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Open Roads Forum  >  Truck Campers

 > Along the red dirt road to XTC: The White Rim

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jefe 4x4

West Slope, Northern Sierra Nevada

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Posted: 09/26/10 05:51pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Along the red dirt road to XTC: The White Rim

Somehow a pair of trail trips lined up like Venus and Mars in the southern sky.
The first one, the White Rim trail was with Alex and Julie Blasingame, (c.traveler2) covering about 140 miles, about ¾’s of the way in and then back out. The White Rim is a distinctive layer of hardened white sandstone, 10 to 15 metres thick, sandwiched between various layers of red and brown sandstone, part of a huge formation called the Kaibab. Over time there was some tilting so there is very little flat surface. The whole area looks like a crumpled up white bib hanging on the Island in the Sky, with the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers the fringe and bottom apex.
Due to the squall that turned into a tremendous super cell, a couple weeks before our arrival, the switchbacks up from Mineral Bottom that served as the northwest ingress/egress were obliterated. See another post on here with details, photos, and the outlook. The White Rim trail has been traversed many times in/on a variety of conveyances, the least likely of which is a truck camper, let alone a pair of hardsides. In June of 1970, a bassoonist from the Philharmonic and I spent a day and a half enjoying the unbelievable expanse and grandeur of this Canyonlands extra. It was a quick pop in my topless, windshield folded down, 1966 Toyota Land Cruiser. Ah, the wind in our hair, chapped lips, dried out epidermis, somehow not unlike the primitive indigenous peoples thousands of years before. We camped on the ground and consumed meager subsistence meals. Meanwhile, I have always thought I would go back and check this trail off as one of my ‘bucket list’ entries. It came to pass.
After a day and a half of driving east from the Sierra Nevadas’ I made rendezvous with Alex and Julie at the Moab Brewery in beautiful downtown Moab. We had sup and brew, and continued on to a campsite they’d been at the night before, Cowboy camp, BLM. It is up on the mesa of the Island in the Sky area adjacent to the start of our four wheel drive with white box adventure. jefe's Tequilla Sunset took effect as we watched the romantic western sun drop from view. I had visions of us as evolved white mollusks, creeping along the trail.
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As soon as we arrived, I crawled under the rig to rearrange things. I disconnected the rear anti-sway bar on one side, tying up to free end to the bar. Alex saw me doing this and wanted to try that himself. So, we did the same to his rig. On closer inspection we noticed that his air bag bracket to the frame had popped some bolts and was bent at an odd angle from hard use. He lowered the pressure in the bags to take the stress off. Good move. We tried putting a new bolt on there, but the stress of the bent hardened steel bracket would have sheared the bolt right off after about 80 ft. lbs. Cowboy camp is relatively new, sporting a roofless, doorless latrine, just wooden walls and a tiny chain with a tag on it that announces, “occupado” when strung across the opening.
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Bright and early the next morning, driving down the last of the pavement, we were airing down at the red dirt road that descends onto the Shafer Switchbacks and down to the White Rim. I dropped to 35 lbs. front and 30 lbs. rear. Alex dropped to 40 lbs. all around. The tires now became part of the suspension system smoothing out the little bumps.
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Our goal for the day was Gooseberry camp about a third of the way in on the trail. We stopped at virtually every scenic wonder, such as Gooseneck overlook and Musselman Arch.
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and white crack:
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and unnamed hoodoos;
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Julie took hundreds of photos and I took about 40. The trail was rough in spots, necessitating going to low range just to go slow enough (at least for me with a manual trans). I have never driven the rig so far in low range. Hours and hours. The other speed I drove was first gear (5.63:1), 2 wheel drive, high range, also for hours and hours. The trail had a speed which it self enforced. We constantly varied the speed, most of which was slower than you want to go.
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The bizarre part was getting 10 mpg going that speed. In three and a half solid days of driving I used half a tank of fuel. The so-called camp areas were simply an elevated spot with the rocks scraped aside. Each organized campground had a modern one-holer latrine. In 1970 there was nothing. A lot of small green plants were trying their best to get to the seed stage as a result of the previous downpour. I have never seen the area so green in September.

