Our Gear Grinders October run was to Sand Hollow. All these years of going to Moab we have driven right by Sand Hollow, between St. George and Hurricane, Utah. This year we finally changed that and spent some time playing on sand and slick rock without having to drive as far.
George Graham, Bill & Kathy Martin, Byron & Patty Self and Jerry & Mary Grimsley departed Ridgecrest at about 800AM on Tuesday, October 12, headed for Utah. As we were approaching Kramer Junction, George realized he had forgotten his wallet, so he turned around to go back home while the rest of the group continued on.
We made a couple of rest stops along the way and a gas/lunch stop north of Las Vegas. The gas station was very busy with no place for big rigs to park, so we took advantage of a Mexican food truck parked on the other side of the freeway for some excellent tacos. From there, it was only another couple of hours to our campsite near Sand Hollow in the Long Valley OHV area. It had rained heavily during the night and early morning hours before our arrival, so our intended camping area was very muddy. Bill and I used my Jeep to scout out a campsite and to find a safe way to get the RV’s in. The trucks got in just fine and not too many hours later George arrived after retrieving his wallet and Bill and Samela Dorey arrived Wednesday evening. Terry and Cheri Grimsley, Scott and Denise Bart, Kevin and Desiree Rowland, Stacia and daughter Brooklyn, and Josh and Sierra Rowland and their six dogs all rolled into camp on Thursday.
On Wednesday, the group had breakfast in Hurricane. The Martins went to explore the Kolob Mesa area while the Grimsleys, Selfs and George opted for a short day of exploring nearer to camp. We visited the Little Black Mountain petroglyph site, which is a very nice, developed site with gravel paths. From there we searched for a little known petroglyph site along Fort Pearce Wash. We found it but it was hardly worth the effort, just a few faint abstract images. We returned to camp in mid-afternoon. The Doreys arrived later that evening and I went out to lead them into camp since the ground was still muddy.
On Thursday, I wanted to do a fairly long trip to visit some petroglyph sites in Rosy Canyon near Colorado City. I was prepared to go alone, but the rest of the group opted to join us just to see some new country. We visited several small sites including Upper and Lower Ravens Crack. Upper Ravens Crack was a hard climb and only George, Bill Dorey and I did it. Later in the day, the rest of the group headed back to camp, while George stayed with Mary and I to look for one more small site. It turned out to be the best site of the day, although it was quite a scramble up the cliff side.
On Friday we decided on the West Rim Jeep Trail and as we loaded up, George discovered his alternator wasn’t charging. It is a special alternator that would have to be ordered, so he loaded up and headed for home. We left camp and about 20 minutes from camp a motorcyclist crashed about 50 yards in front of the trail boss. We stopped to check on him and it was very apparent that both he and the bike were done for the day. We were about a half-mile from a graded road, so his buddy rode his bike back to collect the truck and trailer. In the meantime, we loaded the injured rider into the Selfs Jeep and Josh hopped on the twisted bike and we got them both up to the road. The other rider was back with the truck and trailer pretty quickly and after loading both up we were finally back on our way.
The trail is rated as a 4 and for the most part was pretty easy. We were treated to stunning 360-degree views most of the way. Route finding was a bit challenging in places and on more than one occasion we ended up on Fault Line, which is rated as a 6. Just before our lunch stop Kevin’s automatic transmission started slipping on a steep climb. We had a short lunch overlooking Warner Valley and afterwards the Broncos headed back to camp while the rest of the group pressed on.
Towards the end of the trail, we came upon a short but steep climb with a series of small steps with two that were imperfectly suited for short wheelbase Jeeps. Both Grimsleys gave it a try but couldn’t get the traction needed. Momentum probably would have helped but that’s also how things can go wrong very quickly. Instead of taking a risk, we sent the Selfs up since they had the only four-door. The long wheelbase was just the ticket and became the “hero” for the day! The trail boss used his own winch with the Selfs as an anchor to winch himself up. Once up top he winched the rest of the group up but not until each had given the obstacle a token effort. The trail ended at some small sand dunes and after playing a short while we made our way back to camp.
