2500 Miles of Fun

All Pictures HERE.

All Videos from the trip are HERE.

To camp on the White Rim trail, you will need reservations.   You can pick camp spots and make reservations HERE.

I pulled out of my driveway in Petaluma on October 1 st at 7am; the truck was loaded down with everything I would need for the next 12 days. We were headed for a series of trails and would be camping and staying in motels. I made a quick stop to pick my up friend Rich Upton in Oakland; this would be his first off-road adventure.

The first two days we spend driving from Northern California first to Las Vegas then to Moab the next day. During our layover in Las Vegas Mark Maithonis and Mark Aldridge caught up and joined our group. During the drive from Las Vegas to Moab, we made note of a few features along I-70 that we wanted to stop and check out on the way back. We arrived in Moab on Sunday evening and checked into the Motel 6 and met up with John Kazmierczak, who had arrived from Grand Junction.
On Monday morning we went up to Arches National Park. In all of our past trips we had never taken the time to explore this area, as there were no serious off-road trails to be run. This proved to be a mistake, as the park is well worth the time to explore. The scenery is awesome and there are many formations well worth exploring. You can easily spend a full day there.

On Monday Mike Ross arrived from Northern California, and Ted Gamron arrived from Virginia. Our group of 7 people was to start on Tuesday morning on our first trail: White Rim. Along for the trip would be 6 vehicles: 1 Jeep Wrangler, 1 Suzuki Samurai, 1 Ford F250, and 3 Tacoma’s.

We left the motel early as we planned to take the Shafter Road to the visitors center at Island in the Sky National Park were we could obtain our back country permits.

As we traveled done the beginning of the trail, we passed some holding ponds and found a small stream that crossed the road.   This is where they are mining what I believe is Potash.
The Potash looks like rock salt, although John said that it didn't taste like it!
Rich takes a picture of the Potash.
Mikes truck dwarfed by the sheer rock cliffs.
Rich poses for a quick shot in front of the Colorado River.
Another shot of the river as is winds its way through the canyons.
Even Rufus was enjoying the scenery.
The trail often runs along the sides of sheer cliffs.
Even this first trail would prove to be a scenic adventure. Although not technically challenging, the road ends with a great climb up a series of switchbacks that climbs about 1000 feet in just over a mile.
Another shot looking down at the switchbacks.   Note the vehicles in the pictures for a size reference!

Once we had our permits, I reset the trip meter and we headed back down the same switchbacks and onto the White Rim trail, it was 10:30am. We had reservations for our group at Potato Bottom camp that was about 65 miles into the trail, so we had a lot of ground to make during the first day. The trail was tame and I was running in 2wd, we were making good time.

At 11:20am and mile 11 we pulled into Musselman Arch. We took some time to check out the arch and the bravest of our group walked across it. The wind was really blowing; the sand was stinging as it hit our faces and legs. A biker there was really brave and actually did a head stand on the arch. One good gust and it would have been goodbye for him!

Mark M. (who is afraid of heights) even made a trip across the arch, although he didn't stop and enjoy the view!
Make no mistake, this is not a place to be at alone!   There is only one road, which means there are two ways out: forward or back the way you came!   Even a simple failure out here can mean you are stranded, and good!
The rock formations along the trail are spectacular!
We got back on the trail and after about 6 miles we came upon an interesting item.

There was a spare tire that should have been winched up under the back of some SUV. It looked like the SUV had dragged its rear end on a rock in the trail and the spare was removed from the vehicle.

We put it in the back of the F250 and headed on hoping we would catch up with the owner.

As we continued on, the clouds got darker and it started to rain. After a bit, the rain turned to a light hail. The rain tapered on and off, but it was only enough to knock the dust down and make a few small mud puddles.

As the rocks became wet, they took on the appearance of a light dusting of snow. The clouds silhouetted against the mountains were a wonderful sight.


With dirt being damp, we started to see a new set of tracks that was heading the same direction we were. We came upon a group of mountain bikers and shortly after their support vehicle. I talked with the driver and she informed me that a Ford Expedition had passed her about 20 minutes prior. We figured that must be the owner of the spare tire.

At mile 38 we passed the turn off for White Crack Campground. The set of tracks we had been following turned off for the campground, but because we needed to reach our campsite we had to move on.

The rain and clouds started to clear up as we headed through some of the most spectacular scenery I have ever experienced. The constantly changing rock formations, wonderful colors of strata and huge sheer cliffs provided plenty of things that you could stop and marvel at.

We stopped for a late lunch at about mile 43, 3:15pm. While we ate, we explored the area that we had stopped and found some of the rippled rock formations that we had seen in the visitor’s center for Arches. These ripples are formed when currents from ancient rivers and oceans flow over bottom sediments. By looking at the ripples, you can determine the type of water flow. Streams leave non-symmetrical ripples where one side has a steeper slope. Tidal areas where water flows in both directions leave symmetrical marks. These were symmetrical, so there must have been a ocean where we were now at.

