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The Longest Mile

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by MR E30, Sep 24, 2021.

  1. Sep 24, 2021 at 3:44 PM
    #1
    MR E30

    MR E30 [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    Member:
    #270223
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    1,173
    Gender:
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    First Name:
    Michael
    N. Phoenix
    Vehicle:
    2021 Silver TRD OR DCLB w/ AluCab
    Day 1 –The Longest Mile

    I distinctly remember asking myself, while comfortably seated in my airconditioned Tacoma, the sound of music barely registering in the distant background of my mind, “What do you title an adventure of this magnitude?”

    Little did I know that that exact question would be answered for me, and later made known to the world, written in a small notebook immediately after a thunderstorm outside of one of the most beautiful pieces of architecture I had ever had the luck to experience.

    But that; that was over 8 days away.

    And as the old saying goes ‘We cannot get there until we get there’.

    With that, let us roll back the hands of time and return to the start of this grand adventure.

    It was early in the morning on Saturday, September 11th, 2021 (a befitting day if I may say so myself, as many of us attending this trip had at some point or another committed our lives to the service of this nation) and I was headed to the home of @Sixthelement, our trucks were already packed, but our food and drinks still needed to be divided up between the fridge in the back of Will’s Tacoma, and the drinks stashed in the super cooler in the back of mine.

    Before getting to Wills house, I received a cryptic text message from him stating ‘Now there are 4’ and it didn’t quite make sense in my mind, so I stored it away for later. Thankfully, I received a follow up text a while later that stated that @PcBuilder14 was able to rectify the belt/pulley issue on his 3rd gen Tacoma and was on his way to the campsite. Phew, a close call before the trip had even really started!

    It was 8:20am when I parked outside of his house; Will with his wife and kids already out front on this warm, sunny, weekend morning.

    We distributed foodstuffs as required, a system we have used successfully on previous trips together, though this time it would end up being just a tiny bit different, unbeknownst to us at the time.

    We worked effectively, as we had to make our 9 am meetup with @TailHook and @chrslefty at a Circle K just down the road.

    Trucks packed, Will said his goodbyes to his family and we headed off down the street. For a mere 15 feet before I see Will’s reverse lights light up. Uh-oh.

    Turns out he had just forgotten his iPad Mini with Gaia GPS, a must-have on a trip like this.

    With that loaded into its holder on the DMM on his dash, we make our way towards the Circle K, @chrslefty chirping over the GMRS radio, Channel 22, that he is just a minute down the road from the meeting spot. Excellent timing. GMRS still impresses us with its range, low-cost, and ease of use. I still highly recommend this over CB for your group of adventure friends.

    Will and I pull into the gas station, the gas tanks of our trucks already full, and get to one of my favorite parts of any overlanding trip: the handshakes, jokes, and smiles that erupt between friends who haven’t seen one another in a while.

    It is quite a blessing to be able to come together in this way, each of us making the time by prioritizing an adventure with friends over many of the other things we must all worry about in our 21st century lives. This is something I never take for granted, as traveling with friends makes up a large portion of what makes these expeditions worthwhile.

    In no time at all the 4 of us were ready to begin making our way north on Highway 89 towards Cameron, AZ and beyond! Our goal for this first stretch of the trip was to get to a campsite that Will and I had previously discovered on a weekend trip in the Cedar Mesa area of Southern Utah.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 1 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The drive towards our destination is an easy one, especially during the day. A large portion of todays drive would occur through the Navajo Reservation, a sprawling place with limited amenities but what it lacks in that department it makes up for tenfold with beautiful rock formations peppered along our route.

    Will @Sixthelement had taken the lead, as he will do for most of the trip, as he is the one who organized this trip in the first place.

    Alan @TailHook took second, while I @MR E30 took third, with Chris @chrslefty bringing up the rear, his heavy 1st gen Tacoma having the greatest difficulty with the elevation changes that occur in this part of the world.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 2 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 3 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 4 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 5 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The drive was as uneventful as one might expect, apart from two separate surprises. The first involved one of those Cruise America RV’s and the driver deciding that abruptly, yet somehow slowly, pulling out in front of the only 4 vehicles he could see on the road was a good idea. Heavy braking and chatter on the radio ensued.

    The other involved the driver of a stopped truck hauling a trailer, who decided that dealing with his issue while parked in the lane of travel was also a good idea. Even though a pullout was present not 200 ft in front of where he had decided to stop.

    You know, no biggie.

    Those things aside we made great time to Kayenta, AZ where we would top off our gas tanks while watching the large group of stray dogs make its way around the pumps without a care in the world. Even the imminent threat of being run over hardly motivated these pups to get a move on!

    That task completed; we pull across the street to have a quick lunch outside of a closed auto parts store. An older local gentlemen saw our trucks and came over to chat with us about our plans and the adventure that was ahead of us. After a while he bids us adieu, we finish our lunches, and we head off to an insanely popular place in the middle of absolute nowhere, Monument Valley.

    If you’ve never been through this place, it’s certainly worth the effort if you are ever nearby. For those that may not know, a stretch of the highway was made iconic due to the popular scene in Forrest Gump, the scene where he decides that he is in fact, done running and that its time for him to go home.

    Just be careful when driving through, as tourists tend to behave irrationally when trying to snap that oh so perfect photo.

    Having been here before, we all continue on, none of us stopping to take a picture of the famous section of highway and beautiful surrounding landscape, instead focusing our attention on the road ahead.

    Chris had stopped to take a few photos during the drive from Monument Valley to Mexican Hat, which I am happy to include!

    Thanks to Chris for allowing me to include his photos in this trip report:

    [​IMG]IMG_0337 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0339 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    We make our way towards, and through, the tiny town of Mexican Hat, aptly named for the small (it really is much tinier than you would imagine) hat looking rock atop a much smaller base. The San Juan River flows right through Mexican Hat, so naturally we stopped to stretch our legs and check out the river.

    Just a few hundred feet down a dirt offshoot off of the main highway, you can park and check out the river.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 6 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The river appeared dirty, and it was, the recent rains due to the area’s monsoon season causing the rushing water from far away to pick up sediments and silt to carry away downstream to distant lands.

    However, that didn’t stop me from dipping my feet in and enjoying the moment. I mean I am, as Alan accurately put it, the Nature Boy of the group, always searching for a way to immerse myself more deeply into the place I happen to find myself.

    With that in mind, the shoes came off and the feet went in!

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 7 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    When I had been here previously, in the heart of monsoon season, the river was MUCH higher. So high that where we had parked our trucks was not a safe place to park them. Note the branches and sticks piled up against the concrete structure on the left side of the photo. The swelling, rushing river placed those there. The power of water in these parts is not to be underestimated. It can come out of nowhere, and it moves with a ferocity that man cannot match.

    But for today, we were safe. We enjoyed our brief time here, Will and Alan making conversation while Chris and I were close to the river.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 8 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Before long we were ready to go, not much further to go, but it was already a quarter to 2, and we are the type of group that likes to make camp wayyyy before the sun goes down.

    With that in mind, we hit pavement and made our way towards an exciting section of UT 261, The Moki Dugway. The landscape of Southern Utah was really beginning to shine as we made our way along UT 261.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 9 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The dirt road is named after the Moki, an ancient Puebloan People who inhabited this area, and Dugway, meaning a road carved out of a hillside.

    This short, twisting, and steep (11% grade) section of road is dirt with its entrances and exits being the smooth paved surfaces of UT 261. It offers views of Monument Valley, as well as an overlook situated at The Valley of the Gods.

    I mean, with names like those, who wouldn’t stop to take this place in?

    On our way towards the base.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 10 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Beginning to make our way up the side of the hill. Travel is not difficult whatsoever, small passenger cars would easily make the drive, but sometimes it isn’t about the tricky, technical, skid scraping, dirt roads. Sometimes it’s just about a pleasant drive to a magnificent view.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 11 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The landscape stretches out beyond.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 12 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Obligatory truck foreground background shot

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 13 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Chris had made the wise decision to swap out his aftermarket air filter with a paper version, as he and I would routinely be in the back of the formation. And for anyone who has traveled these parts knows that that means we would be eating a lot of dust. Before departing, he took in the scene as he saw it through the lens of his camera.

    [​IMG]IMG_0348 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    Up and up and up we go!

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 14 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    We casually make our way to the parking area at the overlook of the Valley of the Gods, once again taking the time to get out of the trucks to stretch our legs and open our eyes to the beauty that surrounds us.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 15 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 16 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 17 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 18 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 19 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 20 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    We heard the familiar sound of 2nd Gen 4.0’s rumbling in the distance and saw two Tacomas speed on by the overlook, their Instagram handles, now forgotten, stickered to the sides of their trucks.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 21 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Our time spent at this spot came to an end, we all loaded up, assumed our place in the procession of trucks, and continued on towards our camp site for this first evening.

    Alan @TailHook rolling down the road with Bears Ears National Monument poking above the surrounding landscape.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 22 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    It was at this point that we came to an intersection. An intersection where we needed to make a right-hand turn. A crucial right-hand turn, as our campsite was down that road.

    One problem. The road to the right was closed due to a washed-out chunk of road some 25 miles from our current location.

    So, we put our heads together, iPads getting pulled out of their holders as we all looked to find a route around the closed road.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 23 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    While we were researching a potential work-around, a driver pulled up to the intersection, weaved through our trucks and then through the road closed sign, and continued on down the closed road.

    Hm. Must have been a fluke.

    Until it happened again. And then again.

    Seeing this, we all made the decision that we would tell Brent @PcBuilder14 about the closure, as he had to travel from the opposite side of the road before we set off down the paved road towards camp.

    A decision that we wouldn’t regret one bit, as the road was in perfect working order during the ~11 mile stretch of it that we had to use to get to the turnoff for our camp.

    But first, Will and I had to share an absolutely stunning overlook with Alan and Chris.

    So, we took an offshoot off of the paved road a few miles before the turnoff for our campsite and drove the very flowy ~7-mile road to the overlook.

    Parked at the end of the trail all of our Tacomas still looked the part of adventure.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 24 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    That parking area though, it doesn’t give you any sense of what you will see from your vantage point just a few hundred yards away.

    Oh no. For that you have to walk across flat slick rock, climb down a well-worn metal staircase made by a Boy Scouts’ troop in the 90’s, and work your way through the brush towards the edge.

    And what do you find once you get there?

    Bliss.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 25 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 26 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    With an arch (with a few more hidden along hiking routes far below) to boot!

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 27 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Chris stepped away to get photos from a slightly different vantage point.

    [​IMG]IMG_0359 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0360 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    That ‘tiny’ rock formation down below is actually massive when you are down at the bottom. But from here, it might as well be something we can easily step over!

    [​IMG]IMG_0364 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    Photographed here is what we thought, at the time this picture was taken, was the beginnings of a future arch. However, my curiosity got the best of me several days later and our group was educated by a geologist about how arches are actually formed. We’ll keep that tale tucked away for later.

    [​IMG]IMG_0370 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    While taking in the views, quietly and thoughtfully, I made my way over to the edge of the overlook.

    You see, I used to be deathly afraid of heights. I am talking seriously sweaty palms, jittery/weak knees, knot in the pit of your stomach type reactions to even being near the edge of second story balconies.

    Not sure where it came from, because as a kid I could always be found purposefully trying to get balls/toys stuck in neighborhood trees so I would have an excuse to climb them.

    One day the fear just turned on.

    And then it just turned off. I’m not sure exactly when, but it is completely gone now. Every high place I’ve been to during the recent past elicits no fear response of any kind. I can’t even feel my heart beat any quicker as I peer over sheer drops, giving others uneasy feelings as I lean over the edge.

    Life is strange that way sometimes. Maybe it’s trying to tell us that things change as we get older, and those disgusting foods from your childhood may be delicious now, or that thing you used to be afraid to do might not be such a big deal anymore.

    Who knows?

    But what I knew was that I was sitting at the edge. In my mind a perfect way to take in the vastness of our position.

