Read Day 2 of the Kokopelli Trail here.
Day 3 – Kokopelli Trail
After a restful night sleep, Malissa and I were ready for the pack up routine. We had discussed what had went wrong the previous morning, first off waking up too late was mistake number one, but not allowing ourselves enough time to enjoy our morning coffee and breakfast was a huge bummer. One of my favorite things to do on these trips is enjoy the morning stillness that surrounds us while sipping on a fresh cup of joe. After quickly putting all of the bedding and unnecessary gear in its rightful place, we planted ourselves in our camp chairs and had a nice breakfast while chatting with our amazing company discussing what lay ahead.
Day 3 was the final day of the Kokopelli, and none of us quite knew what to expect. The trail offered such a variety of terrain that each hour proved to bring different challenges ranging from lo-range rock crawling, to high speed dirt roads. Some portions of dirt road were covered by fine dust that created amazingly thick clouds of dust from the vehicle in front that we were forced to drop back, allowing the dust to settle or risk running head on into unexpected oncoming traffic. Now everyone talks about how once you go to Utah or Moab, the dirt will be with your vehicle forever, and this is 100 percent accurate. This fine dust works its way into every crevice of your interior leaving fond memories to be found years later when cleaning your rig. In fact, there was still red dirt lodged in the small crevices of my air vents from the pervious years GoneOverland event.
The uncertainty of this trail had us also unaware of how long we had left, miles on a map are one thing, the ability to travel those miles in a speedy fashion is another and we found ourselves a bit behind schedule the day before. Fortunately, there were a few portions that allowed for us to make up some time and dreaming of a hot pizza from The Hot Tomato in Fruita, CO which had our mouths watering at the thought. If you are ever travelling through Fruita, CO do yourself a favor and stop in for a killer pie and some great beer. Just a tip from a fellow traveler. Unfortunately, the trail had better plans for us. We quickly were slowed down by more scattered baby head rocks, and tight turns and switchbacks.
Now somewhere along the way, maybe it was our last restroom break at hour 4 or so, I lost my ability to navigate rocky obstacles. BAM!!! Was the sound of the Land Cruiser dropping onto the frame rails while dropping a bit too quickly over a ledge. Moments later. BAM!! Another sound of the Land Cruiser digging a large rock into the engine skid. That one hurt. Malissa looked at me and asked if I was alright. “Yeah, I am fine. Its all good.” Kaboom! Another rock smashing into the skid plate. “Looks like its time for a time out!!” Malissa said I was done as we hopped out of the Gram Cruiser to inspect the damage from 3 large rock impacts in a matter of 10 minutes.
The inspection yielded nothing spectacular although I gained an inch of clearance on the engine skid plate. But for a moment I had to wonder where my head had gone. After Malissa completed a concussion test on me which involved a pen light being shone into my eyes, and following the movements of her fingers, it was determined that I was no longer fit for driving and promptly placed on the bench. I felt like I had just thrown 4 interceptions in the Big Game and was benched for the half.
After Malissa took over, the ride was much tamer, we crawled and bounced down the trail making good time, but there was no way we would make it to Fruita for lunch. The taste of a warm pizza slipping away. I was going to have to settle for a Turkey Sandwich. Not as tasty, but sure better for my cholesterol.
Around 2PM we were nearing the end of the Kokopelli trail, which brings feelings of accomplishment that we were able to run such an amazing trail with such a great group of likeminded travelers. The clouds were building on the horizon, we knew we needed to get a picture at the official trailhead, which for those of you who are unfamiliar is not the actual trailhead for 4×4 vehicles. The Kokopelli is a multi-use trail, whose official starting point is only suitable for through hikers and those on bike. But a picture was needed. We parked the rigs in front of the sign, marking the end of another great adventure. Overall, we truly enjoyed this trail. The varied terrain kept it fun, and even caught me daydreaming a bit. I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for and adventurous route between Moab and Western Colorado.
For those interested in travelling the Kokopelli, I would recommend basic 4×4 driving skills, a vehicle with decent ground clearance, or a good set of skid plates in my case. Rock sliders are always recommended for rocky trails, but not necessary. Lockers were unnecessary, but a good set of tires is highly recommended as there are incredibly rocky portions that may wreak havoc on road tires. Larger rigs may have difficulty in some portions of this trail due to incredibly steep entrances and exits of a couple washes as well as rocky ledges that a long wheel base may get hung up on. I would not take Mambo on this trail although a few portions would be passable, but not the entirety.
Additional fuel was not needed. There are gas stops in Moab as well as Loma which are very close to the Kokopelli trail head.
The trail itself was well marked for a good majority. Signs began to disappear once we entered Colorado, but eventually began reappearing. Bring a map, hard copy or digital just to be safe. GPX files are available online.