April 1-5, 2010
With spring snow falling in Salt Lake City, it was good to head south to the town of Green River, Utah. The forecast for southern Utah looked marginal, but as usual the storm down south was not as severe as predicted. We had five families in total this year, and I believe everyone had a great time.
Barton; Scott, Terri, Andrew, Ryan, Peter, and Allison.
- Bradley; Paul, Liz, Lauren, Sarah, and Matt.
- Gardiner; Dee, Kim, Jamie, and Jason.
- Jolley; Kevin, Rebecca, Jarett, and Spencer.
- O’Brien; Sean, Jana, Shae, Lexi, and Brin.
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Thursday April 1: White Wash Sand Dunes
We left Salt Lake City at about 9:00 AM. Snow was falling as we drove through Spanish Fork Canyon, but luckily Soldier Summit only had a light coating of snow. Once we reached Helper, the roads were dry.
I wanted to go to Caineville this year because I thought the teenage boys would love it, but with the risk of rain and snow we opted to head for White Wash Sand Dunes. To our surprise, the place was dry as a bone. For the past several years we have driven through mud to arrive at the dunes, but this year it was dry and dusty.
We arrived at White Wash about 1:00 PM and parked near the O’Brien’s car. They went down on Wednesday night to get a jump on the riding. They weren’t at the car, but we happened to meet up with them on the Red Wash road.
Kim, Terri, Spencer, and Peter headed up the wash to the box canyon while I led the rest of the gang (Scott, Andrew, Ryan, Kevin, Jarett, and Jason) over to Brian’s Trail. Some of us had ridden Brian’s trail previously going north-to-south and it was quite difficult. I wanted to try it going the other direction. It was definitely easier, but still not for the faint of heart. There are a few ledges and cliffs you have to ride down.
The plan was to meet at the box canyon, but my group was late, so the others left before we got there. We did, however, meet up in the wash and returned to the box canyon for a group photo.
We then attempted to take the shortcut across the dunes and through the pass in the slickrock, but it was fenced off. We later learned (from the ranger) that they are getting ready to shoot a movie at White Wash. So we back-tracked and rode the wash back to the car.
Friday April 2: Rainbow Terrace, Secret Spire, and Spring Canyon Point
I was originally planning this ride for Saturday, but after obtaining a copy of the Jeep Safari schedule I determined it better to ride on Friday. On Saturday we would have encountered three separate Jeep tours with up to 40 Jeeps each. On Friday we would only encounter one.
We started on the nice dirt road to Tenmile Point and turned towards Dripping Springs where it crosses Tenmile Wash. This is always a fun stream crossing and gives folks a chance to get wet. I think Kim got wetter than anyone else this year.
We then rode the trail along Rainbow Terrace. This is a fun ride with a mostly smooth dirt road that follows sandy washes now and then. It then follows a slab of rough slickrock and has one challenging set of ledges to descend. There was a nice spot for lunch that was sheltered from the wind, but the smell of a dead cow convinced us to move on.
We rode on to Dellenbaugh Tunnel. A few years ago we missed a turn and never did find the tunnel. This year we found the tunnel and a nearby geocache.
After lunch we headed over to Secret Spire where we met a group from the Jeep Safari tour. They were parked at the spire, so we didn’t have to pass them on the road. We visited the spire and took a nice group photo on a beautiful clear day.
We then headed out to Spring Canyon Point which overlooks the Green River. A group of canoes were down on the water. I hope they got off before the major wind storm that blew in on Monday!
We took the fast route back to the car, but unfortunately Shae had a nasty crash near the “Money C” geocache on the map. She hit pretty hard, but had a good attitude and continued to ride the rest of the trip. She will have some nice battle bruises to show off for the next few weeks.
Saturday April 3: Black Dragon Wash and Cliff Dweller Flat
The Bradley family and Jamie were able to join us for this ride, so our group size grew to 23 (Rebecca stayed at the motel to watch conference).
We stopped at the pictograph panel and learned that the drawing I always thought was the non-black, non-dragon picture for which the canyon was named, is in fact not the correct drawing. Terri also indicated that there was a cave in the canyon.
