Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Yee-haa Utah

Ride the White Rim Trail.

The White Rim Trail is Utah's ultimate multi-day party trail. The trail is a 103-mile loop on a jeep road through Canyonlands National Park. Technically, this trail is fairly easy. But the length (and a few stiff 1000 foot climbs) means you need to be in good condition to do the whole thing.

Deathrider, his son, BreakTime, Mayor, ONeil and I drive the 20 hours to ride the rim and then bash around Moab, UT for 3 days and get our fill of food, fun and phucking off. After 4 days of rugged riding and primitive camping we are ready for fresh food and the comforts of car camping. 

Day zero we make our normal stop in Fruita, CO. After 18 hours of constant driving we are eager to stretch our legs and get some reward for swinging drivers every few hours throughout the night.

We mount up and ride HorseThief Trail and get caught out in the rain.

The rain is starting

We all rush back to the truck. BreakTime flats and we cram a tube in and are off in minutes. Everyone else rolls in hot, wet and happy for the ride but chagrined at the rain.

A few muddy minutes later and the truck is loaded and 6 wet guys are steaming up the truck and smelling like low tide but we need to get to Moab to meet the 7th member of our crew, lets call him, Durango. Tonight after dinner we meet the 8th. Lets call him Birkie after the ski race. 

Below: Morning at Horsethief State Park, rain soon to follow and we are delayed hours.
 After a 2 hour delay the sky's clear and we are a short ride from the start of the White Rim Trailhead.
Below: Right out of the gate O'Neil's tire blows in spectacular fashion. Yep, he's pissed.
 Everyone tried to help but it's not helping and Otty is furious so we back up and let him deal with it.
 Awaiting for us is 19 miles of greasy, muddy slop. The mud messes up the gear.

Coast down the first of several 1000 foot hills. We enjoyed this so much we climb it just for the fun of coasting down a second time.

Day one started slow because of the rain and we expected a hard day but as it turned out we covered the 28 miles and still had play in our legs and minds so we ride up a road to see something called "zeus and moses"

Below: In the very far background is a finger of rock. That's Zeus, Moses right next and shorter.

Durango and Breaktime at Moses
Below: Early the next morning we pack up camp and this time it's proper desert weather, HOT!
Today we have 22 miles of mostly uphill with short steep climbs. We are all about to take a beating.

We stop and take a side hike out to a ruins. It's very old, dry stacked, two room villa. Maybe 1300 years old. It's on top of a mesa [Portuguese for table] that overlooks a huge oxbow in the Green River.
Following the trail lower we find an old house that is maybe depression era or a bit older.

After 3 hours of hiking and taking in the views of the Green River we have to get riding and get camp set up for the night. It's probably time to say we have a truck hauling our gear. We call it "The SAG" for Support And Gear. If it wasn't for Durango and his truck this trip would be a lot different. The road is very rugged at times and a high clearance 4x4 is required to haul water and gear. Water isn't available on the entire 100 mile long trail so you have to plan to be self supporting.

4 more hours of riding mostly uphill we arrive at Murphy-Hogback camp. We all have dinner and hang out and talk under the bright light of the nearly full moon.
Day 3. By now we are settled into life on the trail. All of us are feeling good so the speeds are high and we make it to camp in record time, about 5 hours, and with so much time left we ride into Laythrop Canyon.

That still wasn't enough so after we set up tents and had a little rest. Three of us headed down Laythrop Canyon to see if we could swim in the, now, Colorado River. It's muddy so we get to rinse off a little but it's not a nice place to swim.

Below is the full crew of riders on the last night. Airport rock is behind us. Left to right it's Birkie, Breaktime,O'Neil, Deathrider, JuniorDeath, ArcFlash, Durango and the Mayor.

6:45a.m. is much better when you are not under a rain fly. I got this view at least 4 times.

The last day requires that we ride up the 1200 foot , Shaffer Hill. It takes me about 28 minutes. I catch up to Durango at the top. We turn and coast down to re-ride with the others. Waiting around sucks more then climbing a hill so I climb 150% of this.
On my way back I catch Death and his kid on the second to last switch back. They are feeling strong.
An impromptu photo op. 3 riders kept going but I'm riding strong and catch them soon.
I take this photo while I ride by at no less than 20 miles an hour. I'm shocked it turned out and in frame.
The White Rim trail is complete but the trip is only on day 4 of 9 so we are on our way to Moab to do some classic rides like SlickRock, Porcupine Rim and a few Canyons.
Setting up in Sand Flats campground and the heavy car camping gear is obvious. We have twice the gear and mostly fresh chow from the local food mart.
Next, we drop into Morning Glory with two new canyoneers, BreakTime and Birkie.
Death jumps over the water to a tiny sandbar but it's mud. He looses his shoe and has to dig it out.
Breaktime gets his "Master of Stone" merit badge for the chimney moves in a wide slot.
Double 100 foot repels, one free hanging and we hand out the handshakes with pride to our two new canyoneers. Breaktime is now on the short list to be a member of the "stag horn diners club" and outdoor venture group.

We hike out of the canyon and the group splits. Two guys do not have packrafts so they grab the bikes from the truck and ride off into town for a casual afternoon of personal R and R.

The 4 remaining guys raft out and down 7 miles of rivers. We have a blast with the small class 2. Our boats are so small that even full class 3 would be a swim at our skill. We scream with joy at huge waves so maybe 2 to 2 1/2 foot standing waves.

Death almost losing his boat. He he he!

After we get soaked rushing down the small class 2 rapids for 3 hours, 2 of us ride back to the truck and it's not long before we are back in town and dinner is forming up to be a mess of bratwurst. We get three packages, buns and sauerkraut. Enough for everyone because by this point in the trip you can always eat and I'm not going to look my buddies in the face and say we don't have enough to share.
The next day it's Porcupine Rim and its 11 miles downhill after a 9 mile hill climb. It's tough and we are all beat up from the trip and we have to push at times. It's not long and I fall and break my nose, I think.

At the top of the mountain. We are about to coast for the next 11 miles but the trail is almost as burly as the ride up and I almost crash twice when I fail to stick my landing after a big drop.
The last day and all of us hit a canyon close to camp so that we can get the most of the last day.

It's a rolling canyon that isn't very technical so everyone gets a taste of technical skills without a lot of exposure. A few hours later and we are expecting the end of the canyon. What we get are a series of swimming holes.

And a water slide.

That's it for the trip and possibly the longest post I've ever written. I've been adding to it for 4 days and many hours. It's difficult to really write the stories for such a long trip when most of the actives are long relaxing days in the saddle in such a beautiful part of the country. To recap some of the views I've compiled a 5 minute video by stitching many short clips together. I hope you find it interesting.

Below is an album of all the photos I didn't use but wanted to post for friends. I told everyone I'd share the photos but with 1200 and a lot of 'duds' I'm just going to embed many of the useful ones here for anyone to look at. Be sure to click them for the larger format.

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