March 2, 2016
On a beautiful Wednesday in southern Utah Bill and I decided to explore nearby Peekaboo Canyon but instead one wrong turn found us stuck in a sand dune.
Only nine miles (14 km) north of Kanab, my current backyard, a small sign indicates the turn for Peekaboo Canyon and there’s a parking lot for those who trailered in OHVs (Off Highway Vehicles). There’s also a 2.86 mile (4.6 km) primitive road to the trail head. We left home about 10am not worried about an early start as it takes high noon for the sun to reach into most slot canyons.
Off we went down the sandy one-way track, Bill behind the wheel, me contentedly marveling at the view and taking photos through the buggy windshield as we bounced along. (Reason for fuzzy photos.)
A little more narrow in some places that added graphics to the truck’s already dull paint. Although Bill says it’s due for a paint job he’d probably be relieved after the first new scratch(es).
The sand got deeper, lacking a firm base below, we were dune hoping in the Tundra 4×4 and shortly after a fork in the trail Bill realized we’d taken the wrong turn from the start and were bouncing along on an OHV trail, with no place to turn around.
Over much time and use this ‘track’ sinks into the soft sand dunes creating higher banks on each side. (Take note of this view for later.) There is little vegetation with groves of Ponderosa Pine in some of the dips. One of which we finally found firm enough ground to turn around.
Remember I said in “dips”, those are low spots, below a hill of sand. Not easy to get momentum for the climb even with 4×4. (Note this sandy hill for later.)
We were climbing. Then there was smoke. Stinky gray smoke, coming from under the truck. And, no more clutch. There we sat, stuck in a sand dune with no go.
Bill keeps his cool, more than passing the “flat tire test”. Much to learn from this as I tend to get frustrated and stressed out, not healthy. But his calm kept me calm. I mean really, I had 3bars on the phone and Bill has AAA. So he calls the local tow service, tells them where we are, and then walks maybe 1/4 mile to that fork in the trail to wait. Now 11am.
In the meantime, Sasha and I found a place to hang out in the shady grove of pines. But not for long before Bill calls and asks me to move to the top of the hill, remember ‘that’ hill, so I can be seen and the tow rig can stop before the hill. No problem, as I trudge through the soft sand with help from leashed Sasha giving me a little tug.
I found a comfy place to shape a seat in the dune’s fine sand, me in the warming sun and shade for Sasha, she has black fur. At first I checked my email and sent a photo into the FB world, because I could.
Then I just sat and marveled at this glorious landscape, stark color contrasts, the breeze bringing a light desert scent that if I wore perfume that’s what it would be.
I like sand dunes and have seen quite a few lately at Death Valley and Mojave, seen being the key word here, as I don’t usually walk out into the sifting sand. It’s beautiful beyond words, soft and sensual, unless it’s in your eyes, clothes or shoes. I prefer my sand lithified, into sandstone. Much easier to walk on. But if you’re going to be stuck somewhere, this was a great place to be.
Noon, almost too soon I saw a Jeep coming down the road and knew it had to be the tow rig.
Everyone had a job to do. Bill and Ben, the Jeep driver, hauled the tow line from the winch, and I stayed out of the way and took photos. Once they had everything hooked up my assistant Sasha joined me on a dune and watched the show.
Wow! Am I ever amazed by the power of a winch. Never had one. S l o w l y, ever so slowly the Tundra crawled up ‘that’ hill, and just before it crested coming closer to the Jeep Ben kicked it in reverse and kept pulling it along.
Once over ‘that’ hill Ben turned the Jeep around and re-hooked with a tow strap. Sasha and I got in the Tundra with Bill and off we went. But not very far before the soft sand banks on a curve caused the front wheels to have a mind of their own and turn the opposite way Bill tried to steer. Again the Jeep got turned around, the winch was put back to working the Tundra slowly past the curve.
I was even more than impressed with this Jeep Rubicon, and it’s operator Ben. The winch even has remote control. Neither of us liked how this tore up the dunes.
OK, back to the tow strap with forward motion, but every curve caused problems. I hug out the passenger window to watch the front tire, letting Bill know when it wasn’t straight.
We ended up going most of the couple miles with Ben backing up and connected by winch line.
1:30pm, pavement. Where the “real” tow truck was on its way to bring Bill’s truck back into town, for repairs. Ben gave me a ride home and when Bill got to town at 3pm I gave him a ride home. Thank goodness he has a second truck. The clutch had to be replaced but our sand dune ride was only the proverbial straw. And all things considered four hours from stuck to returned wasn’t bad. Of course we still need to get to Peekaboo Canyon.
If in need of a tow or mechanical services in the Kanab, Utah area I highly recommend Ramsay Towing. Some of these photos will be on their “Wall of shame.”