On Saturday we took a break from slick rock and sand in favor of some white water Jeeping. This was a Jeeps only trip since both Broncos were now having mechanical issues and opted for some pavement exploring. The destination for the Jeep group was Toquerville Falls a few miles north of Hurricane. There are a couple ways to get there: one via a long bumpy graded road and the other crawling up La Verkin Creek via a route called Rattlesnake Gulch. This is a rocky trail that crosses back and forth across the creek too many times to count (except Mary did count and it crossed 41 times). Some of the crossings were rather deep and often had rocks lurking out of site below the surface. Some of the climbs out of the creek were a little challenging with wet and muddy tires and there were a few drops into the creek that we were glad that we didn’t need to go back up. In places the trail travels up the creek for long stretches. At one point the Bart’s got hung up in a rock pile and needed to be extracted with a rope. A certain yellow YJ was more than happy to lend a hand! At another crossing, Bill Dorey decided it wasn’t quite challenging enough and explored a deeper hole. This was a very scenic and fun trail and the falls at the end were a nice treat. After lunch we made our way back to Hurricane via the long, bumpy and dusty dirt road.
On Sunday it was back over to Sand Hollow to run the East Rim Jeep Trail. When we aired down at the entrance to Sand Hollow, we met another Jeeper from SoCal and they asked if they could join us for the day. The trail started at the sand play area that the West Rim ended at. This trail was a mix of sand and slick rock as it worked its way east. This trail can be run as a loop ending up back at the sand play area, however, our plan was to drop down off of the bluff part of the way around the loop, visit the dinosaur footprints and then run up the Warner Valley road back to camp. We were expecting a short and easy day.
As usual things don’t always go as planned. The trail down off the mesa proved to be a little rougher than we were prepared for. Some rock tossing and spotting got us by some early obstacles until we finally came to a 10 foot near vertical drop off. This was definitely a no go! Particularly since we had no idea what could be lurking farther down the trail. We back tracked to the main loop and started working our way back toward the west. It was getting late in the day, so we opted for a short cut back to the sand play area. After playing around in the small dunes for a short while we called it a day and headed back to camp.
After dinner, we had another campfire and the SoCal Jeepers came to enjoy the campfire. We also celebrated three birthdays.
Monday was cool and very windy. We said our goodbyes to the Scott and Denise and to the Rowland clan before we headed on out for our day’s adventure. Our Jeeper friends from SoCal met us at our camp to join us for another day. We drove an easy dirt road into Warner Valley to visit Fort Pearce and a dinosaur trackway. Fort Pearce is a small Mormon fort built in the 1870’s to ward off Indian attacks. From there we decided to try to link up with the other end of the Sand Mountain trail that we could not come down on Sunday. As luck would have it, we encountered ledges too steep to climb and turned back.
We were lucky enough to find a lunch spot in a gully out of the wind. The Honeymoon Trail was the final trail of the day. In the early days the Hurricane Cliffs were a barrier to travel from St. George to points eastward. A wagon road was eventually built over the cliff. Young couples from settlements in the eastern areas would come to the Tabernacle in St. George to get their marriage vows sanctified and the road became known as the Honeymoon Trail. Parts of it were a little more challenging than expected as in steep side-hills. Once on top, we searched for some overlooks of the Hurricane valley, but the wind was howling at the top of the cliffs so we called it a day and headed back to camp. Terry and Cheri decided to head on toward home shortly after dinner, as it was obvious that we were not going to have a fire, while the rest of us waited until the next morning.
We had a wonderful time exploring some new country. The daytime temperatures were perfect except for Monday, which was on the cool side because of the wind. We had great campfires on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. It was unfortunate that George had to depart early due to mechanical difficulties and the Broncos were limited due to issues of their own. Sand Hollow is definitely an area that warrants more exploration, but probably not before another trip to Moab.