I was recently blessed with a couple weeks off between jobs. With this time I knew I had to do something special, something I ordinarily couldn’t do. I thought about Baja but a solo trip wouldn’t be something the wife would sign off on. Next on my wish list was a Utah and Arizona trip. With inspiration from a couple trip reports by WhiteH20 and xpdishn on Expedition Portal, I put together a route I thought would be amazing. Just how amazing was yet to be determined since I’d never spent any time in this area . Living in California, there’s plenty to explore so I couldn’t ever justify burning the extra 2 days travel time needed to do a trip like this.
It was looking like it would be a solo trip. I’ll admit I was a bit nervous but I was prepared as possible . My good friend Gordon was kind enough to loan me his spot locator and sat phone. Armed with these and my normal preparations, I felt comfortable enough moving forward with the trip as planned.
I spent a couple days prepping the truck with Gordon’s help. There were a few things that needed to be done like swapping out the uni balls in the upper control arms. I also installed Gobi’s new stealth rack for the F150’s.
With only a few days until go time, my buddy Andrew was somehow able to talk his wife into letting him go with me. This was a relief as I’d have someone else along with me in case of trouble. Most importantly, I’d have a good friend with me to share in what was going to be an epic adventure.
It was finally go time. We set off the Monday after Easter at 5am. Our destination was Mesquite Nevada. We made great time and reached Mesquite at 2pm. Nearly 2 hours faster than Google Maps had estimated. We topped off our tanks and headed for the trail head. The goal was to reel off somewhere between 30-50 miles then find a good spot to camp for the night.
Once we aired down, we began booking it down the trail. Within 10 minutes we were treated to a great view. We pulled over for a couple shots. We would end up doing this a lot during the trip.
We began moving again. We were taking in the views so the pace was slower than usual. Eventually the trail crested and we were treated to this.
We began moving again, but couldn't stop from pulling over for shots like this
After 2 hours or so we decided it would be a good idea to find a camping spot. I noticed a faint goat trail branching off from the main trail. I decided to scout it out while Andrew scouted out the main trail. I eventually stumbled onto this.
At first, I wasn’t sure what it was. Just seemed like a man made bowl. After the old brain had a second to process everything, it became clear that it was a watering whole. They had a pipe leading in from the stream to fill it. However, it was bone dry. Since winds were blowing between 20-30mph, it was a perfect spot set up camp. I called out over the 50 watt vhf to Andrew that I’d found our camp spot. I grabbed this cool shot of him as he made his way back across the dry stream bed.
We grabbed our chairs and set them on the edge of the bowl to take in it all in as the sun set.
We then fired up the grill and threw some carne asada. After drinking numerous adult beverages we attempted to get some night shots. We are by no means photographers so they didn’t quit turn out as good as we’d hoped.
Eventually we passed out for the night.
In spite of staying up late, we woke up around 6am. It must be something about camping but I just can’t sleep in. We decided to skip making breakfast and just down some energy bars. A good decision as it was going to be a long day.
Once we got moving we were greeted by epic views immediately.
I began to wonder if 190 miles would be a bit much for the day since it was apparent that we’d be making frequent stops to take in the views.
After roughly 30 minutes, Andrew noticed an abnormal sound from the front end of his truck so he pulled over to try and diagnose. By the time I pulled up (I had stopped a couple times for pictures) he’d narrowed it down to his steering. He wasn’t sure what exactly was wrong but he could tell there was some play in the steering linkage. After a few minutes I had the bright idea of having him turn the steering wheel while I watched. Right away it was obvious the rack was loose.
My heart dropped for a second as I figured a bolt had worked it’s way loose and was tossed somewhere along the trail. Luckily, I was only half right. The drivers side bolt had worked it’s way loose. However, Andrew’s aftermarket bumper covers the steering rack bolts so the bolt was still there. This presented another problem though. While the bumper blocks the bolt from coming out, it also presents access to tighten it with a wrench or socket. You’d have to pull the whole bumper which is no easy task since it also mounts to the lower control arm bolts.
Andrew decided to see if he could get some large pliers around the bolt. It worked! He was able to tighten it down. Nowhere near factory specs but if it were to come loose again, the bumper would keep the bolt from going anywhere so we were good to go.
From here the trail was a lot of fun, fast sections, dry creek crossings, sandy washes, pretty much everything. We talked about all the epic views. We even began trying to keep track of how many times we said epic. We were pretty much in awe the whole day…actually the whole trip lol.
Eventually we reached this
I’m not even sure what part of the Grand Canyon this is or if it’s even considered part of it. None the less, it was amazing.
We began moving again at a great pace until we reached a nice hill decent with a couple switchbacks. The trail was also very tight. Tight to the point where you’re blood pressure rises. We joked over the radio about how some of our gangs long travel trucks would not make this section. Well, unless they’re comfortable with their tires hanging over the edge by 6 inches!
After we made our way down, we decided it was lunch time. Perfect timing as we were going to need our energy for the next stretch. I scarfed down a PB&J with a Red Chair IPA. Don’t know why, but PB&J goes great with a beer!
After 30 minutes or so we packed up and got moving. We were excited to cover a lot of ground fast since we were well behind schedule. The road looked well graded so we figured that shouldn’t be a problem. Well, we couldn’t have been more wrong. Within a mile, the route had us leave the comfort of the well graded road for a rock strewn trail with plenty of washouts.