More puddles created by the rain.   By now, there was hardly a cloud in site.
John lays on the edge of a sheer drop off and takes a look.
We got moving again and made for Potato Bottom camp. We arrived at Potato Bottom at mile 64 just before 6pm.  We set up camp and started dinner as the sun set and the winds picked up. Once the sun was down, the temperatures dropped off quickly.   
We ended up all taking shelter in one of the larger tents.
We exchanged the day’s pictures, listened to satellite radio, had a few drinks and told jokes and stories. As the night wound down, he all headed back to our tents and turned in for the night.
When we woke up in the morning, we were greeted with clear skies, no wind and a good layer of frost. The grass and weeds crunched under our feet as we got breakfast started. The tents were put away at the last minute so that they could get dried up in the morning sun.
The sign there says that it is 1.5 miles to the ruins, but the guidebook said it was 2 miles.
Either way, the hike is well worth it.   Here the group passes over a narrow stretch of crumbling trail.
We hiked to the ruins on the top of the hill. This location gives you a great view of the Green River as it surrounds the ruin on 3 sides.
Looking back up the river towards our previous nights camp site.
The clearing is the site that we stayed in last night.
Looking back at the trail to the ruins.  Our cars were parked about there the green arrow is pointing, at the end of the plateau.
Because none of us had ever been on the trial before and we didn't know how long it was going to take us to get back to Moab that night, we did not go down to the river and explore the cabin.
We continued down the trail, always passing scenery that was more spectacular than the last.

We continued on the trail and at mile 77, came to the end of the White Rim trail. This does not mean that you are back to the paved road again, you still have to travel another 30 miles to the paved road and then even farther to make it back to any services. Add this to the approximately 18 miles to get to our starting point at the island in the sky visitors center and this totals 95 miles of dirt road. By the time we made our way back to Moab, we had traveled about 135 miles with no services. Make sure that if you plan this trip you have enough gas! You would not want to get stranded.

There was a blue SUV that was slightly behind us, but they never caught up with us...

Until the end of the trail.   They were the owners of the spare tire that we had found.   John was able to flag them down as they turned onto the highway.  At first they were skeptical, then they looked under the rear of their vehicle and realized that we were telling them the truth, and we did indeed have their spare tire.   

Thankfully, they didn't need it on the trail!

It was also good that we didn't do what our first thought was to do with the tire:   fill it up to around 100 psi and roll it off the tallest cliff we could find and watch it bounce!

On the way back to Moab, we cut across on a side trail and stopped by Gemini Bridges.
It is an easy trail suitable for all vehicles.
Another reminder about all the cliffs and remote areas out here.
Before we made it back to the main road, we stopped to explore some old mine shafts.
This is what was left of an old uranium mine.
Some of the tunnels were fairly wide and tall, others were a bit on the short side.
Rich gets a picture down the tunnel.
At the end of one of the side tunnels, we found what they were looking for.

The black stripe is where the uranium is.

Ever since this adventure, I don't have to turn the lights on in the bathroom at night!

There were also some local residents in the mine.
A piece of mine equipment.
Some of the sections of the mine were scary looking!   I would not recommend that anyone explore mines like we did, its only for professionals, or total idiots!

It was now Wednesday afternoon and others from the TTORA group were arriving in Moab for 3 days of wheeling fun. We got back to our rooms at the Motel 6 and unpacked and got cleaned up. We headed into town and went to Zax Pizza & Family Restaurant for dinner. Zax has a great all you can eat pizza, soup and salad buffet. If pizza is not your thing, they have a full menu to choose from with items such as sandwiches, burgers, pasta and more.   I highly recommend them if you are looking for a place to eat in Moab.

You can see their menu here.

On Thursday we headed out to run Steel Bender, Porcupine Rim and Sand Flats Road.

Steel Bender was a great trail. We had a group of 9 vehicles on the run.

Mark M. and his short wheelbase Samurai kept everyone entertained doing wheel stands on the large rock ledges.
Steelbender offered a bit of something for everyone.   Overall, it was not that hard, but there were always fun lines to pick if you wanted to.
John makes his way up a series of large rocks.
Dick Foster going up the same section in his SAS Taco.
Another truck playing on the rock ledges.
At the end of the trail, you cross a creek.
Playing at the lunch stop.
We all had a lot of fun on Steel Bender and after lunch headed out for Porcupine Rim.
A few trucks headed back to work on another truck that had some problems to get it ready for the next day’s trails. We met a few dirt bike riders that had just came off the Porcupine Rim trail and there was some discussion on weather the trail was passable or not for vehicles. We decided to see for ourselves and started off down the trail.
We went as far as the first overlook at just over 3 miles. At this point, one truck was having some sort of a fuel leak that we could not find. We decided it was best to head back and take the cut over to Sand Flats road.
The view from the overlook.
The trail didn't have any major obstacles, but does have enough rock to just make for slow going.

