Trip Report 2022 Expedition Utah Freeze Your Tail Off


Well-Known Member
Supporting Member
Having shoveled snow for 4 straight mornings, I had grand visions of deep snow, fresh tracks, breaking trail, and giving the 4WD vehicles a workout on the 14th annual Freeze Your Tail Off. Between work and life, I was once again packing for a trip well after midnight the night before leaving. With a meeting time of 9:30am, a 2 hour drive from home to get there, and a trip to the grocery store still on the agenda, I set my alarm for 5:30am. It was 2am, I was in for a short night…

As we raced West across I-80, I was astounded at the lack of snow West of the lake. By the time we got to Wendover, I was in full awe at the lack of snow, like no snow at all on the ground. In that moment I was grateful I hadn’t packed my bulky and heavy tire chains.

After topping off my gas tank at the Shell in East Wendover, we buzzed to the Salt Flats exit to meet the group. A few vehicles were waiting as I arrived, with the rest of the group arriving right on time. We assembled on the North end of the parking lot, aired down our tires, then held our quick driver’s meeting. As is usual, I spaced taking a pic at the start as my mind was on waivers, handing out packets with stickers and shirts, and getting to know new faces.

With 17 vehicles ready to roll, we hit the pavement for the short jaunt over to the start of the Silver Island Scenic Backway. Without snow to fill in the washboard, the road was a little choppy. Speed helped to smooth it out, but you can only get a group that large moving so fast.

After a few miles, we turned off the main road to take the scenic way to our first stop; a cave looking over the Salt Flats. Most of the group opted to make the fun climb to the entrance of the cave, the hardest wheeling we would do the entire weekend.

A good looking group of vehicles, and an amazing view!

After a few minutes at the cave, we cruised north to Silver Island Canyon, where we crossed up and over to the north side of Silver Island, where we continued north to the end of Crater Island. It took about an hour plus a little to get from the cave to the mud flats on the north end of Crater Island, so we stopped here for lunch.

It was fairly warm with little wind, so lunch was enjoyable. We chatted as we ate, and enjoyed the warm temperatures while we had them.

Arriving to our lunch spot and the rest of the group coming off the mountain.

After a tasty lunch stop, we made our way south, up the hill, and made a quick stop near the Taylor Central mine claim where there is an open tunnel just large enough for a vehicle to fit in. Several in the group pulled down for the photo op.

With "pics or it didn't happen" out of the way, we drove to an unnamed mine claim that had enough room for our group. We poked around for a bit, took some more pictures, and enjoyed the view. It was great to get to chat with some old friends, and get to know some new ones better.

Short days and flying time prompted us to load up and press south with sights set on Wendover for fuel, wood, and facilities. Not long after joining the road heading west around the Silver Island Mountains, a call of slight distress came across the radio. The group stopped as those in the rear assessed the situation. After a few moments, the call came that the Tundra in the group had lost a tire. Not lost a tire as in a flat tire, but had a tire separate from the vehicle. With our progress on pause, I flipped around with a few others to head to the disabled vehicle to lend assistance.

One wheel stud had sheared off, while the remaining 4 were pretty buggered up. A couple of folks went in search of the prodigal wheel while some got the Tundra on a jack, and others got the spare off the back.

With the spare and spare lug nuts installed on the truck, we were able to get 3 solid lugs torqued and the wayward wheel loaded into the back of the Tundra. Alex in the group cruised a head to Wendover to try to find parts, but we found there were none to be had. Some calls were made to folks in SLC, and parts were gathered and sent with our late group, so the decision was made to limp the Tundra into camp with 2 other vehicles to get it prepped for new studs and lugs. The remaining lugs on the truck were torqued to prevent any more surprises, and we were on our way again.

Tis but a scratch...:oops:

Since everyone was moving again, the majority of the group made our way into Wendover to fuel up, grab some more firewood, and meet Alex who had raced ahead. We wound our way on some fun roads into and out of Wendover, then joined the Pilot Mountain Road towards camp.

Coming off the mountain, about to join the Pilot Mountain Road. A neat sight that a phone camera just doesn't do justice too.

