I had yesterday and today off work, and earlier this week I’d been trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my time off. Finally, late Wednesday evening, I made up my mind to ride my ATV down Coal Wash and along the Devil’s Racetrack. I had never been to that area because access is very difficult in a full-sized vehicle, and I simply hadn’t thought about it since we bought our ATVs–until now. The normal staging area for this ride is just off the Dutch Flat Road east of Ferron, but I parked the truck at Buckhorn Well. That saved me 50 miles of driving the truck, but added 25 miles onto the ATV ride. Temperatures were below freezing when I started the ride, and I had to go slow on the road to Fuller Bottom in order to keep my face from freezing. I was nervous about fording the San Rafael River at Fuller Bottom, but it wasn’t too bad. Driving through the river was easy because it was pretty shallow, but getting up the far bank was a bit tough. It was steep, and I felt as though I was going to tip over backwards.
After the river crossing, I rode pretty quickly to Coal Wash. It had warmed up by then and the wind in my face didn’t sting anymore. The trail through Coal Wash almost completely follows the water course, with only a few places where it climbs out for short distances. It was mostly sandy or gravelly, though there were some rocky parts that slowed me down a lot, and even some water in a few spots. The scenery got really awesome after I entered the north fork of Coal Wash. The Navajo Sandstone is exposed there, and the formations are more interesting. Several times I spotted places where I wanted to stop and hike around, but I knew that I didn’t have enough daylight for it.
I finally reached the Devil’s Racetrack trail, and it started out rough and never let up. I rode five miles on the trail and found two geocaches, and I ate a late lunch near the second cache. It was too late to keep riding south on the trail, so after eating I turned around and headed back. It had taken me 4.5 hours to get that far, and if it took me the same amount of time to get back to the truck, that would put me riding at least an hour in the dark. I wanted to avoid riding in the dark, so I hauled some serious ass going back. Shortly after the fork of Coal Wash there’s a turnoff that leads to a road that parallels Coal Wash, and I took it hoping that it would be faster than riding in the bottom of the wash. It turned out to be about the same, and I ended up wishing that I’d just ridden in the wash. I made good time back to the truck, even though the sun had set and it was starting to get pretty dark.
It was a pretty awesome ride, covering 56 miles and taking about eight hours. Here’s a link to my GPS tracklog. My legs and back are actually a bit sore today from that much riding. I barely had enough fuel in my tank to make the trip, though if I’d needed it I had a two-gallon gas can with me. I also discovered when I loaded my ATV the night before that the front differential was leaking again, after having been “fixed” by the Honda dealer just last week. I’m pretty pissed about that, and I’ll be taking it back there tomorrow to give them another shot at it. I have a feeling that it’s going to turn into a nightmare (much like my experiences with other dealers), although the service manager was very nice and seemed competent. Anyhow, I carried extra gear oil just in case I needed to refill the differential, but the one time I checked the oil level it was fine. Since daylight was such an issue this time of year, I’m planning on at least one more trip to the same area next year when the days are longer.