The Maze ROF trip 9/19

gwittman

Adventurer
First of all, I want to thank everybody on the trip for making this one of the (if not THE) highlights of my off-road adventures. Everyone participated to make this trip as near perfect as it can get. Mother Nature also saw fit to make things go well. I should add that this was the first ROF trip that the leader had the least capable vehicle in the group. I guess that is good because if the leader get through so can the rest.

We all met at Ray's tavern in Greenville on Monday night for some burgers and drinks. It did not take long to figure out we had a very compatible group. We closed the place down that night while getting acquainted and probably had Ray wishing we would pay up and leave.

Tuesday morning we met at Shady Acres Gas and Groceries to start our journey. After getting last minute supplies and topping off with fuel, we headed down the county dirt road to Hans Flat to get our permit for The Maze. We had a wide range of vehicles but most were Landcruisers. The oldest was a 78 FJ40 driven by Dan. There were two 80 series Landcruisers driven by Tom and Phil. Peter drove a rare Landcruiser (at least in the USA). It was a HZJ-73 with diesel power and right hand drive. Ace had his trusty 2015 4Runner and had the newest vehicle in the group. I had my non Toyota 2002 Ford Ranger FX4 but still fit in because my first 4WD vehicle was a 73 FJ55 Landcruiser. I graduated to a Ford Ranger, so all was well. :) I am sure I will get some flak for that comment but it is all in fun. Here is a shot of our convoy on the county road to Hans Flat. I wanted to get a photo of all the guys and vehicles. I brought my tripod just for that, but unfortunately forgot. We ROFs do that a lot.

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Our sleeping quarters varied about as much as our vehicles. Tom and Phil both had RTTs, Dan slept in a small tent on the ground, Peter just opened a lounge and slept out in the open, Ace slept in his 4Runner (wishing he had his trailer) and I had the most spacious with my Wildernest. Well, I guess you could say Peter had the most spacious because he slept out in the open.

We split into two groups for the first night of camping. One was Flint Seep and the other was Happy Canyon. They were just a place to camp that night before taking on the road to Doll House. Nothing special about them but were suitable for camping. Both groups met at the beginning of Flint trial on Wednesday to begin the long trek to Doll House. Here is a photo of our first look at some of our trail below as we were headed toward the switchbacks of Flint Trail.

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I didn't get a photo of the switch backs on the way down but I am sure someone else did and will share it. If not, I got a good one coming back up and will post that later. After Flint Trail, we drove though a lot of flat land and some sandy areas. I was not keeping a close eye on the trail and ended up driving kind of sideways for a ways when my rear slipped down into a little gully in a sandy part of the trail. I warned everyone else and they got through just fine. We eventually got into a little rougher trail after the flat area and one of the first rock formations was Mother and Child which is below.P1010008.JPG

This was an interesting formation but was one of many to come. After we passed Tea Pot Rock campground, the trail got very rough. Considerably rougher than I expected. We all made it through OK but spotting was needed in a couple areas. I didn't get any shots of these areas but I am sure there will be some posted.
Next is our first good look at the Dolls at a distance.P1010009.JPG

Next is a close up of Dan's FJ40. That is not one of our problem areas but is a good look at a well preserved older Landcruiser.

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Next is a view of part of Spanish Bottom and Colorado River as it turns and goes into Cataract Canyon which is famous for white water. It is hard to see but there are people waiting on the beaches down there to be picked up by a power boat. Apparently, there are trips to that point for people that choose not to go on through Cataract Canyon and are picked up to be 'water bussed' back up stream.

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Here is a shot of my hiking buddies (Peter and Tom). This is where we turned around. After getting about 3/4 down, we decided it was far enough. We needed to save some energy for another hike that day. Dan had gone down earlier in the day and went all the way down to jump in the river. That is a long way to take a bath. It is about a 1200 foot decent.

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Here is another view of some of the Dolls as we were hiking back up.

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After having lunch; Tom, Phil and I hiked to the Granary. On the way, while going through some fairly large split rocks, we could hear a bunch of girls ahead. That is not something you expect to hear in the wilderness. Once we got to where they were, they told us about this cave off to the side that is called "The Icebox". Once inside you can tell why they call it that. It was very cool. There was a small opening at the back side that allowed a breeze through and acted kind of like an expansion valve in an air conditioning unit. I guess that what made it so cool. The most cool thing however was meeting all (about 10) the young good looking girls on the trail. They had hiked up from the river and were going down through Cataract Canyon the next day.
Next is a shot of the Granary where food was stored after harvest many years ago.

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Here is a photo of one of our campsites at Doll House.

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The trip to Doll House from the beginning of Flint Tail took us about 8 hours. That included several stops for viewing and lunch. I will continue as we leave Doll House on Friday.
 
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RandyP

Adventurer
Thank you, glad to see that things are still in place as i remember them from the 80's trips.
 

gwittman

Adventurer
Thank you, glad to see that things are still in place as i remember them from the 80's trips.
Most things are the same as in the 80s but two things are different. The trails are more difficult and more people (especially mountain bikers).
 

gwittman

Adventurer
Thank you Tom, for posting those photos of one of the more difficult spots. Those were excellent shots and representative of the condition of that area. Those kind of shots are difficult to get.

On Friday (day 4) we headed out of Doll House and back tracked through the rough stuff to get to Golden Stairs and Maze Overlook. I was not able to get both campsites at Maze Overlook for 2 days so we had to split up again and camp at Golden Stairs and Maze Overlook. The split groups switched each night so everybody could experience Maze Overlook.

Here is a photo of Standing Rock as we passed on the way out.

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Here is Peter showing the power of diesel as he climbed the short hill. Tom and Ace are in the background (I think it is Phil that is barely visible behind the bush).

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I always show flowers on my trips so here is my bouquet for the trip. I find it awesome that these plants do so well with very little water.

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After we got past the rough stuff and the sandy flat land we came to the four way intersection. From there you can go to Hite, Sunset Pass, toward Flint Trail or Teapot Rock (including Doll House). We headed toward Flint Trail to catch the trail to Golden Stairs and Maze Overlooks campgrounds. After we made the turn, I noticed my GPS no longer showed Flint Trail ahead as it had. Instead it showed Queen Ann Bottom Rd ahead. To make sure I was leading in the right direction, I pulled out my map to study it as we were going up a wash which was part of the trail. I was focusing on the map more than the trail as I was driving. I then heard Dan over my radio; uh Gary, I think the trail goes to the right. I stopped to take note of where I was and yes, I was driving up the wash with the trail turning off to the right a couple hundred feet back. I calmly backed up to the trail and stopped to observe the map again before proceeding. I explained what I was doing and this time I heard Phil let me know it was he trail we came down on. That is when I realized all I had to do was look at my GPS because I had 'tracking' on and it showed me we were on the trail that we came down, which was the right trail. I am sure that inspired confidence as to my ability to lead and get us where we wanted to go. Fortunately, everybody was willing to help and kept us going in the right direction.

This is a view across the Maze back to where we were earlier that day. The landmarks from the far left are; Chimney Rock, Standing Rock, Lizard Rock and the Wall. They are less than 4 miles away but we had to drive over 40 miles to get to Maze Overlook. You can hike through the Maze but no driving trails in there.

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This is a view down into the Maze from the drop off at our campsite.

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Here is a view of our campsite. This is one place where you would not want to sleep walk. The drop off goes a long way down. That is of course 'Chocolate Drops' in the background.

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Tom, Dan and I decided to hike down to 'Harvest Scene' to view this ancient rock art. Dan was reading about it the night before and saw that it was rated 4 on a scale of 4 (I think). We thought this must be a spectacular hike. As we were hiking down in to the Maze we met a man coming out that decided to turn around because he didn't have a rope. As we moved on it occurred to us the 4 star rating was the difficulty of the trail not the scenic beauty. It became more like short jaunts of rock climbing rather than hiking. Tom has a fear of heights and after a few difficult drops, he decided to turn around and go back to camp. Here is the point where Tom decided it was enough for him and you can see him climbing back up.

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Dan and I moved on and were determined to see Harvest Scene. It did get worse as were moved on but could not sway our determination. Once to the Maze floor we then had to deal with trekking through sand. We moved on and enjoyed the beautiful views and rock formations. Here is a nice view from the back side of Chocolate Drops from the Maze floor.

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We did reach Harvest Scene and very much enjoyed it. It was worth the hike. The photo does not do it justice, you need to experience it to get the full effect.

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The hike back up seemed to be easier and quicker than coming down but I had to rest a while before getting ready to head to Golden Stairs. We chatted with the other part of the split group that had arrived from Golden Stairs, before we left Maze Overlook.
I will continue later on Day 6.
 

WU7X

Snow on the Roof
OMG, the pics are incredible, as is your story line Gary. How tall were the figures? I envy you guys the climb up and down and the rock art on the wall. Doubt if my knee will ever let me do that kind of thing again. So enough it while you can guys!
 

gwittman

Adventurer
The Harvest Scene figures were pretty much life size for the tallest ones. Glad you appreciate our journey, we certainly enjoyed it.
 

gwittman

Adventurer
On Day 6, I got up and decide to take the short hike to China Neck from Golden Stairs campground. It is a rock topped ridge that connects Golden Stairs hiking trail (which goes down to the trail in a canyon that leads to Doll House) and Golden Stairs campground at a higher elevation. Here is a photo of China Neck.

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That blue speck on the other side is Dan starting across as I was heading back. Here is another shot of China Neck from the side.

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I thought it was more like a bridge rather than a ridge. So, it was not as impressive as I thought it was going to be but still worth the little hike. I understand cattle used to be driven up the Golden Stairs trail and across China Neck for grazing in the higher area during the Summer. After looking at part of Golden Stairs trail, I think that cattle must have been cross bred with goats.
While up on Golden Stairs hiking trail, I noticed some traffic below on the trail that goes to Doll House. It was a jeep and a Ford Raptor coming back from that area. The Raptor was not built for that kind of trail. When we were coming out from Doll House they were coming in and we had to wait over a half hour for them to stack rocks to allow the Raptor to get over a rough area. This is my telephoto shot of them from Golden Stairs.

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I was also intrigued by some of the trees up by China Neck. Some reminded me of the Bristle Cone Pine trees in California.

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Later the two groups met again near Golden Stairs campground. The original plan was to travel up to the East side of Horseshoe Canyon and boondock camp there for a 2 nights. Ace was running low on fuel and was pretty sure he could not complete that trip and make it to Hanksville to refuel. Dan and I were pretty sure we had enough fuel but knew it would be close. Peter, Tom and Phil were good to go. Not knowing how rough the terrain might be and how much that would effect our fuel mileage, I decided to rearrange our route. We would head to Hanksville to refuel and get a nice lunch. We would still do Horseshoe Canyon but from the West side.

Flint Trail was still between us and Hanksville and we were looking forward to the fun of the switchbacks of Flint Trail. As we were approaching Flint Trail, I noticed my GPS indicated 'Happy Ahead'. I couldn't agree more. Here is a shot of Dan, Phil and Ace making their way up the switchbacks of Flint Trail.

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We made it to Hanksville for some long awaited fast food and refueling. This was on Sunday and many people were on their way back home from Lake Powel pulling their boats and wanting to eat and refuel as we were. We managed to work our way through the crowd and eventually headed North to find a place to boondock camp that night. We found a place fairly far off the road at Muddy Creek. It was a good place to camp and was not muddy but I would not want to be there in the rain. There were very deep tracks that showed how bad the conditions could be there when wet.
When in Hanksville, Peter was able to contact his wife and found out his Father-in-Law had become non-responsive during Hospice care. He wanted to leave to support his wife during this time and I told him family matters are always more important. Ace also decided to leave because his hip was bothering him and he was not getting very much sleep. When they left in the morning we were down to four.

To be continued on day 7.
 
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Ace Brown

Retired Ol’ Fart
Tossing in my report here. Gary mentioned I was getting low on Fuel dispute the fact that he and I started the trip with 32 gallons on board. I was figuring on 10 mpg for my range but it turns out my real mileage ranged from 5-8 while in low range in the rough stuff. There was plenty of that too. This trail really surprised me with it’s difficulty. I expected roads more like what you see on the White Rim.

I certainly enjoyed the trip but my body was not happy sleeping in the back of my 4Runner. There is just not as much headroom back there as I had in my FJ Cruiser. So a winter project is going to be building a new sleeping platform about 4-6” lower.

Thanks again to Gary and all of y’all for making this such a great trip. Now I’ll let my camera do the talking.
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