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Old 06-07-2012, 04:53 PM   #21
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr

Great pictures and a beautiful rig. I can imagine the stares and comments your rig gets. I'm sure this trip will remain a wonderful memory for the rest of your lives.
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Old 06-07-2012, 06:04 PM   #22
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr

Quote:
Originally Posted by twolost

I did use 4WD to get up Pucker Pass. The trail surface was covered with a deep talcum powder like sand and in 4WD we tracked up the steepest part with no issue. As you will see in the next installment of this trip report 2WD (or partial 4WD) did not work for Jeep that we happened to follow up the same route the next day. The Jeep got stuck a half dozen times digging craters in the hillside in the process. After the Jeep was extracted by another more capable Jeep the route became significantly more difficult to navigate as there were foot deep trenches going all over the place. Based on the amazed looks of the faces in the local tour company Suburban (that had been watching all of this transpire from the top of this hillside) I would surmise that the tour guide + passengers were totally stunned that a Jeep failed... and a 12K pound van - did not.

Truth in advertising is that we could tell that there was definitely something wrong with the 4x4 system in the Jeep. The driver of the Jeep was probably also nicked named 'Gun It' as he had that thing floored on every attempt. It made for good theater for the spectators anyway. Not so good for the trail though.

Cheers,
TWOLOST + 1



I used to drive my 1978 4wd Surbaru wagon through that pass in the late 80s when I was doing field work. There was a lot less traffic back then and I'd go days without seeing anyone. Really nice camping right at the top as well.
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Old 06-07-2012, 11:32 PM   #23
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May, 07 (Day 10)


Date (day): May, 07 (Day 10)
Source: White Rim Trail (Airport B)
Destination: White Rim Trail (Murphy Hogback C)
Travel Miles: 26


Deviation from plan: Our White Rim permits had us originally staying at 'Potato' for the evening. Thankfully, we heeded the advice of many others who came before us and checked at Island in the Sky Visitor Center to see if something better was available. The staff at the visitor center noticed the rather large travel gap in our itinerary and they found something far more suitable, Murphy Hogback.


Moment(s): Based on a few trip reports that described navigating up the Murphy Hogback grade I would have assumed that I would be dedicating this section to recounting yet another hairy tale of an impossibly narrow and steep grade. Actually, I kept anticipating a real thriller of a climb where my wife would most likely have to get out and walk... but such a climb never materialized. Turns out we drove right up and onto the plateau without even knowing it. That said it would get much more exciting later on.

Later on happened at 12:30 in the morning when I woke to the distinct sound of chewing/gnawing on pieces of my van, the pitter-patter of tiny footsteps, and rustling garbage sacks (all at the same time). I was in the penthouse top and my wife and daughter were on the gaucho down below. I grabbed my flashlight and sprang into action. Down I flew from my rooftop perch, ready to intercept any such scoundrels that dared chew on parts of my van. I woke up my wife who instantly recognized the sound. Mice! Or, more spiecies correct, Pack-Rats. We folded the gaucho up most of the way (except the part my daughter was still sleeping on). Then we prepared for intercept. To be honest, we 'thought' we would prepare for intercept. The reality was that these pack-rats were probably used to ducking strikes from rattle snakes which - by comparison - made our lumbering movements resemble that of a giant hot air baloon on a windless day. Here I stood, barely awake, bleary eyed, totally over-amped, ready to grasp whatever I could with my one free bare hand. Out walks a pack-rat from the back of the van, scurries right by the both of us, and then disappeared somewhere by the drivers foot well. Hmmmm, that did not work out as planned. We had so much stuff stacked up and around the occupant seats that we easily lost track of where the pack-rat went. Not to worry, there were more. I opened the side door, jumped outside, and got semi-dressed. During this time, my wife noticed that our garbage bag was moving. She quickly grabbed the bag and tossed it out the door. Next we cleaned up enough of an area to see the whole floor from front to back. There sounded to be at least one still trying to get inside the van and another fur ball was still parading back and forth on the floor like a runway model. Ok, now what. We eventually chased all of them out of the van by pounding on areas of the van where we could hear them. They would disappear for less than two minutes and them come right back. Next we gathered up all food that was not already in a sealed plastic container and stowed it properly. However, there was still an issue with the garbage bag lying on the ground outside of the van. I could not just leave the garbage bag outside. It would just act as an attractant for critters across the entire plateau. I reasoned out that the only place away from the van that had some form of protection was the large plastic outhouse about 200 feet away. To be clear, I was only meaning to set the bag in the outhouse, not put it down the hole. Come to find out, however, the outhouse was not sealed. There was a gap of a couple inches at the bottom of the door so I knew that critters would be able to easily come and go. Dang, it would suck if another person needed to use the outhouse in the middle of the night and they found it strewn with pack-rats eating garbage. Screw it, I was out of options. I was not going to put that garbage bag anywhere near the van. I could leave it in the outhouse and then I would just have to stay up all night to warn off an unsuspecting outhouse user if need be. I then looked for some kind of object in the outhouse to tie the garbage bag to. No hooks of any kind but there was a plastic outcropping away from everything else that was up pretty high and could just barely hold the weight of the trash bag. I made it work. Now, back to the van to see how that was going. Everything seemed silent enough for 20 minutes or so. Now back to my perch to warn off any possible midnight outhouse users. I dozed off a short time later. No more critters were heard and nobody came screaming out of the outhouse. I woke up at 5:00am in the morning and retrieved the garbage bag. We packed up and vacated by 7:30am.

