Ultimate Adventure 2017, Part 2

    Part 2: North Into Utah Territory

    When we left off last time our motley crew of wheeling enthusiasts was cooling off at Tonto Natural Bridge State Park in northern Arizona. Before they could even leave the parking lot, though, things were already starting to go south. Wayne Lambert lost the rear output seal in his NP241 transfer case, forcing him to return to nearby Payson for parts. This was a harbinger of things to come, as multiple vehicles would succumb to damage by the end of the day.

    Trail leader Trent McGee expected the group to complete Pyeatt Draw in an hour, but that was not to be. Whether it was because of the participants’ enthusiasm to get back into the rocks or the toll of multiple days running down dirt roads, vehicles began dropping like flies in Pyeatt Draw. We ran this trail in 2015 as part of our Cheap Truck Challenge event with similar results—everyone broke (http://www.fourwheeler.com/events/1509-cheap-truck-challenge-2015). The trail itself is not overly difficult, with one notable exception. The Filter is a huge rock ledge that was deliberately avoided during CTC. On the Ultimate Adventure everyone attempted the Filter, with a rate around 50 percent of getting to the top unassisted.

    Instead of an hour, the trail took all day, causing McGee to scrap the rest of his plans for the day and leading the group to an amazing campsite on the Mogollon Rim. The Rim is an escarpment marked by cliffs that make up the southern end of the Colorado Plateau. Arriving after dark, all that could be seen below were the lights of Payson. Once the sun came up, though, the group was treated to one of the most breathtaking views imaginable.

    From there it was north to Flagstaff and the Cinder Hills OHV Area. This 13,500-acre area was similar to sand dunes, except that instead of small grains of sand the landscape was made up of pea-sized pieces of pumice and basalt deposited by a cinder cone that was active as recently as 100 years ago. The steep black hills allowed participants with healthy engines to blast up and down them, while others required a tug from a VooDoo Rope when they didn’t have the necessary horsepower.

    Continuing north, the group crossed the Grand Canyon at Marble Bridge before climbing in elevation to Jacob Lake. After getting some rest, it was a short drive to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon the next morning. After playing tourist, the group bounced along the Utah-Arizona border through Kanab and Fredonia before returning to the Grand Canyon along dirt roads. The Arizona Strip, the small section of the state north of the Grand Canyon, is one of the most remote locations in the Lower 48. Trent McGee felt that it was only fitting that the Ultimate Adventure explore the area near the Bar 10 Ranch. From the cliffs above we could see unsuspecting rafters on the Colorado River below.

    By this time it was late afternoon and the group had covered north of 150 miles of rough washboard road, but McGee had more in store for the readers, sponsors, and cronies. What came next was a virtual “UA 1000” of silt beds, rocky canyons, and endless dirt roads. It was well after midnight before our very dusty band of adventure seekers arrived in Hurricane, Utah, for the final hurrah of Ultimate Adventure 2017.

    On the last morning, Rich Klein of Trail Hero and Brian Swearingen of IH8MUD gave us a taste of the trails that can be found at Sand Hollow State Park. “We are just scratching the surface of the 20,000 acres of OHV area here,” Klein explained. “The local BLM office and state park officials have been wonderful to deal with and share our vision of making Sand Hollow the premier destination for rockcrawling.”

    Mission accomplished, we say. Every participant of UA stated that they want to come back to Sand Hollow for more wheeling. Insane traction, sand dunes, gorgeous views, a nearby lake—Sand Hollow does indeed seem to have it all.

    As the trip came to an inevitable end, new and old friends reflected on the 2017 Ultimate Adventure. Chris Durham described it as his annual family reunion. Returning reader Wayne Lambert summed up the UA nicely: “More than the wheeling, my favorite part of the trip is the positive can-do attitude of the group and the collective knowledge to fix or overcome just about anything. Steering box messed up? No worries. We’ll pull apart and fix it in camp tonight. Destroyed driveline? No worries. We’ll head to town get a new one and see you tomorrow. Axletubes broke free of centersection? Let’s weld that up while we wait for everyone to climb that rock. The list of issues goes on and on, but so does the list of solutions.”

    Day 4: Pyeatt Draw

    Day 5: Cinders

    Day 6: Grand Canyon

    Day 7: Sand Hollow