Yesterday I got one of those stupid looking sunburns where my face was red from just below my eyes all the way down to my neck. Yeah, we went on an awesome ATV ride. 🙂 Luckily the redness has faded today and I don’t look quite as retarded.
I’d read about this trail a while back, and it’s been on my to-do list for a few months. When we were pulling out of the driveway to head down there yesterday morning, I noticed that the parking brake light and the ABS light on the truck’s instrument panel were lit up. I’d had this problem before a couple of years ago, and the problem then was a couple of broken springs inside the brake assembly. I didn’t feel any drag on the brakes this time, and I just assumed that it was a problem similar to what happened last time, so we pressed on with our plans to ride ATVs in the Swell. When we got to the staging area near Buckhorn Reservoir and started unloading, I could smell burning brakes. The smell was coming from the right-rear, and when I felt that wheel it was extremely hot. I knew that I would probably have to do something about it before we drove home, but I didn’t want to deal with it then so we decided to continue with our ride.
The trail started off easy and relatively level, wide enough for a full-sized vehicle, and it was a mix of gravel and conglomerate rock outcroppings. It soon got more twisty and rough, and it wasn’t long before we started having the kids get off the ATVs while we negotiated the gnarly spots. There were some technically difficult obstacles that were tough to get over, but they were a lot of fun and I never felt like I was going to tip over. Eventually the trail crested above a big valley that’s filled with huge conglomerate boulders, several of which are precariously perched atop thin supporting columns of dirt or shale. I’m fascinated with balanced rocks such as those, and we ended up spending about an hour there while we ate lunch and took photos.
Our next planned stop was at a point overlooking Buckhorn Flat to the southeast of where we ate lunch. The trail getting there was pretty boring compared to what we’d already ridden, though the view from the overlook wasn’t bad. We didn’t spend much time there, but instead returned to the valley with all the boulders, then took a different trail leading southwest. This trail was a lot of fun. It had obviously been created by a bulldozer, probably for uranium exploration purposes a long time ago. The trail was cut into a steep hillside, and there were a lot of old rockfalls across it. We got pretty far along the trail before we reached some really tough sections that we weren’t sure we could get past. I took a hike up the trail for about a third of a mile to check things out, but decided it wasn’t worth pressing on. Even if we could pass the obstacles directly in front of us, there would be no guarantee that we wouldn’t run into worse obstacles. The trail would have eventually spit us out onto the main road on the northwest end of Buckhorn Flat, just a couple of miles from where the truck was parked. We had to turn back and follow the original trail back to the truck instead, but I wasn’t complaining–that was a fun stretch of trail.
We got back to the truck late in the afternoon, and I’d had all day to think about what I was going to do about the brakes. I ended up taking the wheel off and, after some difficulty, finally got the drum off. Everything looked fine inside the brake assembly–no broken springs this time. I backed off the self-adjuster far enough that the brake shoes probably wouldn’t even touch the drum with the brake pedal depressed, then put everything back together. When I started the truck, the ABS and parking brake lights stayed off, so whatever was wrong was apparently fixed (at least temporarily). We made it home without incident. I suspect that the brake piston got stuck open, so when the self-adjuster eventually gets the brakes back into adjustment, I may end up having the same problem again.
Both Traci and I agreed that the trail on Cedar Mountain was one of the best we’d been on, with the only exception being the Behind the Reef Trail. I would do it all over again soon if given the chance, though I’m sure if we plan another ride we’ll want to see some new country. It was still fairly hot during our ride–between the four of us and the dog, we drank two gallons of water–but soon enough temperatures will be perfect for day trips like this.
Edit: I’ve added a Google Earth .KML file here, containing my GPS tracklog and some points of interest along the trail, including links to pictures for each point. I just linked directly to the pictures in my Picasa account to keep the .KML filesize down. I think I’ll start doing this for a lot of my trips to interesting places, and perhaps even some of my most memorable trips from the past.