    [​IMG]IMG_0372 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    No, I’m not starting an OnlyFans for my feet, just thought the perspective was interesting. Though I didn’t wear shoes for pretty much the entire day. Something about putting your bare feet on the ground is appealing to me.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 28 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Anyways, it eventually comes time for us to leave this place. I encouraged everyone to mark this point in their Gaia, as it is one to bring friends and family to in the future.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 1 - 30 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    We make quick progress back down the flowy dirt road to the paved road, which we follow for a few miles before taking our turn back onto dirt and towards our home for the evening.

    Our camp was easily accessed on well-graded dirt roads, and before we knew it we were in camp, cooking dinner (Sweet and Sour Chicken with rice for Will and I), and unpacking our gear.

    Brent @PcBuilder14 wasn’t supposed to arrive until later in the evening, but he must have put the skinny pedal to the floor because he arrived around 5 pm.

    Excited to meet him and to add a fifth truck to our group, we conducted introductions all around. We took tours of his GFC, which was especially exciting for me as it was the first time I had seen one in person, and this tour just increased my excitement for the day when my Alucab Canopy Camper finally arrives for my 2021 DCLB Tacoma.

    We are about to start settling in at the campsite for the evening when talk of a short hike comes up.

    Our privately named ‘Mini Top of the World’ is located near this particular site, well within walking distance, and it offers a pleasant view from along the edge of the canyon.

    It didn’t take much convincing before Will, Brent, and I were on our ways.

    An easy hike across slick rock, the only real challenge is watching out for the biological soil that is sometimes present in the dirt, and sometimes present on the surface of the rock. You do not want to disturb this, and we all diligently watched our footsteps to avoid damaging any of it.

    As we hiked, conversation continued, friendships, both new and old, strengthened.

    And the views. Yeah, those were good too.

    Credit to Brent for allowing me to include his photos in the trip report as well.

    [​IMG]_MG_1597 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_1599 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_1601 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    There really is something that you can't put into words about Southern Utah. You could spend 5 years in just the southeast quadrant of the state. It really is that rich with adventure.

    We slowly make our way back to camp, the setting sun and relaxing atmosphere making slow progress the only form of acceptable progress.

    Chris and Alan had set off on their own short hikes, and before long we were all back in camp, chairs set up, enjoying the natural coverage provided by giant trees as a very faint drizzle fell over camp. We received sudden gusts of wind, which caused us to comment on the weather out here changing rapidly, before it disappeared just as it came, and we were left with a calm, warm evening to enjoy.

    There was no fire on this particular night, but that didn’t hinder joyous conversation from continuing long after the sun had gone down. The evening was filled with laughter and jokes and stories and other adventures and planned truck upgrades and our destination for the following day and many other things that cannot be told in the trip report. Not because they are inappropriate, but because these are some of the more precious moments of an adventure, and to experience them, well, you best just tag along and be there yourself.

    It was 10pm when we all decided our long day of driving needed to come to an end. So, as we always do, we retired to our respective beds, shut out the lights, and fell into peaceful sleep.

    Tomorrow would be one for the memory banks, one that would lead us through some of the most picturesque road scenery imaginable before ultimately taking us to a campsite near our only hard deadline of the entire trip.

    But that is for tomorrow.
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2021
  2. Sep 27, 2021 at 9:43 AM
    #2
    TailHook

    TailHook Aut Viam Inveniam Aut Faciam

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2018
    Member:
    #257280
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    First Name:
    Alan
    Gilbert, AZ
    Vehicle:
    2018 TRD OR 4X4, 1998 C5
    Bunch-o-goodies


    :D:rofl:
     
  3. Sep 27, 2021 at 4:02 PM
    #3
    MR E30

    MR E30 [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2018
    Member:
    #270223
    Messages:
    1,173
    Gender:
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    First Name:
    Michael
    N. Phoenix
    Vehicle:
    2021 Silver TRD OR DCLB w/ AluCab
    Day 2 –The Longest Mile

    Normally an early riser, 5 am on the dot, 6 days a week, to be more precise, I slept in as long as I could before shaking off sleep and preparing for the day. No early morning rush on this particular day. I mean, after all, we ARE on vacation here! The added benefit of being warm enough to simply lay in the sheets, and not be tucked inside of a confining sleeping bag cannot be understated in my opinion.

    Only after I heard others awake and moving through camp, each beginning their adventure mornings however they best see fit, did I begin my trademark early morning rtt routine of stretching and groaning like a bear awakening after a winter’s long hibernation. If you haven’t tried squirming around in your tent and stretching your arms and legs and twisting your torso around while lying down, I would highly recommend it, as it is immensely satisfying.

    Or maybe I’m just the weird one. You never quite know I suppose.

    I was quick to get changed into fresh clothes and to organize my bedding in the rtt before climbing down the ladder and greeting the day and my fellow adventurers.

    The first thing I do after climbing out of the tent is to get a pot of water boiling on the stove. I enjoy starting every day with a green tea, and today would be no different. I boiled extra water to share with Will @Sixthelement for his morning coffee, as well as to make myself a butter tea a bit later in the morning.

    Breakfast, as it always is on trips like this, was a thorough affair. No quick snacks for me, as I prefer a large, filling breakfast most every day. Continuing a tradition from previous trips, Will and I split generous helpings of eggs, bacon, and spiralized sweet potatoes. Everything apart from the eggs was precooked at home, making the task of getting the entire breakfast ready for consumption a relatively easy one.

    The morning was slow, and I went around taking a few pictures while chatting with my friends.

    Wills setup, that pesky Iceco fridge starting to give us some worries.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 1 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Chris @chrslefty with his sophisticated camp setup

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 2 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Brent’s @PcBuilder14 take on camp

    [​IMG]_MG_1619 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    While looking for potential places to camp, I always try to find suitable places right next to rock formations, as they offer excellent things to climb and explore while at camp. This just adds a whole lot of interesting vantage points for photographs, as well as giving people like me the opportunity to practice climbing around on rocks, which happens to be immensely fun to me.

    This site was no different, a large rock formation establishing a perimeter around ~40% of our camp.

    So, out came the camera, and up the rock I went, the bottom of this small canyon offering plenty of green relative to many other places in the deserts of the southwest.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 3 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Easily within view of camp, our first place to explore rose above the surrounding landscape, immensely beautiful in its own special way.

    House Rock. I wonder what such a prominent piece of the landscape has to offer for the adventurer willing to make their way to it. I suppose we will have to go and find out for ourselves!

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 4 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 5 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Before long it was time to get the assemblage of Tacomas rolling on the road for the day. We had a definitive area to get to for camp this particular evening, one that would put us close enough to the entrance to Canyonland National Park, and we wanted to be there without rushing, so we all packed up and were on our way.

    Only for 1/2 mile or so.

    We had House Rock to explore after all!

    We drove to the base of the rock hill, inspecting a potential route up and around the rock. A route that would remove the necessity to hike all the way up to House Rock from the base. However, recent rains had rolled a massive boulder from the left side of the trail directly into the center of the trail.

    We would not be attempting to get around this particular boulder. Though what we were going to experience in the coming days made this issue appear rather timid by comparison.

    Rather, we all parked our Tacomas and began the laborious process of assaulting the hill by foot.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 6 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    I opted for the more intense way up the hill, running and jumping my way quickly up the smooth, grippy rock hill. You know, to make sure I was able to get good photos of my companions as they tackled the hill in a much more sensible way. At a normal pace.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 7 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Still a ways to go. A strenuous, albeit short, hike no doubt. But one that is most definitely worth it.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 8 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    House Rock offers a commanding pedestal one may use to perch themselves upon to take in the stunning landscape that surrounds you. Comb Ridge present, mightily, in the background.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 9 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    This geological formation extends much, much further than this photo demonstrates, offering a truly tremendous amount of exploration for those itching to discover the unknown for themselves.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 10 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Though today, in this moment, we were here for House Rock.

    Will and I had been to this exact place just a couple of months prior. We opted to let Brent @PcBuilder14 and Alan @TailHook discover what this rock had to offer for themselves, without any commentary from either of us.

    So, we did. I climbed atop a nearby fallen rock to watch as they took the place in before I myself would relive the wonder of this special place.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 11 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Petroglyphs galore! An astounding amount of them in varying shapes, sizes, and heights above the ground.

    [​IMG]_MG_1650 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Shards of ancient pottery and stones had been collected and neatly placed atop a flat rock for easy viewing by those who happen to stop by.

    [​IMG]_MG_1667 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Conversation invariably turned to speculating about how these were etched into the rocks, what it must have been like to do it, and what the heck some of the more confusing symbols meant!

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 15 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    I feel it is important to note that we do not touch things like this when we encounter them. We don’t lean against them. We don’t compare the size of our hand with the size of a hand etched into the rock by placing them atop one another. We don’t rub our thumb against a petroglyph to try to ‘clarify’ an image to better understand it. We simply view them and let them be, leaving no evidence of our presence behind. This is what we all must do, without exception, for these to be preserved deep into the future.

    Before departing, Brent snapped a few excellent photos of what you can see from House Rock.

    Our exit of Comb Wash, disappearing into the ridge beyond our line of sight.

    [​IMG]_MG_1671 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Southern Utah is simply incredible.

    [​IMG]_MG_1672 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    It was eventually time to make our way back down to the trucks. Just like earlier, I bounded my way down the grippy rock to snap a photo of the group.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 16 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Our first ‘obstacle’ was just ahead, so I squeezed out of the parking area first and got to moving, my desire to get nice and close for the best photos pushing me quickly onward.

    I made quick work of the challenge, thankful for my 6112/5160 lift, and got nice and close to capture the action of everyone else.

    A large, deep, puddle, a flowing stream when the monsoons hit just right, crossed our path. I learned from previous water crossing photos to get up close and personal with the action. So right to the waters edge I went.

    Without much hesitation, we were in!

    Alan @TailHook had first dibs

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 17 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 18 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Even after splashing through dirty water Alans Tacoma still somehow appeared far too clean!

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 19 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The little 1st gen was next

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 20 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 21 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 22 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 23 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Fat 35’s and a GFC were up next

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 24 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Blub blub

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 25 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 26 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 27 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Will rounded out the group with his skinny 35’s and high clearance everything

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 28 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 29 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 30 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    From here I once again took the final place in the procession of trucks, and we all began our way through Comb Ridge.

    The initial path was smooth and easily traveled, but by the time we rounded the corner of the ridge the road became more difficult to travel and our speed dropped considerably.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 31 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    However, this was of little concern to the group. All of us had skids, sliders, lifts, and larger than factory tires. Two sets of 35’s, one set of 33’s, one set of 32’s and one tiny set of 31.5’s were all large enough to get the job done.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 32 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The three photographers took the time to hop out of our trucks and snap photos here and there of the ascent up the small, bumpy shelf road.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 33 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 34 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0394 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0396 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0397 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0401 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_1694 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_1695 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_1718 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_1724 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 37 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    At one point we passed by an unlucky traveler, or what remained of them. In all likelihood, someone probably dragged this jalopy out here and purposefully pushed it over the edge, causing it to tumble down before it came to a rest on the rocky hillside.

    Or at least I hope no one was hurt.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 36 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    All in all the road was slowly dissected, all of the trucks easily making there way to the top. In fact, the only issue we had with the entire route didn’t really involve the route at all. But rather, a small group of individuals who happened to be heading down while we headed up.

    Apparently, following common trail etiquette should result in the party having the right of way (both traveling uphill as well as being in a larger group) being eternally grateful for the rather simple act of the slighted waiting for us to go by as something that deserves the highest form of praise imaginable.

    After Will, who was in the lead position, radioed to us all that he received a completely unnecessary amount of disrespect from someone on the trail, I was not surprised to find out that they were in side by sides. I was however a bit surprised when I found out the offending party appeared to be in his 60’s! Apparently that side by side-er mindset doesn’t merely exist in the younger generation. Oh no, it spans generations.

    We all received some form of a very callous “You should say thank you!” despite the fact that they had received thumbs up, hand waves, and polite smiles as we all passed.

