Flatlanders Go West

#32
Great report! I've been to some of the areas in the San Juan's and MT/WY and I feel, like I'm in the travel party-great writing and documentary. Looking forward to the rest of the story. Wife and I are planning on a return Sept of ‘18 so taking notes of your camping stops. Any thoughts on pulling a small Offroad trailer through the San Juan's? And Alpine loop?
 
#33
Great report! I've been to some of the areas in the San Juan's and MT/WY and I feel, like I'm in the travel party-great writing and documentary. Looking forward to the rest of the story. Wife and I are planning on a return Sept of ‘18 so taking notes of your camping stops. Any thoughts on pulling a small Offroad trailer through the San Juan's? And Alpine loop?
Offroad trailer would have no issues on the loop, its not really that rough at all. Imogene pass and Black bear pass are a little rougher, but if you are running a good hook setup you would still be fine.
 
#34
Great report!

I just went through that area a couple months ago. My sister who lives in Idledale (near Morrison / Red Rocks) was doing a foot race across Imogene from Ouray to Telluride. I met her in Telluride after the race and gave here a ride back to Ouray. Spent a little time exploring the area. Beautiful but as you said, expensive and crowded. I preferred Ouray over Telluride. I spent the night in Montrose and then took 50 across to Pikes Peak before headed up to Arvada to see my folks.

I love CO but too crowded and expensive for me. Great place to visit though!

I posted on your XJ build thread. I noticed that you have the back of your hood elevated. Mine runs hot when climbing big grades, especially in the summer heat. Has that helped yours and where did you get the spacer?

Thanks.
 
#35
Great report!
I posted on your XJ build thread. I noticed that you have the back of your hood elevated. Mine runs hot when climbing big grades, especially in the summer heat. Has that helped yours and where did you get the spacer?

Thanks.
The spacers are from Ksuspension. I can't attest to them helping or not due too the fact I never really wheeled without them and I still had moments when I needed to pull off to the the jeep cool a few times
 
#38
Read through the trip report and it looks and sounds like it was a blast.

Im glad to see people are doing trips and trails in an XJ. I added you and the leather shop on IG.

Hope to see more great things.

Oh , btw Im down in Cincinnati if you guys ever make it down this way from Kokomo.

Cheers!
 
#40
Part VI
Green to Red

IMG_20171227_141709_491 by Emerson Bowling, on Flickr
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N37°53'10.28"
W107°50'52.21"
Alta Lakes Campground, Co

