|Zion National Park, June 2022|
The First: "It’s hotter than hades here [Zion NP], so it’s up the mountain for sure tomorrow." (June 9)
The Second: "Well, it finally happened. After 111 days, it actually rained last night. As an Englishman used to more than 200 days of rain a year, this dry period has made me feel, well, like a fish out of water. These drought conditions out west are no joke!" (June 24)
To cope with the heat (even if it's a dry heat), Allan Finley took the high road for the summer leg of his multi-year expedition through the American West. With his intrepid Blue Heeler dog, his Kodiak Stealth model Rustic Trails Teardrop Camper, and his Ford Ranger pickup, he stuck it in low and headed up the mountains, posting inspiring photographs and commentary on his exploits via the Facebook group page Rustic Trail Teardrops and Friends. Below are some examples.
"We went down a rough rutted two track road [in Dixie National Forest] and found a great spot up on a knoll with a view of a lovely alpine meadow. It’s open range and as there are a couple of watering holes just below us, cows and other animals visit for a drink." (June 14)
"I just might be getting the hang of this boondocking thing. It was 97F in Moab, so we hightailed up into Manti-La Sal NF. Leaving Moab at about 4,600 feet, we climbed up to 8,850 feet and are enjoying very pleasant 78F temps with a light breeze. The views on the way up and at the site are gorgeous and it’s free!" (June 29)
|Arches NP, Devil's Garden|
|Devil's Garden Hike, July 8|
"So exactly six months ago today, Finley and I left home in western North Carolina to go on a walkabout. So far we have covered 11,810 miles at an average fuel consumption of 17.9 mpg and have visited eleven states so far. We had picked up the RTTC Kodiak last August and put about 5,000 miles on it before leaving on our trip, so we have about 17,000 miles under our belts in total. We have experienced temps as low as 16F and as high as 103F. We boondock almost all the time now that we have arrived in the West. In fact, we have not plugged in for 106 straight days now. We go down some pretty rugged trails, so I think we have given the Kodiak a pretty thorough workout and I have to say I’m super impressed! All systems have functioned perfectly, keeping us safe, dry, warm/cool and comfortable.
"I have only experienced three issues with the camper.
"1) One of my leaf springs broke going down a gnarly two track. This is not an RTTC issue as they use industry standard springs. I managed to locate spare springs about 100 miles away, and I quickly fixed the problem.
'2) The caulk around the front cabinets has separated. I imagine this is due to the constant jostling and maybe also the humidy from the Deep South to the western deserts. No big deal, I just removed the old caulk and reapplied some DAP 320. Super easy!!
"3) The bloody license plate holder is just way too low. It used to be above the rear light and now is below. Can’t tell you how many times I’ve have to bend back the plate. Finally I just took it off and stuck it in my glove compartment.
"That’s the sum total of my issues, and they’re all pretty minor or unforeseeable. Without a doubt RTTC makes an extremely well-made camper, and Finley and I look forward to continuing our little adventure for the next 3-4 years."
|"The Rig" just before climbing Ophir Pass|
|Ophir Pass, Larry Lamsa photo|
"Rocky Mountain High" is the theme song to Allan's adventures during his summer travels, as he always tended to seek the high mountains to avoid the heats of summer. He was successful, for the most part, and also experienced some great camping! Below are some of the "high" experiences that he shared on the RTTC Facebook group page.
|Uncompahgre National Forest, July 2022|
|RTTC Grizzly campers pulled by Mini Coopers|
|The Schaberts on their way to the Golden Eagle Campground|
|The Mahaneys, tucked in beneath their 12x12 canopy at the RTTC get-together|
|Pike and San Isabel National Forest|
|Roosevelt National Forest, August 1|
|Roosevelt NF boondocking|
|Custer State Park, August 2022|
|Happy Birthday, Finley!|
"It’s been a birthday weekend here in SD. Our Kodiak turned 1 on Friday. I gave her a loving pat and checked her tire pressure. We now have over 20,000 under our belts, and I couldn’t be happier with my purchase. We certainly have already had a few adventures with many more to come, I hope! Yesterday my little buddy Finley turned three years old, and to celebrate we did his favorite thing, hike! (Well, second best really, first is always treats! And he had a few of those, too.)"
Heading to the Badlands National Park provided the opportunity to see bighorn sheep . . . but also brought on the heat! "It’s a scorching 104 degrees in the convection oven that is the Badlands," Allan posted. "Hard to get motivated to get out of the truck and capture good photos. Finley enjoyed meeting Bighorn sheep and cows at the campsite last night. Luckily he was on leash, so nothing untoward happened! We need to get up to higher altitude for some cooler temps!"
Heading higher is just what they did, into the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming. "Another day, another great campsite in the mountains," Allan wrote. "The 100+ degree weather of the last few days was a drag so up, up and away! At over 7,000 feet, temperatures dropped by over 20 degrees with cool nights in the upper 50s, perfect for sleeping. Extra benefit--not a soul around and especially no Harleys!"Bighorn NF on the boundary of the Cloud Peak Wilderness. Not a soul around except for the occasional lost ATV rider." Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks and points in between, free off-the-grid camping was the norm. With Facebook posts filled with wonder and whimsey, there is no doubt to be had of the high quality of Allan's (and Finley's) daily experiences.
"We had a great hike in Tongue River Canyon yesterday. Perfect hiking weather and Finley got to cool off at several places along the way. We have really enjoyed our time in the Bighorns and will probably head west on Monday. Little to no cell service up here, so I haven’t posted much of late.
"It’s been a good day at Yellowstone. We’ve seen loose moose and bears in the woods and had an up close and personal with a bison. Also had a very pleasant chat with a raven, talkative chap.
"Gosh, I really love Wyoming. We left Yellowstone to visit its neighbor Grand Teton National Park. We found a really secluded spot with lovely views of the Tetons. Finley is off on a sniffari, and I can hear his little bear bell tinkling away. He hates it! I’m sitting with a glass of wine and watching the sunset. It’s been a really fab day."
|September 2, 2022, near Grand Teton NP|