7 Slot Nomads

Get Out

North Rim to the Front Range Mountains

September 27th

Arrived in Amarillo about supper time and ate at the #1 rated Mexican restaurant in Amarillo. Yup, it was good. Drove on to Santa Rosa, NM and stayed at a Hampton Inn there. Last night indoors for awhile for some of us.

September 28th

Made it to within 5 miles south of Jacob Lake, Arizona (North Rim country) which was to be our refuel and resupply point. After Jacob Lake, our intention was to bail out to the North Rim and migrate down to Point Sublime, Tito, and other points of interest on the rim.

It wasn't meant to be that night. One of the jeeps went down with a split power steering reservoir. (Freak deal, but they happen.) That's a mechanical you can't put a bandaid on. We got help in Jacob Lake and they helped us get a wrecker to come up from Kanab tow it to back for repair. Phil and Joe went with it and stayed in a local hotel and ate fancy fixins. Dwayne and I stayed a few miles out of Jacob Lake in the Kaibab National Forest.

September 29th

Rolled south to the North Rim Backcountry Ranger Station to see about a Point Sublime camping permit, but the Point was booked. The freshly repaired Jeep caught up to us about 3:30 that afternoon with shiny new parts and squeaky clean occupants. We went on down to the North Rim and saw the touristy things. Then rolled out to the farther flung places and camped in the Saddle Mountain Wilderness. Minor disaster happened in camp. Phil’s lawn chair broke. Luckily we had a spare although it wasn't as comfortable as the original, it was sturdier.

The Aspens were in full fall colors. It was the perfect time to be in the North Rim backcountry. I've never seen the color this good.
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September 30th

Broke camp early and came down out of the Saddle Mountain Wilderness headed for the North Rim and turned off on the Point Sublime trail. Last time I was out at Point Sublime we camped and barely beat a rainstorm out the next morning. We also had to cut up a tree that had fallen across the trail blocking it on our way out. This time the weather was great, the trail was decent and we made the Point at lunchtime. We took our time eating lunch and enjoyed the view Point Sublime is famous for as the spit of land furthest out into GC.

Next, we were on to Tiyo Point, then it was back trails winding through the Grand Canyon NP backcountry stoping off at Fire Point, Timp Point, Locust Point, Fence Point, and finally on up to Parissawampits point overlooking a canyon of the same name. Didn’t go all the way out to that point because it was too far and we were running out of daylight.

Jeeped our way back to Highway 67, then up to Jacob Lake area to camp again the the Kaibab National Forest. Ate Navajo fry bread for dinner standing up from a "restaurant" that was parked outside at the Jacob Lake gas station. Good stuff we didn't have to cook in the dark. We gassed up, aired up, and filled up water storage and went out to find a campsite.

October 1st

The next morning, we got up, broke camp, packed for the road, and headed towards Page, AZ. Got to Page and topped off the tanks and fuel cells, the headed out towards Mexican Hat. Bought firewood in Mexican Hat and headed north up to Goosenecks State Park. Never been there, but it looked like a cool place to camp if you were somewhere other than a national forest.

Set up camp on the windy promontory that is Goosenecks NP then drove into Bluff, UT for supplies to see what we might find of interest. We found it. Steaks and potatoes for dinner. Marvelous. Apple crisp for dessert. Again, marvelous. We came back, cooked, and ate like kings. Dirty, dusty, squinty-eyed-from-the-sun, kings, but still kings.

First really good campfire of the trip. We stayed up late and watched the stars.
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October 2nd

Got up late and took our time. We left the Goosenecks at about 9:30. Drove through Valley of the Gods which is a pretty cool place. Easily accessible. Worth the time and effort.

From there, we rolled east headed for Comb Ridge. That geologic feature can be recognized from the moon. I have long had an affinity for the Comb Ridge country with the lost (and found) Anasazi ruins waiting to be rediscovered out there.

We made our way around to the southern end of Comb Wash Road. Depending on recent rains and if the arroyos were flooded and running, that part of the road can get a little tough to drive sometimes. We made it through, but the dust was really thick in places. If you got caught on the wrong side in a heavy downpour, you could be there for a bit while the water rand off and the mud dried up.

We tracked down some ruins out near the river that were pretty spectacular. The trail to get back there required 4 wheel drive and high clearance as well. Did some jeeping to get there. Took lots of pictures and left lots of footprints.

Then back out to the highway and through the pass to get to the east side of Comb Ridge. We ran down Butler wash road inspecting campsites along the way until we found one we liked. Out of the way, no bugs, no people, and a clear sky above us for star gazing. We did have to dig a fire pit and drive a couple miles to find rocks for it. Then it was freeze dried for dinner.

Pretty neat time of year. The sun was still setting with the rising of the moon. We had both in the same picture. The coyotes LOVED it (like all night long loved it, but we had no issue with that). In the morning we could still faintly see the moon setting when the sun was rising.

