Sunday, June 30, 2013

The rest of the Jeep adventure . . .


Fins 'n' Things Trail

Our Jeep rental went until 6pm, and it was 3pm when we arrived back at the Sand Flats Recreation Area. 

There was nobody in the Fee Booth when we arrived, and just a few people in the park.  This is definitely the quiet time of year around here!


Most brochures say that the Fins ‘n’ Things Trail takes 3-1/2 – 4 hours to complete.  There are two sections to the Trail, so we decided to try the first part and see how it went.


We got started climbing slickrock right from the very beginning!

Driving on slickrock

Going up!










Some of these hills were pretty steep, and we had just white paint marks and black tire residue to follow.  On the really steep climbs, I got out so that I could “take pictures”.  On some of these climbs, Nicolas or Bryce would get out and check out the other side of the hill so that Tom would know what to expect when he got to the top!

Almost to the top!

Sometimes the down side would be so steep that one of them would also need to guide him on the way down, too!  On other hills, we had several alternatives for getting down . . . Nicolas always wanted to try the one that looked like more “fun”!!

Trying to decide on the best way down

Working his way down, with Bryce's guidance

Climbing Down!










Almost there!

Tom was relieved to reach the bottom!!

Yikes - he made it!

We completed the rest of the first section without much trouble (in fact, I didn’t even need to get out to take any more pictures!), and with over 2 hours left to our rental.  The boys were determined to complete the full trail, so we headed over to section 2!

The next challenge

In the name of the trail, “Fins” refer to the steep, rounded, slickrock mounds, and “Things” refers to the gravel and fine red sand that is a result of erosion of the slickrock.  There was plenty of both! 


Nicolas just loved making the steep climbs, and he was really good at talking Tom through the climbs – slow and steady . . .

Still going!

Bryce’s favorite part was anything that made me scream . . . and there was plenty of that!

I'm going to die - I just know it!

Particularly, between the “Fins” the trail twisted and turned through the sand, and Tom took those turns as fast as he could in order to throw me around in the backseat!

We really are on a trail!

He loves this!

Nicolas managed to keep us on the trail, and out of any trouble, and we reached the final leg of the trail which was a series of fins in a row . . . we needed to go out to the end and then back again!

There was a shortcut that would have taken us back to the main road, skipping this section of the trail, but Nicolas wasn’t hearing any of that!!

This is a trail??!!

I guess we were up to the challenge, and we started up the first hill!

Going up again!

There were several questionable turns, and a few moments of indecision, but we made it through them all!

Help me!

They were afraid I wouldn’t get back in the Jeep if I got out, so Bryce took over taking the pictures!

The final climb was REALLY steep, so Bryce and I got out and walked around, after he guided them up the hill.

There they go!

Making their way down the final hill!

That was it – we made it through the entire trail in about 2-1/2 hours!

He can't believe he's doing this!


Tom’s nerves were shot by then!  LOL!


We had a half hour to get back to town, fill up with gas, and spray it off at the car wash . . . plenty of time!!






We stopped at the City Market to fill up with gas (right next door to Outlaw Rentals – thank goodness!), and after we finished filling up, the Jeep WOULD NOT START!! 

Tom tried several times, and then walked over to Outlaw to get Dwayne.  He came back with one of the other Jeeps and jump-started ours.  We made it back to Outlaw’s parking lot, and he determined that the battery had boiled dry!  We had been smelling a sulphur odor most of the afternoon (we thought it was coming from the rocks!), and Dwayne said it was the battery boiling.

We were SO lucky that it didn’t die out on the trail somewhere!!!!  Somebody was definitely watching over us that day!

It was a really fun day, one that the boys will remember for a LONG time, and fortunately a lucky day for us, too!

Jeep Adventures in Moab, Utah

They wouldn't give us one of these Jeeps!

Thursday was the day for our Jeep Adventure, so we were up bright and early, lunches packed, and arrived at Outlaw Jeep Tours before they even opened!  They were ready for us, though, and we quickly completed the paperwork while Nick & Bryce checked out the autographed Mustang bumper from one of their favorite television shows, Top Gear.

The autographed bumper from the Mustang

If I’m counting correctly, this is the 3rd location we’ve visited that was featured on an episode of Top Gear . . . it’s always a highlight for the boys!

Dwayne reviewed the Jeeps functions with Tom,

Going through the checklist

and we loaded up our stuff!  We had come up with a plan for which trails we were going to go on, which we reviewed with the Outlaw guys to make sure we’d have enough time.  They said we should be able to complete them, and reassured us that we had planned a great day!  We were ready to hit the trails!

Ready to hit the trails!

It was a beautiful, sunny day, and even though the high was predicted to be close to 110 degrees, it wasn’t too bad yet, and we had plenty of water!

A beautiful day for a Jeep Tour!



We drove north out of Moab, until we reached Potash Road, which took us along the Colorado River to our first trail – Long Canyon Trail.  We made the turn at Jughandle Arch,

Jug Handle Arch

and started up Long Canyon Trail.  The trail wasn’t too bad to drive on, but quickly started to climb up the side of the canyon!

