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dzJeepChic

10/3 - 10/7/2013: Comb Ridge and Nearby Trails, Utah

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couple of my favorite pics from the trip....

 

 

shot from just above our camp site, looking south-east at Comb Ridge:

 

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the modern world blazed by at full speed far above, while we slowly wheeled along the floor of Arch Canyon:

 

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Day 1

 

Monument Valley always looks impressive, no matter how many times i pass through.

 

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i pulled over to grab this pic of an Earthroamer convention there.

 

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while i waited for everyone to meet in Mexican Hat, i ran a dirt road over to look at the San Juan River. there were a bunch of these little pumps along the way, not sure what for?

 

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i've never seen the San Juan clear, it's always this color it seems:

 

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after everyone met in Mexican Hat, we went over and ran Comb Wash from south to north to get a good look at Comb Ridge.

 

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the wash is an easy high speed "moondust" type trail.

 

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the entire trail was dry as a bone except for one big puddle... which someone with Nevada plates had found.

 

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on the north end we started to see some of the smooth sandstone type formation that we'd be wheeling on later in the week.

 

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that evening i had pulled pork, au gratin potatoes, and asparagus with butter that Aimee prepared for me before i left. alli had to do was throw the package in the engine oven at lunch time and everything was nice and steamy for dinner.

 

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we ended up camping just below the entrance to Arch Canyon, where there's plenty of space for several rigs and tents.

 

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walking around to get some sunset pics, i found this neatly colored formation just above our camp:

 

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Day 2

 

the next day we went into Arch Canyon a bit. the first ruins were pretty far gone as far as structures, but there was plenty of great rock art.

 

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i've seen handprints painted/dyed before, but never carved:

 

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turns out we wouldn't get much further than the parking spot for these ruins that day.

 

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we found the trail required navigating a giant off-camber water/mud hole. as i eased in, it quickly swallowed my 35" tire, then began to cover my headlight on one side, and finally when my passenger floor mat started to float, i backed out. i think D has some good pics of me testing the water that i'm sure she'll post.

 

i parked on a bank to put the driver's side high, leaned over and opened the passenger door, and several gallons of water came pouring out.

 

we spent some time with shovels trying to deepen the trench that the water hole was draining through, and probably lowered the water level 6 to 8 inches. tired of digging, we decided to run the Hotel Rock trail instead and come back the next day to see how the draining went.

 

the first overlook from the Hotel Rock trail looks down just past where we had gotten in Arch Canyon.

 

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the trail has 2 main obstacles. there was an off-camber, and very narrow obstacle called Rock Hugger (hope someone got pics), and then the Up-And-Over. here's GearHead on the "over" portion:

 

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Hotel Rock itself is a large outcropping sticking up maybe 100 feet from the surrounding mesa. there are numerous ruins in a crevace along the east side:

 

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while there, we saw a quick moving snow storm dust the mountains up near Monticello.

 

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the trail can continue on up to Elk Ridge, but we returned the way we came to get back to camp. here's GearHead again, now coming back down the "up" portion of Up-And-Over:

 

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ChrisD was sporting new 37" Toyo M/T's for this trip on his Hemi JKU:

 

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the day had been in the 50's, but that night it got down to freezing or very close. i had purchased some New York Apple Whiskey to try on this trip and brought little cups so everyone could sample it and get warm ;)

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About those pumps you saw: I read in the book I borrowed from you that back in the day they drilled for oil all over the place out there by the San Juan near Mexican Hat. It said there are still some active, so maybe that's what those are.

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Day 3

 

a local ATV club had heard we were trying to do some trail repair at Arch Canyon and some of them came out to help! we dug the drainage ditch to get the water down another 6 inches or so and they threw boulders into the puddle to raise the bottom. it worked and soon G was testing it out and got across without problem. even one of the ATV's went across without getting too wet.

 

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we didn't run the canyon that day though, we hooked up with MHead and crew and ran up Comb Wash further to see the Comb Wash Cave.

 

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the cave is a steep hike, probably about 1/2 mile each way at most. it's a very neat alcove with water still dripping on some formations.

 

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next we ran up the Comb Ridge Trail switchbacks to get to the top of the ridge. the trail was rated "easy" but we found that it had been washed out severely and warranted a strong "moderate" rating now.

 

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in this pic, you can barely make out a rusted old car that fell from the road years ago:

 

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after turning the first switchback, we could look down at Comb Wash towards our camp site.

 

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we ran back south on the ridge do to Posey's Trail. it was an graded dirt road, but had a couple great overlooks.

 

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you can see the 95 where it cuts through the ridge:

 

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we ran back down the way we came to get back to camp, excited that we could do Arch Canyon the next morning.

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Day 4

 

finally the time came to reap the fruits of our shovel labor - Arch Canyon!

 

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it was a fun trail that crosses the wash/stream quite a few times. nothing too technical, but great scenery.

 

the first ruins we came to further in the canyon where the aptly named Jailhouse Ruins.

 

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random rock formations along the canyon walls:

 

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at the end of the trail there are 3 arches. the first, Cathedral Arch, can be seen from the parking area.

 

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the others require hikes. everyone but me hiked to the second one, Angel Arch. i stayed back and planned out my route for the next couple days... ChrisD was taking off when we got back to camp to head to another run in Beef Basin, and the rest of the crew planned to do Butler Wash on Monday and then head on home. i was thinking of staying another couple days to check out trails north of camp.

