Saturday, August 25, 2007

A little more Moab, with a few friends...

Pat in the WedgieMeet Pat Johnson of the blue CJ. This poor guy is often my road trip companion. This particular picture was on one of our Moab trips. If you look at the Moab, My Happy Place post, you'll see the tow rig dragging our toys out there. Here is Pat playing in the "Wedgie" on the Poison Spider Mesa trail. It started as a great day, and ended as a great story.

Poison Spider Mesa leads to a trail called the Golden Spike. That connects to a trail called Gold Bar Rim. That combo is generally an all day affair. It took us a little longer.

As I mentioned, everything started out great, but then we started having a few problems. We had five Jeeps in the morning. The first Jeep exploded a lock-out. He had a spare and was soon on his way again. The second Jeep had a serious case of angle issues with the carb. It kept getting worse, and he decided to turn back. The driver of the Jeep with the previously blown hub agreed to accompany him out. Patrick losing air I wish I had a transcript of the CB conversation between those two on the way out. We could hear them all of the way into town.

Next up is Patrick Bennett of the olive CJ. He has built a VERY cool Jeep, but this day was not to be great for the Jeep. A short while after this picture, the power steering pump gave up its long fight. And then, an over-extended driveshaft caused further delay. In both cases, we were able to get everything back together and moving along.

Because of the delays, we hit on if the more famous obstacles on the Golden Spike at the most beautiful time of day, that golden light just before sunset. The problem is that it takes about five hours to drive back out to paved roads. That means that four hours is done after dark... and it was REALLY dark. Even with extra lighting, finding the trail markers became a challenge on the slickrock. In fact, it was enough of a challenge that our only passenger, Pat Johnson's wife Helen, had to walk in front of out little three Jeep caravan with a flashlight, searching for the trail markers. These faded markers were painted every few hundred feet, but were difficult to see with headlights. A wrong turn could lead to a disaster. At one point, we were on the end of a point. One way lead down a series of steps along the trail. The other lead over a 300 foot cliff. They looked the same from the driver's seat by headlight. Add an extra hour to only drive at walking speed.

We seriously considered camping for the night. Despite the daytime temperatures in the 90s and higher, nighttime temperatures were in the 50s. We took an inventory of our stores... several bottles of water, tarps, and a single "Lunchable" left over from lunch. We also had a few small bags of chips, and a couple of granola bars.

We decided to keep going. Golden Crack before sunset

After a little hiking at an intersection, we were soon on our way down the Gold Bar Rim trail. We were almost home free. The one problem we still faced was that Gold Bar Rim empties out into a valley that is criss-crossed with sand wash roads. It is also still 15 miles or so from pavement. It was dark. there were no signs, and none of us had run this particular trail before.

Referencing a map and a GPS, we determined the general direction to the exit of the canyon. I had run another trail in the area three years before on a previous trip.

We managed to find our way back to the pavement, and eventually to the condo. We had started on the trail around 10am, and finished the day at 2am. It was rough. But, all in all, it has been a great story to re-live every so often around a campfire. I've been back since then, and plan on going again before too long.

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