The going was slow…we probably averaged 10mph through this 20 mile section. We also gained about 4000 ft in elevation. It was kind of neat as I was able to see the difference between the stock Fox shocks and the Icon 3.0’s I had upgraded to. Andrew was in front and was holding me up. Not something that happens often since Andrew likes to have the hammer down on the trail. However, his stock shocks just wouldn’t allow a faster pace. For fun, I’d stop for a minute or two and see how long it would take to catch up. Not long haha.
I know most people looking to upgrade their shocks are always envisioning blasting over whoops at high rates of speed. But what they don’t consider is how much faster they can go over rough, slow paced terrain. Yes, I was only able to keep a pace of 15-20mph which isn’t blazing fast by any means. But it’s 50%-100% faster than the pace Andrew was able to keep. Had I been in front, I probably would have made it through the rough section 30 minutes to an hour faster than Andrew. Pretty sizable difference over 20 miles.
Well, I would have also not done this too haha
I missed the line Andrew had taken around the washout while I was hanging back and high centered.
Oh well, sh*t happens haha. Gave me an opportunity to try out the smittybuilt recovery ramps. Didn’t work but they came close. I was to high centered for them to help. I reluctantly pulled out my recovery strap and Andrew gave me a tug. Glad I wasn’t solo here as it would have taken a long time to get free. Although, I think I would have been a little more careful if I had been.
Eventually we cleared the rough terrain and began weaving our way through forest. We were quite relieved to be free of the bone jarring trail.
After we reached the valley floor, we made the turnoff to the Toroweap lookout. We quickly made work of this section and reached our destination in what seemed like no time at all. I’ll let the pictures speak for views.
It was really windy which was really disappointing. I had recently acquired a new drone so I was looking forward to capturing some unique photos. No way it would fly in this wind. Andrew and I could not hold a conversation if we were more than a foot or two apart.
The plan was to hit up Kanab point next but we were far behind schedule. It was nearly 5pm and we still needed to head into Kanab for fuel and find a camping spot. So we decided to skip the lookout. Something that seemed like a good idea at the time but I now regret not pushing through.
We grabbed a burger in Kanab and headed towards Corral Pink Sand Dunes based on a recommendation by wrmmt. We drove out there as the sun was coming down. Probably one of my favorite pictures from the whole trip.
The ridges of the dunes look like snakes slithering across the ground. We checked out the campgrounds at the park and it was far to windy for us to camp at. So we headed over to Ponderosa Grove campground (another recommendation by wrmmt). The sites were nice with toilets. Most importantly, very little wind!
We started the campfire and broke out the adult beverages. We decided to watch Interstellar on the laptop since the cloud cover would not allow for star gazing. Worked out pretty well especially with the laptop hooked up to my bose speaker. We passed out pretty quickly after the movie.
We probably slept the worst that night. It was so cold! probably high teens low 20’s. First time my sleeping bag let me down…I just could not get warm. We decided to pack up around 5:30am. It wasn’t worth continuing to get crappy sleep. When we got up it actually began hailing on us a little bit.
Saw this gem of a sunrise on the way into town.
We grabbed a quick bite to eat at McDonald’s in Kanab then headed for the trail head. Almost immediately we were treated to more amazing views.
Entering Utah and then the Grand Staircase.
This section was well graded and busy. We saw everything from cars to minivans. A lot of people out for spring break I guess. Eventually the trail ended at the highway and we hopped on for a few miles.
The next section was probably my favorite of the whole trip in regards to terrain. Lots of sandy whoops to blast over as we wound our way through the trail.
Next up would be the “Nipple Creek Trail”. Funny name but an awesome trail. We wound through sections of riverbed which were so cool.
The Grand Staircase began coming into view…and boy was it grand! Simply amazing.
At this point, I was in awe. Just when I thought what we had just seen couldn’t be topped, something new and just as amazing if not more would come into view.
Next was Alstrom Point. Alstrom point overlooks Lake Powell. The trail out was a blast too.
We parked at the edge of the overlook and scarfed down some lunch. We tried to eat outside but it was just to windy. Felt like we might be blown of lol. The trucks were actually swaying with some of the larger gusts.
We began making our way to Escalenta next. The scenery continued to be amazing as we made our way through the hills.
We headed right to the hotel after reaching Escalante. I had been day dreaming of a hot shower all day so I was pretty excited. The prior nights sleep had really wore me out. Upon check in at the “Country Cowboy Inn” I was informed that our room had bunkbeds. I swore I had booked to queens but at this point I didn’t care at this point.
Room was interesting haha.
I wasn’t sure I’d fit but I did.
We headed over to Escalante Outfitters where we had some great pizza before crashed for the night.
I had hoped to sleep in until 8am but for some reason it was impossible for us to sleep in past 6am on this trip. We quickly packed up and headed out. It was cold again. Truck read 27 degrees. I was a bit concerned about todays route since it would take us up to 9500 feet or so. Back in Kanab, the gas station attendant had mentioned the area had gotten some snow. I figured we could check it out and if we had to just turn around.
Sure enough there was snow!
Nothing we couldn’t handle though. We joked about how we had literally encountered everything you practically could on an off road trip.
As we booked it towards Bryce Canyon we came across these guys
We reached Bryce Canyon around 10:00am. Bryce is simply amazing and I wish we would have had time to hike and explore further. For this trip, we went to a couple of the main lookouts and took in what we could of the amazing views.
We then headed into town for some lunch before we started the 12 hour drive home.