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Thousand Lake, Cathedral Valley Loop

On Labor Day weekend I wanted to go fishing and have a nice drive to the lake. So I decided to take the back way to Morrell Lake in Thousand Lake Mountain. I drove through the Mussentuchit Desert instead of Hwy 72. The road was in good shape and I made good time to Morrell Lake.

Dropping down into Willow Springs Wash

Willow Springs Cabin

View over Last Chance Desert

Solomon’s Temple and dike

Baker’s Ranch

Morrell Lake

I never did see a single person until I pulled up to Morrell Lake. There were two other groups fishing. I tried fishing for a while but never did catch anything. So I fried up a hamburger and then made my way back. Instead of going back the same way, I drove a little farther down into Cathedral Valley. The weather was perfect on top so I took my time heading down.

View of Cathedral Valley from Windy Ridge

Parked on Windy Ridge

After getting into Cathedral Valley I stopped and hiked over to the edge to look into South Desert.

Entering Cathedral Valley

South Desert

A large piece of flint

South Desert

Then it was down the switchbacks and back to the Mussentuchit.

Cathedral Mountain

A dike at the turn off

Solomon’s Temple

Even though the fishing wasn’t any good, I considered this an almost perfect trip. It was a nice laid back trip, a cooler full of Mountain Dew and couple of my favorite places.

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Posted by on September 15, 2014 in 4X4, Desert, Fishing, Hiking, Outdoors

 

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El Rancho not so Rígido

When I bought my Toyota the guy told me he installed a coil spacer lift kit and it rode a bit rougher than stock. So I left it at that and just drove with it. Well on my trip to the Henry Mountains, the truck beat me up. The ride was just way too rough. When I got home I decided to pull out the coil spring boosters the previous owner installed. It helped some but was still a rough ride. So I looked into different shocks to replace the old ones with. I first was thinking of Bilstein 5100 and then I came across Rancho’s Quicklift shocks. The Ranchos came with new coils installed and a ride adjustment knob. I thought it would be better to get new coils instead of using the old ones with the Bilsteins and that way I wouldn’t have to use a coil compressor either. So I went with the Ranchos.

Pulling the old shocks out was a nightmare. I started putting penetrating oil on all the nuts and bolts just after I order the shocks but it was not enough. Most of the bolts and nuts were rusted in place. I ended up snapping one stud off the old shock mount and then had to use the reciprocating saw to cut another one off because the stud stripped out.

After getting the old ones out putting the new ones in was easy. Everything fit like it was supposed to.

It took probably 4 hours removing the old shocks and 30 minutes putting the new ones in.

Was it worth all that trouble? Yes, my truck rides so much better now. The ride is not as harsh and I didn’t lose any ground clearance. The new shocks are adjustable but I just left it on the softest setting and that has been just fine.

 
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Posted by on September 3, 2014 in 4X4

 

Coal Cliffs

On Aug. 16, I rode out to the Coal Cliffs to check out an underground coal fire. Before getting to the vent, I first rode around checking things out. I stopped near an old coal mine where you could still see the old road and a car that had fallen off the edge. After that I rode farther along to another active coal mine. We parked on top and could see the Miller Canyon road.

Then it was onto the fire. I first passed the turnoff and had to turn around to get on it. It appeared no one has been on this road for a while. There were a few bad spots were the road had been washed out. After a slow bumpy ride, we finally made it. The vent hole had no smoke coming out but I could feel the heat and smell the fumes coming out. There was also a nerby pipe sticking out of the ground with holes in it. I could feel hot air pushing out of it as well.

I would have not known how to get out here let alone know about this place if it weren’t for Udink’s trip report.
It is definitely an interesting spot and worth checking out.

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Posted by on September 1, 2014 in 4X4, Desert

 

Mt. Ellen

Since I had a long weekend I decided to head up to the Henry Mountains and hike to the highest point and do a little exploring. This time I went up Sawmill Basin Road straight out of Hanksville. I first stopped at the old Wolverton Mill in Hanksville. It was an interesting stop and I think worth checking out. Afterwards I was driving straight for the mountain. It didn’t take long before the road started climbing towards the top.

Wolverton Mill

Sawmill Basin Road

View from quarter way up

I passed by the Lonesome Beaver campground and decided to skip it due to a few people already camped there and continued looking for another place to set up camp. As soon as we crested up to Wickiup Pass my transmission temp light came on so we pulled off and had lunch while the trans cooled down. Just after lunch it started to rain and we began climbing up to Bull Creek Pass. There were quite a few deer out and some were really nice bucks.

Bull Creek Pass

We soon found camp on Nasty Flat, same place last time I was there. I really liked this spot, there was a nice view to the West overlooking Capitol Reef and a view of the mountainside to the East to watch for deer. With camp set up, we drove down towards McMillan Springs looking for deer. The campground here had a couple trailers as well as loud generators running, glad we didn’t come here to camp. Then it was back up to relax at camp and get ready for bed.

Next morning, we had a good breakfast and then headed out out hike Mt. Ellen. The clouds were threatening rain so we were a little concerned about lightning. Pulling up to Bull Creek Pass there were two guys watching a herd of deer there. We talked a minute then set out on our hike.The trailhead is at 10,485′, and the high point the Henry Mountains is at 11,522′. We climbed up to the first little saddle and the wind had picked up and it began to rain. So we hunkered under a pine tree until it stopped raining and continued our hike.

Start of our hike

View to the East

View towards Boulder Mountain

We finally reached the top after about three hours. The climb up to the high point wasn’t too bad and after a short lunch, I had enough energy to go ahead and climb Mt. Ellen Peak just under a mile away from the high point.

