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UCE3 - Utah Cruiser Expedition 3

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Old 09-16-2013, 02:00 PM   #1
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UCE3 - Utah Cruiser Expedition 3

A Fantastic 4 days over 500 miles on dirt from the lowest elevation in Utah to the highest driveable point in the State. 6 trucks.

Trip Report coming soon.

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Old 09-16-2013, 02:00 PM   #2
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UTAH CRUISER EXPEDITION

Let's start with a little background. Utah is just plain cool and a dreamworld for anyone who's into backcountry travel whether it's on foot, bike, cycle, truck, skis, you name it, Utah's got it. I'm fortunate enough to live here and have been off-roading in Utah and other western states extensively since 1996. Over the past 18 years I've become friends with some great guys with similar interests. We've created a local chapter of the Toyota Land Cruiser Association back in 1999 and have been wheeling with that club since, and occasionally we get a smaller group together for a "special" trip. There have been trips to the Rubicon, or the San Juan mountains in Colorado, and countless trips around Utah.

The Utah Cruiser Expedition began as an informal trip by a couple of the guys when they wanted to see if they could traverse the state of Utah from west to east entirely on dirt roads without ever touching pavement. They were almost successful, with just a few miles of pavement that was just unavoidable. Then they wanted to do something that felt a little more "official" and invite a few more to participate. About a year later, a similar trip was done traveling north to south across the state. That was the first UCE. It has become an invitation only adventure because trips like these over hundreds of miles offroad in a relatively short time can be exhausting and difficult for individuals, let alone a large group. At most we've had about 8 trucks on one of these trips.

Back in 2010 I was finally able to attend even though I'd been invited on previous trips. UCE2 in 2010 needed to be different from the west to east traversal and the north to south traversal. UCE2 started at the 4 corners area where Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico meet. The route was over 1000 miles offroad diagonally across the state to the NW corner near City of Rocks in Southern Idaho.

Having crossed the state in 3 different directions, UCE3 would be a route starting at the lowest elevation in Utah at Beaver Dam Wash in the SW corner of the state at an elevation around 2000' above sea level and travel to the highest point accessible by vehicle at an elevation of 11,500' above sea level.

Each of these trips has been the brain child of Dave Connors. So now's a good time to give a little more info on the people involved.

Vehicle #1 - Dave Connors, Will Carroll , UZJ100 Toyota Land Cruiser



Dave Connors has been offroading since he could drive with a Subaru wagon. He's had a bunch of Land Cruisers and is a devout Toyota loyalist. He's owned FJ60's, FJ40's, a Tacoma, an FZJ80, and now a UZJ100 series Land Cruiser. He has driven to Alaska multiple times and is constantly exploring the deserts and mountains of the western US. Back in 2007 he began planning his biggest adventure. Expedition Americas http://www.expeditionamericas.com/ where he travelled from Salt Lake City, Utah to Banff, Canada and then south through the US and Central America to the southern tip of South America at Ushuaia, Argentina. He did this mostly solo in a 1997 FZJ80 Land Cruiser. Dave is also a driver/co-driver for Canguro Racing a small grassroots desert race team racing a Class 5 offroad race car. They've raced in the Mint 400 part of the Best in the Desert Series, Vegas to Reno and last November raced in the peninsula run of the Baja 1000 and took 3rd place in the sportsman class. http://canguroracing.com/

Will Carroll is a Toyota Wizard. He's been an offroader for many years and has wheeled in just about every model Land Cruiser and Toyota pickup. He is a certified Toyota Master Technician and is a corporate regional trainer for Toyota Techinicians in the the western states. He is hands down one of the most knowledgable and skilled Toyota mechanics in the country. He most recently has been offroading in an FZJ80 Land Cruiser until a few years ago and now drives a UZJ100 Land Cruiser. He is also a driver/co-driver for Canguro Racing.

Vehicle #2 - Kurt Williams, Ryan Davis UZJ100 Toyota Land Cruiser



Kurt Williams is the owner of Cruiser Outfitters a Utah company known worldwide for supplying OE and aftermarket parts for Land Cruisers and other Toyota 4x4s. They are one of the best dealers of ARB/OME products for Toyotas in the US. Kurt has an extensive fleet of Toyota 4x4s and a wealth of knowledge and experience. He recently has been participating in the E7 round-the-world Expedition with Expeditions 7 and has travelled through Canada, Greenland, Russia on the road of bones, Australia, and Africa with E7. There is a long list of other things I could tell you about Kurt. He is also a driver/co-driver for Canguro Racing.

