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In about August 2014, I started planning a fall event in the San Rafael Swell. The plan was to stage at the end of the pavement near Temple Mountain. I posted an invite link on Facebook and invited many to participate.

As the week neared, the weather was looking to be perfect. Mid-70's and full sunshine were forecast for the entire weekend. It was going to be great.

I took that Thurs & Friday off and was on the road by early afternoon on Thursday. Traffic was mild and the trek south/east was uneventful, except for what I noticed on my speedometer. I truck has just clocked 111111 miles. It was an odd sight.

 

GPS Tracks for the weekend here: TempleMountain-Area.gdb


An interesting history of the mining in the area found here: SanRafaelOralHistoryReport4-16-2012.pdf

 

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Upon arriving at the Temple Mountain area, I found my staging/camping location was already fairly full, but I did manage to carve out an area large enough for my rig and friends.

 

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That Friday, I decided to pre-ride many sections that I thought could be technical. Behind the Reef and Little Wild Horse trails had a few technical rocky sections and I determined that we'd avoid the rock craw on Little Wild Horse.

 

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100 miles ridden on Friday and only two sections that were somewhat technical. I mapped everything out with the GPS, plotted on the BLM / County map and prepared for Saturday's ride.

 

Saturday, the sky was clear and morning temps in the high 50's. Everyone donned their gear, with one heavy jacket in sight and off we went.

One of the many exciting discoveries had to be an accessible mine near Tomisch Butte. The mine seemed to cover the entire length and width of the mountain. We entered near the chute and would come out on another section of the mountain. Probably not advisable for us to have wandered through given it was a uranium mine..

A few videos:

3 Months of ATV Follies

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Caution: Some language and gestural profanity involved in this movie.

This is a compilation of at least 3 rides that took place from Aug-November 2013, where the best goof-ups and oopsies occurred. 



ATV Follies III 2013 from Midnight Rider on Vimeo.

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Tracks found here: Trails by Bountiful.gdb


Over the previous weekend, and after getting my Polaris Sportsman 850 XP (Limited) back from service (7 times in for the same check engine condition), I decided to ride above Bountiful yet again. This time, my goal was to stress the Polaris by riding all the extreme and/or 2track trails I could find.


From the "B" staging area, I proceed due East and up the mountain along what I believe to be the USFS 605 trail. Plenty of off-camber, ruts and rocks to get the machine and human warmed up.


After exiting the 605, I turned hard right and started the old Tuttle Loop/606 trail upward until I connected to the main county road. I followed the county road until the downhill section toward the first beaver/glacier pond, then proceeded toward Farmington Flats campground and followed the 2track trail toward the 250 and 249 trails, upward to the FAA radomes, then down to the ponds North and East of the radomes.


Reverse back to the 606 and down the mountain.

 

A few videos:

 

 

Garmin tracks found here:

128-605 Trails by Bountiful.gdb 

 

The weather was calling for low 90's, so where else to ride than up at elevation, around 10,000'. I loaded up the Kawi BF 750 and set off for the "B" above Bountiful.

 

From the staging area, I proceeded due East and straight up the mountain and the 605 trail. Going straight up the mountain on some seriously narrow 2-track, my machine was really working hard. In my location, the trail was so washed out, that I was nearly sideways, having to partially walk with my legs while pushing the machine upright.

A few photos from the 606, 218 and 605 trails:

 

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If you decide to hit these trails, use caution as the downhill's are VERY steep, off-camber and narrow.

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GPS Tracks: WhiteSandsWash.gdb

In October, my brother-in-law Ken and I departed for the Green River, Utah area. Our destination was the White Sands wash area - approximately 15 miles South/East of Green River. Our intent was to stay almost two weeks while boondock camping and ride/explore all the nearby trails and areas.

 

I was told that due to the size of my 5th wheel (43'), that it would be best if I came in via Blue Hills Road, just south of the Moab airport and HWY191; what a mistake. The wash-outs and dips on that graded dirt road caused the rear-end of my 5th wheel to make contact at least 12 times during the ~25 mile drive in. The easier route would have been Floy Wash road, just off I-70. Floy Wash road was only 10 miles to White Sands, with only 3-4 deep wash-outs.

