The Excuse: A 4400 Mile, 12 State Adventure

#16
As we continued the small shrubs beside us began to get taller and the sand dunes began to transition into rock outcroppings.

IMG_2905.jpg
IMG_2911.jpg
IMG_2915.jpg
IMG_2923.jpg
IMG_2926.jpg

As the shrubs became trees we started finding ourselves in beautiful tree tunnels.

IMG_2930.jpg
IMG_2938.jpg
IMG_2967.jpg
IMG_2969.jpg
IMG_2982.jpg

...Next Post...
 
#17
Just a few miles before we met back up with the blacktop we encountered our first creek crossing and the real fun for the day. Unfortunately I didn't get many pictures because we were too busy figuring out how to get past this obstacle. The bank of the creek was around 9 feet tall. The only break in the bank was a narrow cut just wider than the truck, over 45 degrees up, and very rutted. There were a few UTVs that we had pulled over to let around earlier that were facing the same obstacle. A few had made it up, others had failed. The ones that had made it left deeper ruts and drag marks as they crossed the top of the climb.

IMG_4283.jpg

The simple fact is we weren't going to make it up without some work. I grabbed the traction mats off the truck and started using them to shovel the sides of the bank into the deeper ruts. After that I was able to smooth out the steeper parts of the climb to make it a little more manageable. My wife started finding large river rocks to toss over to me. I used them to help fill in and pack down the ruts. Once the other UTV drivers and passengers saw the progress they started to help. In 30 minutes we had made the bank a lot more accessible. I left the mats over the recently filled in ruts to help add traction and keep from digging the ruts back out. I put the truck in 4Lo, locked the rear and climbed out with no problem! After some cheering the other UTVs all followed me up.


Come to find out the UTVs were rentals! It was a large family reunion that decided to have a little fun. It was great talking with everyone, and they even offered to let us camp with them. Sadly we didn't think we had the time so we kept pushing.

IMG_2996.jpg

We crossed the stream a few more times, and even found some mountain goats!

IMG_3016.jpg
IMG_3036.jpg


We hit the main road soon after, traveled through Mt Carmel Utah before turning east in Glendale and setting our sights on our next campsite.

IMG_3054.jpg
IMG_3058.jpg
IMG_3074.jpg
IMG_3080.jpg
IMG_3086.jpg


Again...
 
#18
The roads were easy and we made good time. Just before sundown we made it to the Bull Valley Gorge Trailhead where we picked up our permit for camp. It's a free campsite about a mile past Bull Valley Gorge. The Bull Valley Gorge is a really cool slot canyon we'd like to go back and explore when it's not almost dark.

IMG_3112.jpg

A couple of the sites were taken, but we were quite happy with the site we got. In fact, someone was even kind enough to have left a little firewood for us to cut up and use. We had a great fire! Even broke out the smores and some corn dogs to roast for dinner.

IMG_3143.jpg

We didn't end up needing the heater that night, and instead we crawled in the sleeping bags and promptly fell asleep. We were both tired from the day's excitement.

The sunrise over the valley didn't disappoint! Another clear and beautiful day in Utah.

IMG_3160.jpg
IMG_3206.jpg
IMG_3211.jpg
IMG_3240.jpg

What we didn't know, is that we'd soon run into a closed road full of washouts and sticky mud. The Ranger said we'd PROBABLY be ok...


Part 1: RoadTrippin'
Part 2: Utah Bound
Part 3: Sand Dune Fun
Part 4: A Closed Road

Stay Tuned for more
 
Last edited:
#19
The Excuse: A 4400 Mile, 12 State Adventure
Part 4: A Closed Road

Day 3 in Utah would be another eventful day. The morning was a little cloudy but the scenery was absolutely beautiful! It didn't take long for us to make our way down to the blacktop.

IMG_3262.jpg

Once on the main road, we stopped to air the tires back up. That ended up being a mistake because we were very close to being back on dirt. The locals came over to greet us. Sarah tried to offer some snap peas to them, but they had no interest.

IMG_3291.jpg

As usual I neglected to get a picture of this next part. Just a few miles from where we aired up the road we were on, Cottonwood Canyon Road, became dirt again. At the same location it intersected with Kodachrome State Park Rd which remained paved. The problem is Cottonwood Canyon Road had a sign blocking half the road saying it was closed after Grosvenor Arch which was less than halfway down the road. As far was we could tell we didn't have a choice but continue or spend a day backtracking.

