A Miss and a Hit
The trip to Green River, Wyoming was uneventful save for the beginning and the end of the 245-mile jaunt. The dirt trail going into Vedauwoo is bad washboard, as I’ve whined about before. My camping spot was just short of a couple of miles past the paved entrance. On the way in, I’d taken it at a crawl, the F-250s stiff springs making it jerk about, while the Defiant bounced up and down on the pronounced ridges with a sort of whaka-whaka rhythm. I noticed a hard-side truck camper idle in the following day, bouncing and rocking something fierce, too.
Since that time, the many passing vehicles appeared to be taking it at about 20-30 MPH, and although the ones with various kinds of trailers made a horrendous noise, that seemed to be the style of the locale. So, running solo later on a couple of errands to Laramie, I tried it. The trick was to get up to speed as quickly as possible in order to minimize the rather alarming judder. Not that bad! It was also not bad in that it chopped the trail time from a half-hour to a few minutes. All I had to do on hitting the pavement was to shove the GPS’ power plug back in. On the way back, slowing down to take the turn into my camp was unique, in that slowing on the washboard steered the back end right as the rear tires, inflated to their towing pressure of 75 PSI, made only occasional contact with the ridges. That aided my left turn, but the resulting door shake was disconcerting.
When departing for what promised to be a 5-hour drive – four hours to get to Green River, and maybe another hour to take Wyoming 530 and then nine miles of 012, marked as the “Lost Dog” Use Area – I decided to man-up and pull the Defiant over the washboard at speed. What the heck, why not try it? To crawl out again would just take too long, and the manly approach usually works. Not this time. The compressed rear springs of the Ford signalled that the hitch receiver and the front end of the trailer were getting a workout. I had to slow once to pass a driver gawking at the rocks, which effect made me want to speed up again ASAP. Made it!
Once I hit the pavement, I stopped to make sure that the trailer’s tail and brake lights had not shaken loose and still had good contact. They were fine. Just out of morbid curiosity, I unlocked the trailer entry door to see how things went in there. Ohhhboy. My usual Transport Pack Mode that I’ve used over hill and dale for the past three years proved wanting. The floor was coated with stuff, and a food cabinet had popped open, while the clothes closet had opened to spit out my prized Western boots. It looked like a train wreck in there, but nothing was broken or spilled except for a little fish-shaped ceramic spoon tray that had belonged to my mother. I use it for that, and for tea bags that stand more than one use. This was the fourth time it had cracked in half. My mother blended an honor for personal heirlooms with a sense of practicality, and now, in her absence, I sensed that her outlook would be, “Let it go, man. Nice, but it’s just not working out. It’s a spoon tray, after all. It’s not like it’s me.”
With the rest of the way to go and another unfamiliar trail at the end, I left things as they were, save to re-close cabinets and make sure that nothing now in disarray would get worse. On I went, over some of the best pavement along the entire run of I-80. The turn onto 530 got interesting right at the south edge of Green River, a hard-tack little burg that obviously sees hard winters. The road climbed up at a 7% grade over several miles, with a speed limit of 45. The Mighty Furd has no torque deficiencies that would prevent the later boost to 65, but I had my own slow lane all the way up, and kept speed down merely to cater to my cheapskate urges. Uphill acceleration costs money, and no one else was on that road going in my direction.
The turnoff to the Lost dog area was adequately marked, and what was predicted to be a nine-mile trail to a lakefront camping area “suitable for all rig sizes” quickly turned into a two-lane dirt path of submerged rocks alternating with periodic washboard – but nothing like that at Vedauwoo. This is the uncivilized side of the Green River itself, all being designated as the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area. The nice trails and pay camps are on the other side. Given the interior chaos already completed, I was able to average about 10 MPH without too much trauma. Over its length, this trail has occasional sections of impressive ups, downs, and twists, as it does what it can to follow the terrain. The nastier sections are more like 1-1/2 lanes. Were it wet, I’d want 4WD when hauling a good-sized trailer.
The final descent down to the point where the Blacks Fork River joins the Green River presented quite a few trail branches, some veering off before the end. At the bottom is a trail that more or less follows the shoreline, surrounded by small meadows that are bare enough to camp on. Unfortunately, finding one that didn’t slope down to the water was a challenge. With the sun low in the sky, I decided to break out the Aurora e-bike “on the morrow”, and stay in Transport Mode until then. Time to clear up the carnage inside the trailer, turn the propane fridge up a notch to compensate for the tilt, and call it a day. That’s about when I realized the unspoken reality that there was not only no cell signal, but no data signal at all, even with the cellular amp. Hmmm. Two weeks here? I don’t think so.
The charm of this location is of course the lake, which is populated by some sort of black cranes. The shore is populated by tons of rabbits. You may not see this many at a rabbit farm. I’d passed a couple of hawks on the way in, and thought they’d have a field day down here, but there are rabbits all over the place up there, too. The two other things that talked me out of staying here were a mass of flies, most of which seemed clairvoyant as to how to get into the trailer. That’s a mystery. I deployed the Defiant’s Official Flyswatter as soon as I parked, and am still having to purge them even now! The other was hearing the rustle of a mouse which, on the very first night here, is a new record. I even felt it hop across my thighs twice during the night, over my blanket! The first time, I thought it was my imagination. The second time, not so much.
Rather than set the sonic repellers and mousetraps, I called an end to Nature’s bounty early (by my reckoning) the next morning, and set out by 8 o’clock to head back up the trail toward my previous spot high atop the bluffs on Wild Horse Canyon Road (GPS 41.5481262, -109.4214859). Having set things right the previous night, I wasn’t about to shuffle the Defiant’s contents yet again. I spent the next 1-1/2 hours tootling along that nine miles, varying between 1 and 10 MPH, and not much was spent even at 5. To take the load off of the torque converter, I put the Furd into 4WD-Low. The dirt surface allowed its use, and also held speed down during the steeper descents. This isn’t a rutted, high-clearance road, it’s just bad news for a stiff suspension and a bouncy trailer. A car or 1500-class truck would hardly notice it.
Once back on 530 heading for town, it was all downhill from there. I pulled into one gas station, but realized that the trailer was pretty much blocking off the parking for the busy mini-mart. A second station further in was a little less compact, and was less affected by The Rig. From then on, I practically sailed up the high dirt climb of Wild Horse Canyon Road, my previous spot was empty, and I backed it in for sun on the panels, watching that oversized level gauge on the trailer. Wound up needing a couple of flat rocks, but it’s now Acceptable.
About the only liability up here is the wind. The panels are out and tied down, though I have left the trailer hitched up for the time being. That’s a peace of mind thing: the Defiant’s distance to the edge of oblivion can be measured in feet, and my alleged wheel chocks are nothing to brag about. The plastic spacer cone under the tongue jack is not that awe-inspiring, either. The 9,000 pounds of Furd is probably not going anywhere any time soon. I’m well provisioned for the time being, and am less than four miles from town. E-bike! The only complication is, of course, that its disk brakes will get a serious workout on the way down, and it’ll be a desperate slog crawling back up, particularly with the Ibex trailer. The other side of that is that such a trip would be unthinkable with a standard bicycle or a hub-motor electric. Did you look at the last photo, showing Green River’s elevation compared to Camp Begley’s? That’s a battery (and brake) killer if ever I saw one. At least now, I have the option of trying. Camp is unfortunately on the dust-blown side of the road, and that’s about it for drawbacks at this point. For my purposes, this camp is a 4 out of 5.
Oh, the cell signal up here? 5 of 5, without any boosting at all. Awesome. I should have a suntan by the time I depart! That, or I’ll smell like baked ham.