 

At any rate, after a grueling 2 hours running the ~25 miles down Blue Hills, I finally arrived in advance of my brother-in-law, drove to the top of a mesa overlooking the sand dunes and set up camp.

 

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The weather, other than some wind was holding up quite nicely. I dug a nice deep fire pit, surrounded it with rocks found on the mesa and got my first fire underway.

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The following morning, it was clear that a decent breakfast with grill made bacon was in order, so I prepared everything and ate breakfast as the sun came up.

 

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By the next day, many in our group were starting to arrive, including a dually towing a monster Jeep rock-crawler. Sadly, I never got to see the rock crawler leave the trailer or head into the dunes. The others that joined were locals from Moab and knew these trails and the trails around Moab very well.

That afternoon, we saw in the distance a large and very fast moving vehicle. As it turned out, it was a couple from Austria in a global expeditionary vehicle; they were travelling through from Canada to South America on a year-long adventure.

 

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They were so intrigued with Utah, that most of our discussions in German and some broken English revolved around how they could possibly relocate from Austria to Moab and open a German themed restaurant. Fast forward to late December 2012 and I received an email from the couple indicating how much they dislike Mexico and want to come back to Utah.

Day 3 (or 4, I don't recall) and our group loads up to ride the trails to the South of White Sands. In our group are 2x Jeeps, a SxS, a few motorcycles and a few ATV's. We travel about 40 miles that day before returning to camp.

 

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The following morning, we pack up again with our destination being "The Pickle" with the trailhead starting at N 38 42.606 W 109 47.675

 

According to Traildamage.com, the trail is rated an 8 out of 10 for technical challenge and is a favorite for extreme rock crawlers, which made it even more interesting for a short wheel based ATV (mine!).

 

Just as we entered the trail head, we noticed two guys on ATV following us in. It was apparent they were in above their pay grade the minute we hit our first descent. We helped them as much as possible until the last HUGE drop-off, at which point, we helped them "walk" their ATV's down the descent.

 

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A brief video showing the walk-down..

 

 

Shortly after returning from this ride, most of our party departed to head back to Moab or their respective homes, leaving Ken (my brother-in-law) and I on the mesa. By this time, winds were approaching 40-60mph sustained, eliminating further potential for fires or outdoor BBQ'ing. Our plan for the following day was to head north, explore the Green River, then see if we could find the Green River Missile Complex and the "Crystal Geyser" along the Green River.

We took off late morning and found many trails that took us to the Green River, but no option to cross. We then decided to find the Missile Complex (which we did). What an interesting relic from the 60's and 70's and the cold war.

 

 

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After riding to the edge of the Green River, it was off to the Missile Complex:

 

 

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After thoroughly checking this location out, we took off to the West to find the Geyser. Sadly, the Geyser never erupted during our ~30 minute visit.

 

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We contemplated riding into Green River for a beer and snacks, but thought perhaps our non-street legal machines would get us in trouble, so instead we turned around and made the ~15 mile ride back to camp.

The following morning, despite the winds and rapidly dropping temperatures, we decided to ride into 10 Mile Wash toward the Green River. The wash is narrow and deep, with the walls towering overhead in some spots as high as 100+ feet.

About 3/4 of the way through the wash, we came to a deep "pond" that we decided to traverse. Little did we know just how deep this "pond" was. Ken went in first on his Yamaha and laid it down for a fraction of a second.. just long enough to allow the bike to ingest over a gallon of water; his machine was flooded out.

We decided that since I had ample tools that we'd dismantle the bike and get as much water out as possible, then figure out next steps. After over an hour of wrenching, we got as much water out as possible and limped the bike out another mile or so, before reaching dry trail. The decision was made that I'd drive the ~20 miles back to camp and return with a gallon of oil and other supplies to do an in-the-field oil change. Sadly, even after putting a full gallon of oil through the machine, the oil was still white and milky. We still decided to ride the machine out and wildly, the machine survived the trek. Just after getting out of the wash, the sky went dark, rain started and the winds whipped up to at least 60mph. What a day!

