And so the saga of the Travl’n Mahhgsta
continues. I have been a solo hiker for many decades, always lugging a camera along, always looking for great subjects, and great light. These jaunts are typically 5 to 8 days, and often extensively off-trail. My one concession to an encroaching geriatric condition was to acquire (and always use) a SPOT.
One of the last things I did before hitting the road this trip was to make a bracket to hold my SPOT centered on the dash, where it could get a good look at the sky. Ms. Mahhg and other interested parties can check the web page and watch my track, reported at 10-minute intervals. I also use the “I’m Okay” messaging regularly.
In the previous episode, we left the intrepid Mahhgsta
returning to the main "road", after a night in the bush. I had tried to follow a marked route to the canyon rim, but 14 miles of this sort of terrain was way harder than I imagined, and things did not seem right. When I quit driving for the night, I somehow got a poor cell phone call back to home, and Ms. Mahhg read off my decimal SPOT coordinates from the webpage. When plotted on Trails Illus, it had me ½ mile perpendicularly off the mapped route. More concern; never before detected anywhere near that much error in SPOT location.
Next morning, I watched diligently for my missing snorkel cap, to no avail. Did attain the known road/ location, did do some sightseeing in the 800 year old Native American ruins.
Then proceeded to backtrack south, and do a loop road that tended towards the canyon and an inviting trailhead. Did a bunch of map reading and calculating, and checked off mileages from the positive ID’d intersect, back to where I’d turned off the night before. Odometer said I had been on the right track (!) I thought I was on. Fancy that, a talking odometer! The 14-mile side track to the canyon was a series of more or less straight segments, with bends between. I plotted the route dead-reckoning, range and bearing per segment, and went back in; everything gibed. And, hooray, found the snorkel cap in a cedar tree, one that slapped me hard this time in, as it had before (moral: watch for clues). Hit last night’s camp spot, right on the track & map as it should be. No idea what was up with the SPOT data, but I suspect it was read or heard wrong. Oh well. Feeling entirely overconfident, I decided to forage on, as I was less than half of the way to the canyon edge/ overlook/ photo ops. Slow going, clouds thickening, and then hit a really knarly drop-off. Okay, go for it. Heart in mouth, remember, I have only driven a Mog on the highway, up to this point. Then, a worse drop-off/ switchback. God hates a coward……..
Get down on a fairly level basin, and stop to reconnoiter. Looks promising beyond, so start off again. Down more and around, I hit a really ugly patch, going up, narrow and boulders. Hit it without proper consideration, too fast, too high a gear, bounced, scraped, hit and threw a really big boulder. Did get through, but a bit freaked. Went on about another mile, as the thunderheads closed in and it started to rain. Nothing to do but stop and setup inside, sheltered at least, and hot food. Overactive imagination had me awake for the majority of the night, thinking about all the water on the nasty stretches I had to climb back out of. Thinking how I would rig my ground stakes and 200’ of winch rope to try and pull me up after I spin out in the mess, alone, no less. Thinking of the 25-mile walk just to get in cell range.
In the morning, it was really wet and cloud ceiling about 150’. Did breakfast, and then used the Lug-All to winch the passenger side lower step back forward to its position. The crunch yesterday was a hard sideswipe on the step edge. Winching broke one of the three attachment bolts, and so wired the whole thing to the battery box. In my infinite wisdom a few months previously, I had welded an arm to the step bracket (above the step) to hold the new water separator, more outboard and behind the fender, away from the line of mud-fire from the front tire. Wouldn’t do to tear off the step and my fuel supply, all in one fell swoop. Cleared up only a bit by 10 am, and finally decided no use fretting any longer.
Got to the scene of the boulder-rolling, got out and rolled it completely out of the way, and tootled on through, no sweat. One down. About the time I had crested the first nasty up-slope, it dawned on me that this was what I had being fearing last night. The other big nasty was more sand and loose crud on a steep and twisting set of ledge-y stuff. Shifted down, low 5th, I think, and cruised on up and out. No wheel spin, no fuss, no muss. Oh my, this is why one takes a Mog on this kind of adventure. A revelation.
After all that, getting back to the main track was uneventful. Turned north, and moseyed on up to a good camp spot above the top of Bobby’s Hole.
No cares, decent photo op, eat and sleep well.
Next morning, headed down Bobby’s Hole, going north to Canyonlands NP boundary, and in to Elephant Hill. The maps mark this as “Frequently impassable for 4 wheel drive vehicles”. There are some neat YouTube videos, which I studied before planning the route. This is a County Road (!), and does get some maintenance.
The nasty stretch is very steep, very loose, some ledges, and all on a narrow track cut into the rock face. If all the loose stuff washes, it is about impossible, so the County has put in some erosion mats (black fabric in photo). Still being new to the Mog-game, I put it in 3rd low, and drove on down, no clutching, only (occasional) touch on the exhaust brake. Now I’m really sold on the Mog-concept.
Rest of the drive to Horsehoof campsite was quite mundane.
Pictures that evening were somewhat less mundane.
And the view from the kitchen window the next, very leisurely, morning. Permit was for two nights here, so no rushing about.
To Be Continued........
Ed. Note: Did not intend to be such a laggard in continuance of this tale, but have been pretty well overwhelmed with a project since I returned. That project has required a huge amount of writing, and well, it took the edge off writing for fun.