Monday, May 15, 2017

Lockhart Basin

Gopher Flats
Moab, UT
May 6, 2017

Lockhart Basin has been on our to-do list for a couple of years.  The total distance is around 110 miles which includes 36 miles of 4X4 trail and around 65 miles to get to the trailhead.  That makes for a 10 hour day IF all goes well...way too long to leave our pups.  A huge thanks to our good friend and neighbor Susan who agreed to come let the pups out for a stretch and potty break mid afternoon.  This made it possible for us to join in on the club ride.  Joining in the ride were Dee, Warren, Larry, Carole, Joe and Ginny, Bronson (from Blanding) and his dad Tom, and us.  

We did the trail from south to north.
The meeting place was Newspaper first time to see this amazing State Historical Monument. 

Heading west on Hwy 211 under a canopy of green gave way to dramatic scenery.

 We made our second stop close to Hamburger Hill Campground to meet Carole and Joe and Ginny who had camped the night before.  We all aired down and topped off the gas.  

L to R: Joe and Ginny, Dee, us, Bronson and Tom, Carole, Larry and Warren

Shortly after, we crossed Indian Creek and stopped to check out the falls.

It was a rather overcast day with dark gray clouds and the sun popping out from time to time.  We managed to park for lunch and just as everyone was beginning to eat, a rain squall moved in causing us to all scramble back into our vehicles to eat.  The sound of thunder and bolts of lightening we saw several times during the day were spectacular.  Luckily the heaviest rains and windy conditions held off until we reached Kane Creek Road heading into Moab.  It was not a pretty site.  I felt so bad for the hundreds of tent campers we saw.  Their tents and bedding reminded me of colorful blimps or balloons soaring through the air. 

The Moenkopi rock formations along this trail are beautiful with all the striations.  These red sandstone formations are millions of years hard to grasp that many years, yet so easy to appreciate their beauty.

 Eventually we began to climb.
Dee leads followed by Carole, Joe and Ginny, and Bronson and Tom
We traveled several miles from the south side of Mitten Butte to the north side.

 Rain squalls were ahead.

As we rode along the mesa, Warren pointed out several points of interest.

The first formation in the center going left to right is Washer Women seen through Mesa Arch in Canyonlands. 

The first time to see the Colorado River on this trail.
 And can you find the Pig and her Piglets rock formation?  Sleeping Buffalo is also in this photo.  Both are formations we look for on many other trails including Poison Spider.
Pig rock is the light colored rock on the left and Buffalo rock is the light colored rock on the right.  I zoomed in as much as I could, and we could just barely see them from the trail.

From there we head down towards a narrow canyon and back to familiar territory to a 3-way intersection for Lockhart Basin, Chicken Corners and Hurrah pass.  This section is about 2 miles and the most difficult part of the trail.

 From here I have no more pictures.  Once we were headed towards Hurrah Pass, the winds were vicious and the rains were torrential.  It literally rained mud !  Thank goodness we were in Pearl.  Not a great way to end the day.  Mother Nature certainly added some excitement and chatter on the CBs.  

This is a well maintained and beautiful trail, but beware the rocks have eyes.  
 What a great group of friends to wheel with ! Until next time, 


Monday, May 8, 2017

Cliffhanger Marathon

Gopher Flats
Moab, UT
April 29, 2017

Every year about this time, the Chris Martinez Marathon draws lots of runners from all over the country to participate in a marathon along the Cliffhanger 4X4 trial.  Our club volunteers to haul supplies (three jeeps full of snacks, cases of oranges and bananas, cups, tables, 40 gallons of water, Heed mix, cokes, and containers) and man the aid station which we set up at the Jackson Hole Bike Trail intersection at 3.2 miles.  

We enjoyed the scary fun on this trail 4 times in Pearl, but we had never done it in the new Jeep buggy so a practice run...make that 2 practice runs... were in order before we headed out in the dark on Saturday, April 29th.  We set out with Dee as our leader along with Dave and Debbie (friends from Maryland) on the Tuesday before the race for the first run.  Skies were a mixed bag of blue with white fluffy clouds one minute then totally gray with low hanging rain clouds the next.  Joe and I had some trouble on Tuesday.  We broke a T case which we had replaced on Wednesday by the crew at M4O.  So on Thursday, Dee and Joe and I returned for another practice run and to get a better idea of how long it would take us to get to the the intersection.  We aced the Cliffhanger climb, but had an almost roll on the Z turn when we drove too far passenger and slipped in a hole.  I held on while Joe very calmly drove us out of it.  I'm thinking I don't like tippy so much anymore !  Dee turned us around and we tried again...not perfect, but better.  Third time was the charm...we aced all the obstacles on Saturday...very thankful for the extra day of practice and Dee's guidance.    

It was very busy all three days on this challenging 8.6 mile (round trip) in and out trail. Dee maneuvers between jeeps parked on the narrow shelf road that overlooks Jackson Hole.

