COOPER DISCOVERER - Trying to enter the Maze of Canyonlands ending in failure

#1
Ok, maybe that's being a little too hard on myself. But I do feel that the trip beat me; I planned and prepared for everything but had to call an end to the trip early.

Maybe some background first:

The Maze district of Canyonlands is the least visited of the the section of the park. Growing up nearby I had visited the other two countless times but The Maze district was still just something I had only seen in the distance across the river and canyons. The problem is The Maze is often cited as one of the most remote and inaccessible places in the lower 48 states. The distance from a major highway is far and distance from a gas station or services is even farther. Plus the 4WD roads into it crawl through difficult and rocky terrain, not requiring a rock buggy but plenty to put a high clearance offroad vehicle through it's paces. Oddly enough nobody has ever died in the area. Mainly because the few people who visit it know that the area is to be treated with the utmost respect. If you have a problem, help is a long way away., and that's assuming you can find help since the number of hikers, campers, and offroaders nearby be counted on one hand. The park service posts plenty of warnings that getting a tow out can cost $2500.

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I reserved my 3 campsites (Panorama Point, Maze Overlook, Dollhouse) a month ahead of time but the email confirmation never came and 7 days out I was panicked I had lost my spots. I went online to salvage what I could and found the sites were still open to reservations. In fact when I reached Hans Flat Ranger Station to check in I noticed the reservation book was still completely empty for the days I had chosen, for 3 days I was going to be the only person staying the night in the entire Maze.

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First day was mostly just getting to the park, and setting up camp; it was the first week in June but temps were already upto the upper 90s during the day. End of May and beginning of June is also the peak season for Cedar Gnats which I have never seen in numbers like this. Imagine clouds of fruit fly sized Gnats that have bites 5 times worse than mosquitoes. They also didn't seem to be fazed by the heat or bug repellent. Plus no wood fires allowed so no way to scare them off. I'd recommend trying one of those mosquito coils, maybe a steady stream of smoke next to you will help keep them away.

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After making dinner I hiked from the campsite to the actual point of the mesa to enjoy the sunset.

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Day two was a beautiful sunrise over the La Sals. I was excited to venture deeper into the Maze.

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Cont.
 
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#2
The road to Panorama Point wasn't the worst I'd seen but I had bottomed out the truck regularly on ledges. Some areas required picking a line to avoid being high centered. But worst of all the bumps and ledges were constant, it was rare to be in smooth enough trail to get fast enough to get the speedometer to register anything. After 2 hours of trundling along you start to get impatient. In one seeming innocuous ledge I bumped into it with a bit more momentum that I expected. Enough to bounce me in my seat. 30ft later I noticed bumps becoming more jarring and the truck was leaning to the passenger side. I got out to check why and heard the horrible hissing sound of a tire puncture. 1 minute later, dead flat.

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Sidewall damage, radial cord cut, time to buy a new $300 tire. I usually run BFG All Terrains but these Goodyears came on the new truck and were brand new 3 months old. I will NOT be replacing them with the same (sorry Goodyear, my faith in you is gone. That was not a bad rock you lost to).
Although I had tire plugs and a full size spare I was not even 1/3 of the offroad mileage into my trip. Plus I was out here solo, and hadn't even gotten to the worst of the trail yet. I had to decide if I should risk another puncture or scrub the trip.
I split the difference and decided to bug out to Green River and Moab to see if I could buy a replacement. Then after sleeping over there I would return to the Maze and goto the Dollhouse.
Turns out neither city had my tire in stock (Come on Moab! Offroad meccha of the west should have some tires on hand.). So I decided to tool around Moab checking out the things I usually just pass by on my way out of town.

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I was still dying to do some camping so I headed up the La Sal Mountains to escape the heat for the night.

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#3
Third day I started home taking the scenic route.

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Checking out some ghostowns in Cisco and Sego.

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And the ghost people of the land. The Sego Canyon panel is almost as large as the Great Gallery in Horseshoe Canyon but can be visited by passenger car and a 20ft walk. It's a Barrier Canyon style pictograph by the same people as Horseshoe Canyon and in San Rafael roughly 2500-8000 years ago. The figures painted look like aliens ranging from 5-7ft tall.

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Even if it was technically a failure every day of the trip was great, I don't regret a minute of it. It may not have gone as planned but even in the face of problems I was still able to make a great week out of it. That's the whole point of planning and preparing for any expedition, if things do go wrong you still end up having a great time and not becoming a statistic or cautionary tale told to others ofwhat not to do.
And either this fall or next spring I'll be back and make all the way through The Maze.

Full photo albums here:
Day-1 https://goo.gl/photos/FYS3Mwy2cVazwNrL8
Day-2 https://goo.gl/photos/CPQNan22rCL315g39
Day-3 https://goo.gl/photos/CPQNan22rCL315g39

Instagram of photos @DustinBaughPhoto

Google map of planned trip route, actual trip route, and where the photos were taken.
https://drive.google.com/open?id=1wuNRfZriyft4mn_s_0T1s9-DbbM&usp=sharing
 
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mph

Expedition Leader
#4
sorry...looks like you made it a great trip though! by the way, where is the shot taken of the redrock and the nice stream coming down it? doesn't look familiar...no worries...the Maze isn't going anywhere, you will be back:)
 
#7
Beautiful pictures, a little caution is common sense,I had 2 flats on new tires in DV. You didn't fail you just went with the flow,be like water.See if you can get a wing man next time.
 
#9
Very nice photos!
Sorry about your tire failure, did you air down?
I was going to ask that too, that kind of rock damage to a tire, and all the jumping you mention; happens mostly when running full pressure.

But anyhow, it looks like the trip, according to those beautiful pics; was worth it.
 

lwg

Supporting Sponsor
#10
Looks like a success to be honest, as others have said it'll still be there.

As for the tire puncture. I've put multiple patches in a single tire and they hold up well. In theory you could infinitely patch a tire for low speed use and be fine. I once had 3 separate patches in a tire and it was fine for off-road.


Sent from my Toaster
 
#11
Looks like a success to be honest, as others have said it'll still be there.

As for the tire puncture. I've put multiple patches in a single tire and they hold up well. In theory you could infinitely patch a tire for low speed use and be fine. I once had 3 separate patches in a tire and it was fine for off-road.


Sent from my Toaster
Sidewall patches do not hold long, too much flex.
 
#14
by the way, where is the shot taken of the redrock and the nice stream coming down it? doesn't look familiar...
It's just above Ken's Lake south of Moab. It's a diversion of Mill Creek...goes through the Seely Tunnel and into Ken's Lake (a man-made reservoir). It's not a natural stream bed, but makes for nice photos. There is a campground just below the spot in the photo.

The Maze has always been one of my favorite spots on the planet...spent a lot of time there back in the 80's in the ol' Scrambler. The last time I was there, you could still drive the old road that descended the east wall of Horseshoe Canyon...to within a few hundred feet of The Great Gallery. I'm actually glad they closed that road. On several occasions, I spent 3-4 days in The Maze and did not see a single other person. My standard trip was to go down the Flint Trail and out via Hite...epic ride.
 
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