Monday, September 3, 2012

Day 16:

Day 16:
Black Dragon Wash to the Southern Wasatch (West of Castledale, UT)
Due to our cooling problems the day before in Moab, we started the day very early hoping to take advantage of the cooler temperatures. The plan was to make the mountains as soon as possible and get up in the cooler air.
The softer morning light made for some great pitchers.
We were wheels-up at just after 7.
It was hard to leave this cool campsite but we knew how hot it would be here in a few hours.

Crossing under highway 70.

Pretty cool to think about how different our journey was from the cars passing above us and we're all passing through the same remote area.

On our way to see some petroglyphs.
It's getting smaller and we are already looking forward to the shade as we're not using the air-conditioning.
This is only the entrance. It got much worse with some fairly technical rock steps and narrow slots between boulders.
Fun but slow.

Sometimes you were in the creekbed and sometimes out of it, often with two choices. More than once we got a good ways down one option and had to retrace our steps in reverse.

You can barely see the road here. I kept checking and double-checking our forward progress and mileage trying to figure out when we would get out of there. It was such slow going and I had not planned/investigated enough about the canyon before routing through it. I think that I read a trip report about on Adventure Rider forums and I can tell why it's easier to get a motorcycle through than a big lumbering truck.
On what turned out to be the last major obstacle in the creek bed I hung the outer bumper corner on a tall rock (somehow I managed to get the rocker panel and rest of the car by it) and it quickly ripped off the rear wheelwell flare and bumper corner.
These things are about the only flimsy thing on the whole  truck and I wasn't all that surprised to rip it off. Most serious off-roaders will replace the rear bumper with something that can take a beating on the corners. I'd planned on doing that but decided it was an expense that would have to wait.
Is my shirt really tucked into my underwear? What a nerd. Uh, I mean, that was totally planned.
This might get me one step closer to a 'real' rear bumper. I ended up removing the flare and mudflap completely but bolting the bumper corner back up as it houses my water outlet.
Not perturbed in the least, Larkin took advantage of the down time to get out and try to walk.
We hung the bumper on a rock somewhere over there.

What a horrible photo.
Finally climbing out but into the open sun. No shade out here.

Some more interesting sections outside of the canyon. A series of rock steps here followed bigger ones later.

Not a bad place to nap.
Hard to tell but in there is the slot(ish) canyon we just drove out of.

The taller series of stone steps. Definitely needed every bit of clearance here.

Looking into the San Rafael Swell.

San Rafael Swell vistas.
We hit a wide graded road and were able to pick up some speed.

Oh yeah, setting some speed records. Well, it felt like it.

Lunch along the river. Larkin is in some prime shady real estate.

That's some serious hardware.

Bath time.

She's not so sure about it. By the end of the trip she was sitting in any little puddle she could get her bottom into.

Some fast roads through Wingate Sandstone formations on our way to Castledale, Utah. We stopped there for a quick treat, some ice, food and beer and headed towards the mountains. It was very hot and we were running hot engine temps still so we were looking forward to the cooler temps.

Water in the desert.

We ran a few miles of pavement up to the reservoir and then headed back up into the mountains.

This is a good picture of how rough the roads were and why are daily averages were so slow.
Oh man, there must be trees up there somewhere.

Afternoon stop for second lunch...

and play time on the rocks.

Then back to it.
The road continued to climb steeply...
and became a trail...
and continued to detoriate...
until it was clearly an ATV path.
We were just squeezing under and around trees (not necessarily here)...
and we're so thankful that it wasn't mud season. Do  you see the size of those ruts?

But the temperature was dropping and the landscape was downright gorgeous.

These mud holes (just in front of the hood) were so deep and seriously tested the articulation of the suspension.

And then the snowmobile trail opened up into the meadow at around 9000 feet.
You can see the road, yes, an actual gravel road, climbing the hill in the background. That road would eventually lead us to the trail south of Skyline Drive. It was marked as ATV trail 51 I think. And it was awesome. It traverses north to south the ridgeline of the wasatch mountains all the way to Park City if you work for it.

Steadily climbing up to that ridge in the background at about 10500 feet.

We were in this area at the right time. Later in the summer, July, August this place really heats up. But it was perfect in June.

It couldn't have been made prettier.
Going over these incredible horizon-lines and blind turns was breathtaking. The views behind them are...
Can you believe this road? We continued to be amazed.

Looking down into the valley we just climbed out of.
It had been a very long day and was not over yet.

I can't wait to make my own calendar!

You can see me trying to hide from the sun. My left arm was pretty damn tan.
Snow-melt made the road interesting in a few places but never too bad. Seems like most of the difficult sections we're doing something other than taking pictures. I know what I'm doing but can't imagine what my wife is doing. Oh wait. yes I can: white knuckling the SPOT device

Anyone know what these steppes are for and why they are there?

The road keeps unfolding before us around every turn. It's unbelievable and we forget that we've been in the car now for eight hours.