Moab, UT & The Maze (Part 2)
by K
en Womack

Cliffhanger and The La Sals 

After our trip to the Maze, Dan & Diane Neuss and Evelyn and I were in need of some rest, which we did Friday, sleeping in some, then doing laundry and washing our Jeeps, some rest huh?  Dan ordered a new power steering pump, which would be in Sat. a.m.  We chilled out and had a Bar-B-Que at Dan’s buddy’s house, where they were staying.  A good night’s rest again and we were ready for Sat.

Saturday morning I went to Dan’s to help him install the new power steering pump.  He had just put one in before leaving Houston because his AGR pump and gearbox and Rock-It steering outfit hadn’t come in yet. When I got there he already had the old one out and was ready for an extra pair of hands for the new one plus a new serpentine belt.  About noon we were finished and ready to try a half-day trail, a hard one. We chose one close by, The Cliffhanger.

We got to the trailhead, aired down and started out.  The trail was fairly tough from the beginning.  Steep ledges with drop-offs got us warmed up from the get-go.  We got up to some huge rocks and ruts that were very tough for my Jeep and fairly tough for Dan’s.  With careful spotting, we got each other thru this obstacle ok.  Next was a huge 4 foot ledge you had to climb in two-tiers.  On the second one you have to turn sharply to avoid serious body damage from a rock outcropping.  You really have to trust you spotter on this one.  Both of us got up, but it wasn’t easy.  Soon after this one, we ran into The Larimer County 4-Wheelers otherwise known as The Mountaineers from Ft. Collins Co.  This fun-loving group of ‘Wheelers were coming back from the hardest spot on the trail, the actual Cliffhanger.  It is a sharp uphill and downhill obstacle vicariously close to a dangerous drop-off.  Since it was Dan and Dianne’s wedding anniversary and we were all going out to dinner, we chose to return with The Mountaineers.

Their club president and trail leader Craig Stumbough invited us to join them Monday on The Golden Spike Trail.  We graciously accepted and told them we would meet them Monday.  We returned just in time to shower and get ready for dinner.  The next morning, Dan, Evelyn and I went to the Manti-La Sals.  Dianne decided to stay home this time. We took Blaze, our dog, with us for this one as  dogs were allowed and it was much cooler.

After a long, hot, dry week of the Maze and a trip to Cliffhanger, it was time for a trip to the cooler side of Moab.  The La Sals, the pretty Colorado-type mountains were still snow-capped.  We started up the mountain roads from Spanish Valley Drive to Geyser Pass Rd onto Dark Canyon Rd.  Mt. Mellenthin was a sight for sore eyes.  Pretty, snow covered and COOL Dark Canyon Rd. was wide and easy to drive and the views were awesome indeed.

After several miles on the easier road, we started up La Sal Pass Rd.  Here we began a steep climb up a winding road, easy but with many turns.  Just past the summit of La Sal Pass was Medicine Lake, a beautiful alpine lake below South Mountain.  Here was our lunch spot.  Blaze got out to wander around and even got in the water.  It must have beencold.  You couldn’t ask for a better picnic spot.  We chilled and munched for about 45 min. and then packed up to head down the mountain. The road became narrower, muddy in spots and more demanding, just what we had hoped.  Although a medium trail, in spots it was still a walk in the park.  But it was a really nice walk in the park. J  We passed a talus slope of loose rocks that made strange crunching noises as you drove over them, but none actually broke.

A steep descent with a couple of water crossings and mud holes made this trip refreshing.  Thousands of butterflies congregated at creeks to drink the fresh water.  Coming down the trail through scrub oaks, we saw the canyon lands and mazes of the valley below.  Such a contrast from what we had just driven through.  There were some spur roads I would have loved to explore, but that would have to wait for another time.  Perhaps there may have been a cabin or even a mine, though I saw no evidence of any.  We continued on down the road into drier climate, looking back up at where we had just been.  I knew a trip back would be in the future for sure.

We exited thru Pack Creek Recreation Area, shifted to 2-wheel-drive and motored down the road back to Moab. If you go to Moab, and just GOTTA chill for a day from the hot, dry weather, The La Sal Pass Road with Geyser Pass and Dark Canyon Road will do the job for you.  Remember to pack a lunch and allow plenty of time because this is a great place to relax and enjoy.