Part 5: Mule Canyon to Elk Ridge, UT


Navigation Links
 Trip Home Page     


The Trip

Our campsite was great and there was plenty of room for a nice fire.  We sat and played "the story game", drank and had fun.  But, it rained all night and continued to rain most of the morning which resulted in a muddy mess.  The mud would provide some challenges as well as the basis for some high quality off-road training.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

The rain resulted in nearly every watercourse flowing with runoff.  Even the little creeks were flowing.

We picked a road that had a big sign that says "Road Unpassable When Wet" and proceeded on.  It did not take too long to encounter some of the famous south Utah clay mud.  Above, Chris gets his rig close to stuck in the ditch due to sliding off the crown of the road.  This specific spot had relatively high sand content in the mud, so it was not too bad.  But later on Elk Ridge, that would not be the case.

Tony takes the high side without incident.

Brad gets a briefing on the best approach and Stephen rides with him to insure that we don't have to extract 31,000 pounds of camper from the ditch.

Thor, my truck, was at 30 psi tire pressure so we had no issues.

Rob's 2450L had no issues either.

The rain had reduced the road bed to the consistency of peanut butter and just as slick.

Note the ruts being generated due to the mud being squirted to the sides due to the weight of the U500.

We hit the turnoff to Elk Ridge and headed up over the southern cliffs.

The switchbacks were tight and the road narrow.  So, combining the cliff, road width, slick surface and the grade of the road, it was a memorable segment of the drive.

The trail was steep and resulted in a significant elevation change.

From the switchbacks our view of the valley below was impeded by the fog and clouds.

Tony started to slide on the mud.  He stopped and lowered the air pressure in his tires and continued up  the muddy slope.

The mud was very, very slick.  Almost too slick to walk on.  Vince slid into the bank but did not suffer any damage.  He was able to self-extract without assistance.

Vince engaged his differential locks and put it in low gear and powered his way out.

The slope of the ditch became shallower and Vince was able to exit unassisted.

After watching the action, I got a photo of "Bear Ears" hidden by the clouds.  We were at 8500 feet.

The clay-based mud is slick as snot and made driving a real challenge.

We finally broke over the crest onto the top of the mesa and spotted stock corrals made from logs.

We stopped on the road while the guide went ahead to check out a possible campsite.

Based on Bill's assessment, we turned off the main road and headed toward our camp for the night.  As the road wound along the edge of the mesa we got a nice view of the canyons beyond.

The flanks of the Abajo Mountains have some substantial canyons that hosted various indian tribes over the ages.

When we arrived at camp, Bill used a chain choker to drag some firewood back to camp for the evening's fire.

Tony poses with Kathleen.  We had a nice flat area for circling the trucks.

Mark cuts wood with his chain saw while Stephen splits the logs for the fire.

Mark's saw got heavy use and provided us an easy source of good firewood.

Operating any vehicle on muddy surfaces is a challenge.  Operating a heavy vehicle on steep mountain roads in mud is even more challenging.  The instruction provided greatly helped increase the confidence of the drivers and was well worth the time.  Our camping area was nice but as the evening wore on the rain overtook us and we were all forced to retreat to our shelters.

Next will be recovery training and then on to another campsite.

Navigation Links
Previous Adventure
Top of this Page
  Next Adventure
Trip Home Page  
Bill Caid's Home Page

Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2014, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.