    We all needed an excuse to stretch out our legs and backs anyways, so we discussed the strange interaction for a minute or two. Loads of laughs were the end result to the misplaced comedy, a tiny story to keep tucked away for a future night around a campfire.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 38 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Oh well. They were probably just as amazed as we were, making comments about ‘these damn overlanders and their stupid trucks and idiotic tents!’ after we had passed.

    So is life.

    Time to move on.

    And move on we did. Down another dusty dirt road towards our home for the evening.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 39 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 40 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 41 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 42 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Our next destination was the town of Blanding where we would top off our gas tanks and fill our bellies with a quick lunch.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 43 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    This would be our last stop for gasoline for the next 90 hours of our adventure. Fuel conservation and appropriate use strategies were in full swing here. We were going full Overlander now. Nothing could possibly stop us.

    Well except if we ran out of gas. But no worries! Our spare gas cans were all full, ready to bail us out of trouble when it inevitably arose.

    Or how about a faulty fridge? It had become completely apparent to both Will and I that his ~6 month old Iceco dual zone fridge/freezer (~65qt I believe) was lying to us. It would buzz and act like it was doing its best to cool our food, but its attempts were feeble as the temperature was not going down and the food (thankfully a lot of it had been frozen prior to the trip) was beginning to warm up.

    Not good. Not good for us in this particular moment, and not good for Iceco in the long run. When we needed this rather new and never abused (doesn't run when not on a trip, kept inside a softtopper, not exposed to the elements, etc.) to do its job, it failed. Miserably. The 95qt pro series fridge that I was going to buy from them is now out of the window, opting to put my trust in ARB's 100+qt fridge for my future needs.

    Our friends demonstrated their generosity by offering to store our food in their fridges, but we didn't need their help quite yet.

    So we purchased three bags of ice from the gas station, one for the now-defunct fridge turned very expensive cooler, and two for my Canyon Coolers super cooler, as we now had to reorganize our foodstuffs to make it work. Thankfully my cooler was a darn good one and had no troubles keeping things ice cold in the 90+ degree temperatures.

    That struggle aside, lunch was a quick affair, a typical occurrence even for me of trips like this. It was hot, and the sun was shining directly overheard without a cloud in the sky, a trend that would continue on for many days.

    However, after leaving Blanding and passing through Monticello we took a paved mountainous path through the Manzi-La Sal National Forest.

    Here, as we climbed higher and higher, we drove directly into a rainstorm, the 90+ degree temperature plummeting very quickly into the low 60’s. A welcome change, and one that we wish we could call on in the near future.

    A large parking lot offered a nice place to take in the views. It even featured small tubes, affixed to steel poles, that aimed your eye at some prominent geological features off in the distance. They hadn’t been serviced in a while, as two bushes had grown in front of two of the sights, making them useless for their intended purpose.

    Not a shabby lineup!

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 44 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0412 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_1739 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    After dropping down off of the mountain the road took a turn for the magnificent.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 46 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 47 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    We were suddenly transported away from small towns and open expansive views and dropped squarely inside another large canyon. The rock features, many protruding into and even over the roadways edge, were simply enthralling to look at as we all slowly drove by.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 50 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0413 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0420 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    We didn’t capture nearly enough photographs of this beautiful road, but it is a public roadway, and pullouts are not the norm on this often-confined roadway.

    Nevertheless, we enjoyed ourselves. We also enjoyed the well-visited ‘Newspaper Rock’, a monolith inscribed with dozens, if not hundreds, of petroglyphs. All shapes and sizes, with many distinct symbols while at the same time seeing the same type of symbol etched in various corners of the rock face.

    It is right off of the main road, with a large parking lot to boot, so everyone comes by to see it. It is fenced off, thankfully, but gorgeous, nonetheless.

    [​IMG]_MG_1753 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    An energetic older woman found our group of trucks exciting, and without hesitation, began chatting with Chris, Brent, and I about our travels, her current adventure as a recent retiree, and many other small things that led to her embarking on her journey. It was pleasant conversation with a stranger. She wished us well, and we returned the favor, before we hopped back into our Tacomas and casually drove away from this place.

    The paved road continued to offer impressive views as it guided us near our home for the evening. We would be camping on BLM land just outside of Canyonlands, and it was time to pick our resting spot for the day.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 53 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 54 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 55 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0427 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0430 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    There were a few noted campsites on our route for this trip, and we began by investigating the Creek Pasture Campground at 230 pm.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 2 - 56 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    This site had one large unoccupied group site at the back of the camping area. It was ok, offering some rocks to climb on and a few views to soak in. However, it was early enough, and the other sites so close, that we opted to check them out before committing ourselves for the evening.

    And boy, were we glad we did just that.

    Hamburger Hill was next on the list, and it was not impressive enough for a trip of this magnitude.

    However, just a ways down the graded dirt road was a gem of a place. A little beauty slightly off the beaten path, an old trail crossing a heavily washed-out riverbed separating this place from the rest of the world. Nothing for the Tacomas to have any trouble with of course.

    We found ourselves in a large flat area smack in between a large, climbable, rock formation to the west, and a small reservoir of water to the north, all of these establishing the perimeter of camp.

    [​IMG]_MG_1761 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    It was here that we would have one of the best campsite experiences that I have ever had.

    This site was so rich with adventure that I honestly didn’t want the day to end.

    Before we even positioned our trucks, we were all hoofing it up a steep sandy hill to check out the rock formations around us.

    The grind was well worth it as we discovered all sorts of excellent things, including ruins!

    The views were stellar, the rock creating viewing windows that simply magnified the experience to another level completely.

    Ruins, perched high above the ground, inaccessible now most likely due to chunks of rock breaking away.

    [​IMG]_MG_1764 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Around every corner someone would find something noteworthy, shouts to ‘Come here and check THIS out’ filled the air.

    Just like kids on Christmas morning, the level of excitement was palpable.

    This set of moments is what this is all about. Trucks are cool. Gear is impressive. Technical trails are great. But the unchecked excitement of adventurers stumbling across something noteworthy? That is unparalleled in its ability to stir the human soul.

    [​IMG]_MG_1785 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    The surrounding views were nothing to gloss over either.

    [​IMG]_MG_1814-Pano by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_1816 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    I climbed all over this rocky outcropping. I couldn’t contain myself. This one experience rekindled my interest in rock climbing, which I haven’t engaged in since 2009, with a ferociousness that I cannot ignore.

    At one point I found a way to the very top of group of rocks we were exploring. The entrance was a narrow crack, barely large enough for a body. Get yourself inside of it, commit your torso to a ledge, chimney your legs in the tight space to gain an inch or two of height before simultaneously pushing and pulling yourself onto a small shelf. Slide along it and before long you exit the crack, and you are free.

    I explored around up here alone. The views were incredible. With no camera on my person, they exist only in my mind.

    I bet I stumbled across a set of ruins no one has seen in a very long time.

    After getting to the top, I noticed a geoid shaped rock perched atop a flat rock near its edge. It was the highest point of this formation so naturally I had to get to the top of it. Which I did after a bit of scrambling/bouldering.

    Well worth it.

    After I came down, I wanted to get around to the front side to sit very near the edge, under the geoid, to shout down from my perch and do my best to give Will a heart attack.

    But as I was crawling around the side, I noticed the unmistakable assemblage of rock and mud signifying a ruin. It was mostly gone, but there it was. Now unusable, the rock that had given it access falling away in the distant past, it sat tucked in between the underside of the geoid and the flat rock on which it sat.

    It cannot be seen from the ground. It can only be discovered through intimate exploration, showing itself only to those willing to look for it.

    It made me wonder how many little gems we unknowingly drive by all the time when on trips such as this. I suppose I will never know.

    My time on the rock came to an end, so I wiggled my way back down the crack and then back to the ground and to camp.

    The sun was setting, full shade coming over camp at 430 and it was time for dinner. Burgers was the main course for this evening. And they were delicious.

    After dinner Brent and I went on a short hike to another rock formation, to climb all over this one as well, but it did not possess the same interesting features as our earlier discovery. That and there weren’t even routes to climb to get many places.

    Few photos were taken, we were simply living in that moment.

    While we were doing that, Alan sent up his drone to capture footage of the ruins that were no longer accessible. You can find the footage linked in Post #198 of the following thread https://www.tacomaworld.com/threads...021-elephant-hill-to-moab-tour.711347/page-10

    Once Brent and I returned to camp I realized I should at least try to climb up there.

    So, I did. Got pretty close too before I was unable to make the final push over the edge and sit near the ruins.

    Oh well. Wasn’t meant to be. Despite thinking there was a clear place to sit to take them in, it’s best that I don’t disturb them.

    [​IMG]_MG_1818 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Down I came. Though the evening adventures were not over just yet. We had to investigate the other portion of our camp, the watery side!

    I can’t imagine how exciting this site would have been if there had been enough water to slow through this rock slide. I suppose that that’s an experience for another trip. It’s good to have things to look forward to in life.

    [​IMG]_MG_1827 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    The evening continued, Chris and I walking barefoot through the thick sticky silt below, while Alan, Brent, and Will explored the rocks above us. I waded into the pool of water and promptly sank halfway up my shins in the super soft sand before wiggling my way back out and on to dry land. Chris and I explored the empty stream a ways in the opposite direction before eventually making our way back towards the trucks.

    We had a vehicle light demonstration when we all returned to camp, Alan showing off his impressive array of lights, all controllable via remote, before Chris made it known that his ditch lights were very, very bright! He showed us that having plenty of light up front is very helpful with night driving.

    Alans setup really made it obvious how effective and useful a well thought out grouping of lights can be. From his side lights that illuminate the area around his tent to his expertly positioned dust lights, the whole thing just works. I know who to message when it comes time to illuminate my future setup.

    Will even fired up his setup, the BD LP9's really getting the job done. They are large and obvious on the front end, but man do they work. And they look cool as all get out as well.

    We opted to skip having a fire on this second evening, the moon reflecting plenty of light for our needs, and the weather was plenty warm to not require the warmth of a fire to keep us chatting away with each other after our position on Earth had rotated far, far away from the reach of the suns bright, warming, rays.

    More hilarious and friendship strengthening conversations were had that evening. Something about the aerodynamics of some sort of ball if I recall correctly.

    We had a firm departure time from camp the following morning, as we had somewhere important we needed to be first thing. This meant a rather quick morning, rising before the sun and with a small snack for breakfast. Though none of this bothered any of us as what we had planned was exciting enough to make any wake up time a non-issue.

    See, we needed to arrive at the ranger station inside of Canyonlands National Park at 800 am the following morning. We wanted to be first in line for our upcoming challenge.

    With all of that in mind, we retired ‘early’ and I slept peacefully in the warm night air, once again foregoing the sleeping bag for my sheets and blanket. I fell asleep knowing that tomorrow would bring even more excitement, along with a few challenges.

    Ah yes, the thrill of upcoming adventure kept me company throughout that night.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2021
  4. Sep 28, 2021 at 3:57 PM
    #4
    MR E30

    MR E30 [OP] Well-Known Member

    Joined:
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    #270223
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    First Name:
    Michael
    N. Phoenix
    Vehicle:
    2021 Silver TRD OR DCLB w/ AluCab
    Day 3 –The Longest Mile

    It was still predawn when I heard the unmistakable rumblings of humans going about their business in camp. Today, the early day, I wasted no time getting a move on.

    I hopped out of the tent wearing just my boxers, the morning air just warm enough to keep me comfortable while I went about my expedited morning routine.

    Water on the stove. Tent organized. Items transferred from the tent back into the truck. Morning hygiene. Outfit for the day. Ah, waters boiling, time for tea. Checking in with everyone else.

    It was time to go before we knew it, tents getting stowed and gear getting loaded into its specific place in each of our Tacomas as we all hurried along.

    A quick photo as things were getting packed up.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 1 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_1832 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    After pinning this location, with all applicable notes, into my Gaia, we were off!

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 2 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Out the way we came, we were quickly back onto the paved roadway as I chirped over the radio to the group “All right”, signifying that all of the members of the group had successfully made the right hand turn towards Canyonlands.

