I’ve been itchin’ all weekend to go somewhere and use my new camera, but it was very overcast all day yesterday and not worth the effort. Today was partly sunny in town, with a big storm hovering over the Book Cliffs to the north, and I decided to head north(ish). Mark joined me, and at about 1:30pm we set out riding ATVs directly from my house. My goal was to reach Soldier Creek Road and possibly Nine Mile Canyon (depending on how much time and fuel we had) using only back roads. We made it to Coal Creek Road pretty easily, with only one bad snowy stretch of road just after leaving Price. However, less than 200 feet after turning off of Coal Creek Road onto the road leading to Soldier Creek, I got high-centered in the snow. It was the only road we’d encountered so far that hadn’t been plowed or at least driven on already, and there was no way I wanted to work that hard to get over to Soldier Creek.
Instead, we just continued north on Coal Creek Road to see how far up the canyon into the Book Cliffs we could get. The road wasn’t plowed beyond a drill rig that was set up about 1.5 miles before the base of the Book Cliffs, and only a few vehicles had driven beyond that point, none of which had been there since our last snow storm. I was in the lead going up the canyon, and at one point I turned my head to see if Mark was still close behind, but he was quite a distance back from me with his wheels spinning. The snow was much deeper than we had realized, but there was a thick crust near the top that allowed us to get as far as we had. Even though Mark was following in my tracks, he just happened to break through the crust into the really deep stuff. At that point I still didn’t realize how deep the snow was, and I tried turning around to help Mark when I broke through and fell into some very deep snow on the shoulder of the road. We both tried getting my machine unstuck by pushing and pulling and applying weight to the front and rear, but it was good and stuck. I pulled out the winch cable and attached it to a small pine tree and got myself out, only to get stuck again a minute later. I dug myself out that time using a snow shovel, then rode back to Mark and dug him out. After all that we just headed for home, hoping not to get stuck again on the way back out of the canyon. It was a cold ride home, but it had been a nice day and the photos I took were worth the wintry conditions.