Friday, June 28, 2019

Fun In Wile E

Gopher Flats
Moab, Ut
June 2019

There are many nice things about spending so much time in Moab : friends, hiking, relaxing, and yes, Wile E.  Wile E is a lot of fun to have on trail without the worry of causing severe damage to our daily driver.  June was a busy month and we only managed to hit the rocks three times...all three trails are at the top of my list for favorites.  

Rusty Nail  
Rusty Nail is a short I mile route that surely gets the adrenaline flowing and the heart pumping.  It is one obstacle after another with lots of large boulders in-between...and a lot of it is on the edge of a canyon wall.  We have driven this several times and are just beginning to get the hang of it. On  obstacles like Riff-Raff...
Dee climbing Riff-Raff

 No Left Turn... 
This picture explains exactly why this obstacle is named No Left Turn !

Following Steve as he makes the turn for No Left Turn.  

Wile E about to make the final descent off No Left Turn.

 and Skidmark.
Warren has no trouble on Skidmark.  

This spot has given me a belly flop for sometime so back in the spring I got out and watched Joe drive it.  It feels very tippy inside Wile E, but looking at it from outside it wasn't so bad.  No more belly flops ! 
The Wall, on the other hand, is tricky.  Sometimes we go right up and other times, we don't.  This day we had to have a spot.

Dee's climb was awesome !  We got hung up on the passenger side where you have to climb that very large boulder.  It wouldn't be so bad, but there is also a hole your passenger tire slides into.
 Lunch stops are a time to breath and get caught up with friends or get to know new friends.  Lots of laughter and stories are shared. 
L to R: Dee, us, Steve, Bart, Eric, and Warren

As most people already know, Cliffhanger is my favorite trail.  It is 12 miles of curvy trail that makes its way through a high area (Amasa Back) surrounded by Kane Springs Canyon, Hurrah Pass, and a big loop of the Colorado River.  Right from the get-go, this trail grabs your attention as it descends a huge set of ledges.  It is an in and out trail so what goes down has to go up (or visa versa)... but going up is never quite as heart pounding as going down or at least that's my opinion !  This day we enjoyed a run with Dee, Scott (who turned around about half way as he had an appointment to keep), and Joe and Jenny in their newly built Toyota buggy...its first trail run. 

Dee, Joe and Jenny and us...
 Thanks to Dee, we got a great series of pictures that show us descending a typical ledge of Cliffhanger.  Cliffhanger is rated #8 meaning that "vehicle mechanical or body damage is likely and roll over possibilities exist".  For four years prior to acquiring our YJ buggy, we drove this trail and many others in our 2-door JK.  We feel extremely fortunate to have never experienced any serious problems and are Sooo relieved to have Wile E. ! Pearl (the JK) has been retired from difficult trails. 

 Lunch is usually at one of the overlooks...yes, this trail has two overlooks !

Joe Scott and Jenny and Dee looking for a lunch spot.


Metal Masher
This 11.7 miles of dirt, slickrock, and huge boulders lead the way to Arth's Rim and then eventually back down to a nice meadow.  It's not a typical Sunday drive though.  Lots of obstacles are between the start and the rim overlook and then as you descend there is Widow Maker.  Widow Maker is a difficult climb.  If you fail to climb it on your own there is a winch point or you can be strapped up.  

Our trusty band of trail warriors for the day.
Dee, us, Chris, Rory, David and his son, Shawn and Sheen, Kiva

We were especially happy to be wheeling with Rory who was driving his recovery truck,  Trailmator.   
 This picture shows the first challenge.  A great warm-up for what's ahead.   
Dee, driving Blanche, makes it look so easy !

 The boom on the back of Trailmator kept dragging in the dirt...
 so Rory just picked another line !
There is an optional obstacle on MM called Rock Chucker.  We have climbed it several times, but recently a big rock used for climbing has broken off making this already tuff climb even meaner. 

Dee was not able to climb it...
The front driver tire gets stuck in a deep hole while the back passenger tire is barely on the boulder.

 and neither was we didn't even try !

Other obstacles like Mirror Gulch (a tight squeeze between two large boulders with a ledge to climb) and Misty's Thumb make for some excitement before reaching the rim.
Rory looks on as Wile E crawled the huge boulder known as Misty's Thumb. 