 

 

So now with my Kawasaki broken and Ken's bike no longer rideable, we decided the next morning, we'd pack up and head for home. We will be back..

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3+ Weeks on the trails

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For the entire 2nd half of September and first half of October, I was fortunate enough to get in some camping, fishing, hiking and ATV'ing.

 

GPSr tracks found here:

5Mile-to-Eureka-via-BlackRock.gdb

Koosharem-to-Richfield.gdb

Kanosh-to-Marysvale.gdb

05 Oct 2012-Jacob City-Soldier Creek Ride.gdb

PaiuteTrail_BarneyLakeTrackLog.gpx


Koosharem-Marysvale-Riding

 

I spent the first 7 days between Koosharem, Utah and Marysvale, Utah. My goal was to ride as many "new-to-me" trails as possible while in those areas, with an emphasis on filming and riding the much-touted Barney Lake trail.

 

The first four days were spent at the Koosharem RV park; a small park that can host approximately 10 RV's. I was quite surprised that I was able to get my massive rolling Marriot into their park.

 

Day 1, I found myself wanting to go fishing at Otter Creek reservoir. Sadly, the lake was at 50% of its normal water capacity, and I was able to drive my truck across a sand bar that placed me about where the middle of the lake used to be.

 

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With the water as low as it was, I was unsuccessful, but I did still manage to net about a dozen crayfish and boiled them up for dinner that evening (along with a great steak!).

 

Day 2, and my friend Gary Elias (and wife) arrived to join me. After getting his camp setup, we thought we'd make the ~80 mile round trip to Otter Creek and back. Unfortunately, Gary's diabetes were acting up and we changed course, instead heading toward Monroe.

 

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While leaving Monroe and heading back toward the trails, we saw a couple towing the most interesting camper (with their ATV) that I've ever seen.

 

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Day 3, we decided that we'd make a run at the Barney Lake trail. This trail was known for being brutally steep, rock covered and for advanced riders; it really didn't seem to be any of those (to me), but did have a few decent technical sections.

 

Barney Lake trail

 

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My favorite trail though had to be the PST65 coming off Monroe Mountain and into the town of Monroe. This trail had tight switchbacks, some interesting terrain and a descent of over 7000' in elevation.

 

PST65

 

On Day 4, I said my goodbyes to Gary and his wife and departed for Marysvale. I had already phoned ahead and reserved a spot at Lizzie -n- Charlies RV park (easily my favorite RV park in central Utah).

 

From this location, I rode the Deer Creek 74 trail, the 606, Barney Lake (yet again) and the PST 65 (yet again).

 

PST606

 

After ~7 days, it was time to return home. Fortunately, for me, another friend contacted me and asked if I wanted to join him in riding from Kanosh to Marysvale (as a day trip). This ride is easily my annual favorite, so I gladly accepted and we departed for the Adelaide campground.

 

Kanosh-to-Marysvale

 

The PST97 "Al Gay" trail and Paiute 01 were our primary destination trails, and neither disappointed.

 

PST97

 

Sam Stowe

 

What a great time on the Paiute in September!

 

So, I'm back home, interviewing for new jobs and trying to find additional trails to ride. Again, the phone rings and my brother-in-law is wondering if I'd take him and his wife riding from Five Mile Pass to Eureka. Sure, I reply - so we head off to the Five Mile Pass area and enjoy a day of riding. Sadly, somewhere en route to / from Eureka, I managed to lose the keys to my truck. Fortunately, I have an awesome wife and she agreed to drive the 45 minutes to drop off my spare (and only remaining) set of keys.

 

The Snake Charmer trail @ Five Mile Pass

 

A week or so passes and I again get invited to ride the Jacob City Loop (Ophir, Utah area) with a new friend. We stage on Mercur Canyon road and depart for my secret trail on the south side of Ophir Canyon.

