Titan Two-Day Road Trip
February 5, 2018
My hand rapped lightly on the door and I gasped for air. To meet my rendezvous I had to cram and stuff all of my camping equipment inside my Jeep Cherokee after my alarm clock failed to wake me. I was still late as it was despite my best effort to make up the time I had lost. Luckily my partner in crime Uriah Pfeffer wasn’t too upset at my delay, and we somehow crammed the rest of the gear in my vehicle (which was quite full due to the amount of firewood we needed.) Like Frodo and Sam we were off to claim adventure in a wild different land.
I turned on the ipod and put on a compilation of country and alternative rock to which Uriah listened to a second then toned out, to focus in favor of a apple strudel. My jeep hummed away as its v6 engine from a camaro worked its magic.
Taking the outlet at the Danish Flats exit on I-70 we drove to Cisco enjoying the ghost town and it’s snowy white blanket. As the La Sal mountain range loomed before us shrouded in mist, we took the turn to Moab. I put on my fake Ray Bans and Uriah put on his Oakleys as the sun’s glare on the snow became a little too antagonizing.
We crossed the river and turned off the road to visit the burned out Dewey Bridge. It’s just so sad how some people will destroy history without thinking about future generations. We hopped back in the Jeep and continued on. The Canyon walls rose around us crowding the road towards the icy recess of the river below and beside us. The dark brown to red umber rocks looked striking against the blue expanse of sky above them.
And then we spotted our main goal. I can only imagine the feeling I had as I looked on the Fisher towers was the same feeling Leonardo got after painting the Mona Lisa.
We turned off the main tarmac road onto a dirt road covered in a thick layer of ice. My Jeeps tires slipped easily on it, and I had to shift into 4-wheel drive. After getting closer to the towers, we stopped and took photos as we we were in tourist mode. The snow made the rocks stand out, but didn’t make us cold as it hasn’t been a very cold winter.
We then popped back in the Jeep and drove the rest of the way to the start of the trailhead. Fisher Towers is a National Scenic Trail and therefore is protected by the National Parks Service. It is a famous rock climbing spot and has some amazing views. It also has the largest free standing natural tower in the United States. Called the Titan it rises above the rest of the rock pinnacles at 700 feet.
We both changed into hiking boots and winter clothing and strapped on our day packs. Locking up the Jeep we then started off. Instead of taking the main hiking route which is fairly short we took one of the rock climber paths and started heading up the side of the canyon.
It seems like every 10 feet we ascended we had to take another picture because the views were just so breathtaking. About an half hour after we had starting ascending the face of the towers, we heard a car drive in to the parking lot. Before that we had seen no signs of life beside plants as we walked. In fact for the entirety of the hike we saw nobody else until we got back to the parking lot; partly due to this area’s unknownness, and because it was December.
We reached the top of a rim one level below the top rim and walked carefully along its edge, trying not to slip and fall a few hundred feet downward. Occasionally left over climbing ropes from past visitors would rise up the cliff above us torn and mangled in our sight. I would not advise anyone to use them as they posed a serious danger to anyone who should choose to use them
Upon coming around a turn in the rock wall, we discovered a small cave in the rock. To get up to it you had to twist your body and put one foot on a sharp crack in the rock and put the other on the rock wall in front of the cave itself in order for your body to move up. Doing this I was gradually able to slowly lift myself up into a position to where I could grab at an out jutting rock and pull myself into the cave.
The floor of the cave itself slanted upward at a sharp angle and looked really easy to climb up, and so I put one foot forward and made my mistake. The floor was covered in a thick layer of pebbles, sandstone shavings and dust, which immediately broke apart when it had pressure applied to it. A whole layer of the cave floor started shifting towards the mouth of the cave with me in it. Putting my hands and feet flat on the angle I tried uselessly to slow my fall out of the cave to no avail. I yelled for Uriah to move away so he didn’t get hit with the torrent of material coming towards him. Like a great dust waterfall,l i shot out of the cave and fell 5 feet onto the hardened dirt below me. The dust from the debris that fell swept over me and a little got into my lungs. Uriah laughed with a grin from ear to ear, and asked if i was okay. My pride dusty as it was made me hold back another hardened cough and we continued on.
