Monday, April 30, 2018

Richardson Amphitheater Loop Hike

Gopher Flats
April 24, 2018
Moab, UT

The Amphitheater Loop is about 22 miles from the intersection of Hwy 191 and SR 128.   

The trailhead is located across the street from Hittle Bottom Recreation Site.  

 Hittle Bottom RA includes a campground, facilities, and access to the Colorado River.  Back in the early 1900s, it was the home of the Tom Kitsen family.  
Tom carried the mail with his team of horses from the Cisco Post Office to the Castleton PO.  He used this place as a halfway stop to change his teams.  All that remains today is the rock walled dug-out. 

Tom's mother was buried here.
 A few years later, Frank Hittle and his family settled onto the property.  Their plans to farm and make a home here only lasted a few years as the barren desert won over their efforts to provide for themselves.  When reading about the historic site, I read that Frank's daughter visited the old homestead in 1988 with her children and grandchildren.
After parking and soaking in a little history, we were set to explore the 3 mile loop through the valley known as " The Richardson Amphitheater".  

The loop begins shortly after crossing the street.  Going counter-clockwise allows for climbing up the one short steep section which is easier (at least for us) than sliding down it.

Right from the get-go, the  Castle Valley and Fisher Towers rock formations capture your attention.  
Before you realize it, the trail leads right up to some really cool and very old rock formations.  These Moenkopi formations are hundreds of millions of years old.  And we are about to have an up close and personal look.   
From here, the trail slowly descends into a wash.  Sometimes it was hard to find our way in the wash.  We kept an eye out for cairns (piles of rocks) as the Moenkopi and Cutler sandstone walls grew taller and taller.

 I was easily entertained by the wildflowers.
Whipple's Fishhook Cacti are just beginning to bloom. 

Tufted Evening Primrose

Lots and lots of Four O'Clocks full of buds...we were a few days to early. 
The Cliff Rose smelled so nice.

 I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
The wash dead ends at the short steep climb mentioned at the beginning of the post.   It's a bit of a rock scramble and challenge to find the best way for short legs...mine that is. 
The rock scramble changes to a steep climb where footing is key to avoid the marbles...those small rocks that can a slide under your feet and send you back to start all over. 
 Then a slight turn right... 

and there we were...the sweeping views part of the trail.  Its absolutely gorgeous as you meander the curved path that lead us from one side of the mesa to the other. 
The trail meanders the left side of the mesa...

...and winds around to the right side.
And then there is the beautiful view behind me...

 In addition to all the cool rocks, sweeping views and wildflowers we did not see a single person on the trail.  We both agreed on the ride home it was a mighty fine way to spend a few hours.  

So until next time, take care and...


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Cliffhanger and Metal Masher

Gopher Flats
April 25, 2018
Moab, UT

Things are rolling along here in Moab.  We are moving at a slow steady pace to get get things done and have some fun.  
Dave led, followed by Dee, us and Scott
After all the work was completed on Wile E, we headed out to do my favorite trail...Cliffhanger.  Just mentioning scary fun and beautiful scenery always puts Cliffhanger at the top of the list for me.

Huge boulders and ledges grab your attention from the get-go. 

Any day on trail is a good day.  When I'm not paying attention to the trail and tire placement, I enjoy all the big things and all the little things.

 The cliff side of the trail gives the trail it's name...a story or event with a strong element of suspense.  Yep, it's pretty close to the edge...

 ...and if that's not enough, there is a good size obstacle of large (ummm huge!) boulders to descend.  Keep in mind that this is an in and out trail so what goes down has to go up.  But just like hiking, I think it's easier to go up when wheeling too. 
From here it's not that far to the overlook.  A nice lunch with friends and a view !  

 From there it was all downhill...literally at 15 to 20 mph and no brakes.  As we were heading out after lunch,  the pins holding the passenger front brake calipers on came out.  Dave helped out and we thought it was fixed,  but as Joe was heading downhill to get off a ledge, he had NO brakes.  Quick thinker he is,  he barreled into a mound of boulders and landed on top.  We left Wile E there and rode out with Dee to find Rory (Moab Motorsports).  He and Joe went back to tow Wile E back to the shop.  Rory is awesome and Joe was most impressed with the way he orchestrated a temporary fix to the wheel and towed Joe the dark and back up all the obstacles we had driven down.  They got back to Moab Motorsports about 11:30 pm.   

A few days ago,  Moab Friends For Wheelin' had a highway clean up work day.  
Joe, Dee and Rick 

Our 2 mile section is just north of the Arches NP entrance on Hwy 191.  We had lots of people to show up to help.  

With work done,  we all set out to run Metal Masher.  I didn't count the vehicles, but I heard someone say we had 14.

To get to Metal Masher you take the shelf road that goes to Gemini Bridges. 


There are a lot of tall ledges to climb which have bypasses.  Below, Melissa easily drives her buggy up one of them.  

We were fifth in line behind Glen, Rick, Dee and David.

I only got a couple of scenery photos...

 The first named obstacle, Rock Chucker, is about 4.5 miles into the 11.7 mile trail.  Glen (who spotted Jamie up this obstacle last June) waits at the top just in case.  Getting lined up at the bottom is key to a successful climb.  
Wile E waits as David crawls right up.

 Mirror Gulch about .2 of a mile further is the next named obstacle.  Rick was second in line and broke a hub and decided to turn around and head back out.  He was sandwiched between Dee and us while everyone else continued on.  Next time, we look forward to tackling Widow Maker !

Well, I think we have seen the last of the cold days.  Of course, the last time I said that, I was wrong.  Fingers crossed.  I know this week has been very nice.  

Until next time, take care and...


Up rocks, sweeping views, wildflowers and best of all, solitude !