Ryan Davis is a master of all things electrical. He owns his own home theater and automation company called Ratio AV. He's an avid Toyota enthusiast and offroader. He primarily spends his time offroad in a highly modified FJ40 Land Cruiser, but has owned several other Toyotas as well. He is an outstanding mechanic with an impressive home shop where lots of us have spent countless hours working on trucks and it's the primary shop location for Canguro Racing. Ryan is our communications expert and handles comms for Canguro as well. He is also a driver/co-driver for Canguro Racing.
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Old 09-16-2013, 02:00 PM   #3
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Vehicle #3 - Paul May 5th Gen Toyota 4Runner



Paul May is the owner of Equipt Expedition Outfitters http://www.equipt1.com/ . He is a distributor of high end expedition equipment including Eezi-Awn tents, awnings and roofracks. National Luna fridges and dual battery systems among other high quality gear. He is also a dealer of Adventure Trailers. He has also participated in the E7 Expedition and has been to Africa and Central and South America. He wheels in a FJ40 and has spent the last several years wheeling a UZJ100 Land Cruiser and recently made the change to the new Trail Edition 4Runner. He is part of the Canguro Racing Chase crew. He's also the chuckwagon on the UCE trips and handles all the food.

Vehicle #4 - Adam Tolman, Bjornn Tolman and Liam Tolman - 1st Gen Toyota Tacoma Doublecab



Adam Tolman (yeah that's me so I won't bore you with many details). I'm an Art Director for Disney's Interactive division making video games. I've been wheeling Land Cruisers and Toyotas since I could drive. I'm a founding member of Wasatch Cruisers a chapter of the TLCA. I get photography duties on these trips although most of the other guys take pics too. I also help on the Canguro Racing Chase Crew

Bjornn Tolman is my 12 year old son. He's been wheeling with me since he was 3 months old. He's learning to drive in my Tacoma (offroad only of course).

Liam Tolman is my 10 year old son who has also been wheeling with me since he was 3 months.
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Old 09-16-2013, 02:00 PM   #4
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Vehicle #5 - Cody McKendrick, Dan Lockington - 2nd Gen Toyota Tacoma Doublecab SB



Cody McKendrick owns his own brewing supply company in Salt Lake City. He has participated in past UCE trips as a rio and this was his first year driving his own truck. He has several years of wheeling experience, much of that spent in Jeep Grand Cherokees. He is also part of the Canguro Racing Chase Crew.

Dan Lockington works for a Utah printing company that does vinyl printing and vehicle wraps. He has wheeled in Toyotas as well and is part of the Canguro Racing Chase Crew.

Last but not least.....

Vehicle #6 - Ja Ralls, Troy Demill - Lexus LX450 (Essentially an 80 series Land Cruiser)



Ja Ralls is a sales rep for Hewlett Packard specializing in displays (monitors) and color calibration. He has been friends with Dave Connors for years and they have wheeled a lot together. Dave is the one turned Ja onto wheeling and Ja started out with a 1st Gen Tacoma that he promptly destroyed the rocker panels on. He also has the Lexus LX450 that he has on this trip. He is also part of the Canguro Racing Chase Crew.

Troy Demill is an audiologist in SLC and a member of Wasatch Cruisers. He has had a couple FJ40's but his main wheeling truck is a modified Lexus LX450. He has participated in several UCE trips and has lots of years of experience offroad growing up hunting in central Utah. He is also part of the Canguro Racing Chase Crew.



You can probably see that this a group of guys with TONS of experience and knowledge which is why I feel totally privileged to be a part of these trips. I told them I feel like the down-syndrome kid that is the charity pick on the baseball team. I'm just glad these guys have the heart to keep inviting me because these UCE trips have become some of my absolute favorite wheeling experiences. Rock crawling can be a blast and day trip trail runs are fun too, but there is something about these longer self-sustained trips over terrain and conditions that we are unfamiliar with that is very fulfilling. The scenery is spectacular, and the unexpected challenges can be nerve wracking but getting through them becomes the most satisfying part.

UCE trips are not intended to be challenging necessarily. Most of the route is on somewhat maintained public roads that are generally pretty high-speed. The object of the trips are more about achieving the end goal with as few miles on pavement as possible. But in doing so we end up travelling backroads that none of us have ever been on so we cannot foresee some of the challenges that may exist. This trip was no exception. At the time the trip started Utah had had several days of statewide heavy rain that caused some major flooding. This is the same storm system that caused the massive flooding in Colorado that killed several people and destroyed homes. There was still heavy rain in the forecast when we started the trip so we know we were possibly in for some real work ahead.
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Old 09-16-2013, 02:01 PM   #5
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Day 1 - Beaver Dam Wash to Millford.

