Monday, May 21, 2012

Utahns For a Week

The name "Utah" is derived from the name of the Ute tribe and means "people of the mountains".

Thousands of years before the arrival of European explorers, the Anasazi  tribes lived in what is now known as Utah. These Native American tribes are subgroups of the Ute-Aztec Native American ethnicity, and were sedentary. The Anasazi built their homes through excavations in mountains.

They lived in buildings called pueblos, designed so that they could lift entry ladders during enemy attacks, which provided security. Archaeologists referred to one of these cultural groups as the Anasazi, although the term is not preferred by contemporary Pueblo peoples. The word Anaasází is Navajo for "Ancient Ones" or "Ancient Enemy". Archaeologists still debate when this distinct culture emerged. The current consensus, based on terminology defined by the Pecos Classification, suggests their emergence around the 12th century BCE, during the archaeologically designated Early Basketmaker II Era. {It sounds like I made that up but I lifted it directly from Wiki}

So now we have our historical foundations in place, lets get on with a fairly dry story about how Josh and I rode our bikes around in large circles then hiked down nature's rain gutters for a week. So as to not put you to sleep, I'm going to use a lot of spectacular imagery and extravagant speech to disguise what a miserable time it was to sleep under the stars every night, and canyon hike all day. If I have any skills at all, you'll think I had a great time.

Canyons are nothing but huge rain gutters that look like abandoned open pit mines. If that's true, Canyoneering is putting a public park at the bottom to hide the ugliness. Getting into and out of the park is a challenge so maybe that is why they don't charge to get in and you never see anyone. You may see footprints but every park has Graffeeti (he he)

Getting into these parks can take a long time. One park required that we ride our bikes uphill for 12.5 miles, that took nearly 2 hours in 91 degree heat but that park had some swimming pool and as usual, it wasn't heated so we had to swim in dirty 45 degree water like some scuzzy motel from National Lampoons Vacation. They don't even try to provide a ladder, you have to rope your way down a line as if you're a freaking spider. They also put this pool so far down that you can hardly get any sun light. It must be over 400 feet below the rim trail we road in on.

The walkways are terribly narrow, covered in sand and rock if they aren't totally flooded. We had to make the best of a bad situation by repeating positive affirmations like "THIS IS AWESOME!" and "WOW! LOOK AT THAT!" After saying it twenty or thirty times a day for a week you just give up and point and grunt, "Cool".

Yes, you enter and swim this.

We found some snow on the way to see the "people of the mountains". Just what a couple of Minnesota couch potatoes, just out of winter, want to see on a trip to the desert is more freaking snow but seeing how awful everything was, this is to be expected.  We pull the Winter Fat Bikes out and go for a ride. Good thing we are eternal pessimists and can't leave the great white north without our trusty clown bikes.

Trails for riding a normal bike are so poor they have to paint a line on the rocks just so you don't ride off a cliff or get lost in the miles of flowing rock. It's called "SlickRock" because some flat-lander from Nebraska put steel shoes on a horse and then guided it to one of the many parks at the bottom of rain gutter and slid all the way there. What a putz. Should have called the stone "SillyHorseman". That would be a better trail name anyway seeing how everyone on this thing is riding an aluminum steed. The trail doesn't have any dirt, it's all rock. You roll from one formation to the other for hours without any dirt! Who makes a trail without dirt! I suppose if all you have is miles of pristine flowing rock you make Lemonade from the lemons you're dealt.  Ups and downs are like 12 pitch roofs and the grip is about the same. I would have been bored to tears if it wasn't for the constant challenges of high speed downs and crippling hills mixed between all the technical pinches at the bottom. I think I broke my bike about this time. I have it in the shop getting fixed so that's just dandy. Josh popped his tire on a ride so we both had a lovely time.

Other trails required that I just carry my bike. That's super fun! I'm kidding, I didn't carry my bike, I pushed it. In June I'm going to go to North Dakota and carry my bike on the Maah Daah Hay trail but that's a different post.

Lets talk camping. It isn't very good. Obviously, I didn't enjoy the solitude and clear star filled sky. I mean, we were car camping and that means we need to be 12 feet from the next person's tent like a couple of kids in the backyard. We couldn't see anyone from our camp and for that matter, never even saw a car. We were all alone, in the middle of nowhere and next to a huge cliff overlooking another park at the bottom of the drain. I never saw one ranger checking in to make sure we paid our camping fee and asking if we were enjoying our stay. I don't think Utah cares where we camp!
 The upper left photo is under a tree at a way-side rest. It was raining a bit so the tree was shelter.

It was a lot of hard work. We worked from 9am to 9pm everyday with no time off. We were trying to find something to hold our attention. We failed. We'd find something and then a few minutes later we were already down the trail to something else. I guess we may need to bring a radio, right Josh? (inside comment) Anyway, we found a ton of stuff but we never did find everything. We still have a huge list of things that may be of interest, maybe not, but next year I'll drag myself out to see if they've made improvements.

You know the only good thing  about the entire time is getting to wear Gorge Boots. They are possibly the best footwear I've ever owned.

Videos are nice. Lets end with that.

Josh swimming out of typical slot.

This is Kiva. From what I understand it's a living space. I'm shooting video from the doorway because it's posted to stay out.

1 comment:

  1. Great post brother! that was one hell of a trip, looking forward to next year