Sunday, April 2, 2023

3/30 - 4/2 Camping and Off-Roading in Moab on the Rogue Overland Winter Expedition

It was that time of year again for the Rogue Overland Expedition 2023! This looked to be the biggest year yet with 39 trucks in attendance. The guys at Rogue planned this trip to be out in Moab, although thankfully on different trails than we did just a few weeks prior. Fresh off our last trip, Nina decided that one visit to Moab a month was sufficient so her and Winston stayed home for this one. The plan was to meet up on the trailhead of the 7 Mile Rim at 0730 on Thursday morning so Lou and I decided to split a hotel room Wednesday night after the 7 hour drive so we could arrive fresh in the morning to start the weekend! 

Day 0 - Wednesday
Wednesday was not an exciting day as I started work at 4:00am that day, worked, packed up and crushed the 7 hour drive out. As luck would have it, I watched Lou roll into the hotel parking lot from across the street after filling up the gas tank so we arrived within mere seconds of each other. We got our room and looked to get dinner somewhere in Moab. However, due to the late time we arrived, our best option was Wendy's so I got to ride shotgun in the Jeep as we hit up the drive through. We went to bed for an early wake up the next day.

Day 1 - Thursday
Thursday was our first real day on the Expedition and we woke up excited! We munched down on the free hotel breakfast and made the short drive to the trail head arriving a few minutes early so we could say hi to all our friends we haven't seen in a while. After airing down, Nick gave his typical welcome brief in between gusts of dust as the weather was already getting cold and windy. Once complete, it was off on our first trail - the 7 Mile Rim. 

The biggest obstacle on this trip wasn't a rock or a trail but rather the size of the group. With a group of 39, it was difficult to get things moving but the guys at Rogue had a plan! They split us all into 4 squadrons each with a squadron leader so we could move in smaller groups. Lou, Mike and I were all in the blue squadron which was a great group even though I would have preferred the red squadron to match Bruce the Bronco's red color. 

Once we all got rolling, the 7 Mile Rim took us up and out of the Moab valley below and into the mountains offering great views of the other squadrons below (our squadron was first). Our first stopping point was the Uranium Arch. However, during the climb out, the weather had gone from cold and windy to cloudy and snowy as flurries were starting to fall. This made visiting the Uranium Arch really unique since it's rare to see snow falling over the red rock desert landscape let alone spiraling under an arch.

After a quick stop and an apple break, we continued on ahead enjoying the snow. Our pace was a bit slower since the rock was slick but we made it to lunch right on time just as the sun started coming out. The guys at Rogue picked the Merrimac Butte since it was a large area to give everyone plenty of space. Bruce the Bronco and Juniper the Jeep had front row seats! 

Next was the big obstacle of both the day and of the weekend called Wipeout Hill and was the main attraction of the 7 Mile Rim trail. This obstacle features a rugged descent into the 'wipeout' portion where, rumor has it, vehicles wipe out quite often ascending. Thankfully, we were descending. The Bronco registered a 33-degree descent at the steepest portion of the obstacle but made it through with little issue. In fact, everyone in our group made it down with only minor rubbing and maybe a few squished exhaust tips. Unfortunately, neither Lou nor I took any photos of the obstacle so you'll just have to wait for the Rogue Overland official YouTube video for footage! 

Following a success descent on Wipeout Hill, we were in for an unexpected treat as we were exiting the trail. We passed a Jeep event where they were testing out future concept Jeeps both gas and electric. Pretty cool! 

Then, we quickly drove through town to get to our next trailhead - Hurrah Pass. This trail takes us to camp that night at the Base Camp Adventure Lodge, which is on the trail, for a fancy catered dinner and raffle! 

After quickly setting up camp, our friends Mike and Lizzy's dog Rocky got into a tiff with another dog from camp and was bitten on the ankle which punctured it. He seemed okay initially but Mike was concerned about it getting infected especially if Rocky was running around in the dirt. We decided to quickly get some catered dinner, pack up, and take our two vehicles back to town to find an emergency vet. I found out later that I won the AT Overland Equipment water Rotopax mount which is something I will put to good use on the next trip.

During the drive out, we cut the time in half  in an attempt to beat sunset which we did. Since we didn't have service, Mike and Lizzy used their Garmin inReach to text Nina who was back at home asking her to look up local vets. Nina found an emergency vet on call in town and was able to relay the information back to them so we had a game plan once we hit pavement. Once we arrived, the vet shaved his ankle, cleaned it out, gave Rocky three staples which he took like a champ, and wrapped it for protection. After taking the first dose of his new antibiotic, Rocky was good to go! Once Rocky was taken care of, we decided not to run the trail at night so we camped at a local KOA campground. 

