruise by.  Thankfully the road was a few hundred feet away and I had the driver side door open for a towel rack.  I stepped behind the door to spare the horror on the folks driving by.  



Still the shower hit the spot.  Cleaning up with wet wipes just don’t cut it.  Refreshed and cleaned up I rejoined the group and we hung out in the shade of Bill’s truck.  








Desert Rats..



I had the task of whipping up dinner this night and had an easy one planned.  Shaved steak to fry up for some cheesesteak sandwiches.   


Quick and easy on the stove with the griddle on it.   Add some cheese, throw a lid on to melt the cheese and toast the bun with a little butter.  So good.  



Bill was able to get some great shots of the landscape with the late afternoon sun and storm moving through in the distance. 








Pictures are great to share, but they absolutely do not do the land justice from how it looks in person.  I caught myself just staring out into the view in awe.   This is one of those places you just have to see to believe.  It’s amazing. 



I took the drone up for the longest flight yet.  Great shots for sure of the camp and the scenery. 



*** Continued…


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#23 Zoomad


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Posted 01 August 2022 - 12:20 AM
























Being our last night out we stayed out into the darkness.  It was a good time.  I stayed out for a few to take some night shots but the cloud cover was heavy.   


So I turned in too.  


The ride home will be next.  

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#24 Zoomad


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Posted 01 August 2022 - 12:26 AM

Day 6


The ride home.  Depending on which way we go, I’ve got a 490 mile ride to get back to my house.  Larry and Bill have about a 400 mile ride to get back.  Ty and Jody have a 700 mile run depending on the route they take and Don’s route is the shortest at under 400 miles.  


Ty and Jody break out of camp first and hit the road for their ride home.   The three of us from the Colorado crew take off next and Don hangs back to call home since we had service.  Don ended up staying out an extra day to camp one more night on the way home and by the sounds of it found a great spot we might have to revisit later.  


I’ve handed back the lead to Bill to get us back to Colorado.  The plan is to drive back to Bluff and work our way to Hovenweep National monument and take the back way to Cortez Colorado.  It’s all country two-lane roads from where we left Hwy 191 until we get back to Cortez.  




The landscape is dry desert and we cross the boarder into our home state and we start seeing a lot more green.   There must be a creek around for irrigation as there is active farming going on in this area.   We make our way into the town of Cortez and decide it’s a good time to stop for lunch.  A local spot was targeted but proved to be too busy to deal with the wait so we hit the Sonic in town and scarf down some burgers.  



From this point forward we are in a mode of pounding out miles.  We hit our first patch of rain before rolling into Durango.   It would be what we deal with off and on all day.   Just waves of it.  During a dry patch east of Durango we make what should be our last fuel stop.   Gas and snack bought it’s now time to get over Wolf Creek Pass.   The rain comes back during the climb up and over the summit.  It made taking pictures along the way worthless to do for sure.  On the downhill swing we carry some momentum into the San Luis valley. 


I had reviewed the map earlier and could see my turn to split from the group was coming up in Del Norte.  As much as I like riding together, turning now is going to cut off time and miles to my ride home.  We find a spot to turn off and I gave Larry back his extra radio.  Goodbyes are said and we head off in our separate directions.  


Larry and Bill ride across the valley to La Veta pass and hit interstate back to Pueblo.   My ride has me running up what the locals call the “gunbarrel” as the road is dead straight for miles.   Rain continues and as I climb Poncha Pass I notice piles of small hail on the shoulders of the road near the top.   I’ll add the temps have dropped considerably but running with bare feet and sandals and both kick panel vents open I’m now freezing in a truck I was baking in the days before.   I decide to stop in Buena Vista for a pit stop and top off fuel with what was in my jerry cans and some different snacks.  Oh and I closed the kick panel vents and turned the heater on full blast to warm up.  


One thing I noticed getting into Buena Vista was the traffic going the other way.   It’s a Friday before the three day weekend for the 4th of July. Everybody from Denver was coming in on Hwy 285 to play in the mountains.  It was madness.   Jeeps, Trucks, Campers and trailers chock full of toys.   The further northeast I run, the heavier the traffic is coming the other way.   It looked horrible if you were going that way.  






Thankfully, the direction I’m going in is free of heavy traffic and it’s mostly downhill.  I got home about 45 minutes after Larry texted me he had got home. 


Recapping stats, my mileage traveled was 1,404 miles total round trip.  Fuel economy came in with a high at 17mpg and a low of 8mpg.  I was pretty happy about that.


