September 3 - September 10, 2010
By Dan W. Messersmith
Participants were: Dan Messersmith, w/Buddy; Ellen Miller; Nelson MIller; Bob & Karen Monsen; Mal & Jean Roode; Scott Roode; Glen Shaw; Mignon Slentz; Dick Taylor and Allan Wicker
Friday, September 3
Dick Taylor and I left Kingman at 7:30am and we made as good as time as possible getting to St. George given the all the construction around Hoover Dam and along the Lake Mead Road to Overton.
Most of our folks were there and with the arrival of Mal & Jean Roode, our whole party was in place except Mignon Slentz who would be coming in late and would meet us at the camp site. As Wal-Mart no longer carries dry ice, Dick and I made our way over to Harmon’s to pick some up. On our return, the group headed for the Arizona Strip.
I was using my Jeep this trip and pulling my small aluminum trailer. Near the top of Quail Hill, a very long and fairly steep grade up into the Strip, my Jeep started to lose power as if it was starving for gas. I nursed it to the top of the hill and it was decided to have someone else take my trailer to camp and I would nurse the Jeep to the location. Nelson Miller was able to take my trailer and I did get the Jeep to run the rest of the way to camp. As I had recently had the gas tank replaced on the Jeep we thought there may be a problem with the fuel pump in the tank. The plan was to take it to town on our trip in on Tuesday and drop it off for repair. I would pick it up on Friday for the trip home. In the mean time, Buddy and I would ride with Dick in his truck for the day trips.
At camp we all go busy selecting our sites and setting up camp. Dick and I created a nice central gathering area next to the campfire ring by putting up two pop-ups between Dick’s tent and my trailer.
One of the constant pest problems in camp was the presence of “water bees.” They were not aggressive and more died by drowning themselves that we hurt, but they were annoying. We tried to control the presence of open water containers to keep their numbers down.
We finished set-up and Mignon pulled in before dark and our crew was complete for this outing. We had a good cocktail hour and fine campfire to finish the day.
Saturday, September 4
A few of us were up by 5:30am and got my big 36 cup coffee pot going and had a gallon of coffee ready in due time. The camp was up and moving around by 6:30am. Dick and I had a good breakfast and were getting ready for the day run. As I had thought the Jeep had done much better on the way to camp I thought I would start it up and see how it was operating. As soon as I started it, a huge volume of gas started shooting out near the gas tank. I shut it down and we looked for the cause but could not see it. Again, we felt the repair may not have be tightened up properly and we would check to see if we could locate the problem when we got back to camp after today’s run.
Shortly, Dick announced we were off “like a herd of turtles” with Buddy and I navigating while Dick drove. We planned a short run today and headed east on BLM1004 a short distance to a dirt track heading south. We were going to explore some back roads that we had never traveled before and drive around Mustang Knoll to see if we could see where a wild fire had been earlier in the week.
Turning south we went about 1.5 miles and turned west toward Mustang Knoll. We passed to the south of the Knoll and after about 4 miles since our last turn we found a road to the north. About 3 miles later we got back to BLM1004 having traveled some great little 4x4 trails, observing some fire damaged areas and becoming slightly directionally challenged for a short time.
We then headed west on BLM1004 up Black Rock Mountain to take in some great overlooks on the way up and to see if the fire watch station was still open. When we got on top, we found the station was closed for the season so we headed a little farther down the road to one of the park-like camping areas where we turned around and headed back down the mountain.
At the intersection of BLM1051 we went south slowly enjoying more of the terrain and scenery finally reaching MC101. We headed easterly on MC101 until we found some shade trees and took a lunch break. After lunch we headed on down MC101 until we came to one of those lonely airstrips out in the AZ Strip. Turning north along the airstrip we finally connected to the same road we had came in on earlier in the day.
Back at camp, folks looked to their camp duties while I with the excellent help of Scott Roode (he did the lions share of the work) got the Jeep positioned to jack up and look at the gas tank. We started it one more time while Scott took a closer look underneath and confirmed it was a leak coming from the area of the top of the new gas tank. Using high-lift jacks on each side of the rear bumper with we raised the vehicle high enough to get under it and work. We used hydraulic jacks under two points on the rear axel to provide some back-up safety for the high-lifts.
