Wednesday, May 23, 2012

White Rim Road Trip - On the White Rim, Day 3

Thursday, May 17, our third and last day on the White Rim Road.  We were once again up early, but this morning we were greeted with beautiful clear blue skies.

Morning at Potato Bottom
Potato Bottom campsite.
After our usual camp breakfast we packed up and were on our way for the last leg of our White Rim adventure.

Leaving Potato Bottom.
Just a bit past the Potato Bottom campsite we would encounter our second challenge - Hardscrabble Hill.  Hardscrabble Hill is not quite as steep as Murphy's Hogback, but there are some very sharp switchbacks and a longer climb to the top with a few steep sections.  Also the road has some sandy spots, particularly on the downward (for us) side.

The start of Hardscrabble Hill
The 4-Runner on the first switchback from below.
The 4-Runner up ahead.
After finishing the first part of the climb (4-wheel low required) we reached a plateau area where we stopped to admire the views of the Green River below.

The road we came up on.
A long view of the road.
Yet another view of the road.

The Tundra at the top of the hill.

Michael and Mike

We'll be headed back down to the river in this direction.
After our picture taking, it was time to get back on the road and start making our way back down to the river.

A little more uphill before we start down as we approach another tight, narrow switchback with a very steep drop-off.  These were typical of both Murpy's Hogback and Hardscrabble.

As we go down, the road runs along a narrow shelf above the river.

The shelf road above the Green River, you can see where we're headed in the distance.

On the shelf.

A sandy descent, but I'd rather have sand going down hill than up hill.
One again, we were very glad we didn't meet anyone on the narrow road as there were very few turnouts.  Hardscrabble Hill was not as bad as Murphy's Hogback, but it had it's own challenges.  We were glad to get back down near the river again.

Back along the river.

Another narrow shelf road, but not so high up.

We were right along the river here.

A bicyclist ahead of us.
We were just about done, the only problem areas left were some sandy washes.  Ever since our past desert experience of getting stuck in a sandy wash, Val and I have had a fear of being caught in the sand again, so this would be a test for us.  As it turned out, we faced our fears and made it through just fine.  It was pretty deep in places, but with 4-wheel low range, we plowed right through.  We met quite a few bicyclist is this area and I felt sorry for them.  The one thing you don't want to do driving through sand is slow down and lose your momentum. Also, with Michael following behind, his visibility was zero and if we had stopped he may have run right into us. That meant a lot of dust for the people on bikes, but there was nothing we could do.  

We soon passed out of the park and hit Mineral Road, the last leg of the White Rim Road.  Mineral Road is an easy dirt road which is passable in 2-wheel drive vehicles.  It is a little narrow and steep in places as you go through the switchbacks, but all in all, an easy climb out.

Mineral Road

Mineral Road, you can see the switchback straight ahead.
We were soon at the top and what did we see - paved road.  Not great pavement, but pavement nonetheless, it felt as smooth as glass.  We actually could drive at 45 mph.

Pavement ahead!!!

Back on the pavement.
Our White Rim Road adventure was almost over.  We hit the main Island in the Sky Road about 45 minutes later and we were on our way back to Moab.  The morning's drive didn't take long and we were back to Moab around 11 AM.  To our great delight our hotel rooms were available and we all made a run for the showers and clean clothes.

The White Rim Road was a great adventure and a lot of fun.  To be down in the canyon, on your own for three days was quite an experience.  It is a weird feeling to know there was no water, doctors, gas or anything else other than what you were carrying yourself.  The drive is very rough and challenging in places and you'd better have a 4-wheel drive vehicle with a low range and low gear and high clearance with skid plates.  As I put the pictures together for this blog, I thought "this doesn't look so bad", but believe me, it's worse than it looks.  For 4-wheel drive enthusiasts who spend their time on the more difficult trails, the White Rim Road is probably not much of a challenge, but to us casual off-roaders, this was plenty challenging.  Micheal and Mikie were great traveling companions and we all had a lot of fun together.  

That's it from the White Rim, I'll fill in the end of our trip in another post.

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