Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Part 2--Four Wheeled Adventure

Now for the second part of today. We had decided to do a Jeep Tour. Dan Mick's Jeep Tours got great reviews, so Karen signed us up for the Sunset Tour. Our tour started at 5:30. None of us really had any idea what this was going to be like other than we would ride in a Jeep to see the sunset. Well, let me tell you, it was WAY MORE THAN JUST A JEEP RIDE!!! Curtis, our driver, said he really couldn't tell us what to expect because we wouldn't believe it was possible. Since we had seen that Jeep out at the Elephant Hill Road in Canyonlands yesterday, I thought I had a pretty good idea what it might be like. I was wrong...soooo wrong!  The "Jeep" we were riding in was only a Jeep as far as the body went. The chassis, and all that, was purpose built to basically scale cliffs. That's right...cliffs! 
Our ride
At the trailhead, we started out by climbing up what they called The Intimidator. In the following photos we were obviously not in the Jeep in the photos, but we were right behind it, doing the exact same things.
The Intimidator 
The Jeep went up and over slickrock that you wouldn't believe (just like Curtis said). I would look ahead thinking, okay we're probably going to go that way because the other option is straight up (or down). Nope, every time it was the most impossible looking way...EVERY TIME!!! Here's some more photos.
We came to a spot where we got out and the guys (Dan, his son, son-in-law, and Curtis) told us about the dinosaurs who used to inhabit the area. This particular spot was a killing ground (as evidenced by the foot prints). Allosaurus and velociraptor, as well as stegosaurus lived in this area. 
See the three toes?
Three-toed Allosaurus foot print
There were several footprints in this area. Honestly, if they hadn't told us what to look for, they would have been hard to spot. It's not like they're in the mud or something. It's rock...all rock. We loaded back up in the Jeeps, and continued our crawling over the rocks. Seriously, it was like we were insects climbing all over the rocks!
Climbed up this one wheel at a time
58% grade
What goes up, must come down!
Seemingly about to do a face plant
After going down a three-drop rollercoaster (each one steeper than the next), we sped through the sandpit, weaving back and forth. As we approached the next "obstacle", the Jeep in front of us said (over the radio) they were going to go high. Curtis said we would go around the other way. Well, the name of the next obstacle was called Hell's Gate. OH HOLY CRAP!!! It was straight down through this narrow wedge! I felt like I was on an extreme amusement park ride!
Kind of hanging suspended in my seatbelt 
We got to the bottom, went around the corner, and came to a virtual wall going up! Curtis called it the Stairway to Heaven. Now we saw what the other Jeep had meant by staying high. The people from that Jeep were sitting at the top on the rocks to watch us come up.
Spectators at the top
The rock wedge wasn't even wide enough for all four wheels to fit through! At the top, as we are climbing up the last bit, Curtis lets it go, and we roll back enough to make us scream (just a little). In our heads we know it's on purpose (Curtis told us at the beginning that they don't try anything out with us. It's all thoroughly planned, and Curtis actually drives the route more by "Braille" than by sight--some of the time you can't see where you are going anyway!), but still it surprises us. At the top, we got out so we could watch the others come up. These photos show how steep it was (one part we had gone up earlier was a 58% grade--this was steeper).
You couldn't hardly walk up that!
Extreme three wheeling 
Even more extreme three wheeling!
The part where they let it slide backwards 
After Hell's Gate we continued going up so steep you could only see sky, and going down so steep to the bottom that you couldn't understand how you didn't just do an endo. At last we reached the sunset lookout. While the sunset itself was not the most spectacular I've seen, the location certainly was!
While waiting for the sun to set, Dan showed us some of his rock/fossil collection. He even had a fossilized slice of tibia from a dinosaur. He had been offered a lot of money for it, but he wouldn't sell it.  Once it got sufficiently dark enough, we headed back. Now we were traveling over the same rocks (mostly, but not Hell's Gate) back to the start, only in the dark. Sometimes, Curtis would drive without the headlights...driving by Braille. It was just as exciting coming back as going out. Funny thing, as we neared the end, the parts we had been so impressed with at the beginning now seemed easy! 
"Rock lights" under the Jeep 
We got back to the garage and thanked Curtis for the great tour. Of the adventure tours in Moab, this is one of the cheaper ones. I would highly recommend it. Even if you are coming to Moab for two-wheeled adventure, you might consider having a four-wheel adventure too.

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