A bit of a delayed report, but better late than never Ö
Instead of hosting what would have been around our 15th straight annual Memorial Day party, my wife and I headed to Maze District in Canyon Lands, UT (and left a lot of our friends wondering what they would do on on Sunday before Memorial Day). I did the White Rim Trail in 2009 and have wanted to try the more remote Maze District.
Prior to leaving, I managed to check off many items Iíve wanted or needed to do to the van including:
- Ceramic coating up and down pipes
- Thermal wrapping down pipe
- Replacing vacuum pump
- Replacing porta potti with Thetford Curve
- Had radiator replaced (This was an extremely last minute need. It started leaking less than a week before departing. Luckily it happened at home instead of WAY off the grid.)
- Made removable set of mud flaps to keep UHP happy
- Flushed brake system
- Changed oil / filters
- Changed transfer case fluid
- Replaced what I assumed to be faulty brake pressure sensor causing intermittent cruise control shut off (seemed to resolve the problem)
- Installed 50HP Tow tune from 5Star
- Rotated tires
- Got Amateur radio license
- Install 2 meter radio
- Installed passenger side above window grab handle at the strong urging of my wife
- Made propane tank holder for swing arm. These were to fuel the fire pit.
- Ely, NV
- Green River, UT
- Teapot camp
- Doll House camp (2 nights)
- Golden Stair camp
- Maze Overlook camp
- Green River, UT
Finally on the road with first night stop in Ely, NV. After dinner we decided to take in a movie in the old fashion theatre in town. Kind of cool. They serve beer and mixed drinks and actually show cartoons before the main show. Interesting environment, but fun!
Also interesting to note that Verizon has the fastest LTE service in Ely Iíve experienced anywhere (Iím in the industry and geek out on that stuff).
Next night was spent in Green River, UT where we met an old high school friend of mine and his wife who were going into the Maze with us.
Headed out bright and early next day. Turn off from Hwy 24 heading into Hans Flat Ranger Station. 46 miles of pretty good graded dirt road.
Disconnected sway bar as even graded dirt roads are made more comfortable with them disconnected.
Cool little sand dune area on the way.
Finally to Hans Flat Ranger Station to check in and air down.
Looking down on Flint Trail doesn't look too bad. I had been worrying about this section for it's switchbacks and particularly with my friends trailer. Turned out to be no big deal for either.
The softer side of SMB'ing. Lots of wild flowers the entire trip.
Tea Pot camp.
Next day heading out to Doll House was a lot of 4 low slow going, but fun stuff. Just what I like.
Saw another SMB camped (Beige RB with box on top). Stopped for a hike on the way. Stunning scenery.
Use your imagination.
Doll House camp was very cool! Had a freak wind / rain / hail / sleet storm that hit for about 15 minutes right after we set up camp, then it was beautiful.
All sorts of shapes come out in the hoodoos and seem to change at night.
We had a two night stay at Doll House and went for what turned out to be a longer than planned hike on our down day. Missed a turn to the confluence overlook and took a few mile out/back detour adding to our 12+ mile hike. Beautiful scenery though.
Backtracked the next day most of the way we came in on our way to Golden Stairs camp. My friend really put his skid plates to the test this trip.
Golden Stairs camp. This was the least interesting camp, but a short hike out to China Neck gave great views.
Next day our friends headed south to Hite Marina as they did not bring enough fuel for the full trip. They actually bummed a few gallons from someone we passed that at least allowed them to spend the night at Golden Stairs with us.
We headed out to Maze Overlook camp.
Hiked down into Horse Canyon on the way.
Maze Overlook camp turned out to be our favorite. We both really wish we had more than one night here as there are many hiking trails that start here. The views from our camp were absolutely spectacular and once another freak 15 minute storm front passed through, we had an the best evening weather of the trip.
We loved having the propane fire pit this trip (no wood fires allowed).
We didn't see a lot of wildlife this trip. Mostly rabbits, lizards, 1 deer, and the mice love running around camp and under carriage of the van at night. Unfortunately one of the little buggers managed to find his way into the van our last night at Maze Overlook. Only other time this happened was on our Alaska trip in 2008. It truly ruins the nights sleep. He was very bold too. I tried to devise traps and such. He was cruising all over the dash (inside and out), coming right out to me and scurrying back in. I left the driver door open as I tried dealing with him. I finally gave up when he disappeared for a while. My wife managed to fall back asleep for a while, I did not. It seems as though he must have bailed out of the open door as he was never seen from again.
Sooo, since it was getting light out and I was still awake, decided to try sunrise photos.
Next morning we looked around a bit and hit the trail for the long haul back to Green River.
Back at Green River we checked back into the River Terrace hotel. It's an older remodeled hotel that I would actually recommend if you are looking for a place for before and / or after a trip into Maze District (we did both). It has a couple quirks, but worked well.
All in all a great trip. A bit more 4wheeling than my wife cares for, but the scenery and hiking made up for it I think.
As for report on some of the work / improvements I made:
1) Ceramic Coating up / down pipes and wrapping: I think it made a difference, but what really made a difference was;
2) 5Star tune! Wow, why didn't I do this before. The van ran quieter, smoother, more power, better mileage all at lower temperatures. What's the catch?
3) Thetford Curve toilet: Big enough for 5 nights off the grid in a leave no trace place. There was a very little bit of black water leakage I didn't even notice until I got home. It is amazing it was only a little bit considering all the 4 low crawling and extreme inclines and declines.
4) Passenger above window grab handle: Wife liked it!
5) Amateur radio: I can't believe I ever tried surviving with CB. How nice to actually be able to understand the person on the other end and have good range!
6) New radiator & vacuum pump: Way better to replace at home than in the middle of nowhere!
7) Flushing brakes: They felt much better.
8) Removable mud flaps: I got lazy and didn't remove them for the 4 wheeling. One of them disappeared somewhere along the way. Other one was rock solid. I'll make a new one before going to Utah again. No issues with UHP.
For those that wonder about EB doing this trip, the tail did take it's fair share of hits, but no major damage. Most of them to the trailer hitch. The under floor storage box took one good hit, but just cosmetic damage if you crawl underneath and look for it. I will say the van did better than my friends FJ (IMO)!
Can't wait for the next trip!