We turned towards Kodachrome State Park and the small guard station. When we talked with the ranger he looked out the window at our truck and said "It's just a little muddy, you guys should be fine". Great! That's all the permission we needed. We took off towards Grosvenor Arch and planned to follow Cottonwood Canyon Road until we reached our destination near Page AZ.

The road was a little muddy towards the arch, but nothing we couldn't handle in 2wd.

IMG_3306.jpg IMG_3311.jpg IMG_3330.jpg


Grosvenor Arch was definitely worth the side trip! Soon we made our way back to Cottonwood Canyon Road and past the closed signs. Our next stop would be the Cottonwood Narrows. They were incredible! A mix of white and red rock that was unlike anything we had ever seen.

IMG_3341.jpg IMG_3347.jpg IMG_3353.jpg

Soon after leaving the Cottonwood Narrows we met an oncoming white pickup truck. My first thought was it was a ranger truck, but it ended up being an older gentleman that wanted to let us know the road ahead got much worse. He said there were many washouts and mud pits 40+ feet long. He also looked at our truck, shrugged and said we'd probably be ok.

IMG_3366.jpg
IMG_3377.jpg
 
#20
IMG_3390.jpg

The rock formations were really awesome and I spent much of my time glued to the window. We did run across a LOT of mud. But the Sarah was learning to keep her speed up and we really didn't have much trouble at all.

IMG_3415.jpg

Once we completed the road, we were back on Blacktop just north of Page Arizona. We quickly aired up, took a few pictures around the muddy truck and set off. We were both excited to get to Page.

IMG_3444.jpg

The drive into Page was uneventful. We made our way to a gas station, then a quick stop at Sonic for some deep fried goodness. I spent a few minutes spraying the truck off not knowing how much of a wasted effort that would end up being. Finally we stopped at Walmart for some batteries, a new lighter since my got crushed in my camping box, and some firewood. After loading back up we setout to our most anticipated campsite of the trip; Alstrom Point.

IMG_3471.jpg

The drive was a bit bumpy and very muddy. We kept looking over to our right looking for this fabled view. It didn't take long for us to find it!

IMG_3498.jpg IMG_3508.jpg IMG_3527.jpg IMG_3546.jpg

With a nice fire going and an incredible view we spent the evening relaxing under the stars. We were even privileged enough to see a few bats flying around our campsite. Not even the random jeep doing a Chinese fire drill in our campsite was enough to ruin an awesome evening. As the last rays of light faded we crawled into bed for a great nights sleep.

IMG_3559.jpg IMG_3566.jpg

Day 4 started off well enough, but it only took 6 miles for it to become the worst day of the trip...

Part 1: RoadTrippin'
Part 2: Utah Bound
Part 3: Sand Dune Fun
Part 4: A Closed Road

Stay Tuned for more
 
#24
Awesome trip. Quick question for you tho about the heater buddy. I have the Mr.Heater buddy and am always scared to sleep with it on in the annex, did you guys have any issues? Did you leave windows cracked or anything? I now have a carbon monoxide detector I bought just to be extra safe.
 
#25
Awesome trip. Quick question for you tho about the heater buddy. I have the Mr.Heater buddy and am always scared to sleep with it on in the annex, did you guys have any issues? Did you leave windows cracked or anything? I now have a carbon monoxide detector I bought just to be extra safe.
I've been using it a couple of years in the annex with no problem. The Little Buddy Heater is specifically made to use in tents. It will shutoff if the o2 is to low or if it falls over. If the weather is ok I'll sometimes crack the skylight or a window, but if it's raining we leave it sealed up.
 
#27
The Excuse: A 4400 Mile, 12 State Adventure
Part 5: Stuck...

Day 4 was without a doubt the worst day of the trip. That's hard to imagine because the campsite the night before was the best of the trip.

IMG_3585.jpg IMG_3591.jpg

We woke up to sunrise coming over lake Powell. It was breathtaking. We just laid in our tent watching the sun come up over the rocks. Definitely the best start of any day yet.

We made a quick breakfast and got to packing. We saw that there was a storm approaching behind us so we decided to get going before the roads got any worse.

IMG_3600.jpg IMG_3604.jpg IMG_3618.jpg

We made it about 5 miles from camp when this happened...