The trip began by travelling south from Salt Lake City to St George on Wednesday to spend a night in Ryan's family condo before the real journey began. As I said before there were still heavy rains in the forecast and the 5 hour drive down I-15 to St George brought a few blinding thunderstorms with VERY heavy rain. Spending a night in a dry bed before the fun began was a nice luxury.

Beaver Dam wash is about 20 min outside of Mesquite, Nevada. We gassed up early Thursday morning and grabbed some McDonalds and hit the road to meet Paul May who would be coming up from Prescott, Arizona to meet us near the start of the route. We located Paul and made our way to the wash. Finally, no more pavement and the beginning of the dirt and mud that would be the source of joy and a little stress for the next 3 days. The dirt road at the start of the route travels under high voltage power lines through a forest of Joshua Trees. An absolutely beautiful stretch of desert.









Beaver Dam wash is a wide flood plane and we could tell the flow had been severe over the past several days with deadfall and driftwood scattered through the entire wash. The water was relatively low thankfully with the deepest sections only a couple feet deep. We wound our way through the wash to the lowest elevation of the trip, crossing the river dozens of times. It was common for water to splash over the hood and onto the windshields of the trucks as we crossed back and forth through the water. After about 40 min we reached the lowest point and snapped a few photos of the group at the lowest point in Utah to mark the official start of the trip.

The group at the lowest point in Utah 0 2000; above sea level


It was a good time for my boys to skip a few rocks while we took pics and made our plans
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Old 09-16-2013, 02:01 PM   #6
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we drove in the wash for several miles and finally made our way up and out and started to climb. Making our way up into the southern Utah hills in the wet weather was already getting muddy, especially in my Tacoma. My recent mod of adding some Spidertrax wheel spacers was revealing a downside to the mod. While the increased stability on the road and in the rocks had already proved valuable with the spacers it also pushed the tires out past the extents of the fender flares so I was throwing mud all over the truck, all over my RTT and the gear in the bed of the truck. Fortunately the gear in the truck was either in weather proof bins or didnt really matter if it was exposed to the elements.


This really was a beautiful stretch of road and reminded me why I love the Utah desert so much.














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Old 09-16-2013, 02:03 PM   #7
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Old 09-16-2013, 04:16 PM   #8
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Old 09-16-2013, 07:51 PM   #9
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Old 09-17-2013, 02:32 PM   #10
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Old 09-17-2013, 02:47 PM   #11
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it's starting. Geez, I've got a million pics to go through. check the top
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Old 09-17-2013, 03:34 PM   #12
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oh damn...i'll need to get into work early tomorrow and enjoy this over a cup of joe

it's looking to be an amazing trip so far and you haven't even gotten to the trip yet
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Old 09-17-2013, 07:19 PM   #13
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We continued until we came to a tiny little community out in the middle of nowhere. The people who lived there farmed and raised cattle but it would be a hard existence as they were miles and miles from anything. I'm sure they loved it. You could tell that you would feel totally "off-the-grid" out there. But as we can through the little community we found our first real challenge. The rains had washed out the road and left a gaping ravine about 20' wide and at least 8' deep. We were stopped while we figured out how to cross.




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Old 09-17-2013, 07:26 PM   #14
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Great report and adventure. Looking forward to the next episode!
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Old 09-18-2013, 10:58 AM   #15
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...Day 1 - Continued....

as we took a look at the washout and saw no obvious way around we hatched a plan to dig away at the banks on either side to create some kind of ramp so we could drop into the ravine and get back out the other side. Obviously it was still going to be a steep drop and steep climb out with saturated, loose dirt on both sides. We had 3 pairs of Maxxtrax in the group and winches and figured we could make it work.

Then a few in the group found what might be an alternate path that dropped us into a smaller stream bed and exited up a steep loose climb just above where the washout was. After some discussion we decided it was a better option and could likely be done without any of the recovery equipment. So we got after it.

Ryan and Kurt eye the streambed and discuss the new route around the washout that would take us up the hill behind them to get back on the road.


Kurt makes is down the streambed and starts the turn up the bank and up the steep climb out.