 

again we had to come out the same way we went in, but we got to see the canyon from a different perspective. this formation for example was much easier to spot on the way out:

 

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after we got back to camp, a couple of us went to explore the road that goes above Arch Canyon on the south side, we'd heard of a giant washout and wanted to see if it was doable. nope! not without a buggy:

 

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GearHead then noticed a leak around his bead on the spare tire he was running. he had already lost one tire the first day due to a sidewall split. back at camp we tried to break the bead so we could clean it out, but the tire was so old and dry rotted it cracked wide open. George offered up his spare and since now neither of them had another spare, it was decided everyone except myself would caravan back towards Phoenix the next morning.

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Day 5

 

i packed up and left for Blanding while everyone else went south for Bluff. originally i was going to head back into the Comb Ridge area from Blanding but last minute decided to go on up to Monticello and then head back west.

 

the first trail i did was North Creek pass. it was a graded gravel road that crested at over 10,000 feet.

 

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at the top is a spur trail that was supposed to take me to even more spectacular overlooks. it started out as a tight dirt trail weaving through pines. it quickly came to a steep and fairly loose looking hill, which i decided was not the smartest thing to do by myself, so i turned around.

 

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back on gravel, i picked up the pace while descending the pass. i did have to dodge a few deer... as soon as they crossed the road though, they lost all fear and hung around while i took several pics.

 

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i then ran The Causeway on eastward, which brought me back up to over 8,000 ft.

 

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i explored an offshoot toward some neat looking rock cliffs.

 

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the offshoot split and one way ended in some nice camping areas.

 

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the other direction turned into a tight ATV trail and i bailed before i reached the end, but only after getting some deep new pinstripes.

 

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some shots from The Causeway:

 

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starting south on the Elk Ridge trail, another fast paced well maintained forest road, the forest became full sized pine trees for a while.

 

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i stopped at a ranger station advertising "FREE MAPS!!!". when i saw someone come out i was suprised and thought perhaps the government wasn't shut down anymore. he turned out to be a volunteer and so he was there regardless of the funding situation.

 

the station was in a beautiful meadow surrounded by aspens.

 

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after Elk Ridge was the Woodenshoe Buttes trail, more high speed gravel but heading east again.

 

i stopped at an overlook of the end of Arch Canyon.

 

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zooming all the way in with my camera, i could actually see formations i thought i recognized from being in the canyon the previous day.

 

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at the same overlook, i could just barely make out Comb Ridge... it's the faint darker band below the distant blue mountains in this pic:

 

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out at the tip of Woodenshoe Buttes, looking south-west, i could see highway 95 and a portion of the Natural Bridges National Monument.

 

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from a bit further north on the mesa i could see The Cheesebox formation and more of the 95.

 

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the circle rock in the middle with the little tip is The Cheesebox:

 

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i thought then that i was pretty close to pavement and i might just head on home instead of camping for the night. i'd seen pretty much all the trails i wanted to do all in one day instead of 2.

 

i hauled butt back up Woodenshoe Buttes to Burch Canyon trail, dodging some veal on the way.

 

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i stopped for a short hike to try and find some ruins, but only found these neat cliffs:

 

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that was the last pic i took on this trip. i came out on the spur road to Natural Bridges National Monument around 5:30PM AZ time. getting from there to Tuba City was all very tiring as i had to keep my eyes peeled. most of that area is open range, and also known for deer crossings. after around 9 i felt that the chances of hitting a deer were much less and relaxed a bit - till i got to near Flagstaff since it's Elk country.

 

when i got on the 17 i saw a sign that it would be closed for blasting just past Camp Verde for an entire hour at 11:30 - that was going to be close! i did 80+ all the way down, not enjoying the vibrations so much. ended up making it past the construction at 11:20! woot!

 

this was another great trip, our big one of the year which i had been looking forward to for a long time. thanks again to everyone that came along!

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Here's a few of my pics to help round out K's report, link to all of them here: Diane's Comb Ridge Pics

 

Arriving at Comb Wash:

 

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Kristoffer testing the waters in Arch Canyon before any attempt to drain the puddle:

 

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Pics from Hotel Rock trail:

 

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K on the Up & Over

 

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ChrisD on the Up & Over

 

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Gearhead on the Up & Over

 

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Wayne on the Up & Over

 

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Clifford:

 

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Hotel Rock:

 

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There were ruins on the opposite side also:

 

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Wayne & Gearhead going up the other side of the Up & Over

 

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We stopped at another overlook near the Up & Over

 

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Rock Hugger

 

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Just a cool picture:

 

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Pics from Comb Cave:

 

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Comb Ridge and Posey's Trail:

 

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From around camp:

 

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Arch Canyon

 

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Jailhouse Ruin:

 

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A funky area:

 

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Rock fall down go boom:

 

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The petroglyphs up the hill from the huge washout:

 

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We really had a great time thanks everybody who came out to add to the fun! :rolleyes:

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Great pics Kris and Diane! :)

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About those pumps you saw: I read in the book I borrowed from you that back in the day they drilled for oil all over the place out there by the San Juan near Mexican Hat. It said there are still some active, so maybe that's what those are.

 

I thought that was interesting, too. I found this:

 

"Although Comb Ridge is technically a monocline pioneer oilmen called this geologic structure the Raplee anticline, since the strata farther west dive once again into the subsurface. It is in this area that oil in the Paradox Formation was first discovered in the 1890's, since it was visibly leaking from the rocks and could be smelled along the river banks. It is here that oil was trapped in an unusual synclinal oil field - the Mexican Hat syncline. This small field began to produce at the turn of the 20th century and although there was much celebration about its discovery, the remoteness of the area caused all of the oil to be consumed locally. Even today small pump jacks can be seen extracting the black liquid from the red rocks near the town of Mexican Hat, named for an unusual balanced rock along the banks of the river."

 

http://www.geoexpro.com/article/The_Smell_of_Crude_Oil/9108f0d0.aspx

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