The Titan loomed before us and we walked to it, feeling like mere ants in comparison to its size. We had reached the pinnacle of our destination. Going east we had to crawl down a series of rock ledge to get back to the main trail. And on a small ledge Uriah lost his footing and slipped down an embankment. This time it was my turn to laugh. As we were skirting the east side of the Titan now we saw more left over climbing ropes above us on the tower left to the wind. In fact I glimpsed down and found an old camming device (which is put into a rock crack as an anchor.). I pocketed it to get rid of this one piece of litter on this otherwise fairly clean area (the reason i didn’t say it was totally litter free was because of the leftover ropes in the rocks above us).
We stopped for a short lunch, and for Uriah to bandage his scuffed leg from his fall and kept walking on. We eventually got to part of the main hiking trail and then decided to stick with that, on our return journey back to the parking lot. Rock pillars surged above our heads, and long icicles hung from rocks where runoff would go when the some of the snow melted.
Eventually we got back to the parking lot, where i saw the first person (other than us) for the trip. He said “yeah i’ve always seen this place from afar when driving to Moab, and i decided this time I was going to go see what it was”. This was the case for me as well, but instead I had decided to make this the basis for our camping trip.
We then drove to the small camping site that is beside the parking lot and unpacked. For dinner we had roasted hot dogs over a wood fire. As the sun setted the towers behind us gave off an eerie red glow that was pleasing to look at. I had forgotten my folding chair, so i had to improvise. I took the cardboard box which had held our firewood, then used some large planks as a backrest.
Here is some advice for anyone thinking about going winter camping, pack lots of blankets. I had two sleeping bags one inside the other, then I had about 6 blankets stacked on top of that. And then surrounding all of that I had my tent.
The next morning I stirred the fire and added more sticks to it, then roused Uriah from his tent. Like a mummy he appeared from his tomb wrapped in layers upon layers with dreary eyes. I proceeded to cook a rousing breakfast of fo-bacon, eggs and toast with a side of cantaloupe.
Skidding on ice we made are way back to the main road and decided to drive to Moab. Uriah plugged in his headphones in as he was now fairly disgusted with my music choice.
Again we were greeted by more red cliff walls as i drove along, and I had my senses cooled by its awe inspiring grandeur.
We parked and walked the streets of Moab, where I stopped at a local book store and bought a postcard to send to one of my cousin’s up north in Montana. For lunch we ate at Wendy’s, having Ice cream for dessert even though it was winter.
After that we took the road going to the interstate. Then turned west and headed for Green River. But we turned off at the Ruby Ranch road/Floy, and took the old highway until turning off to go under a bridge at the interstate. This road was ancient and archaic, with potholes as big as a bathtub in some places.
Then in the distance we saw a tall wire fence that rose out of the rolling hills like the phoenix from the ashes. Semi low long building of galvanized steel and cement stood around us with weird tracks running from building to building (probably meant for running cords along.
It truly looked like a scene from the apocalypse. A Fallout game if you will. Everything was from the Cold War era, as this was the Green River Missile Test site. Broken glass littered the ground at every step, and you stopped just trying to imagine life here when it was still active. Several of the buildings had walls hung with asbestos and stunk dreadfully of past rodent visitors. Tunnels run under the ground in two places connecting parts of the complex. Giant blast shields stood at each end of the two launching pads where they would have protected scientists and engineers.
One building that still stands, was the one that would have housed a missile itself. Its long and tall with great sweeping garage doors at each end. There is a really cool metal ladder on one side of the building that we climbed up to reach the top of the missile housing building, allowing us to survey most of the base.
Everywhere stand warning signs and little miniature bunkers, that once held paranoid Americans who protected the U.S from the slumbering bear that was Russia. Flood Lights stand on poles along the perimeter and i am reminded of a prison with each glance at them. A large rusted and bent metal radio tower was twisted along the ground at one spot; in another spot entire light poles had fallen from their original placements.
Uriah merely looked at everything chuckled to himself and said “cool.”
Presently we arrived at the last curiosity on our trip, Crystal Geyser. Next to the Green River this is a small geyser that runs out of a small pipe in the ground. The Geyser itself is very unimpressive. But the rocks surrounding the Geyser are what make this place so special. They run from a rich red iron color to a yellow sulfur color. Caused from minerals from the geyser collecting on rock surfaces for who knows how long. The water from the pipe runs down these rocks and trickles into the Green River below the embankment. Uriah was pretty stoked, I gotta say. After another quick snapshot we had to leave for the long drive back to Fruita…
Back at my house I realised how much we had done, and felt tired. I can’t wait until my next adventure.