Paul May pilots his 4Runner up out of the wash


Dave Connors


Me and the Tacoma taking our turn




Everyone made it out successfully without much trouble and we were back on our way. We continued to climb and eventually stopped for some lunch in the mountains north of Beaver Dam Wash. It's a good time to compliment Paul May and his preparation of the food for the trip. We kept the lunches fairly basic with sandwiches and wraps, but his dinners were impressive with Fajitas complete with all the expected ingredients, and Grilled Chicken Pesto and Asian Stir Fry. Paul really does an excellent job with the food.


After a quick lunch we were back on the road to try to make up some time that had been lost by a few wrong turns that morning in the wash and the delay getting through the washout. More climbing up higher into the mountains.


We were soon out of the Joshua trees and cactus and into sage brush and junipers in the higher elevations. It always amazes me and the variety of landscape that Utah has to offer.

We passed a small reservior on our way to Enterprise with a really cool old dam.






It had been a nice relaxing drive so far after we had left the challenge of the washed out road. But our next challenge wasn't too far off......in Lund.
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Old 09-18-2013, 11:06 AM   #16
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Hopefully not a dumb question, how much gas did y'all have on yourselves? I barely get a little under 260 miles/tank before i get the warning light.
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Old 09-18-2013, 11:21 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChamYota View Post
Hopefully not a dumb question, how much gas did y'all have on yourselves? I barely get a little under 260 miles/tank before i get the warning light.
Not a dumb question. You're doing better than I am. Fully loaded for a trip like this I get closer to 200 miles per tank. Then you add 100lbs of mud caked to the truck (not joking) and there were some stretches I only got 170 miles or so to the tank. but that involved lots of mud, and long steep climbs.

We had planned fuel stops along the route but all of us had extra fuel along. Personally I had 15 gallons of extra fuel in the back of the truck.
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Old 09-18-2013, 11:54 AM   #18
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I forgot to mention earlier that these trips have assignments for each vehicle to lead part of a day. One truck leads a morning-lunch portion, another leads the afternoon-evening portion. That way everyone gets a chance to use their navigation skills to try not to get the group lost.

This first day we were still in the portion assigned to the Day1 morning team which happened to be Dave Connors and Will Carroll. We were hours behind schedule already but still making progress. We had a chance to make up lost time now as we came out of the canyon near Enterprise. We would be on graded roads through some small towns and one that parralleled the railroad tracks past Lund, Utah for several miles that should allow us to increase our speeds dramatically and make up some time.

Dave and Will were in the lead truck and I was second in line about 1/4 mile back as we got to the road the parralleled the railroad we were clipping along now at ~60mph. Then Dave got on the radio and said I'd be crossing a cattle guard and better be at full power when I crossed the cattle guard. I couldn't see him for the dust, but I didn't get any more description from him. I looked down and realized I was in 2WD and dropped into 4H just as I crested the cattle guard at about 40mph. The frontage road dropped a few feet and there was a low section for a mile or so. the heavy rains and basically created a muddy lake of the road and as I crossed the cattle guard I was committed. I plunged into the mud that sent a wave over the truck blinding us as the windshield was covered. I couldn't see and the wipers just smeared the mud so I had no idea where I was going or how long the mud hole was. I floored the truck and pushed hard not wanting to get stuck out in the middle. I caught a glimpse of Dave who had bailed out the side of the road in the sage brush. I drove past him throwing 20' roosters of mud all over the truck. Have I ever told you I HATE MUD!!!

My progress slowed as the mud got thicker but I sawed the wheel back and forth and kept moving forward and before I new it I had made it out the other side of a mud hole that stretched at least 100 yards long.














By the time I stopped Dave and Will had already bailed out the side in their UZJ100, and Ja and Troy had done the same in their LX450. Cody and Dan were trying to make it in their Tacoma with Kurt and Ryan close behind as Paul hit the beginning of the mud hole.


Pretty quickly Cody and Dan had bailed out but Kurt, Ryan and Paul were still trying.


Paul ended up stuck sideways as Kurt and Ryan called it quits and ditched out the side.



Paul was able to get unstuck and out the side so everyone tried to regroup in the sage brush while I waited at the front.










We took a minute to observe the situation








Then we were off again.



I gotta say I was impressed with the Goodyear MTRs. They had already proven to me that they were a great rock tire in Moab. Now they'd been handling highspeed desert stuff and water and mud like it was no big deal. I'm suprised I'm saying this but the KM2s in the group didn't do quite as well.
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