La Sal Pass

I’ve sometimes wondered what it feels like to operate a jackhammer all day.

Now I know.

Our goal today was to reach La Sal Pass, a summit between Mount Tukuhnikivatz and South Mountain.  The pass is 15 miles southeast of Moab and peaks at 10,400 feet.  Peg, Kyle, Leah and I trailered the RZRs to the base and started up, our ears popping regularly with the altitude change.

We soon realized this was to be the roughest ride of the week.  No ledges or high obstacles to climb, just trillions of grapefruit size loose rocks.  Dental fillings and kidney stones risked being thudded loose by the pounding.  Zig-zagging to avoid rocks was exhausting.

The section below was one of few smooth examples.

Any movement kicked up large dust clouds, so goggles and face masks were again the rule.

BUT… the bouncing, jarring, dusty ride was worth it.  After days of seeing brown and red desert, we rode up into an explosion of colors.

We also came across jackrabbits, free-range cows (below), free-range cow-pies, and a persnickety grouse that marched along ahead of us, refusing to leave the trail.

The trail passed across a large Talus Field before entering dense forest.

A talus field is a naturally occurring byproduct of rocks breaking loose from erosion.  The rocks tumble down the slope and tend to block all plant growth.

The path across was fairly flat, but we had proceed slowly.  Anything over a sedate walking speed and the tires kick up rocks that pounded the RZR’s underside.

Just past the Talus field we entered old growth forest and a series of switchbacks to the summit.  Here we also met a bearded gent from Australia who was riding the entire route, including the west slope, on a mountain bike.  He claimed it was the longest continuous climb in North America.  I tend to believe him.

Around this time, Kyle and Leah’s RZR started losing power and backfiring.  After stopping for a picnic lunch and letting it cool off, we were able to make the summit with only minor problems.

We later found out from the rental company that at high altitudes the fuel pump can overheat and actually boil the fuel.  Once we turned around and headed down the mountain little power was needed, so the problem did not recur.

At the top we were treated to views of Mount Peale and …

South Mountain.

At the end of the day we had covered about 20 miles of terrain and covered the toys with a thick layer of dust.


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