Mollies Nipple & Thanksgiving Dinner

  • Updated: November 27, 2014
  • Post By: Matthew Hengst

   Mollies Nipple (7,271')
When: November 27th, 2014
Where: Utah / Arizona Border
Who: Matthew Hengst, Kristen Lindbergh, Jen Blackie
Pictures: [Matt]
GPS Track: [Map]

Thanksgiving time and once again the plan was to escape civilization and go someplace awesome for the annual Turktacular trip.

This year we decided to head toward Monument Valley out in the Utah/Arizona border area and fill in the other days with Mollies Nipple, Navajo Mountain, Valley of the Gods, and finishing up in White Pockets.  Mostly due to having seen cool pictures of these places or liking the names.

We were somewhat limited on days this year due to work circumstances so there was no avoiding leaving and coming back during heavy traffic times Wednesday night and Sunday night.  To try and help thing on the way out we didn't leave Orange County until after 9 pm.  This turned out to be a good call and we made Zion with relatively light traffic.

It was a very long drive.  We rolled past the gate at Zion something in the early hours of the morning.  We'd originally thought to camp for a few hours at Watchmen before driving on for Mollies Nipple but I decided I could go a little longer.

We went through the park, out the east side, and after slowing down quite a bit due to all the deer sitting on the side of the road eventually took a dirt road turnoff and settled down for the a few very short hours of sleep.

After not nearly enough sleep we were up, making coffee, and headed for Mollies Nipple.

Other than having a fun name the peak really does stand out in the surrounding area due to most everything else being mesas.

We left the payment along a dirt road that is clearly not a road to Bryce Canyon and bounced along at a fair clip.  Despite the dire sign the road was decent up to the turnoff to the nipple and we could have parked there if we weren't in the jeep.

We made a quick side trip to King Mine but find any open adits or anything worth exploring.

Nipple Ranch!  Now that's worth investigating!

The road got a lot worse to reach the ranch and we spent a good amount of time swiming through sand.  But hey, Nipple Ranch!  With a name like that there has to at least be an interesting sign or something...


After that dissapointment we backtracked and took the turnoff towards the Nipple.  From here it really was a 4WD road.

The turn wasn't signed but there was no real chance at confusion.  If you're there in a less capable vehicle there was a decent looking campsite here.

The peak really does look impressive from all over.

The road was sandy but my stock-ish 2013 Wrangler Sport had no trouble getting stuck with some aggressive driving.  There were two places where the road had washed out and someone had cut a path through vegetation which made me think this area wasn't as remote as it felt.  We didn't actually see anyone until the following day.

Mostly it was just a matter of keeping moving in the sand and putting up with some vegitation scraping along the side of the jeep.  As much as I like the new Gobi rack I got it does make it a bit harder to slip through.

We ended up stopping somewhat arbitrarily since we wanted to get at least some walking in that day.  Were you more adventurous you could likely drive up almost immediately below the nipple.  The only challenge past where we stopped was a short rocky section that might have been a little slick.

We walked the road until we were close and set off cross country along what looked like a faint trail.  Turns out there was a road maybe 100 ft further which we didn't see until coming back.  Doh!

There isn't really a route up the Nipple until the very top, just pick your steep loose terrain and head up.  It wasn't fun but it isn't very long.  We found a few ducks but they can mostly be ignored.

Up top things got a little more interesting.

There's even a few very light 3rd class moves right below the summit.

Views up top were nice!

And of course, nipple themes summit shot!

We descended down a slightly different route that amounted to the same thing and then followed the now evident road back to the jeep.

We'd debated driving out to Gouldings Campground outside Monument Valley that night to put us closer to the following days activities.  We'd also talked to the campground over the phone and gotten a really good impression of them ("We'll be closed but just come on it.  We can settle up the next day!")

We elected to stay out here since we'd seen a rather nice spot on top of a ridge a ways back and we were absolutely alone back there.  Besides, we had a thanksgiving dinner to cook!

The last 4 or 5 years I've always managed to get out and do a thanksgiving dinner on a campstove somewhere but this year Kristen went all out and we had what has to be the most elaborately made dinner yet.  And Jen brought homemade pumpkin pie which we freshly whipped creme for.  It's hell scraping by in the wilderness.

The next morning we could enjoy the views little better as we packed up.

We got moving slowly and headed off for the next activity, Navajo Mountain!

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