Bull Mountain

Mt. Ellen Peak looming in the back

High point at 11,522′

Victory shot

Mt. Ellen Peak

Hiking down the saddle over to Mt. Ellen Peak is a drop of about 400′ and then another 400′ to the top of the peak at 11,506′. This part of the trail was the steepest section and definitely tired me out. The views up top were worth it though. While on Mt. Ellen Peak, I spotted two other hikers at the high point. They only made it to there and turned around.

Looking back to the high point

Bull Mountain from Mt. Ellen Peak

Two other hikers on their way back

The hike back up to the high point was an uphill battle but after that it wasn’t too bad heading down. A marmot came out and said hi and the wind had calmed down. We completed the hike in under seven hours.

Almost back at the trailhead

We stayed another night and the next morning headed out a different way. We drove out along South Creek Ridge Road and then down along Crescent Creek. We made a side trip to Barton Peak and then over to Copper Ridge Point. This road was in better shape than the Sawmill Basin Road. On the way out we passed several people on ATV’s. The road out to Barton Peak became more difficult after the mine turnoff so I ended up walking the last bit. Then while on Copper Ridge Point the dog decided to eat a bug sitting in a cactus and came out with a mouthful of needles. We got them all out but he was sore for the rest of the day.

Mt. Pennell

Barton Peak Road

Barton Peak

Mt. Hillers

View from Copper Ridge Point

View back at the mountain from Copper Ridge Point

We drove out along Crescent Creek and stopped at the two cabins along the road. Then it was out to Hanksville for an ice cold soda for the ride home.

I was glad the weather held out and only rained enough to keep the dust down. I hope to get back and do some more exploring around Mt. Pennell.

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Posted by on July 29, 2014 in 4X4, Camping, Hiking, Mountains, Outdoors

 

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Black Dragon Canyon Rim

On Sunday, we went for a hike on the San Rafael Reef to find a geocache that hadn’t been found since 08. The hike starts at the mouth of Black Dragon Canyon. The hike starts out immediately climbing up the reef. There isn’t a specific trail just pick your own path.

Our first stop was right above the indian writtings. This was a nice view from on top.

Afterwards we dropped into a small canyon that had a nice alcove with a small pool of water. Rocky isn’t a big fan of water but I made him cool down in the water for a second.

Then it was on to the top, where we found the geocache and took in the great view. We could see Mexican Mountain, Lower Black Box, and Window Blind Peak. It could have been better if it hadn’t been hazy.

Throughout the hike Rocky had been chasing lizards and near the end of our hike Rocky passed by a rock and a rattlesnake started rattling. I immediately yelled at him and grabbed him checking for a bite. Luckily he wasn’t bit. It sure did make me nervous afterwards and I kept a close eye on him for the rest of the hike. That has been only my second rattlesnake encounter.

This is definitely a cool weather hike. It was a little hot Sunday. It was in the lower 90’s but it was worth it.

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Crack Canyon

Sunday was planned to hike Crack Canyon. We left a little after 8 and headed for Temple Mountain. We passed many camps on our way down. Last time I hiked Crack Canyon, we parked near the main road and road walked in but today I drove the Taco all the way in. There was a small camp and another car at the trailhead. We only ran into 4 other people in the canyon.

Starting in

Cool Subway Section

The next section of narrows had a few obstacles to downclimb. They seemed a whole lot easier this go around.

Obstacle that stopped me last time

The next section of narrows was my favorite. They were deep and narrow but too short.

After the third section of narrows we should have turned around but we kept on going. The canyon widened and had a few sections of mini narrows. After getting to a junction we turned around and headed back.

The hike out seemed to get hotter and longer until we reached the narrows again.

Back at the truck there was a cooler with some ice cold Mountain Dew waiting for me. It was nice.

What a great hike. Enough challenge to keep the crowds at bay but not too hard to require ropes.

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Wild Horse Mesa

Took the truck out for a drive Saturday down to Wild Horse Mesa. The drive down was nice, I passed by a lot of campers getting ready for Easter and others just enjoying the weekend. I couldn’t believe all the people parked at Little Wild Horse trailhead. It surprised me even more to see a lot of cars parked at Ding and Dang. I stopped just after Ding and Dang trailhead to have lunch and get some photos.

After Ding and Dang, that would be the last time I saw anyone else until reaching Highway 24. The road through the wash was great but soon it climbed out and up top. It got a lot rockier and definitely required a high clearance. It looked to be storming all around me but I never did see a drop of rain. Which was good because the road heading towards Factory Butte would have been a nasty mess when wet.

The road drops down into the Muddy River valley near a neat old cabin. It has a great chimney and a second story. I stopped and explored here for a while and checked out the nearby corral.

The Muddy River crossing was next and I wasn’t sure what to expect. The road leading up to it was deep sand and required 4 wheel drive. There was a blm sign almost completely buried in the stuff. The crossing though was a piece of cake. The water wasn’t very deep but I left my truck in 4 wheel drive to make it up the small sandy bank on the other side. I even engaged the rear locker just to try it out. While engaging the locker I might have been quoting this line from Dodge Ball:

I started to hurry after the crossing because the road was the dirt that would become a slick snotty mess when muddy and the clouds were moving in closer. i stopped twice to find a couple geocaches and then I was out on US 24.

After getting to Hanskville, I had to stop at Hollow Mountain and buy a Mountain Dew just because it is such a cool place.

The ride out was uneventful and my new truck did awesome climbing up Spotted Wolf Canyon on I-70. I was glad I didn’t let the weather scare me away even though I did think about turning around once or twice.

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