Part 12: White Rim Trail Part D


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The Trip

While at Candlestick, we had a nice dinner and then watched a movie with popcorn.  The wind calmed during the night and the temperatures were mild.  Next morning we were treated to bright, clear skies and calm winds.  Since it was calm and we were in no hurry, we decided to launch our quadcopter to get some shots of the canyon.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

The side canyon next to Candlestick camp was narrower than I expected and I overflew the center.  But, the photo produced was more than acceptable.

Looking back at our camp, you can see how barren it was.  The structure at the right-center of the photo above is the NPS pit toilet.  The exposed surface of rock is petrified sand dunes.

On the far side of the Green River were more towering cliffs.  The only green in the scene is where water flows.

Identical cliffs were present to the east of our camp.

As we rolled out of Candlestick we got to see the start of a new side canyon.  The path of the rainwater cuts trenches through the sandstone.  These trenches become huge canyons over the course of thousands of years.

There were huge monoliths everywhere.  There is a deep canyon between us and the monoliths, only partially visible in the photo above.

We stopped for lunch near the Green River and while I was scouting around I found this witness post/section marker.  Note the date.

The lunch stop was close to the Green River which was accessible via the small side canyon.  I did get to the bottom but could not get to the river due to the thick brush.

From the trail's low point near river-grade, we were forced to ascend to the next bench which brought steep grades, narrow trails and tight switchbacks.

Kathleen stuck the camera out the window looking backwards as we ascended the switchbacks.  The were tight and narrow.  Our angst was building.

As we got higher on the cliff, the pucker factor increased.  At this point, the cost of a mistake was fatally high.

Thor's wheel width and turning radius made this portion of the trail exciting.  Note the rock damage in the windshield; this will be replaced in a few weeks at Rob Pickering's shop.

Potential damage ahead!  Due to the slope on the trail, we passed underneath the ledge.  I could have taken my sledge hammer to the overhang, but we cleared without issue.  Tight, but no impact.

Our planned camp was in Taylor Canyon.  But, Kathleen had reached her "tense-wheeling limit" and voted to proceed to exit the park.  In the interest of domestic tranquility, I agreed.  That and the fact that the map showed that the trail to Taylor Canyon was chock-full of tight switchbacks.  So, we took the left fork on the trail and worked our way along the Green River.  Then, we encountered a water crossing.  Normally, this is not a cause for concern.  But, the river silt has a high clay content and becomes slick as snot when wet.  And, we had no idea of how deep the crossing was or how soft the bottom was.  But, faced with 2.5 days of backtrack, a re-do of tense cliffs and Murphy Hogback, the decision to forge ahead was easy.

The water crossing turned out to be trivial but the exit was a trench cut from river silt which likely would have been impassible if wet.  Thor's track totally filled the trench edge to edge.

A cause for great concern.  The trail is very narrow here and the cliff is about 50 feet into the ice-cold, flood-stage Green River.  The overhang looks like it will impact the cab or camper or both.

It turned out that the overhang we were concerned with was high enough to not be an issue.  Again, a close-but-no-impact obstacle.  However, the next little ledge was not so nice.  And, due to the tightness of the trail and grade, backing up was futile.  The trail was so narrow that I had to take special care on exit from the cab to prevent going down the cliff into the river.

Kathleen spotted and we proceed ahead at a snail's pace.  The choices were few: impact the cliff or go for a swim in the flood-stage river.  Above, the ledge cuts into our awning. On the cliff side, there was about 1 inch between the edge of the tire and the cliff.  To say I was sweating was putting it mildly.

The cliff is actually spoil from the creation of the road.  The photo above shows the steepness of the cliff.  At this point we are fully committed -- there is no going back.  We had no insight as to obstacles between us and the canyon exit.

We reached the exit from the canyon onto a wider road.  We stopped to relish the situation and breathe a collective sign of relief.  Of course, we still had to get back to the top of the mesa.

The NPS sign says it all.

We finished our "oh shit" moment and headed upriver to find a camp on the BLM land.

We found a camp in the brush near the river on a narrow pull-out.  While sitting and recovering from the tight cliffs, I noticed this snake watching me from the brush.  He sat there watching my comings and goings for about thirty minutes then slithered away into his hole.

The exit from the water crossing bent our trailer hitch.  Note to self: remove trailer hitch before any hard-core wheeling -- it becomes a plow.

The bad news about our camp was that after 3 days we were out of ice for cocktails.  Warm beer is not my thing.  And, as Kathleen and I have long said, "The definition of adversity is cocktails without ice".  Above is the morning view across the Green River from our camp.  The river had risen substantially during the night.

Next morning, we broke camp and headed down the road toward the canyon exit and we came upon this fellow.  He is French with very poor English language skills.  But, we were able to determine that he only had 2 liters of water and was alone.  I gave him another liter, but that was all he could carry.  His plan was to do the 100 mile White Rim Trail in one day.  For an accomplished rider, this is reasonable, but if he encountered issues and had to stay the night, 2 liters of water in the high heat was problematic.  We later saw him at our campground in Moab, UT.

The morning sun allowed us to assess the damage to the awning.  The verdict is easy: it is toast and will be removed.

The damage due to the overhangs was impossible to avoid given the width of the truck.  We never used the awning in our 4 years of ownership of the HiLo.

The exit from the canyon was just as steep as the other grades we encountered but the road was twice as wide. 

Above, the green patch has a nice camp area that we will use next time we are in the region.

The switchbacks were tight.  On the exit we encountered the NPS ranger and talked with him at length.  My first question to him was "have you ever seen a bigger vehicle than mine successfully complete the White Rim Trail?".  His response was he saw a European Unimog (likely with a Unicat camper) do it, but there was damage to the camper from the same overhang that tagged us.  We did not damage our camper, only the awning (which is useless due to the height of the truck and has never been deployed in 4 years).  Score for Thor!  The ranger was running the trail because the Green River was rising.  He got all excited when we told him that we did a water crossing and stated that they would likely close the trail.  We were just in time it would seem.

Further down the path we encountered this fellow crossing the road.

We were in dire need of a re-supply stop so we decided to head into Moab, UT and stay at an RV park.  We stayed at Canyonlands RV right in the center of town.  It was nice and clean and within walking distance of the restaurants in the center of town.  As it turned out, it was the same RV park as the French guy had chosen.  He stopped by later to let us know that he was OK.

We managed to get a seating at the Desert Bistro in Moab.  The bison fillet was awesome.  If you are ever in Moab, you have to eat there.

We stayed in Moab several days to catch up on actions.  Sadly, the last day on the trail, my laptop hard drive died.  We were able to recover these photos, but we were offline for about 5 days.

Next: we explore the Moab area and then head to Grand Junction, CO to get my laptop repaired.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2014, all rights reserved.
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