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Monday, April 26, 2010

US Tour III: Indian Creek, Utah

The next part of our trip ended up to be a big bummer. We left Terry's for Indian Creek, in good spirits.

Brian, Kornie and Damian went in Brian's car, and Janek and Jordan came with me. It was just a few hours away from Terry's, in Southern Utah. The drive was cold, but we knew it would be. When we reached the turnoff to Indian Creek, we followed the directions Kornie had given us (they had the guidebook) unfortunately, we were unable to find the Superbowl camping place. It was supposed to be on the left side of the road, but we saw nothing. It was nighttime as we were driving up and down this stretch of road, and there were no other cars around. Indian Creek appeared to be deserted. Eventually we pulled over and pitched the giant old tent in a clearing at Newspaper Rock, made a fire, and went to sleep.

Jordan was the fire master, and we at least had some good laughs. It turned out that Brian had my sleeping bag, and we had Kornie and Damian's. Good planning. At night, the winds were so incredibly strong that the tent poles poked through their pockets. It was even difficult to sleep well with the howling it caused.

In the morning we were woken by Brian's car horn. Nice joke. He told us that farther up the road there was a gate on the left, and to open it drive through and close it behind us. We slept another hour, then followed his instructions. To my Honda Civics delight, upon driving through the gate we found ourselves on a dirt road with ditches in it a foot deep here and there. It was a challenge to drive down it in once piece. At the camping area there was one other car in the whole place. It was basically just a large, flat red sandy area with some sad looking trees here and there.

One welcoming factor were the giant Mountain Lion prints all over our campsite, as long as they didn't also attack my car...

In the distance we could see all the beautiful red towers with vertical cracks running up them, all the photos we had seen in the guidebook were now alive and in front of us. The other guys had set up a longline nearby our site, but it was cold and I was more interested in setting up shop then longlining.

I explored the area, and even found an old wooden toilet in the bushes. I was excited, and dragged it to a grove of huge bushes and set up our new shitter. No one used it though, I am not sure why.

We put up our tents...

...talked about the lack of communication between our group, then cooked macaroni & cheese. The weather that day was not very good, as some rocks in the distance would disappear in a cloud of white, then reappear, over and over. It was a cold day, even things with liquid in them were frozen.

To kill time we began playing with our headlamps and Jordan's camera, taking long exposures, they turned out great! Afterwards, we finally retired.

In the night I heard the soft sound of snow falling on our big tent. I fell asleep again. The next time I woke it was not so pleasant. The tent was an inch from my face, collapsed. What the heck? I got up and put on my shoes to find out what exactly was going on. Upon exiting I saw that there was snow everywhere. It must have been 4 inches already! I shook off the snow and the tent was erect once again. Back to sleep. This time it was not such a soft sound, but loud as a lot of snow was falling. From that time, every half hour Janek and I had to wake up and shake the 5+ inches of snow off the roof of our tent. The last time I saw no longer our friends tents, only small white domes in a dark sea of white.

After very bad sleep, it was morning. Everyone woke and saw the winter wonderland with a mix of surprise, humor and disappointment.

The forecast had been updated, a blizzard had rolled through. Overnight the skies had dumped almost a meter of snow on us. Now we knew why there were no other campers; season was over!

I was feeling a bit disgruntled about the weather, and lack of sleep, and was eager to get out of Indian Creek. It was beautiful but also extremely cold! Without proper gear a meter of snow is miserable. I began breaking camp, while the others gleefully set up a slackline between two trees. I now regret feeling so disgruntled because I did not get on the slackline, just continued to pack up my car. The guys meanwhile had a good time. Jordan took some nice photos as well.

Janek had bags on his feet because his running shoes were not exactly snow-proof.

The next mission after camp was packed was to get my car out of there. The roads which were awful to begin with were now covered in a meter of snow, and my car had no such thing as 4 wheel drive. So, Brian led the way in his Element, creating tire tracks for me to follow. My car was doing OK, though several times the tires just spun out and did not move. Also, the steering wheel would just spin around by itself as it went over bumps covered in snow. Kornie actually had to lay on the hood to put more weight in front as I drove in the lowest gear. Finally, we reached the paved road. We passed some big Longhorns who were roaming in the snow.

A few other cars had already driven down the paved road out of the park, so at least there were tire tracks. It was much better. I have to admit for some time I thought we would be leaving my car there.

Once on the highway the road conditions improved, since snow ploughs were in use. We drove back to Terry's house in Fruita, CO, needing to warm up a bit before the long journey to LA.

At Terry's, he welcomed us back for a night of warmth, and funny enough Phoxx showed up (a slackliner we met in Moab) with his friend Inch And Three Quarters (some nickname) and we hung out for one night.

The next morning the temperature was a lovely -5 degrees F. Everything was covered in snow in Fruita, too. We headed for Vegas, planning to stay one night there as a break on the way to LA. Janek and Jordan were in their sleeping bags in my car, as you can imagine -5 is not nice with no heater.

I also had to keep the window cracked while I drove so the windshield did not fog up. Halfway to Vegas I stopped at a gas station somewhere in Utah and asked the clerk what the temperature. It had warmed up to just 5 degrees F. Shit. I ended up getting in my sleeping bag too, driving the rest of the way like some giant worm, with just enough room at the feet to push the accelerator and brake. At least I began to feel my feet again. So I continued to drive, awaiting warmer weather and sleep in Vegas.

Thank you to Jordan Tybon for the professional quality photo's in this post!

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