Lads Adventure in the Backcountry

Dropped Caroline off at Salt Lake City airport, for her flight to Seattle (via San Francisco). Then headed South to create a rendezvous point for the start of the Lad’s weekend. The plan was to meet somewhere near Salt Lake City and the Backroads Discovery Route (BDR) in Utah. Darrin was driving down from Seattle, over two days, and would meet at the rendezvous point, with Tim following a day later, and location also not yet known. Then we would have a week of travelling the backcountry of Utah and trying not to get into trouble.

Saturday, May 27th, 2023. Start of Memorial Day Long Weekend

Found a very nice campground high in the Unita National Forest and Wasatch Mountains. Darrin was running a little late and due to cell coverage issues, had trouble finding the campsite. So, with the sun fading, we switched rendezvous points to a campsite just a mile off the big road. Getting Darrin’s trailer turned around is difficult, and even more difficult in the dark. But we got it done and soon were tucked up in bed. Our camping neighbours were having a little party, but slept through that. It was good that we were together, even if it was not at the originally planned location.

Let the fun begin. Leaving the main road for the National Forest.
Planned rendezvous point. Later changed.
Sunday, May 28th, 2023. Still Memorial Day Long Weekend

We slept in. Darrin had driven a very long way over the last few days, and we decided on having a rest day at this campsite. If Tim would have made it before dark, then we would have moved back to the other spot, but as the day went on, it was clear that Tim would arrive after dark. Which he ultimately did.

Free campground, where we enjoyed sunshine for the day.
Fire burning as we wait for Tim to arrive. Beers are in the fridge. Tim drove from Livermore in California.
Monday, May 29th, 2023. Last day of Memorial Day Long Weekend

We planned to join the BDR and head North. So, up the forest road we went and it was not long before we got to the BDR. Once on the BDR, only a mile later we realized that the high elevation and large quantities of snow, would mean a northern route would not be possible. So, we turned the rigs around and headed South. On the south direction we only got half a mile before running into some serious mud, from the snow melt. Tim managed to slide his truck and trailer slightly off the road, and extraction required use of his winch. It was still early in the morning, and clearly we had to stay below the snow-line, so we aborted this BDR entry point. And while we all wanted to head North, the decision was made to head south on normal roads and re-gain the BDR a lower elevation. Which we did.

The gremlins continued to plague Tim, and he managed to pick up a stone which punctured his tire. A field plug, or three, was not successful, so the spare was swapped in. That delayed us 1 hour and 14 mins. Nonetheless, we had a wonderful day and glad to pull into the campground. Found an excellent spot, with a huge fire-ring and a stack of firewood. First day on the road was a good day.

Tim causing trouble. It was not even a rocky road.
First night on the Trail. Tim deployed his bat wing.
Tuesday, May 30th, 2023.

First port of call was to jump off the trail and head to Castle Dale for Tim to get his non-functioning spare tire fixed. He managed a partial fix, it would hold air, but not really safe for highway driving speeds. But fine for the backroads that we were doing. It was not long before we were back on some two track and heading South again. In fact we were on the Old Spanish National Historic Trail for a while. And we were also on the BDR.

It was not long before Tim managed to pick up another stone and another tire puncture. This time he was able to plug it and be back on the road in under 10 mins. A few hours later he noticed the plug was not completely holding air, so a can of fix-a-flat was used, and that held the leak for the rest of the day.

There was one section of road that had been partially washed away, and the work-around was a bit of a challenge. Molly went first and made short-order of the off camber. Tim’s rig and then Darrin’s quickly followed. It was not so bad after all.

We camped very near Smith’s cabin. Once the wind died down, there was a slight insect problem, because we were close to a small creek. Hmmm, not the smartest move.

Along the Old Spanish National Historic Trail
We ended up camping very near Smith’s Cabin.
Huge steaks supplied by Tim were cooked for dinner. This was one of three.
Wednesday, May 31st, 2023.

Another day and another run to a tire repair shop. Tim was trying to source replacements tires, but his exotic wheel size was not helping. So, he started to source new wheels and brake calipers as well. We took a direct route to Moab, in the hope of getting new tires. And while that was not successful, it gave Darrin and I a chance to explore this quaint little Utah town. And a chance to get coffee and re-supply the quickly dwindling beer supply.

The tire was repaired very quickly and was rated for highway use. So, back to 4 fully functioning tires for Tim. We were adjusting plans on the fly to accommodate these unanticipated activities, and we found a local trail north of Moab. It was a good idea to head there as South was not really the direction any of us wanted to go. We went to Book Cliffs and Sego Canyon. This was a really good choice and we had some stunning scenery. We also got to visit a ghost town.

Adventure continued to find us. As we were going up the narrow and winding canyon, a Parks vehicle coming down made a poor choice when trying to let me pass. He was stuck in the ditch. But shovels, maxtrax and his sizable winch had him free quite quickly. As we were scouting for a place to camp, adventure found us again. Tim was coming down an aggressive slope and somehow managed to tip his trailer. We do not know the exact details of how this happened, and will probably never know. Molly drove to his location from the opposite direction and rigging was deployed and winch operations soon recovered the situation. Unfortunately all of Tim’s recovery gear was on the down side of his trailer, but we had enough equipment to right the trailer. And no significant damage was done to the trailer.

We found a camp just off the road, and somehow managed to pick a location near a swamp again. The insect tent was deployed for a second time to save us from the bugs. We had Voodoo Ranger IPA’s for dinner. It was a longish day and we deserved some treats.

Charlie and Sky, the dogs, were finally starting to get along.

Amazing cliffs along the trail.
The former mining town, now a ghost town.
Tim’s trailer not in the right place.
Camp for the night.
Wednesday, June 1st, 2023

With all of this adventure, we decided to reposition ourselves further North. Darrin wanted to head back to Washington, and Tim and I had an idea to head to the Pony Express Trail, another historic trail. The weather was not looking so good at the Pony Express Trail, with thunderstorms in the forecast, regardless we just headed North making up plans as we went.

And then, at the exact spot we started this adventure five days ago, Darrin’s truck blew a serpentine belt, and his truck was no longer functional. A tow truck was called. Tim and I said goodbye to Darrin, just before he hopped into the tow truck, and of course wished him the best of luck with the repair. Amazingly, a nearby RAM dealer got him back on the road in under 3 hours, including waiting for the tow truck and being towed.

Weather inspired Tim and I to change plans, and instead we headed to Bonneville Salt Flats. Both Molly and Tim’s rig went on the salt, but we set no speed records. This would be our last night as part of the smaller team, and we found a campsite overlooking the flats.

Rock Art in the Canyon.
Waiting for the tow truck.
Darrin is very happy.
Bonneville Salt Flats.
Tim and Sky of the Salt Flats
Molly and Tim’s rig on the Salt Flats
Friday, June 2nd, 2023. The final Day

Tim decided it was time to head back to his family, and I needed to start heading to Seattle. We packed up early and got on the road. First chore was to wash the salt off the trucks, and with good fortune we found a car/truck wash right beside the Starbucks. We travelled together along the Interstate 80 for quite a way, but I had to re-supply with some food and DEF for Molly, also I turned right to head up to Oregon. My initial plan was to head to Alvord Desert, but found a very nice hot spring with campground on the way, sort of on the way at least.

It was a great adventure with some good memories. We are all a little bit more comfortable with the capabilities of our rigs and ourselves. It appears that there was no lasting damage to anyone or anything. Charlie and Sky ultimatley became friends. And we certainly learned the lesson of keeping plans flexible.

Willow Creek Hot Springs. Great way to wash away the dust.