    The morning began to brighten as we rolled along the smooth roadway

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 3 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Photo snapped just in time as Chris @chrslefty backed up towards the entrance sign for the park.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 4 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0434 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    The majesty of Canyonlands began to appear.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 5 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    We had made it, nice and early, and were first in line to speak with the park rangers when the doors opened at 8 am. It was time to tackle Elephant Hill!

    But first, some basic hygiene. I was already very dirty from all of the climbing and exploring I had done thus far, and a nice wash basin near the front doors was a welcome sight as I did my best to make myself presentable. We were in a National Park after all. A temporary hiatus from the seclusion of back road travel.

    That small task complete, we all waited patiently to be allowed access to the park.

    Due to the virus, the welcome center was short-staffed. With this in mind the rangers were happy to see that Will @Sixthelement and I had followed all of the rules and had all of our paperwork on hand to gain access to Elephant Hill and to our camp sites for the evening; Bobby Jo 1 and 2.

    They warned us about biological soil and the necessity to avoid disturbing it under any circumstance. A welcome warning, even though each member of our group were polite stewards of nature, well versed on how to best behave in places like these.

    We were under the impression that we would have to pay additional fees for each vehicle, but we were informed that that was not the case on this particular day. Even better.

    Alan @TailHook and I overheard an older couple driving a stock Ram 1500 questioning the nearby ranger about gaining access to drive Elephant Hill. Thankfully, despite telling the ranger that he had offroad tires (he did not, OEM all seasons were still fitted to his truck), the ranger eventually convinced him that it would not be a good idea to drive his truck along the trail. Which was a good thing. Nothing quite like an uneducated driver in an inappropriate machine to more quickly destroy a trail and frustrate the prepared drivers who happen to be there at the same time.

    Water jugs refilled, hair ‘washed’, and as ready as we would ever be, Brent @PcBuilder14 took the lead (as he was the only one who had been here before) and led the other 4 Tacomas into this beautiful place.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 6 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    I’ll say it now, so I don’t forget later:

    National Parks are well worth the extra work/fees necessary to enter them. Beautiful places most certainly exist outside of their borders, but these places are special in their own way. The added restrictions and cost help to maintain these places for future adventurers, something I can respect and support with ease.

    It was precisely 847 am when we all aired down to somewhere around 15 psi for the journey ahead. The top of my rtt was a great place to snap a quick photo of the group getting ready.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 7 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The parking lot in which Elephant Hill begins is shared by people who are all here to experience the park in differing ways. It is a meeting point for hikers and bikers as well as far offroaders. So, we garnered a fair bit of attention due to our modified Tacomas, with various people asking, ‘How low do you air down?’, ‘Do you think you’ll make it?’, ‘What lift do you have?’, et cetera.

    The parking lot was very busy, but we were the only group there to tackle Elephant Hill.

    Perfect.

    Brent led the way, explaining to us beforehand that we would have to make our way to a flat spot high above and use that flat rock to turn around to safely traverse the trail.

    Excellent.

    I took second position, as Brett and I were taking the majority of the photographs of the trucks at this point in time.

    Up we went!

    [​IMG]_MG_1837 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    We made slow work of the trail as the onlookers from below watched our progress. This is no place to rush, even though it is not difficult to travel, despite being near an edge and requiring the three point turn 2/3rds of the way up the hill to successfully navigate.

    Once atop the hill, out came the cameras, shutters clicking away as the two of us moved about on the rocks to find the best angles for the photos.

    Here are some of the better pictures.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 8 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Spacing out is important for this section due to the turnaround, and the park requires a 3-vehicle limit per group on this first accent, to avoid any traffic jams with vehicles descending the hill.

    This particular morning, we had the trail to ourselves.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 9 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Will approaching the turn around. He said, as he was waiting for Brent and I to ascend the hill, that he was very surprised to see me driving right up to the edge of a large rock. Now he sees why!

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 10 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Alan making his way, his truck still wayyyy too clean for this trip, a topic we would all routinely poke fun at, eliciting laughter and explanations galore.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 11 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 12 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Navigating the turn.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 13 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Going up!

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 14 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 15 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Rinse and repeat

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 16 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 17 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 18 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 19 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 20 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The next interesting challenge was a zigzag portion of the trail, with the middle leg requiring each of us to drive down it in reverse.

    Thankfully it was a clean section of the trail, so it didn’t require spotters or tricky maneuvers (other than being backwards that is) to navigate.

    The descent in is rather steep, though the photos don’t quite do the trial justice. Like usual, its trickier than it appears.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 21 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 22 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 23 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The group patiently waiting as we each make our way down the reversed section

    [​IMG]_MG_1874 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_1886 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    After orienting ourselves back to the correct direction to continue along the rest of the trail, another drop was imminent.

    Nothing to worry about here, this is still the easy stuff!

    It’s hard to ignore the surrounding scenery here. It appears to be straight out of a movie or something. If you’ve never been here, add this place to your list.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 24 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    This section had to be completed in chunks due to the limited area to gather vehicles. As such, Alan waited above while we all spotted and guided one another along the entrance to this area.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 25 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Those extended travel, relocated, rear shocks making easy work of the trail. Just another modification to add to the never-ending list of upgrades. This hobby can cost a fortune if you want it to.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 26 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Brent keeping an eye on things.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 27 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 28 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_1890 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 29 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Tight corners galore, each of us tackling them in our own unique way.

    [​IMG]_MG_1902 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Are these trucks supremely photogenic, or is it just me? I can’t stand seeing photos of myself. But my truck? All day, everyday baby.

    [​IMG]_MG_1911 by Brent Prater, on

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 31 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_1917 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 32 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_1926 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Tricky section after tricky section pepper the start of Elephant Hill, though this isn’t the way the entire trail goes, as there are sandy sections once you get a bit deeper.

    Super happy to have a 2” lift and armor. Made it much less nerve wracking to tackle this entire trip, but especially on these hard rocky surfaces.

    [​IMG]_MG_1928 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_1948 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 34 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Chris makes easy work of every obstacle it seems. There must be something magical about 1st gens. Or perhaps Chris knows exactly what he is doing, 5 speed and all. Depends on who you ask I suppose.

    [​IMG]_MG_1957 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Staying protected from the sun was high on the list of priorities on this particular day. No natural shade forced us to take care of our skin on our own.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 35 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Can’t forget to take in those views, though there would be plenty of that later in the day.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 30 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 33 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Another particularly tricky section. The rock in the middle caused me to high center my rear diff, bringing my truck to an abrupt halt. A bit of wiggling and rock stacking got me over the hurdle. Dang 31.5’s limiting my capabilities. Next truck will be getting 33’s for sure.

    Will made easy work of it though.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 37 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_1964 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Will getting flexy

    [​IMG]_MG_1976 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 38 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Can’t miss an opportunity to make Will look good, as it doesn’t happen all that often. Haha!

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 39 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Alans turn

    [​IMG]_MG_1983 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 40 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Picking a different route

    [​IMG]_MG_1989 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Finally, it was Chris’s turn. No need to spot this guy, he just sends it.

    [​IMG]_MG_2001 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2003 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Brent getting nice and close for that optimal photo, a strategy I need to mimic in the future.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 41 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 42 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    After this was navigated by the group it was time for another very interesting section of the trail.

    The Devils Pocket. AKA The Squeeze. AKA you better have a small truck if you don’t want this to suck!

    Over the radio we hear Brent say, ‘3rd Gens, pull those mirrors in’. And that we did.

    From the get-go it appeared to be ridiculously tight

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 43 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    And for Brent it was. His fat 35’s causing him to find that fine balance between riding his passenger side up the wall just high enough while simultaneously keeping his GFC from scratching its way along the opposite rock. A thing that had apparently happened to some unlucky drivers as the wall had deep, expensive looking scratches along its length.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 44 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Next it was my turn. I was able to keep all 4 tires on the ground, removing the necessity to find that delicate balance of safety.

    [​IMG]_MG_2005 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2011 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Wills approach, a bit tighter for him as even though his 35’s are skinny, he is rocking spacers on his wheels

    [​IMG]_MG_2012 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    He opts for a more passenger side route compared to my more centralized choice

    [​IMG]_MG_2015 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Alan too scoots between the impressive hunks of rock

    [​IMG]_MG_2028 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Finally, Chris makes his way through, the ‘tiny’ 1st gen giving the illusion that this squeeze ain’t no squeeze at all.

    [​IMG]_MG_2036 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    We had picked up a Jeep behind us, which was traveling alone, so we all pulled over to allow him to pass. He was in a diesel Wrangler, on a very long road trip, just having a good old time. We wished him well and he went about his exploration.

    After this portion of the trail, the route opened up a bit, and we were greeted with fast, sandy two track for a while. A welcome break, no doubt, from the strenuous path we had taken since first leaving the parking lot hours ago.

    We wanted to make our way to the Confluence Overlook parking lot, a suitable place for lunch, and an exciting spot to take in after the short hike to its terminus.

    There wasn’t a lack of photo taking in the meantime though!

    [​IMG]_MG_2055 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    There was one final tricky section to navigate before we made it to the parking lot.

    The Silver Stairs. In hindsight, not that big of a deal, but while we were there, we made the most of it, picking the right line and giving others a spot or two during the descent.

    [​IMG]_MG_2068 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Alan taking it in

    [​IMG]IMG_0458 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    Brent making his way down

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 57 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    It’s steeper in person, I swear

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 58 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2056 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2063 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2066 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Wills truck making quick work of the section. It certainly helps to have all the cool goodies.

    [​IMG]_MG_2082 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Alans turn

    [​IMG]_MG_2113 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2115 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Chris rounded out the group

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 66 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2133 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2136 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    What a beautiful place to spend a couple of days

    [​IMG]_MG_2142 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    With that completed it was a quick drive to the parking lot for the Confluence Overlook. We arrived at 1145 and decided to hike out to the overlook before coming back and having lunch.

    The switch from driving mode to hiking mode took a few minutes, but we were soon on our way, the very short hike easy, the overhead sun adding the only challenge to this occasion.

    Another photo of the guys making their way along the easy-to-follow trail

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 71 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers. Little did we know that we would have an up close and personal interaction with both of these rivers in the coming days. But for now, it was interesting to see the two completely distinct looking rivers come together. I’ve only ever seen something like this on one other occasion, way up in Canada, where glacial water met the salty ocean.

    Very cool.

    [​IMG]_MG_2148 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    You can see the other two districts within Canyonlands from this vantage point. We will definitely have to visit those other two sections of the park, one that is very popular and well-traveled, with the other being far emptier and more treacherous.

    [​IMG]IMG_0475 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    Hiking trails work their way through this special place. It’s exciting that there are a variety of ways for people of all types to immerse themselves in this space.

    [​IMG]IMG_0478 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    We enjoyed this place for as long as we could, but we all were a bit hungry due to our early morning and mentally taxing travel that led us to this point. So, we quickly made our way back to camp towards some shade and some lunch.

    [​IMG]IMG_0487 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    Wrapping up another quick meal at 1 pm, with a quick check of the temperatures of the two coolers, we packed up our belongings and made our way towards our final challenge of the day: SOB Hill.

    Making our way there on the two track

    [​IMG]_MG_2159 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Was able to get a decent splash through a puddle, despite slowing down for it beforehand. Sometimes the truck just wants to get dirty.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 74 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The Jeep we saw earlier patiently waiting his turn on the one way road as Alan and Chris head his way

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 75 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 76 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    There was a small gathering of pictographs in this area, Chris being the only one who took any photos. It offered a bit of shade, which we all appreciated, as we psyched ourselves up to conquer SOB Hill, which was just down the road from where we were.

    [​IMG]IMG_0490 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    There are many ways to tackle SOB Hill, some involve the need for HC rear bumpers, while others require controlled maneuverability around a large boulder followed by a bit of reversing to clear the rock wall in front of you.

    We each took different routes based on our vehicles size and upgrades.

    No photos of Brent, as he was first in line. He had been here before, when his Tacoma had no suspension or tire upgrades, so I am sure it was a piece of cake with his current setup.

