8 days, 7 nights and 600 miles of offroad across Utah – StanceWorks Off Road – by Jim Bob Barnett
8 days, 7 nights and 600 miles of offroad across Utah – StanceWorks Off Road – by Jim Bob Barnett
I started planning this trip a long time ago, in my free time. When it was finally time to leave, I left Santa Barbara around 9am on Saturday to start the long trek towards the St. George area to meet up with Chandler and Chris at the trail head of a spot I like. I stop at the falls pretty much anytime I'm heading anywhere in Utah or Colorado cause it's a good halfway point, but over the past couple of years I've noticed a huge increase in the amount of people that go there which sucks. Fortunately, we lucked out, got to the falls, and made camp with only one other guy on the other side of the waterfall. I didn't take many pics cause we were busy just catching up and enjoying camp.
The crew left to right - Chandler, Chris and me:
And here's where the trouble started.... as the first day of the trip was really getting going I said we should jump off the falls. (I've been here countless times and swam in the falls a lot)....well Chandler and Chris jumped in no issues and I guess I just jumped too far and hit my right foot hard on the bottom which resulted in a badly sprained ankle! What a way to start the trip off, after this I wasn't sure if I should continue with the trip but there was no way I was gonna bail after so much planning. So we took the low trail out from the falls which is always fun as it criss-crosses in and out of the creek and has some pretty exciting sections. After that went to the local pharmacy to get supplies and a compression wrap for my ankle.
Now I didn't get as many photos or videos that I normally would, because getting in and out of the truck was a real pain in the ass with my ankle, so you'll have to excuse the lack of photos of us wheeling.
Anyway, my friends have a private ranch outside of Kanab, UT that they gave us access to, which has an old movie set on it so we decided to make the stop and check it out. The television series How the West was Won and Daniel Boone were filmed there along with these movies: The Yellow Tomahawk, Fort Yuma, Duel at Diablo, The Plainsman, Cutter's Trail, One Little Indian, The Apple Dumpling Gang Rides Again. I wish we had more time to explore because it's a several-thousand acre ranch that butts up to BLM land that you can only access from their ranch, so there's literally no one back in that canyon. That's gonna be my next trip to Utah.
Here are a couple of photos of the site before it burned down:
I damn near stepped on this beautiful little Great Basin Rattlesnake (Crotalus Lutosus)!
Next up we stopped at some slot canyons I had been to that are up this dry riverbed. I had never seen anyone else there on my prior trips; however, being Memorial Day Weekend, I expected a lot of other folks around. We lucked out, and there weren't many people there. Even if it had been busy, it'd have been worth the trip. Most slot canyons require a reservation and a tour guide; these are just out on public land up a dry riverbed.
After that we high tailed it towards Lake Powell where we took a couple of easy trails to find camp by the water. I love this area so much because of how many different colors you see in the cliffs and buttes that surround you.
We ended up finding this awesome spot a little ways away from the water in this little sand dune beneath this giant cliff face. It was incredible.
We woke up the next morning, roasting as the sun was just blaring down on us. Chris and I got up, packed up camp and headed to the water while Chandler made breakfast. Unfortunately my ankle was starting to look and feel worse.
That day we had a rather ambitious schedule ahead of us. We diverted from our original route to hit Grand Bench. I believe we recorded about 150ish miles, all offroad, and didn't see a single other truck the whole day. Ideal.
Anyone who's run Grand Bench knows that the trail is a punisher, not because of difficulty, but just how long and rough it is. The first part descending and then climbing out of the canyon is fun and somewhat challenging, and then it's just rough....
After that we headed off on some other trails to try and find camp. I didn't take any photos at actual camp this night cause we all were wiped and just relaxed by the fire.
The next morning we headed towards town via a network of trails, and stopped to take in the sights. These are where the dinosaur tracks can be found, and this is where I was bummed I couldn't climb around, because I would have loved to check everything out around there
We stopped for gas and then hopped right back onto dirt through more of Grand Staircase and Capitol Reef NP.
From there we headed towards the mountains, where we eventually would reach 10,500ft, only to find our trail was blocked by a snowdrift! Now I know Chandler really wanted to try and dig and get through it, but we ended up just diverting and going down and around to a trail that connected to the one that was blocked which worked out well.
