Q. How do you eat an elephant?
A. One bite at a time!
So, after typing up about 15 single-spaced pages (don't worry, I'll edit!) and going through the 758 photos I took with two cameras, I'm finally ready to post the report.
However, like that elephant-eating thing, I'm going to take this one in small bites, so here goes:
Day 1, Tuesday, April 17th:
Here I am, all packed and ready to leave! Mods I made specifically for this trip include the addition of a Yakima rack using the Yakima Landing Pads and Control Towers for a quick and easy on/off, the two RotoPax 3 gallon gas cans, the Scangauge II to replace my Ultra-Gauge, and the Garmin Nuvi 256 GPS unit to augment (but not replace) my ancient Magellan Meridian, which itself was relocated from a suction-cup mount to a RAM-ball mount attached to the dash with double-sided mounting tape.
View of the Scangague from my dash. Set up to show TFT (Transmission temperature), DTE (Distance to Empty, my de facto fuel gauge), MPG (instant MPG), and AVT (tank-average MPG.)
I will do a supplemental report that deals with the equipment I used and how well it did/didn't work.
So, to start, I rolled out of home at 0725 on Tuesday, April 17th. Met w/Michael at parking area West of Denver and suggested he go over via Loveland Pass. I took the direct route to Grand Junction, arriving well ahead of our scheduled 2pm meeting time. I took the opportunity to fill the truck and the two RotoPax gas cans, and to top off my food and ice at Wal Mart.
After about an hour, I located Michael pretty easily. His truck is hard to miss!
Scott joined us about 3pm. We shopped, talked and then drove together. Although originally we'd planned on meeting in Green River, the decision was made to meet up with Ted and Brian in Moab rather than Green River. We drove into Moab via I-70 and then UT (Cisco Road.) The views in the canyon were amazing.
We Met with Brian, Jim (Brian’s dad) and Ted (and Harley!) in Moab. Had dinner at pretty decent BBQ restaurant, the Blue Pig. Although I'd thought we'd camp the first night, it was dark by the time we got done eating. Scott, Brian, Jim all decided to motel it, but Ted, Michael and I scouted for a campsite. As we could not find one after dark, we stayed at the rest area that’s near the Hole in the Rock Gas station 12 miles South of Moab. I was happy to discover that the 4runner is a half-decent “stealth camper” for one person!
Day 2, Wednesday, April 18th:
We woke early to the sound of diesel engines starting and stopping (this was a rest area, after all!) and drove to Moab for breakfast. We topped off with gas at City Market, and then had breakfast at the Jailhouse grille. BTW, for those who might need to know, City Market Opens at 0600!
We then drove to Canyonlands Island In The Sky visitor center via UT 313 (paved route.) On the way we passed by Horsethief/Mineral Bottom road (our return route) on the way up.
At the visitor center, we picked up our backcountry permits and confirmed our campsite locations. We also got last minute road and weather info. Ranger went over rules, had Scott and I sign statements that we understood and agreed.
From there, went to start of Shafer Trail switchbacks, aired down. It was an incredible drive down the switchbacks to the start of the trail – Potash Road jct, the official beginning of White Rim Trail (WRT.)
Drove out, very nice drive along WRT. Stopped for lunch around noon. Picnicked on a ledge perched almost 1,000' above the river below:
The road zigzags back and forth past a whole bunch of "cuts" in the rock, meaning that it was very common that I'd be heading one way and the rest of the guys would be on the opposite side of a gorge heading the other way.
These are our two Explorers. Ted on the left and Brian on the right.
Scott, bringing up the rear.
We reached the campsites at Airport by 2:30. These Campsites very dispersed – even though the rest of our group was at the closest campsite (Airport D) we couldn’t see or hear them from our site. Airport A and B were even further away, about ¼ mile. Campsites were very large and flat. There was a pit toilet for each 2 campsites making porta-potties unnecessary.
Nice evening, gorgeous sunset and then a bit of clouds and rain. It was still cloudy by the time we got to bed.
TO BE CONTINUED...