sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Expedition Retrospective (Part 2)

This is a continuation from this blog post (Part One)


In the San Juan Mountains of Colorado
I never want what I'm writing to turn into a polemic, but sometimes it does...almost on its own. 

The only way to get to the road less traveled is to get out and travel. It sounds trite, but it's true. I would like to tell you that I love setting up camp and sleeping in a tent, but I most often sleep in the rig. And while I am a fan of the Toyota FJ as a good 4x4 solution (when modified properly), it's not comfortable to sleep in.

However as a minimalist camper, I don't work as hard on personal comfort as some others do. I think that came from privations in the military which taught me that my ease was not a predicate of a successful mission. Don't get me wrong, I like luxury as much as the next person. I just have this thing about not needing it on expedition.

In the photo (left) I'm with a guy who is trying to explain how we're going to get up a waterfall that looks impossible. He was right, by the way. We made it. Which is to say that it's always important to listen to somebody who knows more about a particular obstacle than you do.

Short wheel base, high clearance 4x4's have very little room for banal comforts, so you need to pack what you need. The basic load out is carried in a species of endoskeleton that I built and still use. I often sleep under a heavy quilt, but if I'm bringing a sleeping bag, it will go on top of the Pelican cases. If I'm accompanied, luxury items such as a tent and other accoutrements are loaded in the back seat (forward of the cage), or I strap them on the roof. Firearms are most usually carried forward of the cage so that they're accessible. There's not much use in having firearms that are not at hand.

Near Rose Garden Hill, Moab, UT
Near the White Wolf Mine, Mogollon Rim, AZ
Kokopelli Trail


Near "Top of the World" on the Kokopelli Trail (from Fruita, CO to
Moab, UT
I've made the run down the Kokopelli Trail four times. It's one of my very favorite expedition style runs because each time I've found different obstacles on the same 142 mile route. Sometimes you can ford rivers and sometimes they are running too high and you have to take a different route to overcome the problem. I was the first rig along the trail one spring and had to do a lot of road building because of wash-outs that made the trail impassible. It wasn't out of a sense of altruism that I spent a day or two fixing roads - it's because I needed to in order to pass. 

The Kokopelli Trail is one that is best experienced with friends because it's one of those unique trips that you can still make and it's always an experience of discovery. I've done it in two days and I've done it in five. You are ROMPING to get through it in two days.

Kokopelli Trail - this was not a glory photo. There was a better line over
the rock in this case than around it.
My first run at the Kokopelli Trail was with the Toyota Trail Teams (Factory team for the FJ Cruiser). They were kind enough to invite me along. 

They ran out of fuel and ended up borrowing from me. In the West, you must always plan to bring more fuel than you think you'll ever need. You burn more in 4 Low than you usually expect to.

I'm very much looking forward to making this trip again once I've settled in Arizona. (the CA house has sold and I'm in the process of moving at the moment) At present, I'm thinking of doing it Spring 2018, as soon as the snow clears and the road is passable.

On the Kokopelli Trail, ENE of Moab, UT about fifty miles
Kokopelli Trail is but one of hundreds of interesting expeditions.

Beaty, Nevada, east of Death Valley
My son-in-law was with me on this trip to Death Valley (above) and encouraged me to pose for a shot in front of the closed brothel. There should be a rule about not being gullible enough to stand still for this sort of photo, but if there is that sort of rule, I've broken it too often.

With a Buggy going up a river bed with a friend, who brought his rock rig.
He ended up breaking an axel, and I avoided some serious trouble by having
an angel on my shoulder. Near Florence, AZ
Overlooking a portion of Death Valley, CA
In the San Juan Mountains, CO - well above timber line, nearly 13,000 ft
elevation, at California Pass.

16 comments:

  1. Looks interesting, and fun.
    Would you explain how the endoskeleton works.

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    1. It's made of DOM steel, bent and bolted down to the truck. The steel forms a framework for me to put other hard points so that every piece of equipment is strapped/mounted to the skeleton and nothing flops around when I'm going over rough road. Loose gear is packed in Pelican cases, which are in turn, strapped down. Ship shape and Bristol Fashion.

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  2. I prefer an exoskeleton when the mosquitoes are bad.

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    1. You need to combine your DNA with scorpion DNA. I think that there was a Mummy (was it The Rock?) who did that in one of those movies? It will amaze your friends and mosquitos (and just about everyone but Brendon Frazier) will leave you alone.

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  3. Congrats on selling your home. That should free up some time for more fun stuff. I really hope you enjoy you new digs.

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    1. I will need to rent in AZ until the new place is built. So it's still a process.

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  4. I have a Pelican case that looks to be about the same size as that one.

    You're more than welcome to have it if you'd like.

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    Replies
    1. I use them a lot. I'd only want it if you're sure that you don't have a need for it.

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    2. I bought it when I'd been hired bt Boeing for the Sea Launch program. I had visions of packing my portable Amateur Radio station in it and operating Maritime Mobile. Then I realized I'd need a license from the country the ship is flagged in. I spent the better part of three years trying to get a Liberian reciprocal operating permit before I gave up.

      I have no need for it, and you're more than welcome to have it. It's got the rollers on one end and a pull-out handle on the other.

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  5. Great pics and congrats on the sale. The WWM draws closer...

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    Replies
    1. You have to keep fighting, LSP.

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  6. Congrats on the sale! :-) I've heard of the Kokopelli Trail, never had a chance to run it... sigh

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    Replies
    1. We might be able to work something out if you're in the neighborhood.

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