    I took a wide approach, one I would not mimic on the way out the following day, and made my way through the tight rocks and hard left hander with a bit of spotting from the guys

    [​IMG]_MG_2170 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Alan made his way cautiously, always keeping an eye and ear on his rear bumper caps.

    He had to put his trust in us, which was a good thing, as he would need to do that in a very tricky situation in the coming days, so this was good practice.

    Nice and close. Just what was needed. Working my DCLB through here one day in the future is going to be quite the challenge if this is what a DCSB has to do.

    [​IMG]_MG_2174 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Spotters on all sides kept the Tacoma safe from damage

    [​IMG]_MG_2175 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 78 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Chris was up next, and he and Will discussed the best line for the 1st gen to take. I think they missed the mark, but he made it through rather quickly, nonetheless.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 79 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    While that was happening, Alan was making his way down the easier portion of the hill to park his truck at the bottom and return to see the action up close.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 80 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Bobby Jo is just around the corner

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 81 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Chris began knocking out the turn

    [​IMG]_MG_2187 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2188 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Will brought up the end of the convoy, picking a very direct route due to his extensive modifications. Nothing to bang on when there is nothing there!

    Though I do think he touched his very HC rear bumper on the large boulder. Stock trucks simply cannot take the line he took without massive damage.

    [​IMG]_MG_2190 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2193 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 84 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Tires flexing, barely squeezing by, I see why this small hill has the name that it does. It’s a tricky SOB!

    [​IMG]_MG_2198 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    No Tacomas were harmed in the descent of this hill.

    [​IMG]_MG_2203 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2204 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    And just like that, we had tackled it all. All that was left was to boogie down this sandy road and pull into our reserved camp sites and get to relaxing!

    We passed Brent’s favorite rock in the entire park on the way to camp.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 3 - 87 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    It was 245 pm when we all pulled into the Bobby Jo campsites and positioned our trucks where we wanted them to be for the evening. We had reserved both sites, as there is a three-vehicle limit per site. The same individual cannot book multiple sites on the same night, so find a friend you trust to split up permit duties if your group size requires it.

    The views from this campsite were unparalleled. Simply beautiful. We continued to snap pictures throughout the afternoon and evening, as the ever-changing sun position cast shadows and reignited our desires to view the surrounding landscape.

    [​IMG]_MG_2207 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2212-Pano by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2230 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2231 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0506 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0511 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0517 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0521 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    We arrived at camp at the ideal time. We had an exciting day, but we still had plenty of time to explore the area surrounding our camp.

    With that, 4 of the 5 of us set off on a small hike to check out the only campsite nearby. Alan had a fairly nasty headache, so he stayed behind with the trucks and rested in the shade.

    We donned hats and water filled backpacks and headed out along the sandy road.

    Conversation ensued, all of us content with traveling slowly by foot, an entire day in our respective driver’s seats at an end.

    It wasn’t long before we found the campsite, a nice option if your group has 3 or fewer vehicles. The area surrounding this site was just as beautiful as our own, so we made our way down a trail towards a large flat rock where we all just plopped down and relaxed.

    We all appreciated the scenery and quiet in our own way. It was so immensely peaceful here that Will even zonked out, a half-eaten bag of sunflower seeds the only pillow he needed to head to snoozeville.

    We stayed there a long time, the moment simply too ideal to tarnish by leaving, or even thinking about leaving. It was another one of those moments, just like yesterday on the large rock outcropping, that are simply splendid in ways that words cannot describe. At least I can’t put together the words to fully encompass the scene.

    Peaceful and splendid our time on this random rock was. Though, like all good things, it eventually had to come to a close. We woke Will up, each of us laughing at his sleep, and made our way back to camp.

    It was still sunny when we arrived, the large rock hills not blocking the sun quite yet, so we had dinner and stacked up underneath Chris’ awning, his truck well-positioned to create a large swath of shade for us to enjoy.

    [​IMG]IMG_0522 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    I can’t remember for certain what we had for dinner, and I didn’t write it down, but I think it was spaghetti and sausage that Will had prepped at home. Either way, it was delicious, a great meal for a great day.

    The adventures weren’t over quite yet, the large rock hills surrounding camp offering excellent vantage points to take in the setting sun. Plus, Brent mentioned we might get a bar or two of signal up on top, like he did last time he was out here, so that was additional motivation to get up there. Southern Utah is beautiful, but it isn’t known for its strong, ever present cell phone signal.

    It was a fun, but easy, climb up the side of the rock. We all had a blast checking it out in the dimming light of the day.

    [​IMG]IMG_0526 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2240 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    I mean, come on. This almost feels as if it isn’t real.

    [​IMG]_MG_2254 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Dumbstruck by the sights, we all simply hung around, appreciating the moment and place in our own ways.

    It wasn’t too late before Brent pulled out his LPG fire ring, the only type of campfire allowed within Canyonlands, and we all got to sitting around the fire and continuing our conversations from earlier. The conversations primarily focused on the trails of the day, an obvious topic after traversing Elephant Hill. We also talked with Brent about the trail out of the park, which offered a different perspective on sections we had already bested in one direction.

    We were really getting in the swing of things here. Most previous trips we all had embarked on over the years would be coming to a close on this third night, with maybe one or one a half days of excitement left before we invariably headed home.

    But we were just getting started really. Many days of technical terrain and world-famous trails were still on our list. The flow of truck life setting in slowly but surely, not to be squandered away too quickly.

    I feel comfortable speaking for the others; we were all really digging this situation, the rigors of day-to-day life miles and miles away, lackadaisical, and carefree, doing our best to truly be in the moment.

    This is how things should be.

    And with that, this day came to a close. Another one that goes down in our personal history books as one of those days.
     
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2021
  5. Sep 28, 2021 at 5:02 PM
    #5
    Sixthelement

    Sixthelement Ran over a Yeti once, Texas, never again

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    We had some of the best laughs that 3rd night.
    Good times had and remembered.
     
  6. Sep 28, 2021 at 8:06 PM
    #6
    chrslefty

    chrslefty Well-Known Member

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    First gen's are magical, I might know what I'm doing , but it's fun to send it!

    Excellent reporting as always!! I definitely want to go through there again.
     
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  7. Sep 28, 2021 at 10:38 PM
    #7
    BalutTaco

    BalutTaco Moja_Przygoda

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    Awesome adventure!
     
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  8. Sep 28, 2021 at 11:07 PM
    #8
    That1GuyKev

    That1GuyKev Well-Known Member

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    Great read, thanks for sharing!
     
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  9. Sep 29, 2021 at 6:10 AM
    #9
    TailHook

    TailHook Aut Viam Inveniam Aut Faciam

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    Bunch-o-goodies
    But wait, there's more!
     
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  10. Sep 30, 2021 at 3:18 PM
    #10
    MR E30

    MR E30 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Day 4 –The Longest Mile

    I stirred softly in my tent, no light visible through the fabric that surrounded me, as I rolled over and my mind began wandering and thinking about the upcoming day. I did this for a minute or two before I realized something exciting.

    This was the fourth morning of our adventure, and we weren’t even halfway done yet. We still had many more exciting things to see, difficult roads to travel, and world-famous trails to conquer.

    It is difficult to convey, even as I do my best to create a trip report that is as all-encompassing as I possibly can, just how much we had already done. The photographs and well-written snippets about the trail just simply do not do the situation justice in regard to its sheer magnitude of stimuli.

    Realizing this, I let my mind relax, there was no rush this morning, and I drifted back to a calm sleep.

    I awoke sometime later, Alan and Chris already awake on the other side of camp, getting ready for the day.

    I made my way out of my tent, my usual list of morning chores now coming with ease. The motions became more fluid, I knew what had to happen and just did it without extra thought. Now, I could get used to living like this.

    I spent some time taking in the majesty of this place. It certainly is one of the top three most picturesque campsites I have stayed at, its eye-catching features impossible to replicate anywhere else.

    So did everyone else, the rock we climbed atop last night the perfect place to take a peek at our surroundings in the new light.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 1 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 2 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 3 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The Tacomas (even Alans to our surprise!) were starting to show signs of extended time on dirt. (Pardon the terrible shadows, was not in my more normal picture taking form it appears).

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 4 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 5 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 6 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 7 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 8 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Breakfast was another large affair, though this time we opted for sausage instead of bacon. I ate a massive portion and simply took my time getting ready and packed up. We had met our only hard deadline yesterday morning, and now the rest of the trip would arrive when it arrived, no time constraints to force our hand.

    With that being said, it seems like the natural flow of each of our routines has us all ready to get moving around 9 am. So, at 8:58 in the morning we were all loaded into our machines, radios on, ready to get a move on.

    The first part of our day would be spent exiting Elephant Hill, a path that would take us over many obstacles we had already faced yesterday. A portion of the trail into the park was one-way only, so we would be driving over new paths for a section of our drive to exit the park.

    Will @Sixthelement took the lead on the way out, resuming his trip leader role now that we would be exiting Canyonlands and traveling on another popular, yet not adequately represented, trail in this area of the world.

    The road between our camp and our first challenge was not devoid of interesting things to see. Nor was it all easy flowing stuff.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 9 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 10 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0568 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0574 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0580 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0583 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    Our first challenge was the one we had dealt with just prior to getting to camp: SOB Hill.

    This time in the upward direction.

    Brent @PcBuilder14 did not recall any specifics about his previous exit of this section of Elephant Hill, so we approached it with a low sense of difficulty. However, the rocks must have been stacked different or something, because it was a lot trickier than we had thought.

    Will was first, the 6 speed in his Tacoma forcing him to take a far different approach to many obstacles in order to avoid continuously stalling the truck. If you’re contemplating snagging a Tacoma with 3 pedals, just be wary that you have to drive far more aggressively than those of us with only 2 pedals. You’ve got to be comfortable with ‘sending it’ as they often say, or comfortable with giving your clutch a very thorough workout for something that comes relatively easy to an automatic.

    Alright, back to the hill. Will was up.

    Getting ready

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 11 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    This is a one-by-one section, so we all exited our trucks and began moving in to position to help as best we could.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 12 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    A few steep ledges force Will to keep the rpm’s high and to bump his way up the hill

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 13 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    He made it to the tight right-hander, opting to take the very direct route that had his passenger rear tire climb the vertical rock face on the inside of the corner.

    [​IMG]_MG_2263 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    With a solid bump, after receiving feedback that his front bumper would not contact the wall on his drivers front, he was up and over.

    [​IMG]_MG_2268 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Will exited the section and parked on an offshoot of dirt before heading back to help spot Alan @TailHook, who was next.

    I noticed a white 2-door Rubicon coming in from the opposite direction, so I waved them over and told them we would wait for them to travel down the hill, as we still had 4 trucks to go, and they were traveling alone.

    I asked if they needed a spot before I finally realized that they worked for the park itself and were in a government vehicle. They knew what they were doing.

    So, the group of us stood by as one spotted the other, the SWB Rubicon with its impressive approach and departure angles, making easy work of the section.

    They made their way down the hill before stopping and heading back up on foot to chat with our group for a minute or two. They were headed to Bobby Jo for the night to hike and camp, a cool perk for anyone who works for the NPS.

    I joked with Alan that the pressure was on for him to knock this thing out easily, as he was next in line, and we now had two attractive witnesses to whatever may occur.

    Thankfully for us all, they said their goodbyes and made their way off into the distance before Alan could begin his ascent. One that proved most tricky for him.

    The automatic was able to take a more sensible line up the hill

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 16 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Alan began his attempt in the forward direction, but he continuously got caught up on his skids, sliders, and rear diff. Despite taking the best line we could guide him towards he wasn’t able to cross over the main obstacle in the turn. He even came down HARD on his slider at one point, something I personally felt bad about, even though that’s exactly what sliders are for and there was no damage of any kind.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 18 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2280 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 19 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    He was about to back all the way down, to turn around and back all the way up, before I suggested he pull forward into the small area right near the tight corner, and back up just through this small section, as he would be able to approach the corner in a much easier manner.

    He agreed, not too psyched about trying to back all the way up the beginning of the hill.

    No one captured any photos of this part, all of us too focused on keeping Alan in the right place to avoid any damage to his Tacoma.