Day 2 - Friday
Friday morning was an easy morning for us. We knew the group wasn't rolling out of camp until 0800 and we estimated it would take them an hour and half to get back to pavement (it took us 46 minutes to complete it the night before). After sleeping in, Mike decided to take advantage of our free time and take a shower. I chose not to since I woke up in a hotel just the day prior. Once we were cleaned up, we meet the group at the trailhead. There was mild confusion about the meet up point and time since there was limited cell phone service. I felt the root cause was that I didn't have any satellite device so I remedied that by buying Beardo's Garmin inReach so I'll be better prepared for next time! 

We met up with the group around 1000 which was right what we estimated. From there, the Rogue guys made sure Rocky was good. It was clear that everyone felt bad about what had happened the evening prior even though it was an accident. Once we joined back up, we pushed for gas before driving up the La Sal Loop in Manti-La Sal National Forest. This loop was higher elevation so still snow covered in some areas. We stopped for lunch at a large turnout with a great view of the surrounding area! 

Post lunch, it was a short drive to our next trail which is the backside of Onion Creek; however, the year's abnormal heavy snowfall caused the trail to still have feet of snow on it despite being a little later in the year. We attempted to break our way through by sending one of the heavier full size trucks through while shoveling but it quickly bogged down and was difficult to recover. I personally think the lighter-yet-still-decent-horsepower Bronco could have made it but we didn't know how many deep snow pockets existed so it wasn't worth continuing to try. We were defeated by the snowy mountain just like Gandalf at the pass of Caradhas. 

The guys at Rogue rapidly formed a back up plan - instead of wheeling into Onion Creek, we would just take pavement to the trailhead for it and run the trail that way. Although it did take awhile to turn around such a large group, we were all moving that way in no time! 

The weather was finally getting a little warmer so I decided to take the top down at the start of the trailhead and I'm glad I did - Onion Creek quickly became the highlight of the trip for me. Although it was a short trail, it took us along the Onion Creek in the canyon between two towering rock faces with plenty of water crossings. Although it wasn't a technical trail, we couldn't get going too fast but just fast enough to make a splash as we hit the river. I ended up getting too close behind Lou and the Bronco interior got a little wet but no biggie. 

Before the uphill out of Onion Creek, there was a last river crossing which was very high from all the recent snow melt. It ended up being a blessing in disguise that we had to turn around on the mountain pass since we would have ended up turning around once we arrived at the river crossing. 

After Onion Creek, we headed out to camp at the Entanda Bluffs. This was a big area wide enough for the entire group which worked out nicely. Starting the night prior, I had started to sleep in the Bronco since I was too lazy to set up the tent single person and tonight was no different which gave me plenty of time for other activities. This was my first night at camp so it was great to walk around and catch up with the gang and meet some new faces. 

Day 3 - Saturday
We woke up refreshed and ready for the next event on Saturday knowing this would be our last full day. After breaking camp, we drove the few short miles back out and hit some highway miles going west. We drove for about an hour before arriving at our destination which is an old missile testing facility called Area 52. Although it had been abandoned many years ago, the building structures and general layout remained the same. It was interesting to see how government buildings were set up with large server racks and built in space in the ceiling for wiring. 

We stayed for about an hour and a half before getting gas then pushing towards our last trail which I'm going to call the Green River trail since I don't know the actual name of it. This trail followed the Green River (which was actually more brown like most desert rivers rather than green) and had a few fun obstacles for us along the way. This was the first day where it actually got a little warm so we all started turning our A/C on. After moseying through the trail, we ended up at a bend in the river and made camp there. 

Our camp was a cool unique spot that was broken up into three different levels with camping options on each. A majority of the folks chose to stay on the ridgeline but we chose to camp down near the river since I wanted to stay out of the wind and be a little closer to the flowing water. I dared Mike, Lizzy or Lou to jump in the river but none of them wanted to. Shocking! I went as far as having a drink by the river but I wasn't jumping in either.

Once at camp, Mike gave Rocky a nice bone to chew on which he enjoyed despite his ankle still being wrapped. His injury seemed not to phase him but he was still getting fed his antibiotic everyday just to make sure it didn't get infected while Mike and Lizzy were changing his wrap everyday as well. We stayed down at our lower ridge line for most of the night since it was pretty windy up top but we all turned in a little early since it was a full day.

Day 4 - Sunday
We slept in a little bit the next day but Lou and I decided to split off to start heading home. I think us going to Moab just three weeks prior made us ready to go so we could unpack before the start of the work week. Mike and Lizzy decided to stay with the group and drive further away from home and check out Capitol Reef which was the agenda for that day. They said it was a great day so we added Capitol Reef to our to-do list time permitting on our next Moab/Colorado push. We got home around 5PM with time to unpack and start laundry. 

Overall, it was another great Rogue Overland trip and looking forward to the next one! 


1 comment:

  1. Looks like another great trip!! Especially love the snow pictures & so glad your group (although large) was friendly & enjoyable. Also happy that Rocky recovered well! ❤️