We got an early start, hitting the trailhead before 7:30 AM. We aired down and disconnected beside the road at the trailhead. It would have been better to stop at the parking area a half-mile before the trail, but again there was no traffic and we weren't in anyone's way.
The trail gets serious immediately, and the first set of ledges off the Kane Creek Road got our attention. It turns out that these are probably the most challenging obstacle on the trail now, at least if you choose your line to include the difficult parts. Roger got some good flex going down these ledges. We were thinking that we would be in for a challenging day as the trail descriptions suggested. However, with the difficult, off-camber obstacle on the shelf road filled in, the trail doesn't have the high rating that it used to.
Kane Creek was low and there were no issues crossing it. The climb up the other side requires some attention to your line, but there were no difficulties. The views were fantastic, and if you don't like heights, the shelf road can be intimidating, but there are no difficult obstacles near the edge anymore. In fact, if we hadn't read the trail description, we would have driven right past the section that used to be so scary.
We played around on the ledges on the way up, trying the most difficult lines and making them for the most part. The good thing was that there were multiple lines for most of these and by simply trying a different line you could make the obstacles more or less difficult to match your vehicle and driving skill. The one place with no real option for a line that was a little worrisome was where you have to squeeze by a rock outcrop and there's a narrow ledge where it gets tippy. It was definitely worse for the long wheelbase, especially on the way down when the driver is on the low side and the Jeep's nose being down heightens the feeling of being tippy. It wasn't really that bad, but knowing your low side tires are next to the edge of the ledge does make you pucker.
We lunched at the overlook, checking out the potash plant and the river. Again, there wasn't much activity to be seen anywhere. On the way down we finally ran into a group of other 4x4 vehicles and had to wait for them to pass at one of the ledges. Incredibly, a Toyota 4Runner with running boards was coming up the trail with a child standing on each of the running boards. They looked to be no more than eight years old and we began to wonder if they'd see nine! They even stayed on the running boards as the Toyota tried to make it over the ledge. After the Toyota bounced around a bit, the driver had the kids get off, but they ran right back and jumped on while the Toyota was still spinning its tires and bouncing around. Truly incredible!
We ended up back at the trailhead around 1:00 PM. Even though we had heard that the trail can be run in three or four hours round trip, it had taken us over five hours with just two Jeeps. We left the trail and headed on to Hell's Revenge.
Reports from Other Days: 3
Use the arrows or dots to flip through the previews of the other reports for Cliff Hanger. Click one of them to read more and see all of the photos from that day.