    Surprisingly, this reversed approach was very simple. I’d keep this in my back pocket in case I ran into the same troubles as Alan.

    Brent was next. A gentle and thoughtful approach would be best for this situation, though Brent was far more of an “I got this” kind of guy. But each situation is different and requires different techniques to master.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 20 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    As he ascended, I was able to run around the front of his truck and capture some serious stuff-age as he filled his front wheel well completely with tire and rim. The air pressure was just right, low enough to really conform to those rocks while high enough to not threaten a de-bead.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 21 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Another trust exercise followed where Brent had to simply trust both Will and I as we informed him about the tiny clearance his front bumper had with the rock wall. He had to be as gentle as possible, any sudden lurch or tire slippage could send plastic to meet rock. And we all knew who would win that encounter.

    We did right by him, and he did right by us, as he literally squeaked by, with less than one inch to spare as he eased his way around.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 22 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Three down, two to go.

    Chris @chrslefty was next. We all knew what he would do. Straight line approach with copious use of the skinny pedal and his armor to get the job done.

    On the approach

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 23 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Staying tight to the inside of the corner

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 24 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Time to climb. Chris had never come across an obstacle he couldn’t best, and today would be no different.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 25 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2285 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    The massive vertical rock was no challenge for Chris. He was quickly up and over, though he had to face the same issue that Brent did.

    Will and I watched very intently as Chris leaned hard out of his window to watch his tube bumper literally bend its way out of the way, his turn signal a mere 1/4” away from the wall.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 26 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Phew! That was close!

    [​IMG]IMG_0592 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    And now it was time for the least equipped Tacoma to give the corner a shot.

    I walked down the hill knowing I could use the Alan method to get through, but as I sat at the bottom, engaged 4Lo, the rear locker, and the most aggressive MTS setting I knew I was going to give the corner hugging route a shot. I mean, why not. It’s my last time doing any serious wheeling with this truck, might as well give it a proper sendoff!

    Up I went, slowly and carefully.

    I approached the corner, swinging wide driver initially before cutting hard passenger to approach the turn as straight on as I could. I wanted to avoid climbing the face of the vertical rock in its entirety, opting to catch the edge of it if I could.

    [​IMG]IMG_0587 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    Will keeping an eye on the underside

    [​IMG]_MG_2291 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    I bumped the vertical rock aggressively before my front end came precariously close, or so I thought, to the rock wall. The guys assured me I had plenty of space, so I rolled backwards every so slightly before once again stepping on the skinny pedal, Tacoma and man bouncing their way to victory.

    I was impressed. 31.5’s be hailed. I can still hang with the big dogs out here. Super glad to be armored almost everywhere except for the rear bumper. While I don’t recommend it, I’d be thoroughly impressed if someone attempted to come through in a fully stock Tacoma. Would be a sight to see.

    This section completed, we continued on, plenty of driving to still be completed before the days end.

    What follows is a compilation of three guys taking photos as we made our way out of Elephant Hill.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 27 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 28 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2310 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2317 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0601 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0613 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0619 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0624 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0630 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 29 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 30 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 32 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 33 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 35 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    We renegotiated the zig zag section, this time reversing the same middle section, but in the opposite direction. Little fanfare once again, we all made it through just fine.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 36 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 37 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 38 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 39 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 40 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0635 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0642 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0645 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    I was still bringing up the rear, and as we were exiting the zig zag section Will radioed that there was a group of Jeeps waiting for us at the top.

    The trail was far too tricky to simply bumble along, so they all patiently waited as I worked my way up to the top. It was convenient timing really, as they were able to make their way down the zig zag and we were able to make our way down the entrance/exit back to the parking lot.

    We made our way down, one by one.

    [​IMG]IMG_0655 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 42 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 43 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Brent, Chris, and I patiently waiting our turn, as another group of Jeeps far below patiently wait for all 5 of us to exit. Will would courteously blocked the entrance, informing the group of Jeeps that 4 more were still to follow.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 44 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Will knocking out the turnaround with ease.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 45 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Alan taking the flexy line down

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 46 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 47 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 48 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 49 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 50 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0671 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0672 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    We all arrived at the bottom safely, no worse for wear, and Will enthusiastically shoots his arms up in the air and proudly exclaims ‘Elephant Hill, we did it guys!’

    Yes, yes, we did. Definitely a place to return to one day, hopefully not too far into the future, as it is a whole lot of fun packed into a single package.

    And with that, we loaded up and made our way out of Canyonland National Park.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 51 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0679 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 54 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    It was time to make our way to our next challenge: Lockhart Basin Road (LHBR)

    We watched some reviews of this trail on YouTube prior to adding it to our trip, and to put it mildly, the reviews were wayyyyyy off base.

    They all displayed footage of rather simple rock formations to wheel over and described the trail as ~76 miles of easy to travel two track, with one more difficult mile at the end of the trail as you near Hurrah Pass.

    Alright, easy enough we thought. Should be a piece of cake. Ah, to realize how incorrect we were at that point in time. LHBR was about to test our patience, mental fortitude, spotting abilities, and the reliability and toughness of our 4 wheeled machines.

    But first, we had to get there.

    Shortly after leaving Canyonlands, we took a left hand turn back to dirt. The pavement section was so short that none of us aired up as it wasn’t worth the time or effort.

    As you can see in the photo, the left-hand turn is a few hundred yards outside of the NP.

    [​IMG]IMG_0681 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    We hit the dirt outside of Canyonlands at noon. An unlocked, but closed, gate gave us access to the dirt road we needed to travel.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 55 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    It was apparent that no one had traveled the trail we were on in quite some time. Gaia would lend us confidence, keeping us on track and monitoring our progress along the way.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 56 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 57 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    While mostly sandy two track, there were sections where the elevation changed suddenly, and rocky steps were exposed to the light of day.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 58 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2339 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0693 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    Travel was easy going through these parts, and the scenery paled in comparison to where we had recently been, so we all mainly focused on our driving.

    We did lose the trail at 12:20 in the afternoon, what must have been a large rainstorm at some point in the past washing away a small portion of the trail, requiring us to venture on foot to determine our route.

    It turned out the trail went into a wash, and we were able to quickly find the remnants of the trail that would lead us down into it. It was unremarkable, though it was fairly off camber in one long section, putting the sandy ground just outside of our drivers’ windows.

    [​IMG]IMG_0700 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    We continued on, problem-free and carefree. Well, for now, at least.

    We hadn’t officially started LHBR at this point, rather, we were on our way to it.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 59 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 60 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 61 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    The trail crossed numerous washes, some of which had steeper exits. A bit of bouncing and a bit of throttle had them all negotiated as we each made our way through.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 63 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    We exited the wash and climbed a steep portion of the trail next to an interesting looking cutout in the rocks.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 64 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 65 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Naturally, we all stopped to investigate.

    [​IMG]IMG_0710 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    What we found was pretty darn interesting. Two separate caves, man-made in their appearances, one very small, while the other was fairly large.

    [​IMG]IMG_0718 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    And cut right into the larger one?

    Quite the table setup, with an incredible view!

    [​IMG]_MG_2363 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Had we not already had a lunch stop planned at Pelican Arch just up ahead, we would have had lunch here in the cave. And maybe we should have, as it was an excellent respite from the ever-blazing sun on this 90+ degree day. I will most certainly be back one day to have some sort of meal in this splendid location.

    We explored all we could, soaking in the scenery that our now elevated position offered us, before saddling up once again and heading over to our lunch time arch.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 66 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 67 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    We arrived at Pelican Arch, a tiny arch, but an arch nonetheless, where we parked, ate a quick lunch, and then explored.

    [​IMG]IMG_0729 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0732 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    The various rocks in the area gave ample places to climb, all while avoiding stepping on or near the arch, another thing you simply do not do with fragile formations such as these.

    [​IMG]IMG_0730 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    Fairly photogenic I might add

    [​IMG]IMG_0734 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    Awnings were rolled up as we all got ready to drive once more. We wanted to camp somewhere along LHBR this evening, and there were promising offshoots to explore before we wanted to end the day. After leaving our lunch spot we only had to travel .5 miles before reaching LHBR. Time to get this sucker started!

    [​IMG]IMG_0738 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    A lack of impressive views was not a problem of the afternoon, LHBR really bringing it, especially if this is the type of rock/scenery you like to look at. Similar views to these would follow us the entire length of the road, only ending once we arrived at Hurrah Pass.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 68 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 69 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 70 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Our first offshoot arrived before we knew it. Tacomas sure do dress up a landscape.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 71 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 72 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2375 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2378 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2390 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2393 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2398 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    The route out was actually a bit trickier that I would have thought, a portion of the trail forcing us a bit off camber all while navigating along a small ridgeline. The occasional imperfection in the trail, mainly by large rocky areas, forced us to the very outside of the path.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 73 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    We passed an old dirt air strip, stopped, and commented on how practical it must have been to use. We only noticed it because it was on Gaia, it now has no noticeable markings to alert passersby as to its presence.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 74 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 75 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    We were heading towards an overlook of the Colorado River. Going a bit out of the way to view a river, as we don’t have too many of those here in the southwest, is never a waste of time in my experience.

    Plus, it gave us a chance to get off our behinds and onto our feet for a bit, the old vehicle trail now fenced off away from the rocky edge. It’s obvious that the trail used to go all the way to the end, but preservation needs or past poor use practices by others have caused the change.

    The hike and driven offshoot were well worth it, our elevated placement over the river adding to its majesty

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 76 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 77 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 78 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Chris doing his thing

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 79 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Back on the main trail, we headed towards our hopeful home for the evening, a campsite located right next to the Colorado River. Camping by a river is always a huge plus, so I was excited for us to make our way down there to experience it myself.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 80 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    On the way we passed a Super Duty Ford, which was the home base for a large group of mountain bikers who were traversing LHBR on two wheels.

    We didn’t stop and chat, though they did watch us take our left hand turn to head down towards the river.

    The offshoot attempted to tell us that future travels along this route may not be the easiest, as shortly after we made the left-hand turn, we had to skirt a very large washed-out portion of the trail. A washout that consumed ~75% of the trail, forcing us to get way off camber, pressing our highly loaded tires directly into the unstable ground.

    Flashbacks to being somewhere else in southern Utah flashed through my mind as I approached, but we all made it without any issue.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 81 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    What follows is a bit of heartbreak. Will was in the lead as we followed the ~4-mile sandy trail down to the river. I was in the rear, traveling at a leisurely pace when I heard Will chirp over the radio that the trail ahead was very washed out.

    The entire road had disappeared in fact. Unpassable by our machines.

    Being in the rear, I checked Gaia and noticed an alternate route around the mess that would add another 1.5 miles to our journey. I turned around and found the intersection of the side trail on the map. It was at the top of a very steep, very sandy, hill side.

    However, after several of us made it to the top we realized the trail simply disappeared, its termination a literal cliff.

    Oh well. Reality set in that we wouldn’t be able to camp down by the river, so we came up with a Plan B. High tail it back to LHBR and find a place to camp along its length, preferably with some shade.

    So that’s what we did, retraveling the earlier washout, this time leaning precariously in the other direction, before reconnecting with LHBR.

    This is where LHBR started to deviate from the pleasant drive preached in a YouTube video or two.

    We stopped traveling along a wide, flat area between the ridge to our right and the valley to our left, rather we began to travel along more narrow shelf roads that also happened to be much rockier than earlier.

    Travel began to get more tedious. It was near 4:30 at this point, and most of us were done driving for the day. So, finding camp was priority number one.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 82 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    We eventually rounded a tight corner and found ourselves on the backside of a ridge, the comfort of shade apparent as we drove along.

    The road was only a car width wide in most places, so we needed a flat spot to pull off on to.

    Thankfully, we found one that was just barely big enough not too far along. It was 5:32 when all of us were backed in, the fronts of our Tacomas at the roads edge, all parked directly next to one another. You may be able to squeeze in another truck or two if you really tried, but we were already cozy enough.

