The Maze. I never get tired of it. Even after all the times I have been there, I still love seeing the same sights, and there is always still more I haven’t seen yet, that I want to.
This year, it almost didn’t happen. My friends and I had permits for earlier in the year, but they got virus cancelled when the park shut down. But after the park reopened, my friend Carl reserved a permit for late June and The Maze was happening!
My buddy Alan, who was planning on the original trip, was able to join me for this one. Three rigs total, me and Alan in my LJ, Carl and Davy each in an 80 Series with their families.
The first day we arrived at our reserved camp site at Happy Canyon with a couple hours of daylight left. Made delicious dinners, setup our sleeping quarters (open air cots for Alan and me – we didn’t use a tent for the whole trip).
Day Two Exploring
We got up the next morning and exited the park to do some exploring that has been on my list for quite awhile. The views, as always, were spectacular!
Boo Boo For the LJ….
I let my Jeep get a little bit too cozy with a big rock. My bad…
After that, we re-entered the park and headed for our night two camp site at the Maze Overlook.
Day Three, Harvest Scene, Almost The Dollhouse, Rough Weekend For The LJ
We were all up before sunrise the next morning to start our hike down into The Maze to visit a really cool BCS style panel known as The Harvest Scene. This is a really cool little hike! I’ve made it a number of times now, but still enjoy it as much as the first time.
Snapping, Grinding Noise, Not Good
We headed out from the Overlook for out camp site for nights three and four – my favorite site in The Dollhouse.
There is a bit of semi technical, rough terrain in reaching The Dollhouse. The section after Teapot Rock, before reaching The Land of Standing Rocks. It’s a really fun section to drive – I love it. We had no sooner cleared all the sort of technical section, when my Jeep emitted a NASTY snapping, grinding, breaking and broken metal sound. This can’t be good…
My initial inspection, I didn’t see the problem. The driveshafts and u-joints looked fine. Thinking it was a broken differential. Decided to keep going forward and see how much more noise it made and where the noise was coming from – front or back.
Only a hundred feet farther down the trail, Alan pointed out that my rear axle was wandering WAY out to the side. I knew then exactly what the problem was. Yup, rear trackbar bracket, torn off. Essentially no rear trackbar. Not good…
What To Do, What To Do…
To set the scene, somewhat… According to Alan’s thermometer, it was high 90’s, in the shade. Alan’s too smart to go out in the direct sun to see how hot it is – hence all our temp measurements were made “in the shade”. And I think that explains why you always hear the temperature “in the shade”, when it’s really hot. You ain’t leaving the shade, if you don’t have to, when it’s that hot.
Unfortunately, crawling under the Jeep to assess and address the situation didn’t provide much shade except that given by the Jeep itself but with the reflected heat off the ground and the hot drivetrain etc, I’m sure it was over 100* under there.
So… All the roughest parts of The Dollhouse behind us, broken rear trackbar/upper control arm mount, about 100*. All righty then…
Sadly, cell service has just been getting better every year out there. Wasn’t so long ago, there was no hope of a cell signal out there. But, unfortunately, that is not the case anymore. So, we had cell service right there. Which, led to, plan A…
Plan A. Do whatever we had to do to limp the Jeep the rest of the way into The Dollhouse. Get ahold of one of our trusted friends to go grab Davy’s portable Ready Welder from his house and drive about six or seven hours one way to bring the welder to camp and make the repair there. By the way, we’ve made a pact, Davy will never leave his Ready Welder home again…
We did get ahold of a friend we trusted to carry out Plan A. But he had to work, as did our other high hopes. Time for a Plan B…
Plan B. Limp the Jeep out to the highway near Hite. That’s what we did.
I used two ratchet straps to triangulate and stabilize the rear axle as best I could in lieu of a trackbar. It worked okay. For a minute. First big flexy obstacle though, about a hundred yards along, a strap broke.
Re-rigged with another ratchet strap. Two hundred yards later, it broke.
Two hours and less than one mile later, all of our ratchet straps that weren’t absolutely needed to hold exterior cargo were broken.
At this point, I was feeling the effects of the heat and exertion. Carl and Davy took over the strap rigging. They used our last ratchet strap and my tree saver and got the rear axle better stabilized than it had been. I can’t express how much I appreciate their help right there!
Anyway… To shorten up a long story… We limped along towards the highway for the rest of the day. The remaining ratchet strap eventually broke. Leaving only a tree strap for a rear trackbar. It limited how far the axle could go passenger side and actually worked about as well as any of the two strap riggings had.
Friends Getting My Tail Out Of A Crack
Let me just say – I so appreciate Carl and Davy and their families! What happened from here is certainly not the awesome Maze trip they had spent their vacation time and money to enjoy. But they just stepped up and did everything they could for me. Everyone. Wives and kids included. It was a total team effort. They bailed my sorry tail out of a crack big time!
It’s actually more complicated and time consuming than I’m relating here, but I’ll spare my dear constant readers all the details. What happened…
Carl and Davy and families saw me to the highway, then headed home. They didn’t get home until 2am. Early the next morning, they left home to come get me with a truck and a trailer.
Meanwhile… Alan and I found a nice spot to camp for the night. Threw out our cots. Made awesome fajitas. Drank the rest of the booze…
Alan and I are both fans of the classic Old Fashioned cocktail. Not just fans, were snobs. It’s hard to get an even half way decent Old Fashioned in Salt Lake. So Alan has made a small personal mission to learn how to make the best Old Fashioned anywhere. And he’s got it down!
Rescue And Repair
When we got up the next morning, we packed up our stuff and hit the highway and limped up the road with the hazard blinkers on. Did not more than 20 MPH all the way to Hanksville. Thank goodness there is never much traffic on that road.
In Hanksville, we didn’t have very long to wait before the Calvary arrived! Davy and Carl, with a trailer!
But the rescue didn’t end with just a trailer ride home. We went to Davy’s house where he and Carl did their metal magic and had the Jeep repaired better than new.
And from there, I was able to simply drive my Jeep home, as normal, as if nothing had ever happened. Well, except for that kiss on the door…
It’s never, ever, ever boring out there! Choose your travelling companions wisely. I’m so glad that I do!