September 20th
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DSC_3561 by Emerson Bowling, on Flickr​
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Excited for the last trail in the San Juan mountains we clean up fast to drive back into and through Ouray. Do to some terrible planning on my part we were doubling out back through Ouray because Black Bear pass is one way down the switchbacks. But lucky for us the scenery in the san Juans never gets old. After about an hour drive we find ourselves back on the Million Dollar Highway south of Ouray, Jeep hit 214,000 miles on the way to the trail!
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Finding the trail head for black bear I pull off, air down, and disconnect.
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We quickly start a start a steep accent to the peak of the pass. 12,840 feet and the last time we will be at this kind of altitude on the trip. Obligatory pictures with the signage and we start heading for the switchbacks and the part that makes people a bit leery, the off camber section on the edge of the mountain.
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A decent and another climb we pull off too let domo run and cool off the Jeep. Also figured it was a stop to break and relieve myself, turns out I was wrong. Some guys in an Fj Cruiser popped over the hill, if you guys happen to read this, im sorry lol
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Zipped up and back in the Jeep we head for the switchbacks. After some drop off we flex our way down the trail and happened to come upon a girl in the middle of the trail. We come to a stop to have a chat, she is in the middle of an adrenaline fix. Grabbing onto a cable left over from one of the mining outfits that spans across the valley, she runs from the far end of the trail and sprints off the ledge, swinging over a ravine with a creek some 75 feet below. She gets to the end of the swing and makes her way back to solid ground offering us a try. We both say no. Shoulda said yes.
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Leaving her we head towards the off camber section, I see why people are a bit leery here. We slow crawl down and around the edge of the mountain. Brakes squealing, a rock face an inch off the passenger side mirror, terrain leaning the jeep hard to the driver side. Looking out of the driver side is a drop off, rather large drop off. A pucker moment for sure.
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We make it down this section and park at a large area that makes up the first switchback. Beautiful. Another trail and our last trail in Colorado with incredible views. Cant wait to come back to this area again.
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Back in the jeep we head down the rest of the switch backs that finish the trail. Easy stuff for us after driving Morrison. Good 10 or 20 minutes we are back on pavement in Telluride and a good thing because we were hungry. We find a place that has outdoor seating for Domo and find a parking spot. Walking down one of the cleanest towns I think I've ever been in we get to La Cocina De Luz, small Mexican place which of course being in Telluride is organic, bringing organic prices along with it. We suck it up and order our food and head outside. Some time later we get our $35+ street tacos and dig in. Wont deny that it was good, but worth the money I don't know.
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Full, we walk back to the Jeep to head back up to Alta Lakes Campground for our last night in the San Juans.
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September 21st
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Quick pick up at camp in the morning and we are off to Montrose. Sad to be leaving the San Juans but excited to see what Utah has for us. We make it in time for McDs breakfast. Sausage & Egg McMuffin and googling for a GPX track of our route today. I found a trail called Rim Rocker while digging around on Expo Portal some time ago. Seemed like a newly put together route of dirt and rock that goes from Montrose to Moab. Looked very easy but we figured it would be a fun way to cross into the state instead of on the HWY. Having found a track online we got it downloaded and headed on our way.
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Aired down to a conservative 23psi to help eat up some of the inevitable washboard roads. Leaving the "Staging" area we head off on a forest road going through Uncompahgre NF. Easy travels on this road all the way to the town of Nucla. Heading north from there on a rocky trail, the terrain starts to change to red. Bumpy side roads bring us to the top of the same valley that HWY 141 runs through. Great views as we turn down hill on Q12 Road to cross the highway. Little bit of back tracking on 141 and you turn R13 Road. Following this trail into a maze that comes back out of the valley on the other side. Following this road for almost two hours the surroundings green back up as you make your way into the Manti - La Sal NF.