 

Jacob City Loop

 

Now, its almost mid-October and again I meet up with another new friend and we ride Little Moab to Eureka. We ride through (from East to West) Black Rock Canyon, then through Chilius Pass and into Eureka for lunch at the HWY6 Deli.

 

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The best section of trail riding in this area is the Dry Lake, Mill Canyon trail. This trail is easily the most technical ride in the entire area.

 

Mill Canyon

 

So, its now the 12th of October and I'm prepping for 10 days in the San Rafael Swell, White Sands and Moab. That trip report will be posted later.

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Yet another 5Mile to Eureka run..

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5Mile-to-Eureka-via-BlackRock.jpg

Yesterday (7 Oct 2012), I was asked to ride with my brother-in-law and his wife, and lead them on a run from 5Mile Pass to Eureka, Utah.

We agreed to meet at 10am at the far South/West staging area. Morning temperatures were easily 38F with a light breeze. To say it was brisk would be an understatement.

Our route was fairly easy since my sister-in-law isn't an experienced rider. Normally, I'd hit some of the tough climbs just south of 5Mile. For this route, we simply paralleled the mountains until with hit Black Rock Canyon, cut through the canyon, rode a bit of Allen Ranch road, then hit Chilius Pass where we came into Eureka from the West side of town.

Garmin track for yesterday's run can be found here:  5Mile-to-Eureka-via-BlackRock.gdb

A video of the ride through Black Rock Canyon:


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On 01 Sept 2012 - 03 Sept 2012 (over Labor Day weekend), I set out for Lizzie -n- Charlies RV Park in Marysvale, Utah.


GPSr tracks here: Marysvale-to-Panguitch-Loop.gdb


Our goal was to complete a full loop from Marysvale to Panguitch and back, staying overnight in Panguitch before returning back to Marysvale.


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We departed Marysvale at 0930 Saturday morning, following the Paiute 02 trail until it connected to the Paiute 01 South. We climbed elevation until reaching about 11,600' near Delano Peak. The views were breath taking.




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After bypassing the Beaver High Adventure Camp and Three Creeks, we started onto the Paiute 88 trail. This trail was a very narrow two-track surrounded on all sides by Aspen and Pine. As the kids soon discovered, the trail was also quite technical in sections, with tight switchbacks, loads of rocks and other obstacles.


The 88 trail seemed to last 50 miles, as it just went forever. Somewhere high above and West of Junction, East of Beaver, we finally connected to the Paiute 67 trail and continued out southbound journey.




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Again, we continued southbound until reaching the 68 trail, which then took us out of the Paiute trail system and onto the Panguitch system. At this point, the trail was foreign and not on my GPSr tracks, so we relied on our compass to continue navigating us to the South and to the East.


 

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Finally, at around 7pm, we could see in the distance Bryce Canyon and what looked to be Panguitch (albeit three mountains to our East).


We continued on. Butts were sore, kids (and I) were hungry and tired. At this point, we were about 90 miles into the days journey.


We pressed on and finally made it into the far South/West corner of Panguitch. We checked into the New Bryce Western Motel, cleaned up and walked over to the Cowboy Steakhouse. Steaks were awesome, but I forgot this place specializes in traditional smoked/BBQ and not in fire grilled steaks.


Day 2: We fuel up and start searching for a place to have breakfast. A local informs us that a truck stop 3 blocks away serves breakfast. We are the only customers. We eat, head back to the motel to pick up the last of our gear and head out.


With everyone being exausted after Day 1 and the 101 miles covered, we decide to skip Casto Canyon and instead, follow the Fremont 02 trail into Circleville. Most of the Fremont 02 is wide open roads, so our speeds were averaging 30-35 mph. We were making great time!


At Circleville, we turn East and catch the Paiute 01 and follow that North, stopping for a brief break just before crossing Kingston Canyon.


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Again, the trail pretty much was wide open throttle until we again reached the junction of the 01 and 02 into Marysvale.

