Trip out of Escalante, UT during monsoon season


Pelikan Pilot
Re: Soliciting for Pictures

Thank you. I'm glad you like the pictures. Some are from a backpacking trip in Utah August of 2008. We didn't quite get there ahead of the monsoon season, but we did manage to hike to our destination with little trouble. Then the river came up very high the first night and almost washed over our campsite. After sitting for two days trapped on a sand bar wedged between the flooding river and the cliff, we finally escaped by crossing the river, which had gone down somewhat. But no way we could walk downstream two miles on our normal route without dropping into a hole and getting tumbled or drowned. So we were forced to climb up and over a high ridge with a route but no real trail, drop into a side canyon, then climb out a second time up 1,000 feet of sand dune. Friend Jim fell off a ledge hoisting the packs up the last 50 feet of cliff, but jumped up and limped away. But he finally had surgery on his back ten months later to repair a cracked vertebra. After almost being hit by lightening (I'm not making this up) and soaked to the bone trudging across the plateau to the Pelikan van we finally found refuge, and cold Fosters. The trip into town is ten miles of jeep trail, then 40 miles of graded road. It can be done in an hour or so with tolerant passengers. Wasn't to be, though. Everything was slick as owl snot, and the van was dancing and sliding all over while I tried to keep my speed up to not get stuck. At one point we had to wait for an hour for a flood across the road to go down. Then just as I got complacent, a flat spot that looked smoothly graded turned out to be a deep pool of pudding-like quicksand. Dropped to the frame without a prayer of getting out. We dug, carried rocks, and winched for 3 hours while our dreams of huge steak dinners with baked potatoes as big as a shoe, an hour in the hot tub, and soft motel beds vanished. The whole drive took six hours. We got into Escalante (pop a few hundred) way after dark to find all the motels full and all the restaurants closed. Lights were still on at the Cowboy Blues cafe, though. The wonderful manager Kim stopped her cook from driving off, and they made pizza for us. Simple, but better than Spam. So we ate pizza at the state campground while we put the tents up in the rain. The boots concluded the tale the next morning. It's been over a year, and I'm still finding orange mud inside the van and on the street under it. Any time you are in Southern Utah, eat at the Cowboy Blues cafe in Escalante and tell Kim the three muddy guys sent you. Steve Tracy.



New member
Great Pictures Steve! That's the kind of touring we want to do. Is that really just 2WD? If so did you ever want for 4WD?


New member
My van is going to some pretty major touring this year with the successful WVO implementation, but I am afraid I would be way to cautious taking my van were that one has gone.

That is what the XR600R is for. :smilewink:


2005/2006 leisure travel
Escalante mud:BE CAREFUL !

A while ago I camped in Escalante area. It rained a tiny bit during the night.It turned out to be 1/10 ".No monsoon for sure.

The campground had gravel,so I did not notice the mud until I hit the road.
With just that tiny bit of rain, the vehicle slid across the road and felt like a bit more and it would have been on its side.

A new Chevy 4x4 pickup had the same problem. He slid off the road too. He had Onstar,which worked by satellite,as there was no cell reception. The tow truck had tractor tires.....and still had to add chains.

Luckily I had "free"roadside assistance,as he had to come over 50 miles.

The mud mess was very tenacious on the vehicle. I dont even want to talk about the mud mess on the dog.


Active member
I'm cringing as I see these photos. The red dirt has killed many a driveline. That stuff gets everywhere.


Well-known member
Indeed it does get everywhere. Frito's slider has developed an alarming noise on opening as a result of his recent desert adventures. I'm still trying to discover the source.


Well-known member
I knew I shoulda looked here first. :bash: I was gonna do a write-up on my findings, but yours is superb. :clapping:

Having pulled my front scuff pads during the winter soundproofing exercise, I easily found the cunningly hidden plugs as you describe and pulled the pad. Crap! I mean crap everywhere. Worse than yours and Frito has had very little off-asphalt running. Lots of North America lodged everywhere. Also, it's obvious that the entire floor pan under the scuff pad gets wet when it rains. :yell:

The bottom guide roller was not rotating. It would only rotate about 1/8th of a turn. A little WD-40 loosened it up and ten minutes with a wire brush and the vacuum cleaner cleaned up the mess.

Mercedes should learn from GMC on how to protect the complex slider mechanism from weather damage. Both my Asstros had none of these problems and never needed maintenance in over 30 years of all-weather use. :bow:

They did, however, drive like an ox-cart and burn nearly twice as much fuel as Frito. : )
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