    [​IMG]_MG_2438 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    As is typical of me, after setting up my tent and organizing things, I left Will to prepare our “Taco Tuesday cooked out of the back of a Taco” dinner as I went to scramble around on the rocks above.

    Despite it being later, I was full of energy, so I quickly made my way up the hill, scrambling and climbing rock, and snapped a photo of the group from above.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 83 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    I very quickly made my way around the slightly flat spot I found myself on and carefully slid my way out on to the end of a jutted rock, trusting it to hold me in the air as I took in my surroundings from this new position.

    Brent snapped a photo, as did I.

    [​IMG]_MG_2429 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 84 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Will noticed me while sitting on this particular rock, far away from where I had just been after leaving camp, and shouted ‘How the @$!&!’ when he saw where I was currently at.

    We all laughed, and I had the sudden desire to get as high up the hill as I could as fast as I could. So, I set off sprinting, in a mad dash to climb my way up this thing until I was thoroughly out of breath.

    I made it wayyyy up there, exhausted, and snapped a poor photo of our camp in relation to LHBR

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 4 - 86 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    I waved, the second ‘How the @$!&!’ from Will was barely audible, and I knew I had gone far enough. Dinner was probably ready, and I had to get back down to the bottom, a task that would much longer than the ascent.

    I eventually did just that, the tacos were delicious as we sat around a real wood fire this evening.

    Excellent conversation was had, a bit of it powered by dark beer and Crown Royal, between a group of friends who had spent a lot of time around one another these past few days.

    The sun slowly set, the light and warmth from the fire sustaining our evening chat for hours and hours. The latest night of the trip if I recall correctly, ending just before 11 pm.

    Not a care though. The morning was not going to be a rushed one, so we all enjoyed every minute.
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2021
  11. Sep 30, 2021 at 5:50 PM
    #11
    TailHook

    TailHook Aut Viam Inveniam Aut Faciam

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    You took basically the same line on SOB Hill that I did, @MR E30, but without dropping into that hole...amazing what 6 inches will do!

    TWSS :rimshot:

    ETA: And the 2 occupants of the gubmint Jeep were female...very attractive ones at that, too
     
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2021
  12. Sep 30, 2021 at 7:29 PM
    #12
    Sixthelement

    Sixthelement Ran over a Yeti once, Texas, never again

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    My additions to Day 4:
    As you can see. We all woke and got going quite early, right before if not right at sunrise.
    Which was pretty awesome to watch btw.
    We knew we had SOB hill to deal with again on the way out. We dealt with it; me with a more direct approach which PCBuilder and ChrisLefty would also follow suit. TailHook's reverse approach. While interesting and almost hilarious to watch. Just worked. Pretty damn well too. So, dont knock it.
    The rest of the way out of Canyonlands to Elephant hill was fairly uneventful. As obstacles we had spotted the day before were pretty much auto pilot on the way back through again.
    Now, Elephant hill. While not terribly difficult is HIGHLY Technical. What the pictures cant convey is your climbing ledges at an already 20* degree up bubble angle. Plus having to bump up more ledges. So much so at one point Tailhook thought he was literally going to roll backwards onto his roof.
    There are some spots that a while doing all that, you still have to make a 2 point turn uphill. Pucker moments.

    So, once out of the park. I had found the day before a "Short Cut" to Pelican Arch that meets right up with Lockhart Basin road (LBR).
    Well, "Short Cuts" as we know, dont always work. This one definitely did work, but almost didnt. A
    As soon I turned onto the track. I could immediately tell, NO ONE has been on here in a long time. The track didnt even have faded indentations of prior tire tracks. Which in one way is fun and exciting to explore very low traveled places. Another is, well GAIA and old two tracks dont always jive up.
    There was a few times I would have to pause and take a look to verify where we were going was the legit trail. Even confusing at times.
    Then, there was the part where we had to take a left out of a rocky wash through a canyon. While, I just said F it and went. It was a very tight trail with some mud that. Didnt make some people happy. /oh my/
    Found the cave, cool spot. Should have stayed there for lunch. But we decided the arch is only like 2 miles away. Why not have lunch under and arch?
    Well, Pelican Arch is cool; but underwelming for a "epic lunch spot"
    As we were, time to hit the LBR.

    Started off as worn 2 track. Nothing crazy or wild. Only a few miles to the turn off to a "hidden airstrip". Again, interesting on WTF or why it was made in the first place. But, remnants are there.
    Finished that track towards the lookout. Which puts you on a 2 track the rides the tops of some of these hills. With some very very close precariously ledges.
    Finding out that we couldnt drive all the way to the lookout was a surprise. But, according to GAIA the lookout was 1500ft away. As the crow flies.
    That was determined to be a lie.
    Probably closer to half a mile hike. However worth it. If your there, Do It.

    From here we had 4miles back to LBR. Which went fairly quickly. As I decided well, I'm going to see how well this mid travel rear with 12" shocks will do in the rear. Was fun 7/10.
    Then we turned left. /sigh
    This road. Dont believe the lies or the videos. It aint quick 2track.
    So, it has large enough rocks and random drops in the trail if you do want to go fast. You better have the suspension for it. If not, going to a bad day.
    There will be times, come up to a hill. Steep rocky climb, climb crest and its 18" waterfall stepped rocks on the way down for 20ft. Which being in the lead. I uhhh, found some the hard way. Immediately yelling over the radio. Slow down or take it left or right or whichever way would be easier. So, with obstacles like this continuously throughout the day. It wears on you, mentally.
    So, finally we got close to the turn off to the river.
    Which we all highly anticipated. Because, damn it would be cool as hell to camp on the river.
    As said, we came up on the left and hit our first warning to stop.
    The road was really washed out bad. Almost impassable, but with the possible trade off for the camp spot. We figured it out and went for it.
    Ran into a few more steep drops and climbs in and out of cross washes.
    Then, the road was gone. Think the start of the next Grand Canyon gone. So, we had to turn around. Mike was in the rear to check the possible by pass. Which ended up as a big NO.

    So, at this point were all tired mentally and physically from the road so far. We checked out the map for possible turn offs to camp sites. Which again were so far gone or not traveled that we'd be making trail to "follow" the trail.
    We continued on while everyone was looking for something. Then the call came on the radio. We might end up short on gas range.
    No Bueno. Not good. Were about halfway on this road, we have 30miles left going north. Or its 40miles or so south, plus the trek back east to Montecillo for fuel.
    I called a short meeting for all of us to decide the path to take. Do we continue north or cut our losses and turn around.
    Unanimously was to continue north. Which we did. There was a few spots pointed out on the map for us to check.
    Which, the road didnt even go there. So, no go on those.
    The road turned into a very rocky climb now. Eventually I ran into that flat spot. Which was very welcomed as a place to stop and worked perfect for camp.

    Yes, we were right on the road. But at this point? Who in their right mind would be on this road? Like really?
    It worked out. Mike did his Spiderman shit up the rocks. I cracked the Crown, made Tacos. Out of my now defunct IceCo fridge.

    It was a long day in the end. A very welcomed night to try to unwind from that day.

    Did that day suck? Kinda. Would I do it again? Most Certainly.
    The experiences and friendships made on this trip were worth everything done.
     
  13. Oct 1, 2021 at 6:14 AM
    #13
    chrslefty

    chrslefty Well-Known Member

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    If we're adding stuff. I think what was left out and a awesome memory to me .the first night at camp hearing the boom from the storm further north echoing through the canyon while we sat around the camp fire.
     
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  14. Oct 1, 2021 at 8:04 AM
    #14
    MR E30

    MR E30 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Definitely add what I forgot!

    @chrslefty I completely forgot about that. And our chats about stars and the universe. All good stuff.
     
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  15. Oct 1, 2021 at 8:06 AM
    #15
    MR E30

    MR E30 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Haha that's what she said!

    And yes, yes they were. I was on the fence about how to best include their brief interaction with us, opted to play it safe and keep the finer details a secret. Haha
     
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  16. Oct 1, 2021 at 8:39 AM
    #16
    MR E30

    MR E30 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    You're just a handful of photos away from having your own report! Good stuff my friend.

    I'm going to intimately describe the condition of the 'road' in the fifth days report, as that is when it really got to me.

    Stay tuned.
     
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  17. Oct 1, 2021 at 9:34 AM
    #17
    TailHook

    TailHook Aut Viam Inveniam Aut Faciam

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    Bunch-o-goodies
    Just don't make me sound like I'm some boot wheeler again, though...

    :quickdraw:

    ...I just try not to fuck my shit up!
     
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  18. Oct 1, 2021 at 9:36 AM
    #18
    MR E30

    MR E30 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    Lol, wasn't my intention, your shit is just the prettiest out of the group. Wasn't overly excited about telling you to just 'send it' like I would with Will or Chris.
     
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  19. Oct 1, 2021 at 9:41 AM
    #19
    TailHook

    TailHook Aut Viam Inveniam Aut Faciam

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    lol...all good, brother!

    I met my goal of no body damage for this trip...came close to rolling backwards bumping that double ledge exiting Elephant Hill, though...won't be forgetting that anytime soon.

     
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  20. Oct 1, 2021 at 3:25 PM
    #20
    MR E30

    MR E30 [OP] Well-Known Member

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    2021 Silver TRD OR DCLB w/ AluCab
    Day 5 –The Longest Mile

    The fifth day. It started like each of the previous four mornings had, though it most certainly wouldn’t end like the previous days had.

    Nope. This day was one of those days that tests you. One of those days that brings your weaknesses to the forefront of the conversation. One of those days where driving just a few feet feels like a victory as sweet as apple pie. One of those days where the end can’t come quite soon enough.

    Let’s see what I mean.

    First thing in the morning, once again strolling around in my boxers, mountain bikers slowly pedal their way along LHBR past our camp. They stop and chat with us for a few minutes, a welcome break from pedaling, I am sure. We talk with them about how each of our groups are using LHBR, among other things.

    They are quickly off, and we are back to our routines. Tea, breakfast, getting dressed, packing up the tents, #poowithaview, all the normal morning tasks.

    Being camped right on the side of the road didn’t make for a leisurely morning, the situation not nearly as relaxing or calm inducing as some of our previous mornings, so we were all packed up and on the road at 8:13 in the morning.

    This would turn out to be a good thing, as today would not end until after the sun had set.

    There were sights galore, but the trail demanded all of our attention.

    It had started the day prior, a little ways before we reached our roadside campsite, but today would be nothing but slow, technical sections, one after the other.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 1 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 2 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2450 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    The scenery was still very enticing, when we could take our eyes off of the road long enough to actually appreciate it.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 3 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    It wasn’t long before we heard Will @Sixthelement come over the radio and say, ‘Hold up, have to hop out and check this one out’, which led to most of us exiting our trucks and taking a look for ourselves.

    Yep, we would be taking this section one by one.

    I lost track of the number of times we all hopped out of our Tacomas to go investigate some set of stairs or a steep ledge that we either had to descend or ascend.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 4 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 5 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Will helping Alan @TailHook not make the same mistake he had made. It’s probably a good thing that we had the most capable truck out in front. It most easily handles unseen drops and tricky spots encountered with a bit too much speed!

    [​IMG]IMG_0829 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    This continued like this, over and over again. There definitely would not be long periods of sitting in our drivers’ seats on this day. Every 5 minutes we were out watching someone drive over some tricky rock section.

    [​IMG]_MG_2470 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    The pictures don’t do this justice, but all over the ‘road’ (big problem with calling this thing a road, as it is really an unmaintained trail for 1/3rd of its length. I feel bad for any regular person who sees Lockhart Basin Road on Google and decides to try to bypass an accident or something. Will not end well for them.) were inconveniences where 4lo needed to be engaged, light use of the throttle, a bump of skids and sliders here and there. I even had to bump my front skid hard once, sending my two front tires into the air, to conquer a particular ledge.

    Already, just an hour in, we were beginning to get tired of this type of travel. While we certainly are capable, we aren’t rock crawlers. We’re overlanders, and this trail was pushing us outside of that realm.

    Anyways, enough complaining, we had to move.

