Fable Valley: The Valley that Wasn't
by Don Owens, photos by Don Owens & Gail Straty

On September 4th, Gail Straty, Chris Darcey, and I headed for Blanding Utah. My transfer case seemed to be behaving on the Lander Wyoming trip the weekend before. On the way home the transfer case was pushing out gear oil like mad and of course I was worried. I drained out one quart of oil and it seemed to be happy. Well on with the adventure.

We stopped at the Sinclair station to top off. The street next to the sation takes you west towards the Abajo Mountains. When you reach a main Y intersection of FDR#079 and #095 you go to the left on FDR#095. A little further than the causeway between Mule Canyon and Trough Canyon I took a group shot with a full rainbow behind. At the next intersection we headed north on FDR#192.

I had planned to find an old uranium mine off a spur on the Hop Creek trail that parallels the Steven Canyon trail that we were on in lieu of Fable Valley because the valley is a BLM Primitive Area. After crossing the Forest / BLM boundary we set up shop for the night.

The next morning we continued down the road looking for the southern intersection of the Stevens Canyon / Hop Creek trail. After accessing the map we had come to the right spot. The southern end of the Hop Creek loop backtracks up a tributary canyon.

Early on we came to stone filling as we started to cross worsening off-camber gullies. By the fourth gully the pucker factor was hitting beyond the tip over point. Gail walked ahead and found another nasty gully. From the map I estimated that the mine would be 2 to 2.5 miles further on. I will have to come back and walk it, as the mine may be interesting.

We turned around and caught the south Cottonwood Canyon road to Beef Basin. When we got to the House Park sign-in box Chris was talking about a blown shock. It turned out to be the left rear shock upper mount bushing was damaged. I took the shock off all together. I didn't really know if the rear spring could be damaged more at low speed, so I made the decision to not go down into the lower Imperial Valley to look for a view point of the Colorado River.

We headed out via Ruin Park and Bobby's Hole in to the back of the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park. We stopped at Chessler Park to do the Joint trail. Gail had talked to someone during the Jeep Safari this year that said that there was another joint leading into the Park that was even more interesting than the original. So we looked and looked, crawling, and climbing, but didn't find another way through. Some day we will have to go back and search some more.

As we were coming up to SOB Hill we came across a German couple who were kind of lost. I offered a ride back to Elephant Hill so Chris and Gail took them. We then headed for the Silver Stairs and the Hill. I went up first then, Chris, then Gail. We made plans with the Glastal's to meet at Eddy McStiff's for dinner on Sunday night.

We had dinner at La Hendcia mexican restaurant, I highly recommend them. We went up on Sand Flats to camp for the night. Since Chris had never experienced Moab slickrock, Gail and I took him on the Fins and Things trail. He though the trail was awesome. Next Chris wanted to do Lion's Back. Both Gail and I tried to persuade him not to, but he paid his four bucks and started up behind a TLC. I went next. The first time I did Lion's Back in 1997 I had stiffer rear springs. This time I had really soft National springs which caused the truck to bunny hop on the steep surfaces. Not good as it reeks havoc on the springs and the possibility of damaging the rear end. After getting 'Jenny' under control I continued up. For the trip down, if you have regular transfer case gearing you stand on the brakes going down. If you have Low-Low gearing, like a marlin crawler, or some such thing you can go down without touching the brakes and this is on a 30 degree descent.

After Lunch we headed to Poison Spider Mesa. I had heard that PSM had gotten up graded to a 4 rating. If you do the regular route it remains a 3.5 rating. If you do all of the new obstacles then it is a 4. We continued up till we got to the V-chute.

Chris climbed right up. Me on the other hand got midway and slid down into it because my tires are not as wide. So here I am looking at the rock from a very tilted angle. I've been here before. I backed up a bit and climbed out. We drove up to the rim overlooking Moab, then headed back down for our dinner engagement with the Glastal's.

That night we stayed at Sand Flats again for camping with a full moon. We headed back on Monday partly because I was worried about potentially grenading a U-Joint. We all had a very good time despite the heat.



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