Unfortunately, he got a job out-of-state that spring and had to cancel his trip. Fortunately, I didn't have to cancel and decided to do the trip anyway in my Jeep. Normally I would not recommend a backcountry desert trip but I knew the White Rim Trail is usually well traveled in the spring. In fact, the Spring or Fall are ideal times to explore most areas of Canyonlands National Park and surrounding BLM lands.
The following is the journal I kept while on the White Rim Trail, as well as pictures I took on that trip.
Day 1: Thursday, May 20, 2010
To the south you can see the Blue Mountains, but not the Needles area. To the east you can see the La Sals inbetween some of the buttes.
It’s probably between 70-80 degrees with light winds. There are some gnats flying around that have been doing a little biting. Lots of mountain bikers and support vehicles, but a good distance between each campsite at Airport. There is room for up to 8 people at least and plenty of room for a kitchen area. No fires allowed, but can do dutch oven in a firepan and carry out the ashes.
Shade around 7pm and the gnats are getting bad and biting more. I looked under the Jeep again and found that the front sway bar linkage on both sides broke loose at the ball joints. It shouldn’t affect the handling on the dirt roads, but I’m not sure what that will mean for highway driving.
Day 2: Friday, May 21, 2010
Gooseberry Camp B is the better of the two camps for future reference. Camp A is right by the road.
The view is spectacular when you come around the point below the White Rim Overlook. You can see the Needles in the distance to the south with Monument Basin in front.
Coming around the Green River side of the trail, I came to a spot where it was convenient but not necessary to drop into low range. At some point the Jeep slipped out of low range into neutral so I had to roll backwards a bit to get it back in to low range and continue.
Just as I was coming up the Murphy Hogback there was a loud gushing noise and green liquid was all over the inside of the engine compartment. At first I thought I blew a radiator hose but remembered the radiator liquid in this jeep is red, not green. I eventually found an air conditioning tube had come loose from the firewall and it clipped right back in. I put some duct tape around it all just in case.
Since experiencing two mechanical problems with the Jeep, I’m seriously considering driving all the way out tomorrow to Moab instead of staying at Potato Bottom so I can work on the sway bar linkage.
Day 3: Saturday, May 22, 2010
I didn’t sleep well at all. I put up the rain fly that comes all the way to the ground to keep the blowing sand and dust out. But every big gust blew sand in anyway right on top of my head and my pillow. I had to brush the sand off my pillow periodically throughout the night. At 10:30pm I finally put earplugs in my ears and slept some. I woke up at 6am very tired and it’s still very windy.
A lot of up and down from Murphy to Candlestick. The drop off of Murphy heading north is also steep, but not as intense. I’m not a fan of driving near exposed cliffs so it’s probably not nearly as intense as I imagine it to be.
Candlestick is exposed but has a nice view down to the Green River. Low range is holding and the Jeep is not overheating, but the brakes feel a little weak. Just another thing to be concerned about.
Before Potato Bottom the road parallels the river up on the White Rim, but not too high up. The wind was blowing so hard it looked like the current was going upstream. Potato A is small, but could still fit 8 campers, Potato B is the best of the 3, and Potato C is nice but a ways from the outhouse.
Pretty steep decent down to Hardscrabble Camps. The camp furthest from the road looked like the better of the two.
There is a lot of deep sand at the Upheaval Dome trailhead. Also, big washes with sand and erosion.
Taylor Canyon looks like an interesting side trip. It’s about 6 miles to the Moses and Zeus formations. Didn’t go due to my concern about vehicle issues.
I didn’t go down to the Mineral Bottom boat ramp, but looked at it from the road. Lots of canoeists will take out or put in there for a great float trip.
After reaching the top, the road was wide and much better. I headed straight back to Moab and the wind was still gusting heavily.