While we were working on syphoning the gas out of the Jeep gas tank, a NPS Ranger came into camp to say hello. As we were on BLM land, we were a little surprised to see a NPS Ranger. He was quite nice and opened his greeting with, “Don’t tell me, you must be the group from Kingman.” I was a bit taken aback by that. He explained that they now monitor the internet 4x4 sites (and others) for references to the Arizona Strip to see what is going on. They also look for the trip reports we do, especially those with photos of where we went to see if we were any place we should not have been. If they see that, they make contact with the folks. As others gathered to talk to him, I went back to work with Scott. I was still a bit flustered that we were being monitored by the federal agencies and I am hesitant to continue to put MOE trips and reports on-line. I’ll have to think about it.Back to the Jeep. As Scott and I worked at dropping the tank a few of our “friends” gathered to “help us out.” They brought lawn chairs and drinks and set up in the closest shade to offer “advise and supervision” for our listening pleasure. MOE has a new saying; “You don’t need a card game to attract kibitzers.” All of this was in great fun and a way to break the tension of the moment. And, every once in awhile - good, sound advice was provided to us while we lay on the dirt struggling to get the job at hand done.
When we got the tank down, we found that one of the gas pressure lines had blown and the other was ready to blow. We also found that it was not gas line! My repair people had used HEATER HOSE to replace the gas line. As I carry extra gas line in my gear, we were able to replace the crap hose and fix the problem. Once done, the Jeep ran great. There would be hell to pay at my repair facility in Kingman when I got back.
I cannot say too many good things about Scott Roode and what a great asset he was to have on our trip. It would have been nearly impossible for us to do that field repair without his knowledge and ability to get the job done.
Cocktails never tasted better than tonight and dinner and a campfire finished the day.
Sunday, September 5
The camp was up early and we took our time getting ready for the day’s activities. I would lead today in my Jeep and see how it was doing.
We were on the trail by 8:30am and headed west on BLM1004 toward Black Rock Mountain once more. Once up the mountain, we stopped to air down our tires as the next portion of the trail down the mountain can be slow going over bumps and rocks. Once everyone was done, we headed north on BLM1022.
We slowly traveled over a great 4x4 trail and worked our way down the mountain. As we reached the lower areas, it was obvious that the local rancher had done lots of work in the area and landmarks I was trying to find were not there.
In particular was an old Mohave County road grader that marked the turn for us to go out to a point overlooking the Virgin River Gorge. We finally found the grader in a location unfamiliar to the memory. It appeared to have been recently used. Either the grader was moved from its old location or the area drastically changed since our last time there. We took some group photographs with the old grader and headed on using a northerly heading as our only navigation aid. Down the road a bit we encountered an old bulldozer that came from Army surplus and had be modified by the ranchers over the years to be a chain drag for removing trees and brush to create better grazing for their cattle. After a short examination of this unique dozer and a number of photographs we again continued down a trail using our northerly pointed noses. After our ascent of the cliffs via MC30, we turned north on BLM1015 and worked our way up to the turn-off to the Honeymoon Trail overlook. It was an impressive site and folks were in wonder that people actually pulled horse and mule drawn wagons up and down the trail. We were trying to decide whether to drive it down or not as there appeared to be a significant side cantor on the trail to negotiate.
I had been up the trail before, but never down it, so I took my Jeep down to check it out while everyone else held their viewing position on the overlook. I found that the overlook view made it look worse than it was on site. After passing the spot that had looked bad from above, I encountered a rough rocky area that would pose more of a challenge. It was decided to give it a try and I called for the others to join me.
I waited until everyone got down on the trail behind me and had a good look at the challenge ahead. Slowly, each of us took our run through the bad spot. Photos and streaming video document the efforts. The rest of the trail down was steep, narrow and fantastic. At the bottom we gathered around the trail sign and took a group picture.
We then took the road into Hurricane and went over to St. George to pick up any needed supplies and link up with the Monsen’s for our return trip to camp. We found out that the Monsen’s had gone on ahead so we headed out as soon as we had everyone else gathered up.
At camp another fine night of cocktails and campfire ended a great day.
Wednesday, September 8
We got out on the trail about the same time and headed over to Wolf Hole Valley and took BLM1040 south down Sullivan Draw. This is a long wide valley with great views along the way. Near the start of the valley, we took a short side road to see if it had any possibility for a future base camp site as it appeared to go up into a small natural basin. We soon found out the small basin did not have the features to be a future camp, and followed the road past it until it came to a large water tank. After a short stop to inspect the large tank, we resumed our trip south down Sullivan Draw.