There were lots of bikers enjoying the weather.  Here we crawled by a group that was stopped for a break.
Dave aced the Cliffhanger Obstacle.
Dee, driving Elliott, her new 4-door JK, for the first time on Cliffhanger, showed us all the right lines.   

Joe faces the Cliffhanger climb for the first time in Wile E.  And yes, that is the edge of the cliff !

 The endless series of steep ledges that start at the trailhead grab your attention immediately.  Its a good thing I take the pictures because this trail offers some of the prettiest scenery around. 

 On Saturday we headed out in the dark, 5:45 am, to meet Dee, her passenger Susan, and Glen at the loading zone parking lot on Kane Creek Road.  From there it took another hour and 20 minutes to reach the intersection where we unloaded and set up the aid station.  We were all ready and waiting for our first runners who arrived about 8:30.  It was a chilly, windy day, but we had a great time.  The runners were all smiles and appreciated us being there.  We closed shop about 1:00 pm when the sweepers returned from Jackson Hole to report all runners were done.  We quickly loaded up and were on our way.  Heading out, we were stopped by a jeep with a steering box failure climbing up the Cliffhanger obstacle.  Glen helped the other folks in that group strap the rig up and move it off to the side so we could pass.  We were back in town with supplies unloaded and heading home just after 3:00. A long, but successful and fun day. 

 Glen leads the way at dark thirty !

Watching Dee climb down the Cliffhanger obstacle...

Heading out...  

...and looking back at Dee on the dreaded Z turn.

 Thanks for the pictures of Wile E's first adventures on Cliffhanger Dee ! 
Until next time... 


Friday, April 28, 2017

What a Playground !

Gopher Flats
Moab, UT
April 21, 2017

Moab is a perfect playground for outdoor enthusiasts.  Jeeping and hiking are at the top of our list of fun things to do, but there is so much more.  Moab is a small town with a population of under 6,000 people.  But with all it has to offer, tourists pour in by the thousands...ummm, make that hundreds of thousands or a access thousands of square miles of amazing red rock landscapes and the waters of the Colorado River.       

Joe and I are excited to say that we are getting lots of seat time in our new toy, a 1988 YJ we named Wile E.  Last Friday, we joined Dee, Warren (a local), and Dave and Debbie (friends from Maryland who don't get to Moab as often as they would like) to do the Pickle.  But first, to warm up, Dee suggested we run Mashed Potatoes...I like the way she thinks !  Mashed Potatoes is full of beautiful scenery as it runs high above Hidden Canyon along mounds of white sandstone (hince the name Mashed Potatoes) and into Bartlett Wash.  But the main reason for my excitement was the Gravy Bowl.  For years...gee that sounds nice!...Joe and I have taken the by-pass to this daunting deep hole that a jeep hardly fits into. 

Our day started out heading up the shelf road to the trailhead.  Dee lead, followed by Warren, then us, and Dave and Debbie. 

Views as far as the eyes can see.

Up and over mounds of "mashed potatoes" add to the fun.

Then its Gravy Boat time.  First Dee...
One of those rare times there was no gravy in the boat ! was Warren...

...then it was Joe's turn to dip in, 

back up and get lined up,
and drive out...
 ...and last it was Dave's turn.  Wahoo !
We all took a break after Gravy Boat to take in beautiful Hidden Canyon.
From there, a ride through Bartlett Wash among the old gnarly cotton wood trees...
...landed us at the Pickle trailhead (our hardest trail to date).

 Charles Wells describes the Pickle as a short, hardcore route through a narrow canyon with three nasty obstacles.

Just a short ways into the canyon you are greeted by a tall double ledge...Obstacle #1. 

 Our lunch stop was in a curve in the canyon in the warm sunshine with the canyon walls blocking the wind.  
Dee parked alittle ahead of us more in the curve.
 Up next the curve in the road was tricky and tippy.  According to locals, it used to have a hump of rock on the right hand side and most folks made an off camber climb up and over.  The hump has eroded almost completely away. Before it broke, if you flopped off the hump you ended up sideways in a very narrow curved spot placing yourself in a pickle...hence the name, the Pickle.

Obstacle #2 required the correct angle which took us a couple of tries to get lined up.  Here Warren watches as Dee makes the climb look easy in Blanche.

 Obstacle #3 is a fun climb out of the canyon.  Here we watch Warren crawl his way up...

...then it was our turn...(Thanks for the picture Dee.  I am having so much fun riding in Wile E I haven't gotten many pictures.)

...and last out of the canyon was Dave.

From here it was time to head home.  Warren made a left turn of Hwy 313 towards Hwy 191 and the rest of us made a right turn and went home via Long Canyon to Potash Rd. 
What a beautiful ride...
This narrow section on Long Canyon is called Pucker Pass.

 Until next time...