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Just off the designated RR trail is the Buckeye Reservoir and the campground surrounding it. We getting to the area about an hour before sundown. Empty, no camp host, no other campers. Odd, thinking maybe the campground was closed we take a look at the notice board and see nothing of the sort. Works for us. We pick a good spot and start to open everything up, Jordans finger feeling a bit better now so she is again a big help and we are quick making dinner for the night. Chicken fajitas, one of my favorites. Jordan starts a fire in the massive fire pits provided at each site while I finish up. Eating to full under a full moon and crackling fire. We head up the latter not long after.
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September 22nd
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Morning at Buckeye we have our normal breakfast. Itching to get to Moab, we make quick work of the clean up and get back on the trail. As the green scenery again turns red, we find ourselves in Utah only a few minutes later. Dirt turns to rock, rock to sand and then back, we make our way on backroads all the way into Moab. Already early afternoon we decide to not hit any trails until tomorrow.
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First up was to find an actual hotel to stay in, having not slept in a real bed or taken a real shower for about 2 weeks now we figured it was about time that happened. Not to mention we were really getting low on clean clothes. So we start googling the cheapest hotel that will work for us. We settled on Riverside Inn, sub $150 and a washer and dryer. Perfect, we head that way to get checked in and find some dinner after that.
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Paid and room keys in hand we get unpacked and shower before we go out. That shower felt incredible, different shades of dirt colored water went down the drain for a good 10 mins. Jordan hopped in after me and I started looking up somewhere to eat dinner. Few minutes later we head out the door for Eddie Mcstiff's for the outdoor seating. Driving through Moab the town was neat, so many cool offroaders. Saw the new JL's still in camo, $50k Jk's being trailered by $80k Diesel tow setups. Insane the amount of money on the streets here.
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Pull into Eddie's and squeezed the Jeep into a parking spot between a beefed up 3rd gen 4runner and a JKU. Domo on the leash we get sat at a nice table outside. Burgers and Beer ordered, we are excited for our first good meal in what seems like a week. funny how trails can really take it outta ya. Food arrives and its gone not long after. Good stuff for sure. We pay and head back to the hotel for the night.
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September 23rd
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Slept in a bit today after a good night in a real bed. We get out of the hotel around 11am, stopping at the Wendys in town before heading to Sand Flats RA. Hope to get down with Fins n Things and Hells Revenge. Get to the park and pay the entrance fee, we head right to the start of Fins n things. We stop and Jordan starts airing down the tires, I disconnect the sway bar and ensure the locker operation is bueno. Jump in and we are off on our first moab trail. FnT is a pretty mid trail I'd say with some steep rock ledges to climb, the most difficult being optional. I'll let the pictures do the talking from here. Apologize for how little I took of both of these trails.
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And my only picture of the Jeep on Hells Revenge, again disappointed in how little I took on these two trails
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But I did get a couple shots of the camo'd up Jeeps that were out on the trail. JL wrangler, current MY Cherokee and compass, and a camo'd new Cherokee
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We finished hells revenge with no real struggles and had lots of fun. Starving we make our way back to the hotel to shower and head out to town and eat. This time we opted to leave Domo in the Jeep and eat at an Italian place called Pasta Jay's, pretty good and it was nice to sit inside to eat, had been awhile. Full on Noods, we get back in the Cherokee to an excited Domo and gave him the breadstick he deserved. Spotting an ice cream place on the main drag we park on the side of the street and walked into Moab Garage Co. Ordered up Strawberry in a waffle cone and Cookies n cream for Jordan. While waiting for the goodness, I was approached by a guy who saw us on the trail. He ask how the Cherokee did, talked a bit about the build and then I asked what he was driving, turned out to be one the the JL guys! Talked to him a bit, seemed to really like the new wrangler. Got our ice cream, holy cow that was some good stuff!
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Made our way back to the hotel for the night. Excited for Poison Spider Mesa tomorrow.
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To be continued...
 
