The photos below are what we saw.
The back route to Mule
Canyon was not hard but most of the U500 operators were relatively inexperienced
travel in these large trucks. So, a small
cause great angst. Above, the group waits
while Bill and Chris check out the obstacle.
Chris has already passed
the washout and the
rest of the group discusses the alternatives.
Bill kneels at the crux of
the obstacle. The issue is the high center of gravity of the U500 combined
with the rolling "lurch" that would accompany the
bottoming out on the obstacle could cause a rollover.
The group decided to take
an alternate route that bypassed the washout altogether.
The plan was to turn into the creek bottom and then follow the opposite side
on the slick rock. Above, Vince goes first.
The U500 has some significant dangle-downs
that impact the approach angle on obstacles. Above, Chris spots Vince
to insure that he does not tag his steering box on the rock.
Mark and Gail came
next. Their rig is longer and therefore will provide
Mark came real close to
plowing the hill with his rear bumper.
Tony came next. Tony's rig does not
so it was much harder to control on the down slope.
Because Brad was a novice driver, Rob
drove his rig over the obstacle.
John's rig came close to tagging his bumper.
I looked both routes over carefully
and concluded the road was the best route. I fully
expected to tag my rear tool boxes but in the end I just did a bit
of plowing with my trailer hitch.
Rob followed me in his
Note the axle articulation
between the front and rear axles.
To get back to the highway
required crossing a
bridge that generated some angst. None of us were sure the bridge
would support the weight of a fully loaded U500.
We traveled the highway to the Mule
Canyon ruins and got out for a look. Above, Stephen, Bill and Chris discuss the
main kiva at the site.
We traveled south of Mule
Canyon looking for a camp site, but the camp was
occupied. So, we got out and hiked to the nearby ruins
to check them out.
The so-called "Tower Ruins" had twin stone towers on either
side of a large
The opposing tower is
visible at the top-center of the photo above.
We crossed the canyon to see some additional
ruins and along the way I spotted this small cactus in
bloom. The flower
is a complex structure. Oddly, there were no insects on the
The group examines the descent route to the
cliff ruins below.
The ruins are visible in
the center of the photo nestled under the overhanging cliff.
Bill spotted the descent down the first
We elected not to do the
the weather was
closing in, we decided to return to the truck. On the return
trip, we got a better view of the second tower.
Our return to the truck was timely as the rain started as we
Since our first-choice camp location was taken, we headed
out to an alternate. At a stop, I spotted more
cactus in bloom, albeit a different species.
The spring rains had
brought out plenty
of blooms. I do not know what kind of flower this is, but notice the
complex structure with the purple hairs.
We saw plenty of these
flowers; they were everywhere.
Vince had some problems switching out
of crawler gears and attempted to resolve the issue with a tow. In the end,
there was some additional operator knowledge required and Rob provided the
training. We were rolling again shortly thereafter.
Mark demonstrates his best farm boy chopping
splitting logs. Mark had the whole process down pat and was the only one that
had the presence
of mind to bring a chain saw. That was a
good thing too as the temperatures got chilly
after dark 7,000 feet and a roaring fire was
the perfect solution.
The site we selected was large enough to get all the trucks close to one another.
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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2014, all rights
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.