Lunch at Arth's rim has an amazing view.

Looking north...

Shawn is taking in the view. Looking south towards Moab...

Looking straight ahead with Arches on the horizon...

I always enjoy the drive when we leave the rim.  The trail descends a high mesa that overlooks Hwy 313.  

If you squint, you can see Hwy 313 in the center of the photo.

Widow Maker is the next huge obstacle.  We have been winched up it several times in our JK.  We really wanted to climb it in Wile E and when we tried last fall we almost had it.  Wile E went right up the near vertical very tall boulder, but got hung up on another ledge at the top.  So this year we let out a couple more pounds of air, harnessed up, and made the climb up and then over the ledge with no problems.  Lots of "Wahoos" were heard !  There are no pictures of us making the climb but I did snap this photo as we approached.  You can barely see the ledge (on the passenger side) that hung us up the first time if you follow the black tire marks up.  It really is bigger than it looks

It really is bigger than it looks.  This is a picture of Dee (from 2016) as Blanche is nearly vertical and ready to make the climb. 

The scenery on these and most all trails in the area is totally spectacular.  The red rocks against the vivid blue skies is eye candy !  
Rusty Nail

Rusty Nail

When this photo was taken the Colorado River was full and we had flood alerts.  Kane Springs Rd. on the way to Cliffhanger Trail...

I couldn't help but notice the little white flowers in the picture above...

Metal Masher

Metal Masher

 This wraps up our June.  We have a road trip planned for July so stay tuned.  Until next time...


Sunday, June 23, 2019

Polar Mesa

Gopher Flats
June 16, 2019
Moab, UT

Much to my delight, Polar Mesa was a scheduled club (Moab Friends For Wheelin') run.  And even more to my delight, Sunday dawned with beautiful blue skies and whimsical clouds.  We met at the cinema along with Dee, Chris and Scott, and Joe and Jenny.  A nice group of folks to share a Sunday drive with.  

We headed out Sand Flats Rd. 

It is a very pretty drive that goes all the way to the LaSal Mountains.  Our first stop was at the rim overlook at the Porcupine Rim campground about 15 miles from downtown...just inside the Manti-LaSal National Forest.  It's a breathtaking view of the hills and mesas of Castle Valley.  

It's not a shabby look at the LaSals either !  Just look at all that green !

We climbed higher and higher on Sand Flats for several more miles.

I love the mountain meadows...

When we reached LaSal Loop Road, we made a left turn and followed the winding road until it ended at Castle Valley Road.  There we turned right.  Not far the pavement turns to dirt.  That's where we stopped to have lunch. We had to see the dinasaur tracks, more views, and the wildflowers.
Lunch with a view!

Dinosaur track with a view.  (Thanks to Jenny for sharing her photo.)  

Wildflowers with a view!

We continued on the dirt road.  Eventually the dirt turns to rocks as we made the climb up to the mesa on a series of switchbacks.

It's a short hike to see the mining remnants.  Scott, Dee and Chris lead the way.

Because of its remote location, no claims were staked here until around 1914 (Other claims in the area were as early as the 1880s.) in response for a demand in radium.  Ore was hand sorted at the site, sacked in cement bags and sent by mule to a 
subcamp 5 miles southeast of the Dewey Bridge (on Hwy 128) then by wagon to Cisco.   

 By this time, the day was well into mid afternoon.  The decision was made to return to Moab via Thompson Canyon and Onion Creek OHV trails.  We have driven both these trails several times.  
Thompson Canyon Trail

 The drive down Onion Creek was my favorite part of the day's route.  The skies turned dark, the winds picked up, and we even had a few rain drops.  It was gorgeous !

The end of the trail (or the beginning if you are going up) winds its way through Fischer Canyon and ends at Hwy 128.
From there, we made good time along Hwy 128.   The Colorado River was at full capacity !  In fact, we were under a flood watch, but that has since been lifted.

It was a fun day with fun friends.  And a great escape from the summer temps.  Speaking of that, we had a cool down this week-end...highs in the low 70s !  Soooo nice.

Well, I'll close for now.  Until next time,
(Thanks to Dee for this photo)


Up next, some Wile E fun!