Sand flats road is as close to paved as a gravel road can be. The ride back to town was quick and easy.

Towards the end of Sand Flats road, there is a small obstacle named Little Lions Back that we played on.   The trial ends into a large mud puddle.
Friday’s trails were Poison Spider Mesa, Golden Spike and Gold Bar Rim. We had a group of 11 Tacoma’s 1 Suzuki Samurai and 2 Jeeps when we left for the trail, but we picked up another 3 Tacoma’s and a 4-Runner during the run.
The trails offered a bit of something for everyone.
There were challenging climbs and ledges for those that wanted to try them, and plenty of scenery for everyone.
Ted makes it down, and the Sami is next!
Another off camber set of ledges.

Around lunchtime we stopped at an overlook on the Golden Spike trail and could see down to highway 191, the Arches visitors center and Moab.

The visitors center is visible in the lower right corner of the picture.

One by one, the trucks made their way through Golden Crack.
Mark and the Sami going through.
Ted gets a wheel in the air.

Jen also gets some air time.

Everyone made it through Golden Crack without any problems.

Mark M. and his Sami were a source of never ending entertainment.   Between the wheel stands and near tip over action, he was the star of the show.

On this ledge, he ended up sideways and had to go back down for another attempt.

Mark A. comes back down after checking out the next obstacle.
Mark getting some air time... again!
As we continued the trail Todd Fitzsimmons (in the white Taco leading here) lost a front u-joint and had to perform a trail repair.
One of the last obstacles of the trail.
By the time we made it back to town, we had been gone for 12 hours.
On Saturday we decided to run the traditional Hells Revenge, and also hit Lions Back, Bump Dump and Potato Salad Hill.
Here Mike takes a harder line and has some fun climbing a ledge.
Hells Revenge is a great trial that most vehicles can manage.
Mark Maithonis decided to try to going through the large bowl in his Samurai. There were a few inches of water in the bottom of the bowl that got the tires wet and made things really slick. With a few people on a strap to keep him from going over backwards, he made a few attempts before succeeding in making it out.  This was not before he made quite a few wheel stands where both front tires were off the ground! If not for the strap, with the extremely short wheelbase he would have certainly gone over backwards. John made an attempt in his Wrangler but without front or rear lockers could not make it. Todd Fitzsimmons also attempted in his Tacoma, but was not able to make it out.
We continued down the trail to the Escalator obstacle. At this time I was the second truck in line and when we reached the bottom of Escalator, I was asked if I was going to go up. My passenger was ready to make the attempt and so I just went for it. We made the climb without any problems or stopping. Next in line for the climb was Mark in the Samurai. He did a few wheel stands on one of the first ledges and decided he was going to quit while he was ahead.
Todd was next, and made it up with only a slight problem in the middle with his bumper hitting the right hand side wall. After a slight bit of maneuvering, he was moving again towards the top.
Molly Houck was next in her SAS 4-Runner.
Just after the spot that Todd had the problem at she ran into a serious problem.
She got a bit too far to the right and was now leaning hard to the left on the verge of laying the vehicle on its side.
To make matters worse, her front wheels were pointed hard to the left and were being forced harder that way because of the weight of the vehicle against the rock face of the obstacle.
Her winch line was attached to Todd’s truck to provide forward motion. This was necessary as every time she tried to move forward her tires lost traction and spun causing her to slip even further on her side. Because she was leaning so far over, a group of people attached a strap onto her rock slider and attempted to stabilize her.
They were having a problem holding enough weight on the strap so I moved my truck to the side and attached my winch cable to the strap to help keep the 4-Runner stable. Once the truck was as stable as we could get it, we were able to lower it back down some, which made it even more tippy, and straighten the wheels out. Once the wheels were straight, Molly was able to winch herself up and out of the obstacle. After this, the enthusiasm of others to attempt the obstacle was basically wiped out. Shawn Benson with his Wrangler Rubicon made an attempt, but after a good wheel stand also called it quits.
We ran the rest of the trail and right at the end it started to rain. Although we wanted to run Lions Back, we didn't want to try it in the rain. We headed back to town planning to return when the rain let up, but it was not to be. The rain and even a good lightening show continued throughout the afternoon.
On Sunday we had planned on heading to Laughlin Nevada and start on the Mojave Road, but while making some adjustments I found that my right front wheel bearing was going bad. We decided to make a run directly for home instead. We left for home on Sunday morning and drove all day for Northern California. We stopped in Prim Nevada at the state line. At that time the wheel bearing seemed to be in the same state as when we left Moab. The next day we continued for home. At around 6:30 with only 115 miles to home the bearing finally went out and we found ourselves on the side of I-5. My passenger Rich had AAA+ towing and got us a flatbed ride to his house in Oakland, and my nephew Denny met us there with a trailer and got my truck and I home. I told Rich that he would have an adventure, and he was not disappointed! The Mojave Road would have to wait for another day, but that day will come soon!
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