At a “T” in the road where BLM1040 ends, we took BLM1039 to the right out of the valley and into a small hills and juniper trees. This trail wound us around until it ended at “T” intersection with MC103 which we took to the right.
Several miles later we came to the BLM Poverty Administrative Site and the campground we use when we base camp in that area. As there were campers at the site, we did not enter it to show it to a few of folks who had not been there. We did walk over to look at the BLM Administrative Site through the fence gate. As the gate was locked we did not enter the site.
Back on the trail, I took them a short distance to BLM1018 and headed east. cheek impromptu statistical study of the probability of closed VS open gates. This, of course, led us to the premise that we could get an large federal
grant to expand the study to the whole Strip and thus pay for extended trips to the area.
Our trail took us to Mt. Trumbull and the Mt. Trumbull Schoolhouse which we took time to explore. We also took in lunch at the site using the school’s picnic tables and ramada.
Our next part took us up MC5 along the shelf road that climbs up the Hurricane Cliffs with dramatic overlooks of the valley below and scenic views far in the distance. On top we took BLM1001 north. This is another nice backroad with lots of great views and in parts close to the Hurricane Cliffs rim to allow additional great overlooks.
We continued north on BLM1001 until we got to MC30 which we took west through Dutchman Draw to MC5 and back to BLM1004 and camp.
The day had been an easy run with lots of miles. We saw a multitude of scenery and had a good day.
Cocktails, dinner and a great campfire again topped off the day.
Thursday, September 9
Up and out again at about 8:30am, we were headed out to Hole-in-the-Wall Canyon and then up and over Seegmiller Mountain.
We took BLM1004 east to BLM1069/MC5 and went north just past Wolf Hole to BLM1037. This is an active ranching area and has changed a bit since I was last there. I took an incorrect trail that would have taken us down Mainstreet Valley. I saw my error right away and we turned around. As we did we noticed a ranch truck coming in behind us. I had our group stop as we waited for the rancher. I found out he was Bill Gubler and we had a short visit as I introduced him to who we were and where we were going.
In short order we were on the correct trail to take us up through this beautiful canyon called Hole-in-the-Wall. It is a small canyon and not very long, but it is full of fantastic shapes and rocks.
We slowly made our way up the canyon and out into the hills and ridges to which it empties. Along one ridge we stopped for site seeing and moved on to the next overlook. Along the way, Nelson smelled something burning and stopped to check it out. He had picked up a tumble weed and it was trapped against his exhaust system and was smoking. That resolved we got ready to move forward and my Jeep made some very wrong sounds. It took us a few minutes to finally find that the fan blade was rubbing on the fan shroud. Turned out two of the four bolts that hold it in place were loose and one was missing. We got out the tools and tightened the loose ones and were able to find a replacement in my parts box. That repaired we moved ahead to the next overlook. As I had asked my mechanics to check out the entire engine compartment, I was once more disappointed that my local mechanics had missed this and a couple of other obvious things that should have been corrected.
While there, I determined that the trip was over for me and that I needed to nurse my Jeep back home for proper repairs. Others wanted to go on with the day run. Dick and I would return to camp and perhaps pack up and leave. Bob and Karen would join us as did Allan and Glen. The rest Nelson and Ellen, Mal & Jean and Scott went on.
After we got back to camp, Dick & I decided to pack up much of our camp, but to stay the night. Allan would do the same. Glen along with Bob & Karen packed up and decided to call it a trip.
Later Allan decided to go over and see the views from the top of Seegmiller Mountain and return for dinner.
Dick and I got busy packing up most of our gear and getting ready for an early departure tomorrow. We also decided to surprise the rest of the group by making up two Dutch Oven batches of Beef Stew for everyone. When the groups returned and found out supper was made for them, they all grabbed something to add to the dinner menu and we had a great final supper with the group.
More cocktails and a great campfire finished our trip.
Friday, September 10
Allan was up early and had some coffee then headed out. Dick and I made up a good breakfast to get us started and did the final packing we needed to do. The Roodes would be packing up later and be the last ones out of camp.
One last issue about my Jeep occurred when we got to town and needed to air up our tires. Turns out all of my valve stems were cracked and one was leaking. I had requested that my tires be rotated, aired and checked out prior to the trip and was again surprised by the lack of work done for the money I had paid.
We went to a local shop and had new valve stems put in and were on our way home with no further problems. Buddy even got to stop and swim in Roger’s Spring along the way.