As admittedly ridiculous as that was, I would have NEVER put garbage inside the door of an outhouse where I seriously thought that someone would have used the outhouse in the middle of the night. Honestly, I was prepared to stay up until morning practicing taking pics of star trails if need be. Fortunately for me, we were in Murphy Hogback ‘C’, located far away from the other two campsites (and they had an outhouse that was much closer already). Someone may have come up late night in a vehicle… but I figured that I would be able to hear that activity and take the appropriate action before they attempted to use it. The outhouse was clean when we left and there was no evidence that anything had tried to enter the outhouse and get into the garbage bag.


Takeaway(s): Make sure all food is in sealed containers. Not just plastic bags, sealed containers. The night spent at Murphy Hogback was the only place where we encountered, ‘invaders’. As part of my standard packing list, I now also keep mouse traps (which would not have worked in this case as the pack-rats were each as big as a baseball) and glue traps if necessary. It also seemed that these pack-rats came out for only a couple of hours just after midnight. Even though I fully expected to do battle all night long and well into the morning… everything stopped moving around by 3:00am. Their activity was not because I fixed anything… so I assumed that they had other reasons.


Sportsmobile Note(s): We have had mice in the van once before while overnighting at Mt. Rainier. Those mice were less than half the size of these pack-rats. I had no idea that something that was as big as a baseball could get inside of our van, let alone a small community of like built baseballs. I have yet to locate their point of entry.






















Climbing the last Murphy Hogback grade and onto the plateau.


View from the plateau (not 40 feet from the outhouse referenced in the story above).






Signing the registry, old school.





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Old 06-08-2012, 12:02 AM   #24
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr

Quote:
Originally Posted by geoffff
Fantastic! Congrats on successfully pulling off a trip like that with a 2-year-old!

-- Geoff

Thanks. We got super lucky with our daughter. She is an amazing traveler. She had a total of three melt downs (lasting less than thirty minutes each) in thirty seven days. We traveled almost every day... encountering temps that ranged from freezing to 112F. We drove on everything from boulder fields, sand washes, four lanes of endless washboard, all of the way up to smooth interstate highways.

I kept the travel miles less than 400 miles (paved) or 100 miles (off road) on any given day, we always stopped for extended breaks (especially if we found a kid friendly park), we always went for walks when we got to new surroundings, we kept her clean and dry, we let her bathroom schedule trump our travel schedule, we kept animal crackers and goldfish handy at all times and... well, she has her own iPad (which apparently she is fluent with).









Cheers,
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Old 06-08-2012, 09:05 AM   #25
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr


Date (day): May, 08 (Day 11)
Source: White Rim Trail (Murphy Hogback C)
Destination: White Rim Trail (Labyrinth B)
Travel Miles: 27


Deviation from plan: On this leg we came upon what looked to be a dad with a toddler. They were stranded out in the middle of nowhere because the starting battery in their truck was dead. My wife was not too keen on stopping to see what was going on as this looked a little weird. Yes, it did look weird all right, but I could not just leave these two stranded out here when we have not seen another vehicle or person all day. All of the wind-blown sand washes we drove over had no signs of any traffic going in our direction either. In any case, I stopped asked if I could help. The man said that his truck battery died last night and he just needed a jump. No problem. As I positioned the van next to his truck, another smaller truck came rolling up out of nowhere. It was a lady traveling solo. She got out of her truck and stepped into a nearby outhouse. At that time, the man decided to get a jump start from her truck instead. As such, he walked right over, climbed in, and started it up. Ummmm, ok. I hope the lady using the head is not armed. I backed away from the side of his truck as he pulled her truck into position. The lady then steps out of the outhouse and walks over toward the man who had now climbed halfway under his hood. I ask the lady, “do you know that guy”? She laughs. “Yea, that is my husband. He called me last night and told me that they were stuck out here”. “Oh, ok. Can I stick around long enough to see that you get the truck started and get back on the trail?” “That would be great”, she said. A few minutes later they got the dead truck started and we loosely followed both vehicles out of there. They were driving much faster than we were and they eventually disappeared out of sight. Even though we could not see them I could tell that they were still ahead of us based on their tire tracks. No place for a 40+ year old guy and a two year old to get stuck.


