In 2010 we learned that you can't start Hotel Rock late in the afternoon. The sun is in your eyes as you climb slickrock and it's tough to do. In 2010 we didn't make it too far into the trail before we turned around and headed back down. So in 2011 we were starting 45 minutes later than we did in 2010 and we were determined to finish it even though we knew we'd be doing that in the dark.
We headed right up and this time we skipped the overlook. Monica and Walt had been to it in 2010 and though it is a nice view of the Arch Canyon trail where we just were we knew we didn't have time to spare.
It was Hoa's first time on slickrock and he was having a blast. He couldn't believe what his tires would stick to and what he could do. Mike and Monica had seen their share of slickrock but it never gets old. We were all having a great time.
It didn't take long to get to Rock Hugger even though we had to walk the trail a few times just to figure out where it went. Rock Hugger is where we turned around in 2010 but it wasn't meant to be this time. Hoa went first, the one with the widest vehicle. He had no problems at all so the rest of us followed him through it. It's not as bad as it looks.
We knew the light was failing and Monica is speedy when she wants to be so she went on ahead. When a section of trail was tricky or hard to find she'd wait to help so the guys wouldn't have to waste time. It was a good time for everyone and we all enjoyed more of the slickrock fun.
When Monica got to Up and Over she got out to walk it. She waited for the guys to get to it so she could have a spotter and it wasn't a long wait. The obstacle is a classic slickrock climb and descent and some of Monica's favorites so she went over it with a grin and no problems.
On the other side we decided that Monica had to race ahead or we wouldn't know how the trail ended. She did, finding the end of the slickrock and surely sustaining a damaged spleen from bouncing around all the way there. The light was almost gone when she got to Hotel Rock, snapping a picture but not climbing up to the ruins. That would need to wait for another time. We knew we'd be back.
She raced back and got the guys on the CB when they were almost to the dirt. They turned around and we were all together again well before getting to Up and Over. The light was truly gone by the time Hoa and Monica got to the obstacle, making it kind of weird and fun at the same time.
Night wheeling is fun sometimes when conditions are right. The weather was still warm enough to not need vehicle heaters and it was cool to see the slickrock in our headlights. It made everything seem bigger and meaner.
We didn't even spot each other through Rock Hugger. Somehow it seemed easier on the way back through it even though that put your driver's side above the ravine. No one had any issues.
When we got to the intersection with the overlook we stopped and got out. Hoa wanted pictures of the night sky now that we were well out of the city lights. The weather was really nice so we got out our camp chairs and settled in.
There was a campfire way down in the valley but we couldn't see anything else. It was very dark and gorgeous with lots of stars. Hoa liked the pictures he was getting while Monica and Mike chatted. Then we saw the light from the moon coming up over Comb Ridge.
We decided to wait for the moonrise and it took much longer than we expected. We joked that the wait was just like it was for kids at Christmas. It started to get really chilly so we bundled up, and then the moon showed up. The night was cloudless and that's not how Hoa likes it so he wasn't as happy with the pictures there compared to the ones on the Blanding Cutoff the night before. Either way, we were happy.
We put windows in at the trailhead and then headed back to Blanding. We aired up in the morning when we packed up to go home. We stopped at Fisher Towers on the way home (there is now a street light at highway 191 and highway 128!) and it was a nice drive.
What a fantastic vacation!