NXIC0889.jpg
IMG_4321.jpg EPYR0741.jpg DBRV9420.jpg

With the sky quickly darkening behind us I hopped out in the clay for what I figured would be a quick use of traction mats and we'd be on our way. Boy was I wrong. I've never seen anything like this clay / mud mixture. It was as sticky as super glue and felt as heavy as lead! The tires just couldn't clean enough out of the treads to get a grip on the mats. The mats quickly became loaded with 40+ pounds of slick clay. There was nothing to winch to in front, nothing behind and we couldn't get anyone on CB or HAM radio.

So I got to digging. I used rocks, the last of our firewood and the mats to slowly work our way out backwards. Sarah watched the Radar as the storm got closer. To our relief most of the storm split around us. After 2.5 hours I was finally able to get us out.

DKQE7928.jpg

Continued on the next post...
 
#28
The mats were so buried and heavy I ended up using the winch to pull them out.

GBFE6726.jpg

Whenever possible I do my best to avoid going off trail. Going off the trail has often led to places being shutdown. Well, I'll be damned if I'm going back through that stuff... So with middle finger salutes we made our way around the mud pit from hell.

MAKC0468.jpg

The rest of the day wasn't the best. We were on edge from the morning's fun and the trail was very rocky, narrow, washed out, and often slippery. We had storms at our backs and were way behind where we wanted to be. Sarah drove while I got out to spot her. Often I'd have to jump out to roll large rocks our of the middle of the trail from where they had fallen.

IMG_3647.jpg IMG_3652.jpg IMG_3657.jpg IMG_3661.jpg IMG_3662.jpg

The drive was beautiful. We were rushing to stay in front of the storm so we didn't take as much time as we should have to enjoy it.

IMG_3668.jpg
IMG_3678.jpg
 
#29
The day was long and we were looking forward to getting to camp. We had found what sounded like a great campsite on iOverlander. We got there just as the sun was going down. Well, we got to where the campsites were supposed to be and we couldn't find anything. So we decided to continue off the mountain as the sun dropped behind the mountains. As soon as we started going down there were signs posted for rockfall areas. Sure enough there were tons of large boulders everywhere. We were driving between steep canyons, down a muddy streambed, with storms at our back. What a day...

IMG_3687.jpg
IMG_3691.jpg

Sadly I didn't get any pictures of our campsite. We finally stopped at the Devils Garden camping area. I was happy to see that about 3/4 of a mile from our camp was a bit toilet! We setup in the dark and I decided to make my way over to the bathroom. Of course to top off the day it's out of TP and I left mine back at camp. :oops:

With the rain starting to drizzle we settled in for the night.

The best part of the day was how well my wife handled the situations. Both being stuck and the rough terrain the rest of the day. She didn't get stressed and emotional. Just was worried, but didn't let it take over. I was really proud of her!

The next morning was rainy and nasty, but with a great audiobook on we began our trek down the burr trail and climbed towards the highest pass of the trip; Bull Creek Pass. Too bad we never made it.


Part 1: RoadTrippin'
Part 2: Utah Bound
Part 3: Sand Dune Fun
Part 4: A Closed Road

Stay Tuned for more
 
#30
The Excuse: A 4400 Mile, 12 State Adventure
Part 6: Top of the world...

We woke up to a light drizzle on the roof of the tent. It made getting out of bed a little harder! Once we finally got up and around we made another quick breakfast and got the tent packed away. At this point it was becoming routine for us. Sarah wasn't feeling too good so I drove most of the day.

We were only a few miles from the nearest road and our gas stop in Escalante Utah. We aired up before hopping on the main road. My previous research told me that the start of the Burr Trail would be mostly paved.

IMG_3696.jpg

We took a few minutes to spray off the worst of the mud before continuing towards the Burr Trail.

IMG_3699.jpg

The views from the Burr Trail were gorgeous! I wish I had taken more pictures, but with Sarah not feeling well and me driving there just wasn't great opportunities for photography.

IMG_3708.jpg IMG_3724.jpg IMG_3727.jpg IMG_3736.jpg

The pavement did eventually end and we took a moment to air back down. This seemed to be a theme in our trip, air up, air down, air up, air down... Even tho our cheap little air compressor did great, I think I need a better and faster solution before our next big trip.

IMG_3749.jpg IMG_3753.jpg

The rain was pretty constant throughout the day. The mud was a bit slippery but we never got in a situation like we had the previous day. After we had split off of the Burr trail we briefly hit some pavement before jumping back into dirt. Once on the dirt we began to climb at a decently quick pace. The mud became more and more sloppy and Sarah was starting to get a little nervous.

IMG_3760.jpg
 
Top