Larry’s Spot tracking of the trip:



Zoomed in on Hanksville:



Outside of my exhaust donut failure, there were no other mechanical issues with any of the trucks.   The trip itself was a great success.   The loose trip plan works.  Everybody had some input and we all enjoyed the different scenery that the area around Hanksville provides.   Zero trail traffic reinforces the time of year we go as it’s a natural deterrent to most sane people to avoid the desert in the heat.  We are not sane.  


What this trip really lacked was any technical wheeling.  That’s ok.  We all like some slow going 4low action as much as the next guy.  But the trails we ended up on didn’t have the technical sections to do so.  It has a lot to do with the lack of carnage, but since we drive these trucks to and from the target area not having to arrange a rescue mission with a trailer is ok. 


Trips like these reinforce my love for travel like this.   I’ve said it before; the best view is from the windshield of a squarebody.  Well, the view out of the camper when parked usually isn’t bad either.   It’s worth saying to use these trucks and explore our public lands even if your truck isn’t perfect or finished.  Mine sure isn’t.  I still lack a/c and it’s pretty obvious when I see triple digit temps on my outside temp display.  There are other things the truck lacks that I plan on adding, but they won’t stop me from using it in the form it’s in right now. 


As far as the expense of fuel right now, if you look at it from a different perspective it’s not as bad as you might think.   Compared to round trip airfare to some place to take a vacation, plus hotels, rental car, going out to eat and entertainment we are probably still money ahead.  We didn’t have any hotel bills; we brought all our own food and drink locally at home, which saves a good bit of money itself. 


Thanks to everybody that followed along this far.   Part of the fun is getting to share it with you all. 

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#25 AWG_Pics


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Posted 01 August 2022 - 01:05 AM

Thanks for sharing your amazing trip. You gave us some good ideas for our excursion to SE Utah this September. Happy trails!


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#26 Happyjax


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Posted 01 August 2022 - 06:02 PM

Really enjoyed this. Thanks!

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#27 dr.tucson


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Posted 07 August 2022 - 06:25 PM

What a great trip.  I've looked at that chunk of land on a map for many years.  I must admit that deep sand always scares the heck out of me.  Your photos of Valley of the Gods were very nice.

When you crossed the Dirty Devil River, your initial attempts at the exit packed the mud and the rest following had an easy time?  Crossing rivers also brings up my anxiety level.

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#28 Zoomad


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Posted 11 August 2022 - 04:18 AM

What a great trip.  I've looked at that chunk of land on a map for many years.  I must admit that deep sand always scares the heck out of me.  Your photos of Valley of the Gods were very nice.

When you crossed the Dirty Devil River, your initial attempts at the exit packed the mud and the rest following had an easy time?  Crossing rivers also brings up my anxiety level.


Traveling with other trucks afforded the luxury to hit the sandy sections a little more aggressively than one might do going solo.   As it was when Don neglected to pull the t-case lever out of 2hi on his Waggy, he got to see the end of a rope to get over it.  


Ty in the silver Dodge with the Phoenix camper hit that same little sandy hill first and was struggling getting over it.   He backed up and I went ahead and got over it in a couple of tries.   Low tire pressure and wheel speed are your friends when it comes to sand.   What pressure works for one of us, may not be the same for you.   I can tell you I can feel if the tire pressure is too high in the sand.  When it gets deep, I can feel the tires "chatter" and loose forward bite when the pressure is too high.  It feels the same as deep snow as far as how the tires react.   I let a little more out and try again.   Usually once I stop feeling the chatter, the tires can really be felt doing their job.  


As far as the water crossings go it really comes down for me to do a little recon first.  As in get your feet wet.  I get out and walk into the river/creek to check depth and how fast it's running.  It also gives me a chance to check how firm or not the bottom of the riverbed feels.   Use common sense here of course, if the river is really fast with a lot of rapids it may not be safe to get out and walk through it much less drive it.   


We had prior experience with both crossings as we had done both two years earlier.   But mother nature threw a curveball this year and we were on the heels of some serious monsoon rains that flooded out the Capitol Reef three days before we got there.   Muddy creek and Dirty Devil rivers both take the drainage from Capitol Reef so they were both running higher and faster than the last time we were there.   You could see real evidence of them running twice as high or better on the banks as they were still quite wet and muddy.   

That's where the crossing on the Dirty Devil got interesting.   There was a nice hump of mud just on the edge of the bank that took 3-4 tries to finally get through it.  But once I packed it down, the rest cruised right up.  

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#29 Wango


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Posted 11 August 2022 - 02:27 PM

Great Trip/Report!

Love that area, was there in late April and will have a couple of days free down there in Oct. 

Thanks for sharing.

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