The next day we made our way over the famous Murphy’s hogback. There is a delightful camp on the top of the bluff that we did not stay at. Both going up and back down the other side were very technical for a couple guys with 86” wide, 10,000 pound rigs. It is strange that we both had essentially the same camper, except his is newer with a different number. The overall dimensions and amenities were the same. His for a long box mine for a short. The smallest and lightest, full featured camper that Lance makes.
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We came to the ‘caps’ on the down side. Alex likes a lot of stuff on his roof, so he drove very slowly under them. I knew that on the way back, the tallest side of his ‘stuff’ on the roof would not clear. I had to put my considerable heft on his rr bumper to lower that blue milk box to clear.
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We eventually got to our goal for the day, Candlestick camp site. Not much there.
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This would be as far ‘in’ as we would go. The three of us took walks around the area near sundown each day, and always had surprises awaiting us. The element that gets to you after you turn the clackbox off is how incredibly quiet are your surroundings. You can hear your brain hissing for lack of aural camouflage.
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The next day was a long one. Out over Murphy’s once more, except the opposite way, had it’s own issues to deal with. We had an audience of bike campers at the top of Murphy’s Hogback who applauded when we got to the top, shaking their heads and thinking, “What in the **** are you doing up here”. The whole idea was to push the extremes of truck camping to a new limit.
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We arrived at Airport camp site and set up camp: aka: lowered the scissor steps. Gathering clouds ushered in some light rain and eventually some of the clouds broke enough to produce the most massive rainbow I’ve ever witnessed. You can see some of the bike campers sitting at the rim enjoying the show. It was a double rainbow and you could see it from horizon to horizon.
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The last day we ground along with occasional showers to exit via Shafer Trail/Potash Road route. It has a lot of devestation on trail, I’m thinking because of the big rains of weeks prior. The scenic beauty is not to be missed. I’m still trying to injest just how big the place is. It puts you in a perspective that you are not used to.
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Great trip.
Regards, as always, jefe


'01.5 Dodge 2500 4x4, CTD, Qcab, SB, NV5600, 241HD, 4.10's, Dana 70/TruTrac; Dana 80/ TruTrac, Spintec hub conversion, H.D. susp, 315/75R16's on 7.5" and 10" wide steel wheels, Vulcan big line, Warn M15K winch '98 Lance Lite 165s, 8' 6" X-cab, 200w Solar

fast.5

Ontario, Canada

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Posted: 09/26/10 06:02pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Hi: Very incredible trip, would like to that someday.
Mike


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newlee

Ca USA

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Posted: 09/26/10 06:30pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Would like to do the Whit Rim trail someday. Have only been out As far as to Mussel Man Arch. Looks like a great trip.


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Central California
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dadwolf2

Henderson,NV

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Posted: 09/26/10 06:32pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I just love pictures of those trips every time I see them. Thanks for sharing Jefe.


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abc40kids

Dale City,Virginia

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Posted: 09/26/10 06:39pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Thanks for the pics!


Jeff,Julie,Amber,Brandon,and Casey and Winston ( our 5 year old Golden ) and Bruno the Pug. We now have an English Cream, white Golden Retriever as well.
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Tiger4x4RV

Inland Empire, Southern California

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Posted: 09/26/10 06:41pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Love the photos, love the narrative, don't want to do that myself! Thanks for sharing.


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kohldad

Goose Creek, SC

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Posted: 09/26/10 06:50pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

Fantastic pics and report. Looks like some very tight spots that takes watchful eyes and patience to get through them. But the views and solitude are really worth it.

Only problems with such solitude - when you get back to civilazation, everything is so LOUD.


2015 Ram 3500 4x4 Crew Cab SRW 6.4 Hemi LB 3.73 (12.4 hand calc avg mpg after 92,000 miles with camper)
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hikerdmb

So Cal

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Posted: 09/26/10 06:51pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

That looks like an awesome trip! Truck campers are the best! The clearance on the trail in a couple of those pics made me wince. I see those off camber shots and I am glad I have a pop up. Nice pics and write up.


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summerhouse

Big Rapids, Michigan

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Posted: 09/26/10 07:27pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

What an incredible journey!!! I think that would be such an adventure. I would love to make that trip, but alas, my DH would be a wreck!!!

I'm going to have to live it through your pictures....so thanks for the wonderful posting and dialogue. Fantastic!!


“Light hearted I take to the open road… Healthy, free, the world before me… The long brown path before me leading me wherever I choose.” - Walt Whitman

skruske

Saginaw Bay USA

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Posted: 09/26/10 07:45pm Link  |  Print  |  Notify Moderator

I am certain my wife would be all claws if I tried anything like that in with our TC. There ain't enough Dramamine for her to make that trip.

Quite frankly, she'd get a little freaky if I took our Jeep on the White Rim.

I'm adding that to the must see list when we retire in a couple years.


'97 F-250 4x4 Powerstroke. 2005 Bigfoot 10.6e
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