Moment(s): Before the day was done, we climbed up, over, and down another natural obstacle known as Hardscrabble Bottom on one end and Upheaval Bottom on the other. Wow. This (several mile) section was much steeper than Murphy Hogback. It also cut right across a slide area. I still don’t understand why the entire side of the hill did not give way as we drove past. We were driving straight across what looked to be an active avalanche. How this road was created, how the entire hill side did not just give way, and why in the world we were allowed to travel across it remains a mystery. Now safely on the other side, I can tell you that it was really cool, really exciting, and everyone should do it at least once. If you really want a thrill, try meeting someone heading the opposite direction and then negotiate who backs up to a place where two vehicles can squeeze past each other. Luckily, we did not encounter this scenario. This section may have also mandated 4x4. At least one part of the trail was steep and covered with about eight inches of talcum powder like silt.


Takeaway(s): Come over-prepared if you are going to do the White Rim Trial. If you were to have a breakdown anywhere between Murphy Hogback and Hardscrabble no tow truck is going to come and get you. You may have a mechanic driven out in a smaller 4x4 to attempt to fix you on-site, but it is a near certainty that you are not going to get towed out of there. It was even recommended to me in Moab that I stop by a local garage, let them know who I was, where I was going, and get a price estimate on how much it would cost to come and get me if I had a mechanical. That way, when I called them again in some kind of trouble, we would have already pre-established a basic relationship.


Sportsmobile Note(s): Well, after navigating the steep climbs of Hardscrabble during the hottest part of the day, the van smelled pretty hot. I stopped a couple of times and turned the van off in order to let everything cool down. At one point, the engine light came on (solid). Ok, what the heck is causing that? I stopped again and let the van cool down one more time. Upon starting it up again, the engine light did not clear itself. Rather than continue, I turned the van off again and tried to diagnose the problem. Way back 11+ days ago, one of the projects that I never finished before departing on this journey was to install my Edge Diesel Computer. It was still new in the box sitting in one of the door compartments. Well, now seems like a good time as any to install this unit, so out it came. The physical install took all of about 30 seconds. I turned on the van, fired up the unit, and found out where I could see the ODBII error codes. Got it. There were two codes. 1) P0404 EGR valve position control or range fault. 2) P0405 EGR sensor “A” circuit low. Not knowing what these were, I just recorded them and then cleared them. Clearing these codes also cleared the engine light indicator in the dash. I let the van run for a few minutes and then we continued on our way. We did not encounter any more engine faults - that day.


Leaving Murphy Hogback 'C' campsite and heading down off of the plateau.






We were the only ones on the trail headed in our direction for most of the day.






View of the Green River from the White Rim Trail.


Potato Bottom (our original campsite before updating our itinerary).


Hardscrabble.














Labyrinth B (our campsite for the evening). Just awesome!!


Sunset at our campsite.


Windows 8 makes an early appearance.




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Old 06-08-2012, 10:33 AM   #26
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr

more please
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:51 AM   #27
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr

How do I clean the Drool off my keyboard? What a trip!

What camera are you using for the pictures? I thought I saw a Canon strap in one of the pictures but I couldn't quite make out the model.
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Old 06-08-2012, 06:10 PM   #28
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr

at first i was like....hmmm lots of that looks 2wd friendly.....then reality set in lol...

really great pics and being a father of two young adult daughters myself...i think its great that you do cool stuff like this with yours....cute kid

now back to my daydreaming about 4wd....
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Old 06-08-2012, 06:16 PM   #29
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr

i meant to ask (and feel free to pm to keep thread clean) do you have any issues with shading on your solar panels being that they are at the bottom of your rack?
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Old 06-08-2012, 10:37 PM   #30
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Re: TWOLOST: May, 2012: UT + AZ trip report (report in progr


Thanks everyone for the comments.

I am not exaggerating when I say that each day of this trip just blew me away. The geology/geography was so diverse, the scale was so immense, many rock formations defied both physics and logic, and there was always more amazing places nearby (some... right on the edge) - legally accessible and largely devoid of people.

Some of the places we visited were best suited for 4x4 (the minority). Some of the places we visited could not be accessed by a vehicle larger than ours (height or width). You may want a full size water closet with pop-outs... but if your ride is larger than a jacked up Ford cargo van, then you will miss out on some of the most amazing places I have ever seen (unless you access them via your dinghy... aka a bicycle or motorcycle). Many places in the Canyonlands National Park and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon are realistically, size limited.

Camera I use is an eight year old Canon 1d MKII. I alternated between a 16-35mm or 24-70mm lens. Some of the other photos you will see come from Canon PowerShot SD-750 or iPhone.

No issues with solar panel placement so far. I imagine that if I put two sea kayaks on the roof, that would change.

BTW, please dont be concerned with shimming other posts into this thread. Because each of my posts contains so many photos... and there has to be so many posts before a new page is created... (regardless of the size of each post) - that if I just add post after post of photos then there will be so many photos per page that the page wont load in its entirety (especially on slower connections). More text based posts interspersed into this trip report is a good thing from a performance perspective.

Much, much, much more on the way...


Cheers,
TWOLOST + 1

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