It's hard to believe that we've done over 1,000 trail runs and we've never left a vehicle behind. Yes, we've needed to stay with a vehicle overnight until help came the next day, and we've limped off of the trail plenty of times, but we've never honestly thought we'd need to leave one. We almost had to leave Monica's Jeep on Fuller Bottom.
A lot of people would think of Fuller Bottom as two trails cut in half by the San Rafael River. Still more people would think that on a day like the one we had when we saw the river. We'd done a few trails already and it was late in the afternoon when we started the trail at the northern end, and it seemed like a fine trip because the rain had stopped. You could even say the trail was mellow.
Then we came to the kiosk and the warning signs just north of the river. It was a bit muddy, so we didn't get out to read the kiosk. The "caution" sign was for river runners about some cottonwood trees clogging up the water a couple miles downstream. Piece of cake! We went down the steep slope to get to the water.
We found lots of people camping down there with horses, and they pointed the way to the water. We drove out to the edge and got out, and it was sticky, slick mud. We walked around a bit, seeing two ways out of the river across the water. A bit of exploring later and we found another way in, too.
From where we were, the water looked deeper than it did from the other entrance. So, we drove around to the other entrance. We joked about who would go first, but it would end up being Monica, as always.
The left entrance on the other side was pretty steep. We had to assume that the mud there was just as slick as the mud we were standing in, so Monica elected to go to the other side. The water was flowing strong, but the river crossing wasn't too bad.
The mud on the other side was nasty, though, so she gave it some momentum. She had to slide around a corner, only to find that this wasn't the way out. Only ATVs could make it out the narrow end of the ditch she found herself in. She radioed to the other two Jeeps not to follow her, but Walt didn't hear her and he was soon a little distance behind her in the mud.
In the meantime, Matt tried the steep hill and made it up. He parked on the grass above the ditch and watched as Walt backed out and backed through the river to the other side again. Then he went through and followed Matt successfully up the steep hill.
Rather than try to make the ATV path wider, Monica tried to turn around. Bad idea! Though the mud was passable with some momentum the first time through, it sucked her tires in as soon as she got sideways. The more she tried to work her way out, the worse it got. Her rocker guard rails were sitting on top of the mud and her front tires were hanging in muddy water.
The guys tried winching her out and she didn't budge. They tried momentum and tow straps and that didn't move her Jeep a bit. We started calling towing companies, but it was after closing time. What would happen if more rain came, as it surely would, and she left her Jeep for a tow truck the next day? It could get quite a bit worse, and we were 100 miles from Green River.
Monica saw the tree earlier but it didn't register. Matt wished for a tree but didn't notice the only one near the water. It took a while and some chatting with the campers before we realized tree plus snatch block plus winch equals escape!
Monica had to pull quite a bit with her snatch-blocked winch line before the mud suction gave her tires up. She started to talk to the guys about the next step in the plan, and they said to try to keep winching forward. There was a muddy wall in front of her Jeep, and the winch line had dug itself about two feet into it. Would she be able to winch over the soft side? It was worth a try.
And ever-so-slowly, it worked! She winched up and over the side as the guys laughed and Monica couldn't believe it. She popped up over the top, a muddy mess but out of the Pit of Doom. Hooray! That was too close for comfort.
The campers cheered and we got as much mud off of our shoes as possible. We were all filthy, but laughing. The rest of the trail was full of talk on the CB, but it wasn't too challenging after the fun in the mud. We'd do the river crossing again, but next time we'd wait for drier weather!