Sunday, April 22, 2018

UTB: A Great day of Uraling the Cathedral Valley Loop

Cathedral Valley is the site of many cool rock formations in Utah, the centerpieces of which are the Temple of the Sun and Moon formations which I'd photographed back in 2016: LINK

Today, Tim L (fellow Uralista and superb photographer) and I would undertake to ride the entire 56 mile long dirt road, ending up at the two aforementioned main formations and thence back to camp.

But first, a few pictures of the blue hour before sunrise this morning.

 That's Tim's Jeep with the tent which flips over, pretty neat huh?

 Tim's Jeep and Rig

Shortly before 9AM, we headed south on UT24 to Hanksville to fuel up and then proceeded on past the Cainville Wash Road juntion to the River Ford which forms the starting point for today's ride.  

 photo courtesy of Tim Laughlin

 As you can see, not very deep
 photo courtesy of Tim Laughlin

 photo courtesy of Tim Laughlin

The 56 mile loop had a sandy start, and as we climbed away from the Fremont River, the scenery was pretty good:

 photo courtesy of Tim Laughlin

photo courtesy of Tim Laughlin

 Tim L.  framed by rock walls, climbing higher

 Crossing the Bentonite Hills

photo courtesy of Tim Laughlin

After the Bentonite Hills, it was quite a few miles of rather monotonous terrain that we rode through until finally we reached the area where one could look into the northern portion of Cathedral Valley:

We stopped for a brief snack and water at the Cathedral campground, which we had to ourselves.  Surprisingly, good cell coverage for Verizon users here:

We then made our way down into the valley though a couple of switchbacks that would have been quite "interesting" to ride going up.  Lots of rocks, both sticking out of the dirt and loose on the surface, a couple of rigs charging up the slope in order to not smoke the clutches, yeah, it would have been too interesting.

Fortunately, by starting at the Fremont River Ford, we were pointed downhill for this portion of the route!

The valley had plenty of nice rock formations but pictures were few as the light was quite flat at times, or the angles were wrong.  Here's one that did turn out:

Many miles of sandy patches, rocky washes, more sand and dust and did I mention the sand?   We finally got to the turnoff that leads one to the Temple of the Sun and Moon formations.

 Temple of the Sun

 The smaller temple of the moon.

Another 20 miles or so later, we were back at the junction of Caineville Wash Road and UT24 highway.  Success!  No injuries, no breakdowns, no accidents.

We motored on back to Hanksville to refuel and then for another ride back to the campsite.  Both of us rested a little bit then we got our respective rigs loaded up on trailers and headed to Moab!

I stopped at Green River to dump tanks, refill the fresh water tank and refill the propane tank as well.  Seven days camping had used up 7 gallons of propane.

Got to the Moab area around 5:30 I think and went onto the Willow Spring Road BLM area seeking a boondocking site.  Wow, I've never seen the area so chock full of RVs and campers and tents!  I must have missed the memo that summoned all these folks to camp here.

Fortunately, I did find a semi-level spot, ran into a couple of Uralisti who welcomed me to the area.  I left with them, riding Scarlett and following them in the Gear-UP back to the Archview Campground where Tim was staying at one of the cabins.

Met up with another fellow Uralista, John from California and we chatted for a bit, and then I left to setup camp before dark.

 A view of the distant peaks from the boondocking area
along Willow Springs Road.

 Sunset at the campsite.

Tim is processing his own batch of pictures, as soon as he makes them available to me, I'll update this posting accordingly.


Spat said...

Sleepless night restless morning allowing me to catchup on this adventure. Utah is such an amazing place and you're portraying it as well as film can. It has to be a shock to hit the Moab crowds after the solitude of the rest of Utah's beautiful back country. I'll miss you at Moab this year but enjoying your journey.

Charlie6 said...

Thanks Spat, sounds like you're under the weather? Yes, quite crowded in the Willow Springs Road area near the Archview campground...never seen so many there.

SonjaM said...

I would want the Tim's Jeep with the roof tent. Must be the perfect four-wheeled vehicle on such a terrain. You guys are so privileged, Dom. But you know that, right? I really envy you for this spectacular scenery. And not only that, the mere concept of boon docking is something you can't really do in Europe. Except for some Scandinavian countries, free (or "wild" - as we call it) camping is verboten!

Charlie6 said...

Thanks SonjaM and yes, we're pretty lucky. Europe, much as I like it, is just too small and civilized for me.

The vast tracts of open land here in the American southwest are quite large and when I find a good spot to stay a few days, it gladdens my soul.

Charlie6 said...

Post updated with pics from Tim Laughlin

RichardM said...

Tim took some great shots of you.

I think I like the "blue hour" photos even better than the sunset photos.

Charlie6 said...

thanks RichardM, I am trying to diversify but sometimes you go with what you like and know.

Kari Kropf said...

love all the scenery. Saw the rock formations on FB and what a great back drop they make, but also love some of the areas that just seem desolate and lonely. You have an awesome playground and office.

Charlie6 said...

Thanks for the comments Kari....if only cell coverage covered some of the areas we traversed that day....what an "office for the day" some of them would make!

Charlie6 said...

Added video of the river crossing