We drove slowly up the canyon looking for the cave or another pictograph panel. After returning home an Internet search showed that the drawing is on this panel, but it is really a collection of about 4 separate drawings that look sort of like a dragon from a distance. Someone outlined it with chalk, which further enhances the false illusion. We also learned that the cave is supposedly behind the pile of rocks just to the left of the fenced off panel.
A few years ago a flood washed out part of the Black Dragon Wash trail. We hoped that by now it would be in better repair – but we were wrong. A few of the dry stream crossings were quite challenging.
Once we left the wash the ride was fun and fast. We rode around Jackass Benches and then did a fast loop around Cliff Dweller Flat on the south side of I-70.
The temperature really dropped as we went up in elevation. There were even spots of snow along the trail. A cold wind was also blowing.
We rushed back to the car so the men could attend the priesthood session of general conference in Green River. On the way back to the car, Jana’s ATV suddenly stopped. Then Matt lost his oil cap and oil was splashing out on his pant leg. Our family had new headsets for our two-way radios, so we were able to stay informed when situations like this came up. The headsets proved to be extremely useful and added to the enjoyment of the ride. We no longer had to ride in isolation – we could chat as we rode. We even got to listen to Jason sing at times!
Once we arrived at the car, Jarett tried to do a wheelie and managed to crash his bike in a ditch. Andrew was following closely behind, and ran over Jarett’s bike in order to avoid running over Jarett. Furtunately they weren’t hurt (except for their pride), but unfortunately we didn’t get it on video!
Sunday April 4: Arches National Park
On Sunday morning we drove to Arches and visited some of the overlooks that I usually just drive past. The idea was to listen to General Conference on the radio while in the car. Unfortunately our radio reception was very poor and we mostly just got static.
After a picnic lunch most of the group ventured out on the primitive trail in the Devil’s Garden section. This is a fun trail with several challenging obstacles to overcome. This is one of my all-time favorite hikes.
Monday April 5: Crystal Geyser
Only the Gardiner family and Barton family stayed for the full ride on Monday. The Bradleys stayed until noon, but the O’Briens and Jolleys had to leave earlier.
Due to an incoming storm we chose a short ride and headed over to Crystal Geyser, which is only a few miles from Green River. The Crystal Geyser area has several old Jeep roads, some well maintained oil well access roads, and some fun but challenging single track trails.
We started our ride at the Geyser (which unfortunately was not erupting). Kim, Terri, and Liz headed down the “Little Valley Road” and turned on to the “Canyon Road” where they were to meet us at the “Guy Jnct” waypoint. I led the bikers on the single track trail (shown in dashed red). I made a wrong turn and took the right fork instead of the left fork and ended up much further south. Kim waited for us at the proper junction, but we were a few miles off course. We were out of radio range so I sent Jason down the road to find them. By the time we got the group together again the Bradleys had to go.
The Gardiners and Bartons continued south along the canyon road and then the Crystal Geyser road (I made up some of these names for the map). We came to a steep descent down the cliff and then dropped into a sandy wash. The trail marked in red was very confusing with washes and trails going in all directions.
Once we made it to “Oil Well Wash” things were not so confusing. The ATVs rode in the wash bottom while the bikes (except for Scott who preferred the sandy wash) rode the single track trail that criss-crossed the wash. This trail has a million whoop-de-doos and really gives your legs a workout. This is the kind of trail that you absolutely have to stand up on or you will kill your back.
As we rode the wind got stronger and stronger. By the time we got to the overlook above White Wash the entire sand dune area was a massive dust bowl. I felt sorry for those camping down there. We zoomed back along the Ruby Ranch road and then the Salt Wash road heading back to the car.
We took a detour on the “Oil Tank Road” where I got the rest of the bikers started on “Guy’s Trail” single track, which led them right back to the car. I then led Kim and Terri back via “Salt Wash Road”, “Crystal Geyser Road”, “Jeep Road”, and “Gravel Road”. We arrived at the car about 10 minutes after the bikers that took the single track.
We quickly loaded up the trailer and were on the freeway headed home at about 2:00 PM. We made it over Soldier Summit with only scattered showers, arriving home about 5:15 PM and got the trailer unloaded just before the storm hit.
It was a great trip with some fun trails, better than expected weather, and a great group of families. I think everyone had a great time and got along well. I can’t wait for the next trip!