 

We arrived back at camp filthy, exhausted and glad to be back!




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San Rafael Swell in February

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In early January 2012, I posted a single question on ATVUtah.com regarding interest in riding the Swell late February. I received a few initial replies from less than 8 folks. As the proposed date (Feb 25) got closer, I saw more replies from folks indicating they had invited others to participate.

Little did I know that this initial query would turn into a massive event where more than 20+ people arrived with truck, trailer and ATV - including one gentlemen all the way from Texas.

My youngest son (Nick) and I arrived early Friday morning (having hoped to depart Thursday, but due to high winds felt it prudent to postpone our departure).

The drive up and over Soldier's summit was hairy. Fresh snow and Ice were on the ground and we really had to take our time towing the 43' 5th wheel down (and up) those grades.

Upon arriving at our camp destination (Buckhorn Well), we were surprised to find that some agency had created a cleared and dedicated camping location - complete with fencing, cattle guards, covered picnic tables and some sort of building structure.

Getting in (due to the size of my 5th wheel) was problematic. The graded county road did not provide enough turning radius to maneuver my rig through the cattle guard. After a bit of maneuvering, I was able to cut a 45 degree angle through the gate and make it in without making contact with the steel posts. Yet more damage to my 5th wheel averted!

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Upon arrival, the gentleman from Texas (Jerry) was already camped in his 20' travel trailer. We discussed the weather and overnight temperatures (being reported as being 13-20F each night) and agreed to do some exploratory riding in the morning.

As the next morning came, Jerry approached me to inform me that his exposed fresh water tank had frozen solid overnight and that he was headed into Castledale to secure some form of heater to thaw his tank ( in his words, "I am in need of a shower").

Since the outside temperature was still less than 20F by 8am, we gladly waited for his return and placement of a UV light under his TT tank.

Off we went to explore the nearby trails - our first stop being the crossing at the San Rafael River. The water depth appeared to be 2-3', fast moving with a very thick layer of ice over the far bank. Additionally, the far trail was very washed out, off-camber and thick with mud. We weren't quite prepared to make the crossing that day (considering Nick was on a 2wd Honda and Jerry was somewhat inexperienced (or so it seemed) ).

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Since we chose to not cross the river that day, we instead chose to follow Buckhorn draw South and cross the "Swinging Bridge". The trail was not technical, but it was scenic - to include a stop at the pictographs on Buckhorn Wash.

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While wandering around the side trails on Buckhorn Wash, we stumbled upon some sort of encampment. On the first pass by, I stopped to examine the contents: Many 5 gal water jugs, black bags of tin cans and other assorted gear. Nobody was around. After we backtracked and went by again, we noticed that a huge backpack (5+ day variety) and set of boots was now obvious near the 5gal water jugs. Whoever was there was clearly hiding from us.

So, for Friday, daytime temps were reportedly 42F, but the real-feel (due to wind) was less than 32F. Nighttime temps dropped below 20F. I emailed the group on ATVUtah.com to come prepared with extreme cold weather gear as Saturday was supposed to be same (or worse) weather - with the addition of high wind warnings.

Saturday morning arrives and I spend over an hour getting my ATV to start (due to the extreme overnight temperature). Just after 9am, the first trucks start pulling into the camp spot. After 30 minutes, over 20 vehicles had parked and more seemed to be coming down the county road. I was shocked to see so many people unloading machines.

I take a few minutes to collaborate on the trail route with a few regulars (Dennis and Glenn (both from the Ogden area), gather everyone around to determine experience levels (there were so many that I didn't know) and discuss trail etiquette (if we get to a turn, wait for positive signal from the person BEHIND you before you proceed on a trail turn). We decide to split up into two groups (at least initially) with 12 being in my group and depart. Our first stop, the river.