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#41
Depending on which GPX of RR you downloaded, it may have been the one I was on during the logging. And yes, that campground was empty when we went by it in early June- although we camped in the forest about a mile or so before.
 
#42
Awesome report so far! My wife and I did a similar trip to this for our honeymoon just before your trip last year for 2 weeks straight hitting the morrison then up to Glacier NP and lots of places in-between. Can't wait to get back out there! Looking forward to reading the rest of your thread!
 
#43
Part VII
Slickrock
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N38°35'15.80"
W109°33'32.50"
Moab, UT

September 24th
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Laundry done, we check out of our room at the Riverside Inn. Poison spider Mesa is the trail for the day then a small nook of a campsite for the night near Gemini Bridges.
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Packed back up into the Jeep we head to Wendy's for some quick food and then the gas station for a top of before heading out of town to scenic byway 279.
Couple miles out of town and we are driving along the Colorado River, passing a dozen or more rock climbers climbing right off the highway. Jealous I didn't bring the gear to lead climb I try to ignore them, that didn't work. Definitely a place I'm going to have to make another trip out to just for climbing. Add it to the list of climbing places we seem to be running into on this trip.
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Get to the Poison Spider Mesa (PSM) trail head and double check tire pressures, locker actuation, and make sure the sway bar is staying where it is suppose to. Guy saw us prepping for the trail and came over, asked if I knew how the trail was. Having never been on it before I showed him some pictures I had downloaded before we lost signal along with the trail rating I pulled off the website. From everything I read the first section isn't that difficult, just some small rock ledges. Asked the guy what he was driving and he points over to an older Subaru wagon on street tires, turns out he was wants to get up to a bike trail not 2 miles into the trail. Asked him if he had a spare tire, patch kit, or air pump. No to all three. I don't think he ended up driving up that trail.
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In the Jeep we head up the trail, very mild start, 2wd mild. Rock turns to a soft sand until you make it to the first named obstacle of the trail. The "Waterfall" comes out of the sand up a steep rock ledge, followed up quickly by a fairly tight uphill left hander. From there you pick your line up some alternating bumps that are sure to flex your setup. This then turns right into multiple steep ledges to finish out the Waterfall Obstacle, the first being the hardest cut ledge at around 4 feet high. These continue at around 2 feet each ledge, coming to a final gain of 10+ feet over 4 or 5 ledges. Very fun obstacle to do and a good start to see if you want to continue on with this 6 rated trail.
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After the waterfall you made your way up easy climbs until you see the trail take a tight cutback up another steep ledge. Luckily this hairpin is in a wide open bowl that gives you space to line up for the ledge if you need it. I take advantage of the space and do just that. Back in 4low after the adjustments I edge the tires up the ledge. Throttle up a bit and my view turns from red to sky blue as that ground disappears. Front tires up, the rears come up the ledge next while dragging the bottom of the rear bumper and exhaust. After the ledge the climb continues up about 45 degrees, flexing the axles left and right as you turn right for another ledge. Jeep pops up this ledge with little fight. This is the last mentionable ledge for a bit as the trail goes back and forth from rock to sand.
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Next major obstacle you come upon is an optional V Notch, I feel like I remember this being named but I cant find a sign in my pictures or info online. This was my first V notch and I did not approach it correctly at all. made the same mistake coming back down it, which I'll talk about later. I for some reason get nervous, for the lack of a better word, on these and cant get myself to keep the tire out of the bottom of the notch. Didn't cause any catastrophic issues but makes the obstacle more difficult than necessary. Jeep makes it out unscathed none the less.
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After the notch the trail is somewhat smooth sailing. Switched seats with Jordan and she did some of her first offroading. Mixed feelings about it as I probably had her on a bit of a difficult area for a timid first timer, ledge that the bottom half of the front bumper drug up before getting to the tires. Couple miles and we come up to the pull off that a lot of people take a lunch break, you can walk right up to the rim of a canyon giving you a view of so-called "Little Arch". We stop here for a break and to check out the view, getting as close to the edge as I was comfortable with. Incredible. Great family photo spot
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From here we head back onto the trail and this is where I started getting a little lost. There is a few trails that branch off of the Poison Spider main track here and I think we ended up getting on one of these, and back off, and back on, Up and down lots of fairly steep slickrock climbs. We kept driving around until I hooked back up with the bold black marks left by years of aired down tires. Back on the PSM we finish the loop section of the trail and are now backtracking the section we came in on.
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Back down the V notch, which I messed up again. Hope to come back out sometime again and not screw that one up.
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Continue to make our way down the steep climbs we completed a few hours ago, including the Waterfall. This was just as challenging and fun coming down as it was coming up. So much so I turned around and did it again
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We were both starting to get hungry so after having my fun we headed out of the canyon and down the ridge to the trailhead. This was the last trail I was planning on doing so I took the time to air the tires up, reconnect the sway bar. Back on the highway, we make it back into town around 5:00pm. Hoped to get the Jeep into a shop to get a tire rotation but I just missed the last slot they had for the day. So I set up and appointment for the next day and we headed north back out of town. Shooting for a remote campsite near Gemini Bridges.