    Our gas situation here was under fire as well. Chris @chrslefty had already added 5 gallons of his spare fuel to his gas tank the previous evening. Alan @TailHook was concerned about fuel as well. Will had added fuel to his tank as well already, not entirely sure on Brent @PcBuilder14. I had plenty of fuel, one of the benefits of running 31.5’s I suppose and was carrying an extra seven gallons on my bedrack that I was happy to share.

    We weren’t in any position where we would be at risk of death out here, but it was a legitimate concern for our group. Exciting, in a weird way, as I have never been so far off the beaten path for so long that paying close attention to my fuel gauge was something I would have to do.

    It’s a good test, and good preparation, for when I invariably conquer The Maze District of Canyonlands, a place where only the strongest survive.

    Once again, the trail stops us dead in our tracks.

    [​IMG]IMG_0848 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 6 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Inch by inch we moved along. Teamwork makes the dream work as they say, each of us spotting one another along.

    [​IMG]_MG_2491 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2524 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2537 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Several skids and sliders were most definitely harmed in the making of todays trip report. Thankfully, all rear bumper caps were spared, though so many times were they mere centimeters away from damage. There were so many close calls.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 7 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2559 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    A picture from farther away might show it better. This was typical. Big drops, crawling down vertical or near vertical rock faces again and again. Brakes locked up, only to be released to the point of creaking, our trucks barely moving as we moved slowly along the route.

    [​IMG]IMG_0849 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0850 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0852 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    Up and over, more times than I care to remember. Each time slightly different than all of the others. Each time we slowed to a crawl and switched that knob to 4lo to get the job done without unnecessary bouncing or damage.

    [​IMG]_MG_2582 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2587 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Every now and then we would hear Will blurt out over the radio ‘STAY TO THE LEFT’ as he undoubtedly struggled to keep his radio up to his mouth long enough to get the words out as he bounced down a particular descent.

    Except we were so spread out at points that I had no clue which of the dozens of drops he might have been talking about. This is the land where an anytime front camera shines the brightest.

    A common sight. Inch by inch. Can’t stress this enough. LHBR is not for the faint of heart. And it gets worse before it gets better. Way worse.

    [​IMG]_MG_2591 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2600 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    We would occasionally come across a flat sandy sections, our hopes rising as we dropped into 2hi and took in the comfort of the smooth, faster than 1 mph travel that such a road affords.

    But it was always short lived. Too short lived in my opinion. We knew how many miles of the trail were left, so any chunk of it that could be done at speed was well appreciated.

    In one of these sections, we found a very old and destroyed travel trailer, slowly rotting away in the sun. We checked it out for a minute, glad to not be focusing on driving carefully for a while, before moving on.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 9 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    On we pressed

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 10 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 11 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    At 10:26 we came across a young man beginning to filter water for his pack out of a very muddy puddle in the middle of the trail.

    Not having any of that, Will pulled over and filled up the guy’s backpack with water from his spare container.

    [​IMG]IMG_0855 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    This led the five of us to talk with the two hikers. They were part of a group hiking from Moab to Mexico, on foot, carrying all they need on their backs. We naturally had a lot of questions for them, and the two of them had a lot of questions for us.

    A nice, pleasant crossing of paths out in the middle of nowhere. This is another one of those wonderful parts of adventuring.

    We bid them adieu and got back on our way. I was half tempted to ask them what the travel had been like from the end of LHBR to where we met them, but that usually isn’t a good idea in my experience. People rate things too subjectively, and I may get my hopes up.

    So, I kept my mouth shut and hopped back in the truck.

    As the meme with Kylo Ren goes, the trail hollered out “MORE. MOOOOOREEEEEEE!”, never relenting for more than 1/4 mile at a time.

    [​IMG]IMG_0857 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0859 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 15 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 12 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 13 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 14 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0867 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0881 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0886 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    I had lost all track of time at this point. Lunch occurred somewhere, as I distinctly recall a lack of shade while sweating my butt off. But that was it. The trail was all consuming. No excess mental energy available for trivial things such as time.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 15 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 16 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Man was I glad, as I walked around the corner and saw what was ahead of us, that all of us were damn fine drivers, comfortable behind the wheel of our respective vehicles, capable of putting in the control necessary to get down this nasty, nasty, wash.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 17 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Because we were in for a doozie of a time. I’m talking a full spot for ~1/3rd mile, truck by truck, all the way to a ‘flat’ spot we determined we would get everyone too.

    This was just the first stop on this section of the trail.

    We had reached it: The Longest Mile. And it was nothing like what we had been led to believe.

    Phew. Big boy pants time.

    We needed legitimate spotting here. No quiet eye watching from the sidelines. We needed an engaged spotter, capable of watching and guiding others along.

    And, for some reason, I thought that should be me. Haha Nobody else was jumping at the opportunity, and it most certainly had to be done.

    Definitely not inexperienced in the slightest, but I’ve never really spotted someone through something this treacherous.

    No matter. Slow and steady wins the race.

    Except the first truck to descend had three pedals. Trying to get Will to coax his truck forward two inches before going hard passenger to take the perfect line just wasn’t plausible. They’re too hard to drive to be driven like that.

    Thankfully his Tacoma is armored to the teeth, very little to destroy. Plus, he seems to like beating the piss out of his truck. So, he was the perfect starter truck.

    The pictures do not do this place a single bit of justice. You’ll just have to believe me. I mean, lifted and on 35’s, and riding the skids was the only way down. Come on. Is this 37 or 40” tire territory? Maybe, but here we were, much too far down the trail to turn around now. It had to be done. Had this section occurred anywhere else along this trail, other than the last mile, I would have turned around.

    But not this day.

    Time to saddle up.

    Entrance into the wash. You must straddle the central boulder. It’s the best line, despite it looking like total crap. Believe me, we checked.

    [​IMG]_MG_2635 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2642 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Knocking out that first 30 feet was quite the achievement. 5,250 feet to go.

    Deeper and deeper we went.

    [​IMG]_MG_2649 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Then it was Alans turn. And the need to both spot and drive with pinpoint accuracy was the top priority here. Alans’s truck is beautiful, and he is not a fan of bashing his Tacoma to get it to where it needs to be, and I knew this.

    So, we worked together in damn near perfect harmony, Alan driving like a pro while I was shouting and guiding him along inch by slow inch. So many times his wheels were perfectly placed that they just avoided boulders and stones and scrapes and bangs.

    In a situation like this, a good spotter/driver relationship is as follows:

    - Driver has no music playing, both front windows down

    - Two hands on the wheel, low range on the transfer case

    - Spotter should use VERY loud voice commands to communicate what needs to happen

    - The driver needs to fully trust the spotter (hardest bullet by far in my opinion)

    - The spotter needs to confirm the drivers input with a loud verbal response. I would constantly yell out ‘YEP!’ when Alan had turned the wheel far enough or descended something tricky. This confirmation to the driver is paramount in my opinion.

    - Have a secondary spotter in the rear who only chimes in if the rear end is going to do something unsavory. Receiving input from one individual is also paramount to success.

    With these in mind, Alan and I worked together to get his truck out of this mess.

    SSCCCRRRREEEEEEEE! Skids and sliders both earning their keep today.

    [​IMG]_MG_2659 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2661 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2677 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    SLOW! I would yell. SLLOOOOOWWWWW Alan. Go passenger. YEP! Passenger is going to climb; driver is still flat. Right after passenger climbs driver will drop.

    It went on like this for ~35 minutes. Literally inch by inch. But we kept after it.

    [​IMG]_MG_2680 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Straddling a small gully

    [​IMG]_MG_2706 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    We realized, after Will and Alan had reached the spot we thought would be able to house all of the Tacomas, that we would not all fit. So, we scouted ahead on foot, finding a much larger area to congregate at.

    Not wanting to rush, we guided both trucks down to this new stopping spot one at a time.

    [​IMG]_MG_2711 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    The pictures got a bit sparse here. Other things to focus on it seems.

    But we all worked together, each of us descending as we best see fit, Brent and Chris taking a quicker pace down the wash.

    [​IMG]_MG_2729 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Chris keeping it lively!

    [​IMG]_MG_2732 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0910 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    You just have to ride this part out

    [​IMG]IMG_0911 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0920 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 25 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 26 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Everyone made it out undamaged. Well, except for me.

    Turns out, transfer case skids are very, very handy.

    Because, if I had had one, I would not have torn off my transfer case actuator on that first large boulder.

    I shattered the case, and now my Tacoma was stuck in 4lo.

    Excellent. This would be slow going.

    Will also gave a high rock ledge a nice kiss with his passenger taillight, cracking the outer lens into pieces. Thankfully his fender was spared somehow. Magic really. And now his passenger taillight matches his drivers taillight, both shattered from tricky trails.

    Thoroughly warn out at this point in time, all we really wanted to do was to relax a bit. It had taken over 2.5 hours to get 5 trucks to travel just a single mile.

    We all had this feeling that we just didn’t want to be on this road anymore. Normally, I would have pushed for us to stop at a camp, but I too just wanted this behind me.

    We pressed on, still plenty of daylight left, it had just been a long day.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 27 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    We leave the tricky stuff and its time to get my truck out of 4lo. I announce this over the radio and Will finds a flat spot to get underneath my truck.

    We pull the actuator and manually move the shaft into the 4hi position. Alright, I can at least go more than 12 mph now. Except unplugging the actuator gave the truck a heart attack, and it would incessantly notify me of a 2wd-4wd Mode Change Failure. Yeah, yeah, I get it. Now shut up.

    But it didn’t. At least it didn’t throw me in to limp mode. Apart from the error message the truck drove as normal.

    We continued. Hurrah Pass now directly in front of us as we passed Chicken Corners.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 28 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    Hurrah Pass was interesting, but I personally was pretty wore out at this point, so I didn’t appreciate it as I might have had I viewed it with fresh eyes. I’m sure I’ll see this place again, so I am not worried.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 29 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0939 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    [​IMG]IMG_0941 by chrslefty, on Flickr

    We eventually, and I mean wayyyy later than I would have liked, reached pavement. Oh sweet, sweet pavement. Blissful really. Except of course for the fact that I had to get under my truck and force the shaft into the 2wd position, front ADD still locked into 4wd. But whatever. Life moves on.

    Cruising down the asphalt, I suddenly thought about Danny @Sapnjack, who would be joining us for the remainder of the trip.

    And right as I was thinking about how we were going to let him know we had finished Hurrah Pass; he came over the radio!

    Quite the coincidence I must say. Or maybe not. I don’t know.

    Either way, we now increased our number to 6.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 30 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    And it was time for gas. And some more food. And more ice for Will and I, his fridge cooler not doing all that good of a job. Will had been communicating with his wife via sat phone about the situation, and she had been getting after it, Iceco working as best they could to try to rectify the situation. Unfortunately, they didn’t really do a good job, even as of this writing.

    Being in Moab Proper was a trip after being in the middle of nowhere for so long. Super busy. So, we hurriedly got gas and went to the City Market where we purchased what we needed and aired up our tires in the parking lot. We had some paved miles to go to get to our stop for the night.

    Satisfied, albeit tired, we exited Moab and headed north, and then east.

    [​IMG]TLM - Day 5 - 31 by Michael Rickerd, on Flickr

    We arrived near the trailhead for Fisher Towers (at a campsite I cannot recall the name of), prominent sandstone formations, where we took over three paid campsites for the evening.

    [​IMG]_MG_2739 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2740 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    [​IMG]_MG_2741 by Brent Prater, on Flickr

    Despite being around one other camper, an older couple operating out of a rented van, we had a good evening. I bet they thought we would be up late into the night. But after the day we had, we all climbed into our tents before they did. Dinner was consumed, Danny got filled in on our recent adventures as he ate his dinner. We conversed around a fire as the sun fully set, shrouding our magnificent home for the evening in darkness.

    Just before bed, Will got us amped for what was to come the following morning.

    We would be heading to the Top of the World; a spectacular place where we may or may not have given a random lady a heart attack as she witnessed our shenanigans.

    But first, it was sleepy time. And sleep I did.
     
    Last edited: Oct 1, 2021

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