October 3rd

Got up and looked through our maps and list of ruins we wanted to visit along with other off-road trails and possibilities. Checked the GPX files we had loaded on the GPS and decided the desert site we were located in was a great place to spend another night making this a two night camp. Staying twice in one place felt pretty luxurious (not to mention decadent).

We refueled the Jeeps with the extra fuel we carried after breakfast. Then, leaving some gear behind and tents set up, we headed out into the desert. Drove out to the Tower House ruins and then on to Flaming House ruins. Both require a little hiking, but Tower House is a bit of a scramble, so be prepared - especially if water is running down the rocks.

Ran Comb Wash Road back to state highway 163 and went back into Bluff for resupply. We needed gas, ice, and something interesting to cook. All the meat was frozen solid. We picked up some pork chops and decided to cook them for breakfast the next morning. Freeze dried Italian variety for supper. Shared it around and Life was Good.
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October 4th

Slept in some the next morning. Everyone was pretty tired from yesterday’s activities. The long days on the road, the hiking, and the scrambling had caught up to us and tired us out. BUT, we had coffee, pork chops, and boiled eggs for breakfast. Awesome human fuel for the busy day ahead.

We broke camp, rolled out a little late ,and headed north to the Arch Canyon Trail [managed jointly by BLM and the Forestry Service but it sits on the Ute reservation - probably all kinds of ways to get in trouble out there]. Very narrow, rough, rocky, silty, and you need some good approach and departure angles for this trail to work for you. Trail is well suited for a 4-wheeler or side by side, if you could stand the dust and the heat in the tight spaces where the trail runs through deep arroyos and silty washes. If you are worried about pinstripes, don't go.

We did wind up with some new pin striping in a few places on the Jeeps but nothing to whine about. We didn't build them to be mall crawlers, we built them for the backcountry. Lots of interesting terrain to negotiate. Took a couple hours to Jeep the 12 miles each way. Tight and windy, part of the trail runs down a rough old wash in several places.

It's at this point I have to tell you there was an intellectually challenged guy in a full size Chevy truck at the trailhead following a side by side who was thinking he was going to run it. We got around him there and spent the better part of 2 hours getting to the other end of the trail picking out cool rock formations and arches carved high in the bluffs on the way. We ate lunch at the end of the trail. On the way back, when we were less than a mile of the trailhead, we found the Chevy guy still trying to get down the trail. He asked how much farther and we told him 10 or so miles and "Good Luck". We climbed around him up the bank of the wash in a wide spot while he was making a 6-7 point turn to get an angle on the next steep dip and headed back to the trailhead.

We then headed to Bluff to sleep indoors after over a week out on the trail to bathe ourselves and finally wash some clothes.
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October 5th

We Jeeped out through some long forgotten Utah/Colorado backcountry trails headed towards Hovenweep. I've run this before, but from the Colorado side headed west and it's been a few years. We crossed the border between the states at an old barbed wire fence with a gate that had the old time wire loops at the top and bottom of a gatepost to hold the gate tight between the fence posts on either side. From there we rolled in to the Canyon of the Ancients to look at the 800-900 year old ruins Hovenweep is known for.

Afterwards, we headed down to Durango to spend a really civilized night at the Strater Hotel with some really swank rooms (Will Rogers' room was our pick). We ate a good supper at the Diamond Belle Saloon and were entertained for a few hours by a truly impressive ragtime pianist. We felt like men who had some wherewithal coming into town.

October 6th

Got up and wandered around town some. Left headed east for a fine lunch that included picked eggs at Riff Raff in Pagosa Springs and then on to the backcountry behind the Sand Dunes National Preserve through many of the creek crossings on the trail. I have been there many times and I still think those dunes look oddly out of place sitting between the mountains.

October 7th - 8th

Camped two nights in the Sand Dunes National Preserve out off of the Medano Pass Primitive Road. The Aspens were in full color here as well. Awesome to look at.

Saw a lot of wildlife. Deer, goats, ground squirrels, and a mountain lion which was a pretty big surprise for all parties involved as all parties were on foot at the time. No black bears though. We spent a lot of time in camp by the campfire resting and relaxing and talking about the trip. Some of our trip had been pretty strenuous and we had a lot of miles behind us. We felt that some good rest would be what we needed for the long haul back home.

The first morning we got up and Jeeped the pass and came back around the long way looking at that magnificent front range country. Then we came back in from the National Park side again. All the creek crossings are pretty fun. I have camped out there in the past when the beavers had the creek dammed up and it flooded parts of the Preserve. Not as much fun. The water gets really deep in the spring from beavers and snow melt. On this trip, the trail was good to go. It was pretty cold out there, but we were prepared. Warm sleeping bags, thermal underwear, and plenty of firewood.
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October 9th

We headed home. Made it home in 2 days without incident.
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