On the Trail
Well, today was the BIG one. I decided to hit the back roads and do some serious off roading. Started up the Potash Road which runs right along the Colorado River for a few miles. Along this portion of the road, there were Indian petroglyphs which I checked out and took some pictures of. The road soon left the river and continued up to a large Potash plant. It was there that it turned to a rough dirt road and started to climb. Shifted into 4X4 and continued up to huge evaporating ponds where Colorado River water is pumped down to the salt beds way below the surface.
The water is then pumped up to the ponds where it is evaporated and the salt and potash is recovered from the saturated water. I heard they have 400 acres of ponds used in processing the water. Leaving the ponds the road really got rough with many rocks in the road bed. Continuing along at a speed of about 5 to 10 MPH, it loops to a Colorado River overlook which was quite pretty. A little further it came to the head of a great tight loop in the river called Goose Neck. This far on the road was not very difficult but it soon got worse with sections of rough slick rock as it traveled through Shafer Canyon and eventually connected with the White Rim Road. This road travels 100 miles around the white rim which is about half way between the high mesas with viewing points to the river at the bottom. It is like a large shelf made up of a layer of white rock that is harder than the sandstone above and below it.
I drove up this trail
From the viewing points at Dead Horse Point and Grand View viewpoint in Island of the Sky you can look down on the White Rim with the road clearly in view. From above, the road looks quite smooth but down on it, a different story. It is rough and very narrow in spots. At the intersection, I turned on White Rim and drove to Musselman Arch where I came upon a couple of bike tours taking a lunch break. They had ridden the roads from where I started and sure needed the break. The tour company had a couple of trucks set up to open up to a camp kitchen as well as to carry the bikers camping equipment. It looked like they were going to be on the road for several days because to travel the full White Rim Trail would take 2 days in a 4X4.
Mussleman Arch is a narrow stone bridge which is level to the surrounding ground made up of the white rock.
Two years ago while on a river 4X4 tour, I walked across the arch and was not very comfortable as the drop was about 1000 feet down. Had lunch and then turned back to the intersection of Potash Road and the beginning of Shafer Trail Road. It was there that I had to decide whether I would attempt the tough climb up to the top on Shafer or to turn back on Potash and return to Moab that way. Driving a fat long wheelbase dually made me wonder if I could handle the narrow tight switchbacks on Shafer. I had asked a park ranger about that a couple of years ago and the advice then was no way. I had asked several of the jeep folks at my campground and they all said they were pretty sure I would not have a problem. Well I made my decision and off I went with my heart in my mouth and started toward the cliff I knew I would have to climb.
The road up the box canyon is only one vehicle wide and I knew that if I met someone coming down it would be tough to pass. Well, sure enough I met a jeep coming down and we had to turn our mirrors in so that we could get by one another. One wheel of my duals was over the ditch but we made it. Climbing up, I experienced a bit of acrophobia with the road very narrow and the drop down was hundreds of feet. I just could not look down! At the 5 switchbacks, I could not make the turns and had to start and then back down a bit to complete them. Not much fun. Well, I finally made it to the top, and thought I might have to change my pants because I was scared sh…… but no, I was clean. That trip was the second time I forced myself to do something that was really scary but knew that if I passed, I would always look back with regret. The other time was the walk across the stone arch 2 years ago.
From the top, I went down to the Grand View Point and enjoyed looking at Canyonlands in the late afternoon sun.
So very beautiful and I know pictures do not really show it. On the way to Grand View, I stopped at another view point which looked down on the Shafer Trail I had just climbed. Those pictures show how difficult the climb is. What great exciting day doing something I had dreamed of for a couple of years. Speaking of dreams, just as I was nodding off to sleep, I had 3 visions that really got my heart pumping. One had my truck falling off of Shafer road, second was it getting stuck with a rear wheel stuck on the edge and the third was me falling off a cliff. Horrible thoughts before sleep finally came.
On the Potash road
Elk RV Parking: 55, Escapee RV Parks: 26; Public RV Parks: 53; National Parks: 68; Ships: 17; Forts: 30
Expenses: 51 months on the road with an average of $1969/month