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Sun coming down as we are slow moving on dirt trails about 30-40 minutes out of Moab. The sky turns red and purple as the sun hits the horizon. Utah is amazing, seriously considering a move out here someday. We make it to a small camp, hidden away from wondering eyes and perfect for the night. We set up camp, Jordan starts some mac n cheese, I throw on some smoked sausage. Done in a few minutes we watch the rest of the sun go out of sight next to a fire, Domo fetching one of his toys til he was finally to tired. He plopped down next to the RTT ladder signaling it was time for bed. No rain, no clouds, no bugs so I took the rainfly off the tent and opened up the sky windows. Cool crisp night and our first under the stars in Utah. Who needs a hotel.
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September 25th
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Suns up and coffee hot, we relax for a few hours, no plans besides a tire rotation. Jordan reading, Domo chasing around lizards, figured why not try to get a little bouldering in. Haven't gotten to climb for about a month now and with this sweet rock right in our campsite, now it a perfect time. Digging my dust covered shoes and chalk bag out of the back of the Jeep, I gear up and start eyeing a problem together. Dusting off holds here and there, marking out the line I start with a hang and throw my left arm up to the first move. Hand lands and grips, causing a red cloud of dust to pepper me in the face. This will be interesting. Dust off some more, again, little bit more. About 30 mins later I'm finally able to send my own problem, at the same time deciding I cant be taking long breaks in climbing like this anymore.
Run through the problem a few more time to make sure I'm good and worn out, cut hands, panting, odd looks from Jordan while I kick my own ***. Good enough.
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N38° 35' 12.38"
W109° 41' 54.01"
Strugglebus (V3)
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Rinsing off the sweat, we start packing up for our tire rotation back in Moab.
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45 Minutes later we pull into Grand Tire Pros. Nice people that have no issues rotating/ balancing tires on a vehicle with spacers, unlike all of my local shops back home. They say give them and hour or so and itll be ready, hand over the keys and pack a small bag full of bowls and food for Domo. Perfect day out to be walking around town, we made our way to the deck of the Peace Tree Juice Café. Nice shaded place right on the main drag, dog friendly, and excellent food. Starving, we order half a Nacho app to split. Also end up with a quinoa salad for Jordan and I order a "Doug's Burger", pepper jack cheese, tomato, avocado, bacon, red onion and jalapenos on a 1/2 angus burger. NO MY GOD that thing was good, another good restaurant choice if anyone is look for suggestions for there next trip to Moab.
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Taking our time we finish up and head back to the tire shop. Domo sniffing everything we pass and enjoying the attention from every time we pass someone who locked eyes with him.
Come within eyesight of the Jeep, I do a walk around as usual when someone else works on my cars. Lugs nice and tight. I head into the lobby to grab the keys and pay, $25 later we are out the door and back on the road heading back out to your camp spot to finish of our relaxing day.
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Back on the Gemini Bridges road, we pull off and actually explore the GB area. Massive boulders and small arches we climb down and around into a small cavern, carefully passing Domo back and forth over 50+ feet deep cracks in the rock .
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We make our way out into the open, a view of a canyon to the left that if you follow ends to the right with a view of the Gemini Bridges. Jordan and Domo opt to stay back while make my way onto a narrow walkway that juts out into the canyon 50yds or so. Further out I get the less rock I have to my left and right, adrenaline pumping I get down to a crawl and look over the edge, incredible. Snap some photos and head back to my rightfully worried family.
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Safely, we make the scramble up to where we parked the Cherokee. Back to our hideout we set up take with plenty of time to relax and watch the sun set, recounting out days adventures over some soup and later coffee next to a warm fire.
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September 26th
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Another slow rise for us, only plan is Arches and nothing else. We pack up around 1pm and make our way to the main road. We soon find ourselves waiting in line for the entrance of the National Park. Through the gate we get some maps and fill up the water jugs at the info center, ready to check things out, we are hit with the brick of reality. Arches is just like Yellowstone, over crowded. After spending basically the last 2 1/2 weeks jumping from National Forest to National Forest after leaving the Yellowstone/Teton area we have gotten use to having no one near us when out "adventuring" in these areas. But just like Yellowstone, the people and more importantly the resurgence of the TYPE of people that are now visiting the mainstream parks completely turn me off to these places. So once again we kind of just skipped over another NP.
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Now almost time for dinner, phones come out to search for a place to eat. A cool night out opens up more options, we can be "Bad" parents and leave Domo in the Jeep while we eat inside for a change. We end up at Arches Thai, having not eaten Asian food since Wyoming we knew this would hit the spot. Full and paid we had back out to a sleeping Domo, back to the hideout we go.
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Jordan sets up the tent while I build a fire. Sitting with coffee and staring at the embers, we decide tomorrow we will leave Moab. Come morning we will be heading further west for the last week of the trip.
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To be continued...
 
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#45
Hey man great job on this report. I don't know why i finally remembered this, but I read it all and your writing skills are excellent. So jealous of the trip. I was supposed to go last May to Moab and Ouray but life got in the way. How's the next 1 going to go with 2 dogs? Again thanks for taking another Midwesterner along for the ride. Im going to have to hit you up for camp spots when i finally make it west.