Warner Valley, Toroweap, Silver Reef

Changing the flat tireI had an amazing weekend in southern Utah and northern Arizona. My mom kept Torrey, Traci’s parents kept the kids, and things were much simpler so that Traci and I could squeeze a little more enjoyment out of the weekend. The Cahills generously offered their extra bedroom to us, so we stayed at their place in Hurricane. I took Friday off work and we left Price before 10:00 in the morning, which put us in Hurricane at around 2:00PM. Our plan was to pile into Eric’s Jeep and head toward Warner Valley to check out Fort Pearce and some dinosaur footprints. Just a short distance after getting onto the gravel road heading into the desert, we heard air escaping from one of the tires. A rock had hit Eric’s rear tire just right and punched a big unrepairable gash in the center of the tread. Eric and I changed the tire, then we headed back into town to drop off the ruined tire and get a used spare mounted. We found a few geocaches near the tire shop while we waited, then got back on track to where we’d been going.

Fort Pearce Wash petroglyphsWe stopped at Fort Pearce and checked out the ruins of the fort, then hiked down Fort Pearce Wash where we saw some pioneer names carved and drawn on the canyon walls. We found a geocache as a group, then split up so we could find the last two more quickly. Eric and I hiked up a hill to the north while Traci and Sherie stayed in the wash and continued west. On our way back, Eric and I checked out the cliffs above the wash and found a lot of petroglyphs. I took a lot of photos, then we hiked back to the Jeep and drove back into town for a nice dinner at Eric and Sherie’s place.

The convoyOn Saturday morning we were awake early for breakfast at a geocaching event in St. George. After enjoying the company of at least 50 other geocachers, a large group of us broke off and drove toward Colorado City, where a few of the people driving Jeeps squeezed a few more drops of fuel in their tanks. At 10:30, our convoy of 11 vehicles (my F-250, six Jeep Wranglers [five TJs and a JK], a Ford Ranger, 4-Runner, Hummer H2, and a Suburban) hit the dirt road just south of the UT-AZ border on our way to the Toroweap overlook of the Grand Canyon. The roads were pretty decent for most of the drive. It had rained earlier in the week and there were a few lingering mud puddles, but for the most part conditions were dry and a little dusty. We stopped for a handful of geocaches, but with as many people as there were in the group, each stop took quite a while.

Me standing over the Grand Canyon at ToroweapWe reached the Grand Canyon National Park boundary at about 1:30, and from that point on the roads were unmaintained and rough. From there it was about six miles to the overlook and it took us about half an hour. The group parked about 200 feet from the rim of the canyon and we all walked out to take in the the view. I was at the Grand freakin’ Canyon! A few of us did a lot of scrambling around on the rocks along the rim, and I took a lot of photos. We took a break from the views to eat a quick lunch, then I hiked a short distance to get a better view downstream toward Lava Falls.

Driving up Mt. TrumbullAll too soon it was time to start the trek back toward civilization, though we’d spent about an hour and a half at the overlook. We’d planned on taking a different route back to Hurricane, turning east at the north end of Toroweap Valley and going across the south slope of Mt. Trumbull. Very shortly after taking the turn and starting to gain elevation up the mountain, we ran into snow on the road. The road climbed higher and the snow got deeper. Eric was in the lead in his Jeep and I was second in line. The Jeep did a good job of staying on top of the snow, but my truck was digging in deep and I was running at high RPMs just trying to keep my forward momentum. Eventually I bogged down and couldn’t move forward, and the engine and transmission were running very hot. Eric had forged ahead but ran into some downed trees that we wouldn’t have made it past anyway, so he turned around and rejoined the group.

Stuck in the snowWhile I was turning the truck around, I got stuck in the deep snow and couldn’t move. Craig was behind me and was in the best position to winch me out. He set up a snatch block against a tree and pulled the truck toward the right-rear quarter until I was finally able to move again. I backed up off the side of the road so I could get turned around and got stuck again. The truck was sitting right on Craig’s winch cable, so Eric had to pull me out this time. Between using the winch and a direct pull, we finally got the truck pointed the right direction. Craig then got his Jeep stuck trying to turn around behind me and I ended up pulling him out with the truck. Hey, at least I can say that my truck pulled a Jeep Wrangler Rubicon out of the snow. 😀 I had almost as much fun getting stuck and unstuck as I’d had at the Grand Canyon. We ended up following our original route back out of the area while the setting sun lit up the western sky. We freshened up a little at the Cahill’s house, then went into St. George for burgers at Five Guys and some frozen custard at Nielsen’s. The evening was topped off by a dip in the jacuzzi and a very relaxing night’s sleep.

Abandoned mine near Silver ReefSunday came and it felt like Friday had been a week ago, yet it still seemed too soon to be leaving. We piled in the Jeep for one last little adventure, this time near Leeds and Silver Reef. We found some geocaches and explored old buildings and cemeteries and abandoned silver mines. One place in particular was very cool–a deep vertical mine shaft with a huge metal grate over the top. There was a small magnetic geocache attached somewhere to the grate, so Chris and Eric and I walked out to find it. It was unnerving walking out onto the bars with nothing below, mostly because I think it would be painful if a leg fell through. We reluctantly wrapped up our caching adventure and returned to Hurricane to load our stuff into the truck and say goodbyes. It had been an incredible weekend, and the Cahills were excellent hosts and tour guides and friends. Traci and I left with a promise to return, and I’m looking forward to going back someday.

Photo Gallery

GPS Tracklog and Photo Waypoints (Google Earth .KMZ Format)

GPS Tracklog and Photo Waypoints (Google Maps)

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