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Western CO / Eastern UT Fall Expedition (Part 4)

We leave the hotel and stop by Wendy’s for breakfast. Since we find a camp site early in the morning, we set up before heading out to explore some of the area trails – no “Hell’s Revenge” or any of that stuff: when your trail vehicle needs to get you back home almost 1000 miles away, you tend to not take too many risks on said trails :).

The site is nicely shaded and large, and has a tree I can use for my hammock – but only one… Since I am prepared for those types of “emergencies,” I get my YOBOgear Freedom Stand out, and use one leg as my second hang tree support.

Add my 20F top- and under-quilts, and I am good to go. Glenn is putting up his Gazelle on the tent pad. Once this is done, we head back out towards 191 and get onto Potash Road, with the goal of running the Shafer Trail into Canyonlands and then back to Moab for dinner at the Blu Pig BBQ place.

We make it back to camp well-fed and tired. After sitting around Glenn’s propane fireplace for a bit, while having a couple of cold ones, we turn in for the night. As usual in the hammock, I sleep like a baby :).

Speaking of hammocks. For this trip, I brought along my Warbonnet Blackbird, which is one of my “backup hammocks.” Usually, I carry my ENO DoubleNest for that purpose, but I haven’t really tested the Blackbird yet, so I decided to bring it along and leave my favorite hammock at home – the Hennessy Hammocks Explorer Zip Asym. While the Blackbird is nice, for me personally, it doesn’t get close to the comfort of the Hennessy. I cannot really put my finger on “why,” but it’s just a hair less comfortable (to me) than my Explorer. In fact, I decide there and then I will bequeath the Blackbird to Glenn at the end of this trip, going back to my standard Hennessy/ENO.

As a side note, I do not use the standard Hennessy setup with the “figure-8” knot and the “built-in” fly. I did cut the straps and added two carabiners, which I use with my ENO Atlas XL tree straps, and use my Eno ProFly in the summer, and my Aquaquest Defender tarp in the winter, with a Dutchware continuous ridgeline.

Next morning (20 September,) after grabbing some breakfast at McD’s in town, we head North on 191, past the circus Arches National Park has become to drive Klondike Bluffs to Salt Valley Road and then into Arches via the back way. Unfortunately, we do encounter a step that is a little too much for our stock-suspension vehicles on Klondike Bluffs, and we decide to turn around and just go 191 to Salt Valley Road.

Heading North on 191, we soon get to the “trail head” of Salt Valley Road. The flats leading in are teaming with campers – not the type of camping I would usually opt for: basically flat desert with not much shade, or wind protection; but it’s dispersed camping and free, so… In any case, we just head on past the campers and turn South-east onto the dirt and towards Arches.

The road is an easy drive and we even encounter a couple of family sedans on the road. At the entrance to Arches, we veer off the road and head towards Tower Arch. We stop at the hiking trailhead leading up to the arch and have some snacks and water. We then head on toward Eye of the Whale trail for some of the fun Moab is famous for – but in small doses, manageable by our stock-suspension, non-rock-crawling-ready vehicles…

Instead of taking Willow Springs Road out of the park, we opt for the easier and quicker option of just taking the ‘main Park Road’ back to 191.

From there, we head on back to camp, light a nice camp fire and cook some ribeyes for dinner. After a couple of cold ones and watching the night sky for a while, we turn in for the night.

21 September, our last full day in Moab. We take it easy in the morning, with a nice breakfast in camp, before heading out via Kane Springs Road and Hurrah Pass to the Colorado River.

After a quick snack & water break, we head on back to camp for an early afternoon arrival and relaxing evening ragchewing, having dinner cooked over the camp fire, and a nice couple of cold ones. Tomorrow morning we’ll pack up camp and head on back to Lower Piedra for a nice relaxing “wind down” of the expedition.

No rain in the forecast again, so I opt once more (like in Moab) to hang my hammock without tarp. I do, however, use the 0F underquilt and my -5C topquilt, since the lows are supposed to be in the lower-40F to upper-30F… We just hang out around camp, relaxing by the propane fireplace (all the ‘natural’ firewood around camp has been depleted, and we only bought a bundle for the last evening…)

The morning of the 24th, we pack up camp, I give Glenn the Warbonnet Blackbird, and we head on out of camp for a quick “breakfast on the road” at the Lone Spur Cafe in Pagosa Springs, before making our respective ways back East to Iowa and Missouri.

Another epic expedition in the bag. ‘Till next year!