02 May 2016

Black Dragon Wash East to West Another Jeepin' Weekend


Last week was probably the roughest week at work since I started back in January. So once the week ended I loaded up and headed south towards the San Rafael Swell. I'd been reading about the Black Dragon Wash trail and it's connections to other trails in the swell, sounded like the perfect place to shed some 'work weight'.

The trail itself to the panel is easy enough but due to some flash floods and significant erosion the trail beyond it becomes very difficult. Two of the books that I have that cover the trail both rate it a 5 for difficulty, both stop rating at a 5. I didn't think it was that bad but a couple sections are in pretty rough shape, some off camber stuff in the wash were pretty tricky. I did disconnect the sawybar and I did use the lockers a couple times.



Some images of entering Black Dragon Canyon up through to the panel.










Black Dragon Wash is home to a pictograph panel that has some strange markings, one of them is a stylized Black Dragon of sorts.  




Past the panel...


























Last week I received a Centerline Systems 'Mother' canteen carrier from Thom Darrah, one of his many generous 'give aways', This was my first chance to put it to use. I've been using a Heavy Cover Ti Canteen for a while now and I love it. What's been missing is a solid do it all carrier and the 'Mother' is certainly filling the role!

From their website;

Food, Fire, Shelter, Water all in one place - the Mother of all Canteen Carriers, a.k.a. the "Mother" brings it all together in one multi-purpose, over the shoulder, MOLLE compatible, indoor or outdoor, made in AMERICA, bad ass unit.  An essentional item for minimialist survival, EDC, bug out or vehicle bag, bushcraft, military or just to serve as your window to the woods when stuck in the office!
The interior fits Heavy Cover Titanium Canteen, cup with a slot for lid, G.I. issue canteen, or Nalgene bottle(s).  Two side pouches for IFAC, flashlight, knife/survival tool, cordage, food, water purification tablets/straw, etc.  Once center pouch for larger items such as shelter, bivy liner, fire starting kit, signals kit, cell phone, small child, etc.  Bottom tie down points for shelter, clothing, tools, etc.  MOLLE loops on front for chemlites, cordage, snap links, tie down points, etc.  MOLLE compatible backside for attachment to ruck or can be worn over a belt.  Adjustable shoulder straps with removable side release buckles.



I added a couple straps to the bottom of the carrier, they enabled me to securely carry a Ultralight 10x7 tarp. This is the same UL MC BCUSA tarp I've had for several years now and it's still going strong.




All stitching very well done, the whole kit is quite robust.


The 'Mother' provides enough well thought out space to carry hydration+purification, 3 methods of fire starting, First aid kit, a UL tarp, space bag, hygiene kit, note book, licenses, cordage and navigation kit, a pair of gloves, illumination and the HC spork.


It rode well,  the strap is adjustable and wider across the shoulder but narrows closer to the carrier. I didn't need to adjust the strap at all, it rode just where I wanted it to and held well in place unless I moved it. 



This was my first outing with the Mother and so far I couldn't be happier. 

Some images from coming up out of Black Dragon.











Late in the day I finally settled on a spot to camp and started setting up around 6:30. 





Once set up I started in on the fire.






For the firs time I finally captured a night sky time lapse that is mostly satisfactory. Still not what I want but this was a close one. It's visible in the video at about the 15;25 mark.


I slept in and finally crawled out from under the Kifaru woobie at around 7:00 and set about breaking camp and getting ready for the drive to Swasey's Leap and the subsequent hike out to the San Rafael river.










Interesting view, while you can see the green in the distance I never expected to see what I saw when I rounded that far corner to the left.


It looked like some lost valley from Land of the Lost or something.








While I did take my Tenkara rig with me just in case, due to the recent rains the river was just incredibly silty and fishing was no good. It looked more like flowing chocolate milk than water.


On the four miles out I drank all of my water and had to replenish at the river. I carry a Platypus bag along with a Sawyer filter, both fit in the Mother carrier.












I didn't take the main trail back to the jeep, instead I cut cross country and descended into and climbed out of several gullies. The rocks are insanely sharp here and gloves saved my hands.






Before I'd set out in the morning I'd placed a Philly cheese steak sammich on my manifold. 
Once back at the jeep I ate lunch and then I headed towards Rattlesnake flats and I70. 













Thanks for looking!