By TJ Bosworth, Utah Crew
A final journey for the year is one which is not soon to be forgotten. Beginning in the early hours of an October morning, where in Salt Lake City the weather had started to turn chilly. Coffee was the first thing on our minds as we dragged ourselves from bed. We wanted to hit the trail as soon as possible, and hoped the drive south would be quick. Five hours later…we found our dirt just south of Mount Carmel Junction. It was already lunchtime so with the hissing of the air escaping our valve stems, we scarfed down a good ol’ Lunchable and some Pringles. With tires aired-down and sway bars disconnected, we hit the dirt cruising.
I was excited to cross the river a few times; however there had been little information online about this trail. What I could dig up didn’t explain much aside from the numerous crossings for which it is known.
24 splashes later we were about to find out. We glared at something that seems all but possible, hoping that it wasn’t the only way up. A one-hundred-yard hill of soft pink sand loomed before us, with sandy tracks evident of past struggles. I could only assume that the weight of our rigs would be just enough for failure. My friend had minimal experience in such a situation, and we decided it would be better if I attempted the climb in her Jeep first. Staring down at the bald tires, I was certain that disappointment would soon follow. I climb into an unfamiliar Jeep only to be surprised at how effortlessly it glided across the soft sand to the top of the hill. Unfortunately, I had jumped the gun and the videographer didn’t have a chance to get set up. Isn’t that always the case, though? You manage to lose all evidence of the cool stuff that you had achieved. “But…, but I swear!”
After sliding down the hill on my butt, I looked at my Jeep with its brand-new mud terrains and lockers thinking it would be no problem at all. Within seconds I was proven wrong. Was third gear a mistake? Possibly, or maybe my 14-PSI load range D tires didn’t flex enough to bulge and keep me afloat. Luckily the tread kept on digging and after a few minutes of gulping down gas, my trusted Jeep found hard ground. Side by side again, I jumped out of my Jeep and shook my head at my friend, she won this time.
The evening ended with a short climb to the best views of the day. Overlooking the valley to the south finally gave a chance to see the terrain through which you came. With just a short gain in elevation, the scenery made an immediate change. Red dirt turned to white and junipers were replaced with towering pines. Among the white dirt, we found our camp. The first overlook to the south was beautiful and even had a nice cool breeze to knock the warm temperature down a bit. Perfect cuddling by a fire weather. The sun went down just as the beers emptied and our stomachs filled with gourmet brats. It was a matter of minutes that our eyes shut after hitting the pillow. It’s amazing how driving can make you so tired.
The next day began yet again with coffee in hand. The trail ahead was nothing compared to the previous excursion. Only a couple hours passed and we were airing up and ready to hit the pavement. On a quick side note, always be careful when working around a hot ARB compressor. It can and will burn you and mock you for life!
Anyway, with this trip being such short notice, we managed to not bring enough food. Lunch was in order, and quickly. In the tiny town of Orderville, population 573, you may figure that there would not be much around. We were surprised to find in the corner of town right off Highway 89 stood a restaurant by the name of Sammie’s Chuck Wagon. A charming little building serving up pizza, frozen yogurt, smoothies, coffee drinks, and local sweets. Tourists packed into Sammie’s from the smell of fresh baked pizza. We placed our order and stood outside to wait. We hear our name called and open up our boxes with pleasure. Our pizza bombs were still steaming hot, so we sipped our smoothies down until the pizzas were just cool enough. Although one was a good size, I could’ve easily eaten two. I guess that meant we just needed to order dessert. Two coffees to go, a cookie and donut were sure to fill the remaining space in our bellies.
Just one last fuel stop and we were on the final stretch home. I was not ready to be back in civilization just yet, but there is never a time when I don’t have yet another crazy adventure to look forward to. Until next time, keep it wild!