Slippery When Wet

Hi Folks,
I thought I would share a little of my experience with the usually non-technical sections of the Gemini Bridges to Shafer Trail to Potash Road loop outside of Moab in Canyonlands NP. We were there a couple days after a heavy rain, and the areas in the shade of the uphill cliff were still slick mud. At one point, approaching a downhill switchback in 4WD low at about 5 mph in a rented jeep, we slid about 10 inches forward and 3 to the side in that slop before the tires regained traction. I included a view looking back up at those switchback from the road beyond.

Had I fully appreciated that the whole freakin’ thing was a rock slide, I would have had my heart in my throat the whole time, not just during the brief slippage.

When I told the Jeep rental guy about it and said they might not want to call it “easy” if it has rained recently, his face blanched, literally.


I know that road a little too well. :wink: Photographically you’ve framed and presented it well, dealing especially well with the shadowed areas.

As for the “knowing it well” part, we spend a lot of time in that area. More importantly, while stopped in one of the turnouts about halfway down to take photos, we were visited by a short intense cloudburst. Fortunately the truck was absolutely flat, because our only way out was to chain up for the slick mud. We could barely stand up to do the job, and we certainly couldn’t have put it up on jacks if there had been a slope. Kinda white knuckles all the way down to the junction after that.

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I’ve chained up for snow and ice, but not mud, and not on switchbacks like that. Conditions determine difficulty rating, I know well, but a couple days after a rain surprised me! Slicker 'n snot, as we said growing up.

Thanks for the memories. Compared to the condition of this road back in 1973, it is now a super highway! :slight_smile: On my first trip back then, it was interesting watching a group of French tourists in a rental sedan trying to decide if it was better to continue toward Moab or try to turn around and go back uphill. When it’s not your vehicle, it’s amazing the places people are willing to go!

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Friends own a rental car agency and they have a saying learned over long experience:

“Do you know the difference between a 4WD and a rental car? The rental car will go ANYWHERE!!!”


Oh yeah. We always carry chains in the Southwest when there’s a chance of rain while boondocking on dirt roads. We have them for our travel trailer, too. We’re yet to use them for snow or ice, but once every year or two we’ve needed them for slimy slick mud on top of hardpack just below the surface everywhere from Canyonlands and Book Cliffs to Chaco Canyon.