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Gearhead Adventures: A Moab Escape

Kevin Kinghorn’s Desert Climbing, Off-roading, & Camping Trip

Karsyn is a writer and insatiable adventurer. She finds inspiration in the mountains—climbing, skiing, or running—and enjoys sharing her experience to get others outside. Find her on Instagram @karsynansari.

Gearheads get outside—a lot. From ripping local mountain bike trails to skiing in Norway, they’re the friends whose adventures make you wish you could tag along. Gearhead Adventures are their stories of curiosity, exploration, and the experiences that come with launching into the unknown. These are the stories that make our Gearheads outdoor experts.

Moab, Utah, with thousands of acres of BLM land and two national parks in close proximity, is a dream destination for outdoor adventure—and only a four-hour drive from the Backcountry office. 

November is a great time to visit Moab because the tourist crowds start to clear out and the weather isn’t unbearably hot like in the summer. Last month, Gearhead Kevin Kinghorn took advantage of this accessible adventure and prime desert weather to get some time in nature before the busy holiday season.

Kevin, his pup Iris, and his partner Jenna took advantage of three adventures that Moab is famous for. They climbed at Wall Street, a roadside crag right outside town that has routes for all ability levels. Then they drove Chicken Corners Road, a popular off-roading route with dramatic desert scenery, and camped and relaxed on BLM land in between adventures. 

I sat down with Kevin to get the scoop on his trip and find out what gear he brought with him to the desert.

Karsyn: What was the scenery like on Chicken Corners Road? 

Kevin: It’s a beautiful single-lane dirt road that runs along towering red sandstone cliffs. Dry air blows the light dust in little wisps as the winter sunset lingers on the horizon, with dark yet vibrant colors stretching across the desert expanse. As the day passed, we watched the shadows of the cliffs grow longer, enveloping us at the base of the canyons. The warmth faded along with the final daylight. With the shadows, everything began to look different, and we drove deeper down 4×4 roads, waiting for the canyons to break open into a mesa.

Did you meet any interesting characters? 

When we were climbing at Wall Street, we met many fellow climbers and traded belays, ropes, and trad gear to put up a lot of routes. Because of the community effort, we climbed more than if we had all worked on our own.

 

What was the most memorable part of the trip? 

We drove down a stretch of unmarked road, parked the cruiser far from anyone else, and built a fire pit close to the tailgate. It was 11:23pm, and we were deep in BLM land north of Moab. To our left, there were sediment runoffs in beautiful colors. Teals and greens from the natural copper in the Colorado shelf, reds of the iron sandstone, blacks from earthy coal. To the right, we could see the La Sal Mountains in the bright light of the full moon. One of my favorite things about the desert is the way a full moon illuminates the land and you can see everything so clearly. 

We were sitting on the tailgate after dinner when someone shot off fireworks in the open valley below. It was like our own private fireworks show. We laid there on the tailgate, sipping wine and watching the colorful light illuminate the valley.

What was the funniest moment of the trip?

Probably when Jenna and I stopped to take photos on this random stretch of road. We were listening to music and out of nowhere, Jenna started to freestyle rap in front of my truck. 

 

What was your biggest challenge on the trip?

When we had to leave. Every trip is hard to end, and no one ever wants to go home. Taking a trip to the outdoors is a test of your character, preparedness, and improvisation. Jenna and I worked so well together, between figuring out meals with what ingredients we had, where to go at what time, what roads to drive, how to get the shot … It was hard to drive back and know we’d re-enter everyday life back in Salt Lake.

Did you learn anything valuable on this trip? 

Don’t stress planning every detail of your trip. Plan how long you want to be away and the region you want to be in. Leave room to wander, explore, and find something new or exciting.

 

Any gear you wish you had brought? 

Nice camp chairs and a better coffee grinder

 

What other gear insights do you have to share? 

Anyone that says YETI coolers are overrated has probably never owned one. The initial investment of an expensive cooler is worth it, and saves you money on ingredients and keeps them fresher longer.

Kevin is a photographer and desert dweller who enjoys climbing, camping, and exploring Utah’s varied landscapes from behind the wheel of his Land Cruiser (when it’s not broken down). Have questions about sandstone climbing, desert camping, or just need advice on a stove? Reach out to Kevin at kkinghorn@backcountry.com.