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Glenn goes through first and we determine that the water wasn't as deep as it appeared and he makes it across. We start to funnel others through. Our third rider (Dave) makes it through, but hits the sheet of ice with his tire and breaks the bead, but still manages to make it across. We spend the next 1-2 hours getting the tire back on the wheel. Who knew that Mayonnaise would substitute for grease.. Jerry sure discovered that after 40psi and when the bead does finally settle, that mayonnaise flies everywhere.. (he was covered head to foot in the stuff).

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Fixing Dave's tire

 

From this location, we continued South along Sid's Mountain, Eva Conover and through the ice and snow to Swayze's Cabin (south of I-70). We had now progressed over 40 miles into our route and were at the half-way point, but already 2pm.

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The next few sections were the most difficult: The Devil's Racetrack and Fix-it Pass. Boulder crawling, off-camber and rough terrain for several miles - this really slowed our group's progress. Stopping to assist, prevent tip-overs or rolling off the cliff was critical, especially considering were were rapidly running out of daylight and knowing that we had ~3 hours before the sun went down and were just past the half-way mark.

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Convoy along the Devil's Racetrack

 

We managed to get through the Devil's Racetrack with no issues. Most of the riders were capable and with some light spotting, we managed to get everyone through. Off to Sid's Mountain and Fix-it Pass. This location proved to be more difficult, especially for our younger and more eager 2wd young lady. While she seemed unafraid of the terrain and willing, the machine simply wasn't capable of climbing the extreme rocks. With 3 guys man-handling the machine and her father at the controls, we managed to get her machine out of the tight spot.

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Now for the other ~20 machines.

After what seemed like 30-40 minutes, we got the entire convoy through Fix-it Pass and continued our journey north. By the time we arrived at Coal Wash, the sun was already going down and the wind was howling. We stopped to regroup, do a head-count and allowed everyone to get even more bundled up with their cold weather gear. The temperature had easily dropped 20F.

Down coal wash we sped (with me at the front, easily hitting 40-50mph) and the group trailing behind. By the time we got to our next turn to head toward the Swinging Bridge, it was pitch black and very cold. At this point, trail etiquette went out the window. Nobody wanted to be left behind or in the dark. I waited (or so I thought) for the last riders to pass, waited an extra 5 minutes then proceeded alone (in the dark) on my own. Unfortunately, I was wearing my tinted goggles, and they made it far too dark to see at night, so I had to ride the remaining ~15-20 miles without eye protection. It was VERY COLD. Shortly before the Swinging Bridge, I caught sight of the convoy ahead of me (easily 1-2 miles ahead) and pressed on. Part of the group became confused at the next turn and I ensured they knew to turn left (West) instead of right (which they seemed about to do).

By the time we made it back to camp (staging area), folks were scrambling in the bitter cold to start trucks, load their machines and get out of the Swell. The time was 8pm.

So concluded a memorable and very long adventure in the Swell. Nick and I remained at camp that night, suffered through the howling winds and freezing temperatures and departed at sun-up the following morning (Sunday).

Unfortunately, it appeared to have snowed at Soldier's Summit again the night before and we had to again traverse snow covered roads towing our 18,000 pound load.

Total mileage was just under 100miles as indicated in these attachments:

SPOT

Garmin Track (unfortunately, my batteries died on the GPSr and I only saved the return half of the tracks):Swell-Return.gdb

 

A huge thank-you to Doug McGee for reluctantly (but still willing) to lead a good portion of the trail sections.

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Chilius Pass (Tintic Mountains)

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Having just returned from a short weekend at Daniels Summit, I came back home and immediately prepped for a quick ride in the Tintic Mountains. We staged in the Little Moab area and made our first attempt at Eureka via Chilius Pass.

 

We got to within .25 miles of the trail top (just before the antenna cluster) before getting stuck in deep snow. Several times, I attempted to tow my son on his Honda Rancher while winching to a tree. No joy.

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After not having much success, we decided to just take Homansville Road into Eureka. Sadly, the Miner Burger place was closed (due to being sold to yet another new owner). We fueled up at the Sinclair then decided to attack Chilius Pass from the opposite direction. SUCCESS!

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Trip Reports category.

San Rafael Swell is the previous category.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.