Altar Dunes Day 2: 11/05/2000

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Deep in the Dunes

At dawn of day 2, the campers started to stir.  As the light broke in the eastern sky, the coffee began to boil.  After a light breakfast of bagels and cream cheese, we took the Raptor from the back of the mog.   Kathleen had been waiting to get a chance to ride, and now she was going to get it.  The quad was brand new, having only been to the sand on the test run at Glamis.  Now, it was going to get used in earnest.

As we were leaving camp and heading to the south, Dan became stuck in the exit from the camp area.  Due to his differential lock problems, we had to tow him out.  Interestingly enough, despite more conventional tires on my 1300, I never got stuck and never required assistance to get over the obstacles.  This was due in great part to fully functional difflock and my general unwillingness to put the truck in jeopardy on radical obstacles.

To the east of Camp 1, on the southern flank of the star dune complex, there was a ridge of exceedingly fine, soft sand.  Descending this slope caused an avalanche of sand to preceed the front tires of the mogs as they made their way down.  In the photo below, note the "bow wave" of sand in front of both trucks.

The landscape surrounding Camp 1 was razorback central.  Nearly every dune had the razorback form and most had graceful "S" shapes to the dune faces.

It is possible, with the Unimog and low air pressure, to negotiate the razorbacks.  Below, Kai ascends a set of razorbacks with his 416.  Note the angle of the dune face relative to the horizontal.  Almost all of the razorbacks had this approach angle.  This made for some tough driving and the requirement to pay attention at all times.

As an example of what can happen should you let your attention slip for a moment or stall the motor at a bad moment, see the photo below.

While he was generally stuck, note that the angle of the axles is much less than the angle of the cab.  In the photo below, Dan uses his 1300 to brace Kai while he recovers from the engine stall.

Kathleen watches the action from her quad.  Later in the day, she got a lesson in attention lapse as well.  She rolled the quad on top of her.  Gladly, it happened at slow speed and she escaped with only a big bruise to her left thigh.

As the sun faded in the west, we looked for another hard pan valley.  We found one and Camp 2 was in motion.  Since we stopped somewhat early, I decided to make pot roast in the dutch oven.  It came out excellent, and I would definitely do it again.

As evening fell, we were treated to an excellent sunset, the kind that one only sees in the western deserts.  The biggest contributor to the quality of the sunset is dust in the air.  The Altar Desert, as it turns out, has no shortage of dust.


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