After an uneventful drive to camp, we jumped out of our nice warm vehicles and were greeted by a brisk north wind. It made being outside FRIGID! Any part of exposed skin ached, and fingers protested anytime they were asked to move without a glove.

We got the fire started as camps were setup and dinners were cooked, and some began decorating for the light competition.
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
Supporting Member
Not long after camp was setup and the fire was roaring, the later group showed up from Wendover. @huntingstill , Dylan who designed and printed the stickers, showed up with his wife and camper. Those that participated in the light competition put the finishing touches on their displays, and then the voting started.

A huge thanks to those that sponsored the prizes this year! Tenacity Overland, Cruiser Outfitters (@cruiseroutfit ), Impulse Offroad, and Expedition Utah donated over $700 worth of prizes for the participants. It was our best year yet for prizes, and we had some amazing displays!

Our winner this year was Kevin Bodell with his awesome display. A still pic just didn't capture it so I took a video.

I didn't keep the ballots, so unfortunately I have forgotten the rest of the places, but here are some pics I took when I was brave enough to step away from the warmth of the fire.

Of course, the light show wouldn't be complete without the soft glow of electric sex gleaming in the desert...

As the festivities wrapped up, some lingered by the fire for warmth while others retreated to the warm of heaters and sleeping bags. A few stalwarts stayed out until around midnight, when we finally called it and retired to our camps. Even with the protection of my cruiser from the wind, it was a cold night. Some reported an overnight low of 1*, others reported 3*, my watch showed a low of 8*, but suffice it to say it was chilly. When dawn came, some of us found it difficult to find the motivation to get out of our nice warm beds.

Milling around in the frigid dawn's early light.

The reward for getting up before sunrise? A beautiful view through the tunnels!

I didn't get a pic this year, but i did take this time lapse video.

Once the sun did its thing, and everyone had a chance to pack up camp, we set out on our Saturday trail ride. Lacking snowpack on the Transcontinental Railroad Grade, the snow drifts acted as speed bumps and slowed our travel a bit. As we approached the Bovine Mountains, I thought it would be fun to do a little snow wheeling, and turned to go up Emigrant Pass to one of my favorite spots, a wicked awesome gulch.

We crested the summit, broke a little trail, played in some deeper snow, and enjoyed the views.

This place is so cool!

Frozen toes included, and desires for more exploring, we set out again along the Emigrant Trail and set course for Skygazer Ranch, the home of Element 11, a sanctioned regional Burning Man. Wanting to avoid flat tires as much as possible, I opted to avoid driving the TRR grade. So, winding our way on roads less traveled, we arrived at the ranch to explore how it has changed over the year. We were greeted via cameras by the owner who talked to a few participants over some speakers. There may, or may not, be video of some participants trying out the slide. Unfortunately, I had left my phone in the cruiser charging, and don't have any more pictures from the trip. :(

Time was once again flying, and many were tired from a long cold night, so we loaded up again for our penultimate stop at the Kelton Cemetery. Cruising north again, we caught the Emigrant Trail Road and made quick time over to Kelton. As some broke out their lunch, others departed for home ahead of the big group. With full bellies, and the barn calling many of us home, we embarked on the last stretch of our organized journey and set course for the Golden Spike Monument.

We encountered a few more vehicles between Kelton and Golden Spike, but not many. We also got into more snow the closer we got to the Wasatch Front. Arriving at Golden Spike, we aired up, visited the facilities, reminisced about the adventure we had just experienced, then said our goodbyes.

2022 once again solidified for me, FYTO is one of my favorite events of the year! Hanging out with awesome people, enduring sub-freezing temps, and taking in the silent majesty of winter make it so much fun. Maybe we're crazy, but there is something to be said about doing things that aren't easy, or what many would call normal... I like not being normal.

Huge thanks to all that came and made this such a fun event! Even with a little adversity, I never heard a discouraging word, or that anyone wasn't having a blast. It was great to see everyone rally around the wounded vehicle and pitch in to solve the problem. Until next time, stay warm!
Last edited: