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Submitted by John Labbett on Thu, 04/20/2017 - 12:10
OTR Easter Sand Hollow Safari
Three rigs arrived on Saturday April 8 (Labbetts’, Oelliens’ and Wilson). Seven more on Sunday (Whittingtons’, Sullivans’, Marshalls’, Freymonds’, Boultners’ Wohlers’, and Bluncks’) – Kevin Hay made it on Wednesday evening. Also, Kim Pollock joined us for three of the days. This was a huge plus for us as he is not only an ex-OTR member, and past President no less, but he resides in the area and considers Sand Hollow to be his “back yard”. He is very knowledgeable about the trails and led us to and on some great runs which I doubt we would otherwise have been able to find – certainly not the tough “optional credits”! It was amazing seeing him get up and down the rocky sideways slopes on his crutches. We had 8 – 12 rigs most days and a nice mix of two buggies, one Jeep on 40s and the rest on 35’s +/-. It was great having the buggies as part of the group to help us out of trouble – plus they found some tough spots to challenge even their rigs. All the trails we ran were 7 and 8 out of ten – and they certainly were. The wheeling consisted of fine red sand tracks to get to the trails, red slick rock combined with boulders, very challenging steep climbs, hold your breath hairy descents (most of which were short), worrying off cambers, steep steps up and down and V-notches – plenty of high pucker factor moments! The wheeling was not really uncomfortable as it wasn’t driving over multiple sets of large boulders and there was almost no dust. Beautiful scenery looking back over the blue Sand Hollow reservoir, the red sand and the 1300 foot drop cliff on the southern side. Great campsite with many large pull through sites and full hook ups. SUNDAY: Members arriving. Those already there drove over to Sand Canyon Park (45 minutes NW of St. George) to explore the lava caves. Dwayne and John took a late exploratory trip out to the west rim – nice acclimatization run. MONDAY: Kim led the group up to the top of Sand Mountain (about 4000 feet up) and from there east to a trail called Plan B – as I missed most of the driver’s meeting but I heard about this, I was wondering what Plan A was until we got the trail sign! We quickly hit the first obstacle which was an almost vertical drop followed by a very steep climb. This set the tone for the day, and for that matter for the week. This day turned into Breakdown City! First Bob B had to turn back to base while we were cruising the sand tracks before we made it to the trailhead with a vapor lock – although he insists he wasn’t broken down! Then Chad blew out a hub trying to get up a steep ledge and needed to be towed back part of the way to camp. While Kim was helping him find the way out, he made the mistake of telling me to lead – definitely a case of the blind leading the blind! He pointed out to me in general terms where we should be going – down this really steep drop, up this off camber climb, back down another drop – fortunately we weren’t far off from the lunch spot. However, within five minutes of me leading, Mike W came close to an end over roll when he dropped off a large ledge (the picture doesn’t tell it all). Fortunately although he was teetering and swaying on three wheels with his nose down in the dip, he came to rest without rolling with one rear wheel high in the air and was still until we were able to help him. Full marks for Laura for maintaining her composure in an uncomfortable position – my wife would have started walking home yelling at me! After we finished the trail we had to get back up long and steep sand dunes. Most of us took two or more attempts to do this but Bob M had to be towed up by a buggy. Then Mike W’s transmission gave up at the top of the sand dunes – I wondered why he was stopped right in the middle of the trail. He had to be towed all the way back to camp. Unfortunately his transmission was in serious trouble and he didn’t get his Jeep back until the end of the week. In the evening we had hors d’oeuvres at Labbetts’ campsite and some (I cannot tell a lie, ‘twas I included) drank too much of Rik’s Rumarita (he didn’t have any tequila for margaritas)! TUESDAY: Kim led us again starting out on the Fault Line trail. A short but very technical trail on the west of the area with tough climbs, off cambers and sharp drops. Towards the end of the trail Bob M blew out a hub and had to be helped home. After re-grouping, we headed off to the West Rim trail – which had spectacular views along the rim above the southern cliff. Again many serious ups, downs and off-cambers to negotiate, but there were some by-passes. After repairs and showers, we headed to Washington for a group Mexican meal – very nice evening. WEDNESDAY: We took a day off from wheeling. Most went to Zion National Park (only 45 minutes away) and took the tour bus and went hiking. One played golf at Sand Hollow. THURSDAY: Mike W led the group in Bob B’s Jeep. Kevin Hay joined us and Chad’s Jeep was fixed. We started on John’s Trail (not named after me though). A tough short run up a small canyon. We headed from there towards the rim to do the Maze trail. More of the same – steep ups, steep downs and plenty of off cambers. Half way though we began not being sure of the way out. Bob B hiked a long way on the trail and I believe felt the only way to continue the trail would be to winch out at a particularly steep section. Rich found an easier solution where we could cut off the trail by back-tracking a little and then drive out above the rim. We enjoyed a high speed run back along the dunes to camp. FRIDAY: Kim was able to join us again and he led us into the Double Sammy trail, which had beautiful views over the lake. He said it was named as such from when two Samurais rolled there on the same day! Ten yards into the trail we hit the first obstacle! This was a relentless trail, more than the previous ones, in that it was one obstacle leading straight into the next challenge – even the buggies had their moments. The almost constant spotting needed on this trail made it slow going – it took the group about two hours to get half way. And at a particularly off camber and uneven small drop Rik rolled his rig onto its side. Fortunately there wasn’t a large drop off but most of us struggled on this point. It took about two hours to get him up and clear his cylinder heads of oil so he could get it going again. The final challenge was a steep V-notch, which with accurate spotting most of us get up. In the evening about half the group had a very nice meal at the Sand Hollow golf club. SATURDAY: All of us left for home. SUMMARY: What a great week of challenging and highly memorable wheeling and socializing. We should get this one on next year’s calendar. The tally was four breakdowns, one rollover and many near rollovers, including me three times! It’s not going to be easy to decide who gets the Breakdown Trophy – my vote is for Mike W. As a note, as Mike W was without his Jeep for all but the first day with transmission issues, he spotted for most of us for the rest of the week and did an excellent job. Maybe “Official Spotter” should become a new club position?! John Labbett