Posts Tagged ‘valley’

Serendipity

23rd January 2011 by Helen

Serendipity – That really is going to have to be the title of a book about this trip.

taken from Antelope Island, Salt Lake

taken from Antelope Island, Salt Lake

We had planned to leave Antelope island today and ‘camp’ in a rest area on the way back to Salt Lake City tonight so we could hit the Mormon family history centre to look up Paul’s granddad who ran away to Africa when he was a teenager, before heading up to America and the gold rush in his 20’s and 30’s, before returning to England to raise a family.  However, we don’t have enough information about him yet (like his first name and his date of birth – a bit critical really), and this island is such a lovely place we decided to stay another night.

Jack-rabbits a-bound on Antelope Island

Jack-rabbits a-bound on Antelope Island

And so it was we took a walk around the northern end of the island, across the beach of the rare oolitic sand, took lots more photos of the snow capped mountains that surround this valley, perused the information in the visitor centre where I replaced the map of the Western States that had been stolen, saw some more jack-rabbits leaping across the rocks and grass, peered through binoculars at the grazing bison, and finally returned to our campsite to cook up some dinner.

Antelope Island, Salt Lake

Antelope Island, Salt Lake

One of the reasons for staying an extra night was the temptation to make use of the fire pit and have a burning log fire we could cook over.  We’d found some partly burned logs in the fire pits as well as having some wood of our own on board ready to burn.  Paul did the man thing and got a fire going, laid out the chicken on the grill, and started to cook the beef I’d already chopped up and put in the saucepan.  Some of the logs were a bit damp and not burning so well, so Paul added the special shop bought log we had with us – guaranteed to burn for three hours.  The flames leapt high around our chicken pieces and saucepan and so we had char-grilled chicken for supper.

The island had been quite busy today and a few people had driven slowly past while looking at our set up.  Occasionally one would stop and ask if they could take a photo.  Then right towards the end of the day another couple stopped (Buddy & Linda).  They were very keen to know about how our tent worked and we got chatting a bit.  Then the serendipity bit.  Would you know it, they had on board some spare maps of the very places we want to go and so we have now replaced most of the maps we lost in the theft in Salt Lake City.  Just need Mexico now!  They also gave us some much appreciated fresh fruit, grapefruit from California!!

Soon after darkness fell again.  The sky was clear of clouds and the stars hung in profusion above our heads before we hit our pillows for the night.

Campsite – Antelope Island

Trials in the Gobi mountains

21st August 2010 by Helen

Friday 20th August

getting up close

getting up close

Continued driving through the valley, criss-crossing the river a few more times, and towing out another car that had broke down in the middle of the river (with water running out of his exhaust pipe he won’t be going anywhere for a couple of hours), before finally reaching the edge of the Gobi desert.

We pulled up next to a herd of camels just sitting and standing by the roadside.  They let us approach them, then, as we stood still they began to get closer and closer, standing around us in an arc.  Close enough for them to nibble our heads and for us to inhale deeply of their distinctive smell of rotting vegetables.

Gobi actually means treeless terrain without marmots or trees.  It’s not all about sand dunes and most of the terrain is stony and flat.  Lots of small

standing where the dunes begin - or is that where they end

standing where the dunes begin - or is that where they end

bushes and at one point it looked like we were driving through a bonsai forest.  Some sand on the tracks and around the bases of the bushes.  After a while we came across our first sand dunes and we stopped to take the obligatory photos.

One of the other features of the Gobi is mountains and as we drove on we found ourselves in a mountain pass that twisted and turned between the rocks.  As we turned each corner another wall of rock appeared before us, making it look as if the track was a dead end, until we got to the wall and found the track took another 90 degree turn.

Coming out of this section of the pass we continue on.  We’re not sure if we are on the right road.  Our GPS readings when plotted on the map suggest we are some 5-10 km east of the main route.  However, there are many tracks that are not on the map and as we have already found out the tracks on the map are only an approximation anyway.  Roads move according to how the locals want to use them, new roads are created and old roads fall into disuse.  This is particularly true of the secondary and minor tracks we are currently using.

This one is continuing to lead us through the mountain pass and is already well used so we continue.  We are driving over the ridges of hills, gullies falling away either side of us.  Even though it is getting late and we would like to set up camp, we need to get beyond this terrain before we can find a flat piece of land on which to camp.

final hurdle in the gorge - just need to get over this thornbush and rock

final hurdle in the gorge - just need to get over this thornbush and rock

Reaching the crest of one hill we see the next ridge is particularly sharp, so sharp the track is a little off to the side of the crest.  To drive over that crest will create a lean on the car of some 30 – 35 degrees.  Fully laden as an overlanding vehicle and a bit top heavy with a roof tent we are not sure that Landy will get over the crest without tipping over.  The prospect of landing roof first sixty feet down the gully is not a pleasant one.  The odds of any vehicle large enough to help us out of the gulley being able to get this far is slim.  We either have to go back or find another way round.  Paul gets out to survey the land and figures it’s possible to drive through the gulley itself, wheels balanced on each side.  We go for it.  There’s only one problem.  Near the end of the gulley, before it rejoins the road, is an outcrop of rock on one side and a large thornbush on the other.  Crossing this part will take a considerable degree of driving skill.  But it’s that or we’re stuck.  Paul marks out the line in the dirt that Landy’s wheels have to take.  I’m out in the gulley itself calling back to say if he is on track.  He edges forward, balancing the front wheels on the rock and the thornbush.  So far so good.  But the articulation on the back wheel means that the wheel is not going to miss the rock.  Going back is not an option, we’re going to have to risk it.  At this point the worst that can happen is a gash in the tyre.  Paul edges forward.  Landy drops off the rock and the bush.  Nothing’s caught up underneath.  The rear tyre has survived unscathed.  I jump back in and we are back on the road again.  Absolutely no going back.  Here’s hoping there’s nothing worse ahead.  However, by now it’s nearly dark and, still in the Ih Bogdin nuruu mountains, we find a bit of flat ground and camp for the night.

Campsite – Ih Bogdin mountains

Distance travelled – 222