Later, a slash I had in my sidewall finally gave way, but it only took a few minutes to get the spare on. Installing the spare itself was an endeavor: I forgot to get my matching spare before the trip, and the offset of the stock spare made the tire rub on the upper control ar at full lock. That meant we needed to stop in town to get the spare tire switched back onto my SCS F5 wheel. It was astupid mistake on my part. So thanks to Chandler and Chris for helping me switch the tire out since I was hobbling around. After that was all sorted, we headed down the mountain to a lower elevation to find camp. We ended up finding an awesome spot by a little pond.
That next day we realized we were behind schedule on getting to Moab. We hit the trail towards the highway, skipping a huge part of the trip I had mapped out, but we needed gas and I needed to get my tire fixed, so we relied on the highway to carry us towards Moab.
So we stopped in Blanding, UT to get my tire fixed and grab some lunch, if you find yourself in Blanding make sure you stop at The Patio Drive-in! It's got some seriously good food!
After refueling both ourselves and the trucks, we headed towards Lockhart Basin, which is a must for me when I'm in Moab. It's one of my favorite trails ever, due to the scenery and varying terrain. You climb in and around those ridges and buttes for miles and miles (this is an almost all-day trail). Unfortunately Chandler had some business to take care of, so he skipped Lockhart and headed straight to Moab.
After running all of Lockhart, we decided to continue onto Chicken Corners and camped there, right above the Colorado River. It was windy that night, but the giant rock did a great job of keeping the wind at bay, and I put the rainfly on that night just in case. We had encountered some rain earlier and it looked as though it may come down again.
That next morning we continued towards Moab, where we were gonna meet Chandler to run some trails, but ended up running into him on Kane Creek Rd and decided to just "quickly" run Kane Creek Canyon.... This trail was an eye-opener for me and it really did test both me and my truck. At one point I didn't think I was gonna make it, given I was on 33's with the flippac on, and Chris/Chandler are both on 35's. The trail starts off pretty mellow with a couple of tight obstacles. The first one we came across had huge group of jeeps stopped just after. Chandler went first and rubbed his doors on the big rock on the passenger side, Chris was next and tagged the same rock with his bedside. At this point I was bummed cause I really don't want body damage. I'm fine with bashing up the armor cause that's what it was for, but doors are off limits in my book. So I took a line that hugged closer to the drivers side, up a big rock and almost tipped into the rock that they hit, but somehow managed to stay out of it and squeezed through thanks to Chris and Chandler spotting me so well. I don't have any pics of this or anything before the big obstacle on the backside of the trail, as we were just driving and not concerned with pics at this point. Disappointing, I know.
And now onto the big obstacle that both Chris and Chandler got up with relative ease, despite the huge ledges and rocks. This is where I realized that if I wanted to keep doing trails like this I need to step up to 35s, because I was getting hung up in spots where they weren't. Before I went up, a guy in a SxS looked over and said "this trail goes from like a 3 to a 9 pretty quick huhm" and he wasn't kidding. I seriously can't thank Chris and Chandler enough for spotting and helping me through this section, with my ankle it was super hard to try and feather the throttle, so I would get up over something and just couldn't control the brake and throttle smoothly, so I was getting really frustrated.
After we finished the trail we all were pretty exhausted, so we got lunch in town and then headed towards a swim spot to relax and cool off
After that we camped by the trail head for Fins and Things in a whatever campground. We just wanted to rest and eat, plus we planned on running Fins and Things the next morning. It's rated difficult, but it's pretty much the typical intro to Moab trail I feel like. There's nothing difficult about it really other than some steep drops which I hit my rear bumper on and knocked it out of alignment resulting in a bent jerry can holder. I plan on having my jerry can basket relocated up higher on the swingout because as it is it sticks so far off the bumper you really don't have great clearance.
Now I didn't really take any photos on this trail. It's so well covered, I just didn't really care. At the end of the trail was where our paths finally diverged. Chris and Chandler were going to continue onto Hells Revenge, which is where I decided to start my trek back home. In hindsight I regret not running Hells Revenge with them, but I was exhausted, and with another tire damaged (which I didn't notice untill later) it was probably a good call. I also wanted to scout out some other spots we had skipped, so I went into town and re-upped with water and food and headed towards the SW corner of Utah where I did some exploring and camped at one of my favorite spots in all of Utah.
And that's about it! It was a trip of a lifetime, and I'm grateful to have spent it with such great people, and can't wait to get back out there again!