21 March 2016

With nothing better to do....

It was my weekend in Utah and next week I'm off to Tejas so I spent some time driving and hiking, shooting and exploring.

Late Friday evening I changed the oil in the jeep, topped off the tank and my spare water can with the anticipation of hitting the road early Saturday morning. I had planned on driving the Pony Express trail and then finding a place in the west desert to do some shooting. I'd bought new glass for the AR, a Vortex Viper PST 2.5-10X32 FFP and a Vortex Strike Eagle 1-6X24. From there I'd just see where the road would take me but I was itching to get into some high places.

It doesn't seem to matter much, which direction you go here, There's not an unpleasing sight. Somewhere out there I made a left and headed off to the south for about an hour or so, after arriving at a spot with some good backstops I set up and did some shooting. I sighted in the PST first and was delighted with both the clarity of the glass and how well I was able to punch paper with precision at 500 yards with it.

Similar tune with the Strike eagle, while I didn't shoot out to 500 I was consistently hitting well at 250. After I get some more time behind both of them I'll write up my thoughts on each.

The AR is a Rock River Arms LAR-15 Advanced Tactical Hunter, .223 Wylde Chamber, for 5.56 and .223. (Hey ECW, really digging it man, thanks again!)

Some no name shoulder bag made a good mag/misc gear/hydration carrier. HC Canteen rides well in the main compartment with lots of other spots to stash gear.

I had more fun running some drills with it, kind of dull doing them alone but I did enjoy having a chance to knock some dust off some old skills.

Dusk came on and I head back, had KFC on my mind!

Next morning I tooled south down 6 towards price and made a left onto 191. This section of 191 is called the Indian Canyon Scenic Byway and runs from near Helper to Duchesne. Stretching northeast from the historic mining town of Helper in the canyon of the Price River, US-191 ascends Willow Creek featuring open vistas and passing through the beginnings of the Roan and Book Cliff formations. Peaking at Indian Creek Pass, 9,100 feet in elevation, the byway passes through the Ashley National Forest.

Of course I can't help myself and often turn off on every unnamed road, trail,  and goat path I find. This road trip was no different but I got myself in trouble this time.

I enjoy the drive down 6, it's winding and rolling through bluffs and gorgeous scenery. One of my free weekends in the future I'm going to explore that Price Canyon Recreation area. The ride to 191 was uneventful.

Some where near the summit there was a muddy turn to the right and I took it. Things were going just fine at first. The as I got into the shadows the mud turned to snow. It was packed pretty good with some sign that a snow cat had come through probably several days before. It seemed pretty well packed and the jeep was moving along without much difficulty. I began to feel her sinking hard on the left and sure enough we broke through and I got sucked into the softer stuff on the shoulder which was far deeper than I'd figured. I didn't hit the bottom and the snow was near the tops of the 32" tires.

No matter where you go, if you're touring the back country it always pays to be prepared. Especially if your a bit of a nutter and doing this stuff solo in a place where you know virtually no one and any real life line is 1500 miles away. There was no cell service up there, hence no Instagram shots, so if I couldn't self recover it was going to be a long walk!

I popped open the back gate to grab my recovery bag. It's an old mag bag that I keep the remove for the winch, some gloves, a few spare shackles, a snatch block and a 25' 20,000lb rated tow strap.

I ran the tow strap around the trunk of a tree about 40' from the jeep, hauled out the synthetic which line, through the snatch block and back to the big shackle on the jeep bumper. This is a classic double line pull, easiest to explain via the graphic below,

In essence when you run the line to a snatch block (pulley designed for this) back to the vehicle you can double the pulling power of your winch. Fist pump for mechanical advantage!

In short order the winch had pulled the jeep back up onto the hard pack. It was a little touchy because it wanted to just pull through. I'd already engaged both front and rear lockers when I was trying to escape the suck, so with a little coaxing I got her back up onto the hard stuff.

With that done I cautiously flipped ends and headed back to the mud and the main road.

Some time later I turned off somewhere in Ashley NF and did some hiking.

Reluctantly I pointed the jeep out and up and then north to the mountains and back to Provo. Work beckons, and this coming weekend back home in 'Sota. In all I drove a little over 350 miles and hiked probably another 15 or so. It's not the oaken hardwoods in the mountains of my birth, nor is it the green swamps of my childhood, the Appalachians of my young adulthood, nor the Boreal of my most recent home, it's a whole new kind of intriguing, both mysterious and treacherous but full of life. The kind of life I find worth living.

Thanks for reading the rambles...

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