Climbing the switchbacks!

Tom handled the Jeep really well, and the views as we climbed out of the canyon were beautiful!

Our Driver!

Beautiful views of the canyon!


We're almost to the top of the canyon!

We knew we had just about reached the top when we came to Pucker Pass.


Pucker Pass

The woman in the Moab Visitor Center had warned us about it – “You’ll come to a point where it will look like there is a big boulder blocking the road, but don’t turn around!  Just drive under it!”

Guiding Tom through the rocks!

Nicolas got out to guide Tom, but we had plenty of room!

Soon after Pucker Pass, we reached the top, and found several campsites overlooking the canyon.

View from the top of Long Canyon


From here, Long Canyon Trail took us to Highway 313, near the entrance of Canyonlands National Park.  The next leg of our adventure was the Gemini Bridges Trail.

Our 2nd trail of the day - Gemini Bridges

This trail stayed on the top of the canyon, and was actually pretty easy – we saw lots of non-4x4 vehicles driving out to the Gemini Bridges site, although Tom still managed to have some fun in the Jeep!

Having fun in the Jeep!

Walking over one of the bridges


Gemini Bridges are two side-by-side alcove arches, separated by a 6-foot gap.  Up until a few years ago, vehicles were allowed to drive over them, but them somebody drove his Jeep off and dies there, so now vehicles are no longer allowed.  I don’t think I would have wanted to drive over them anyway – walking over them was exciting enough!





On top of the bridge

The arch under the bridge











On the 2nd bridge

Leaving the Gemini Bridges parking area, we made our first attempt at driving over slickrock . . .

Our first attempt at rock climbing

. . . No problem!

Our plan from there was to go back the way we came, to Highway 313 and into Canyonlands National Park.  We did take a small detour down a spur trail where we ran into a group of mountain bikers from an Adventure Camp.

Waiting for mountain bikers

That looked like WAY too much work for a vacation!!  Several of the Dads said, “We should have rented Jeeps!”

Back on the Highway, we entered Canyonlands,

On our way to Schafer Trail

and stopped at the Visitor Center to have lunch under one of their picnic shelters.


After lunch, we backtracked about a mile to the White Rim Road, which would take us to the next leg of our adventure – Schafer Trail.

Schafer Trail

The road quickly began descending into the canyon through a series of steep, sharp switchbacks!

Switchbacks on Schafer Trail

White Rim Trail - on the top of the canyon


We could see the bottom of the canyon, and knew we had a ways to go to get there!

This was definitely an exciting part of the trail!  Dwayne had recommended that we take Schafer Trail DOWN into the canyon, rather than UP, so that I would be on the canyon side of the Jeep, and not on the ridge side.  The only problem was, in this stretch, Nicolas was riding shotgun, and I was in the back seat – on the driver’s side, so I was looking over the edge the whole way!!


Still at the top of the canyon

Finally, we reached the bottom, and I could breathe a sigh of relief!

We made it to the bottom!

From here, we would depart from White Rim Road and continue on Schafer Trail, but first we took a 3-mile detour to see Musselman Arch.

Musselman Arch


Musselman Arch is a 6-foot wide bridge arch that spans 187 feet, 300 feet above the canyon floor.

We walked across – very carefully!



Standing on Musselman Arch - but they don't look like they are in midair!

We had heard that you can take a picture on the arch from a particular angle, where the arch would blend in with the rocks in the background and it would appear that  you were suspended in air.

We couldn’t figure out the right angle!

Standing on Musselman Arch

On the way back to Schafer Trail, we stopped at the Colorado River Overlook.

Colorado River

Colorado River Overlook










Colorado River Overlook

While we were out there, we met a family from New York who were camping in the canyon overnight – they were pretty adventurous!

Campers we met at the overlook

We continued through the canyon, admiring the rock formations along the way.

Stepping Stones

Looks like the Sphinx


Balanced Rock

Incredible formations in the canyon

After several more miles of Schafer Trail, we arrived back on Potash Road,

We reached Potash Road!

and caught our first glimpses of the potash evaporation pools.

Potash Pools - amazing blue color!

They looked like huge swimming pools out in the desert!  As hot as it was, they looked REALLY inviting, too!  We didn’t know what they were, so I had to google “potash”.  Turns out, it’s potassium underground which is dissolved by the injection of saltwater into mines deep below the surface.  The liquid is then pumped into these pools to evaporate, leaving a white crystalline product.



Blue dye is injected into the water to speed up the evaporation process.  Once evaporation is complete, the crystals are collected and the potassium is separated from the salt.

Arriving at the Potash facility completed the loop portion of our Jeep adventure . . . and we still have a few hours left in our rental!





Nicolas had a little mishap getting out of the backseat of the Jeep once, and ripped his shorts, so we stopped back at the RV so he could change clothes and take Casey out for a walk.  We also stopped at Outlaw to refresh the ice in our cooler, and then headed back to the Salt Flats Recreation Area for the REALLY adventurous portion of our day!

It’s getting late, though, so that’s going to have to be a separate blog post . . . stay tuned!