South Fork Meadows to Meeker?
Fri July 28th:
Epic Camp in South Fork Meadows to Meeker – 75 miles? (All Day)
Waking up and making an incredible breakfast, enjoying coffee in the clean mountain air – That’s the life! Now it was time to get serial, we had to break camp and get to Meeker or farther today, not knowing how long it would take. While chatting with the Fly Fisher couple last night, they also informed us this was an in and out trail. Bummer, I thought I had seen a cut-off to our main gravel road trail, but found out I was mistaken.
So now we had to make the trek out to the top before proceeding, well it’s probably only 10 miles as a crow flies at least 15 or by trail to climb back out of this valley. So far all the rigs were handling it well. Prior to starting this trip beside installing a supercharger on Julia, I replaced my seized rear track bar with a nice new Steer Smarts from Yeti. Unbeknownst to me I had it adjusted a bit too far to thee right and would suffer for it today.
As we were climbing I heard some loud thumps in rapid succession, and thought it was my tires grabbing the back of the tub (but I thought I had adjusted bumps and clearance that). So in one on the frame twisting divots I stopped to have a look at what was making the noise. No tires were contacting, and then I remembered a recent LiteBrite video, where Kevin was pointing out how his driveshaft was catching the tank skid, sure enough, the ears of my driveshaft had been creeping far enough right to catch the edge of my gas tank skid. Oh Crap, we’re only 50 miles from civilization!
Luckily, I carry spare u-joints and tools, but found I only needed to readjust the rear Yeti track bar, to clear it up. So I gently moved uphill to a flat(er) spot sp I could make the adjustment. Unfortunately it was under load, luckily I had ratchet straps and an impact and got it adjusted and we were off, until it hit more.
IDIOT! I had adjusted the axle the wrong way, so I again find myself creeping into a shadier spot as temps were already in the 90s to do it all over again. I can’t stress how important flex testing is after new parts having to do with suspension!
After killing an hour of our day I finally had the track bar/axle where it needed to be and thankfully, I didn’t kill the u-joint, so we were back on our way. And we soon crested the drop out trail (actually Coffee Pot Road), and took a right where we had come in from the left and in short time we got to see the majestic Heart Lake Reservoir.
We crossed over the outlet/spillway area and then stopped for lunch, at a spot we think another You Tuber (Ozark Adventure Overland) camped when they did this trail. After lunch we continued towards Blair Mountain, a place Doug (as well as the rest of us) was excited to see. However, here is where the Rocklanding begins, we turned off the well traveled wide gravel road onto a sort of rocky two track following our maps. In short order found ourselves depending a rocky, off camber hill to a valley below before coming onto Elk Lake set in the middle of a valley surrounded by mountains at 10,400 ft.
We stopped for a group photo, realizing we hadn’t really taken many, and then pressed on, I could see a trail that appeared to go straight up the mountain for like half a mile (I don’t remember that in Ozark’s video), hopefully we aren’t going that way.
Yeah, once again I was wrong…
Our route was straight up that mountain, I only hoped the rigs would perform flawlessly. Luckily they all did, and I can say how proud I am of Mandi & MegaPixel, and Doug & Ann and myself for that matter for conquering the longest steepest hill climb any of us had ever done! Once on top another group shot (more a stop to let everyone especially me calm down a little).
From here we thought it must be all down hill we were at some crazy 12,000’+ elevation, but nope, we would go down and back up a few more times before finding the all down from here point. The sun was sinking and our goal now was to just make it to Meeker. Fuel was getting low, I dropped one of my gerry cans (5 gals) into Julia, Ann had dropped 2 of hers and was still running low, but we had finally found the nice wide gravel road again and hoped we’d have enough to get back into Meeker. Another hour passed and we were closer, but realized once we hit pavement we still had another 20+ miles into Meeker and we had to toss one of Mandi’s 3 Gal extra’s into Ann’s LJ to guarantee success.
After we finally hit the real downhill forest road, we were rallying down as time was slipping away along with the daylight and we were looking for cell service to try and find lodging for the night. I called out how many bars I had all the way down while Mandi drove and Karen tried to find us some rooms. By the bottom where we aired back up, we had reservations but they would only hold them for 45 mins, so We quickly got Mandi (& Karen) aired up a sent them off to secure our rooms for the night.
After they were off, Doug, Ann & I aired up and headed into town for some fuel, dinner and a much needed shower and bed. We had previously eaten at the Mexican restaurant in Meeker, and I was hoping we might find another place but as it was closing on 8 pm we again settled on the Mexican place, had a great dinner and got to bed at the White River Inn.