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Western CO / Eastern UT Fall Expedition (Part 3)

We leave Molas Lake campground early on 18 September to head on up to Montrose again – the “back way:” Via Ophir Pass then up to Ridgway, where we have lunch at the True Grit Cafe. From there, we head North toward Montrose and start the Rimrocker Trail.

It is late afternoon at this time, and we plan on running the trail to about halfway between Nucla and Moab before making camp – unless we find a great spot before Nucla… Otherwise, clearly, this will require some night driving – but we are prepared (or so we think) with extra trail lights, etc.

The first part of the trail is mainly gravel roads (between Montrose and Nucla,) and we stop at multiple places to see if they would be suitable for an overnight, so as to rest before going on the next day. None of the spots pan out, though, so we keep driving West toward Nucla.

Once in Nucla, we fuel up and continue on West to start the dirt section of the trail. To the West, we see thunderclouds, lightning, and rain. Undeterred, we press on, since we (erroneously) believe the rain to be to the South of the trail proper.

Starting the dirt sections, we encounter some light sprinkling, but it appears our assessment that the rain was mainly South of the trail is correct. We press on.

With night falling, we turn on our lights and continue. Pretty soon, the rain goes from a sprinkle to a light rain. Then it intensifies. And with it, the trail becomes more and more slippery. Now in complete darkness, with the trail only illuminated by our vehicle lights, we have a harder and harder time not slipping and sliding around the trail.

And the rain keeps intensifying. And the visibility is getting worse and worse. And the trail is getting softer and softer. And more and more slippery.

At some point, we realize than continuing on is becoming a greater and greater risk, since the rain just keeps coming down, even intensifying. At this point, we are on the ledge overlooking HWY 141, but no way to get there from here. So we press on. Slowly. Gingerly. Squeezing our cheeks – the butt kind…

Finally, we arrive at the intersection with HWY 141, after a descent that is one-third a drive down the hill, two-thirds a (more or less…) controlled slide. We decide to abort the Rimrocker at this point, and drive on 141 to a suitable place for the night – given the late hour and the continuous rain, “suitable” meant a hotel room.

Unfortunately, there is no available room in Naturita, but the clerk there tells us there might be available rooms in Norwood. So we press on to Norwood. By this time it’s after 2200LT. We arrive there and ring the bell for after hours service – nobody stirs, nothings happens…

At this point, we have pretty much given up finding anything in this part of Colorado, and make an ‘executive decision’ to forego the rest of the Rimrocker altogether for this trip. We call hotels in Moab, and, as luck would have it, somebody had just cancelled their room there, and we are able to catch that one for the night.

On our way we go – 2.5h or thereabouts hours to Moab via paved roads… We arrive at the hotel in Moab shortly after 0100LT. We both fall asleep pretty much instantaneously.

Waking later than usual the next morning, we take it easy before leaving the hotel, grab a bite to eat at the McDonalds in town, then head on toward 128 looking for an open campsite. No openings at Goose Island; checking Grandstaff, we snag the last open spot and set up camp for the next couple of days as a basecamp to explore the trails around Moab.

Stay tuned for our adventures around Moab – coming next Saturday!

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