Utah Weekend – JEM, Goosebumps

Our final day of the weekend trip had me waking up to stiff legs.

The view from the front door.

We both desired to get back home at a reasonable time, so we opted for something efficient and fun. After breaking camp we parked at the JEM trailhead at the base of Gooseberry Mesa.

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I need “More Cowbell”

The last time I rode your when doing this as part of the Hurricane Rim Loop that consists of the Goulds Rim, JEM and Hurricane Cliffs trail. Since then there has been a lot if trails added in this area, it is now its on system.

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Look at this little fellow

We ended up riding JEM, More Cowbell, Dead Ringer, Goosebumps, Cryptobionic, and some of the JEM Loop Route. (Not in that order) What a fun time we had. After a celebratory beer it was time to get back to the land of playing working stiff. It was another great adventure in Utah!

Utah Weekend – Grafton Mesa

Day Three took us out to Grafton Mesa which I had heard lots of awesome stuff about but had never been out on.

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Sean on More Money

Grafton did not disappoint.

Sean on Show Me The Money

Sean on Dig-It!

We also did the Pigs In Space and Meanderthal trails along with a portion of Reach Around.

Free skin treatment

You know you are some good trails when they come with exfoliation services.

The drop in spot.

We did not take the techno-gnarly trail off the mesa as we had not made any shuttle arrangments and were not feeling up for major dirt road grindage to get back up on the mesa. Clearly I will have to go back!

Utah Weekend – Little Creek Mesa

Day Two had out at one of my all time favorites in the area, Little Creek Mesa. Sean had ridden one of the loops out here, but had not been out to the point so I was more than happen to do some showing around.

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One of my happy places

We started out in the main loop and worked out way out the the western rim of the mesa.

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Western Rim of Little Creek Mesa

We then worked out way out the North Point.

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Looking at Gooseberry Mesa from the North Point of Little Creek Mesa.

From the North Point we continued on around and hooked up with Magic Carpet Ride.

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Magic Carpet Ride and long shadows.

Back at camp we enjoyed tasty beers before working on some bourbon while solving world hunger. Well maybe not world hunger, but may have put a dent in the bikes in wilderness issues. Ugh maybe it was which sections of the Pacific Crest Trail should be open to bike.

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Yummy Bourbon!

One thing we certainly did figure out. It did not suck to be us on this day.

Utah Weekend – Wire Mesa

Man did I have great weekend near Hurricane Utah. Sean was out on an excursion in Utah with RV, his dirt bike and some MTB action on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. We set Apple Valley as our rally point and we were soon off to Gooseberry Mesa to find a place to park the RV for the weekend.

The view from the front door of the RV.

After setting up the RV we had enough time left in the day for a ride so we hit up nearby Wire Mesa.

Wire mesa with Zion in the background
Sean on Wire Mesa with Zion National Park in view
Views from Wire Mesa
Views from Wire Mesa
More views of Wire Mesa
More views from Wire Mesa

The Wire Mesa trail does lots of bobbing and weaving right along the rim of the mesa. The trail seems longer than it actually is. The views are just great.

We pretty much used all of the remainder of the day. It was a great opener ride.

Little Creek Mesa – Day 3

I woke up to the sounds of Coyotes yipping it up with all of their friends in the wee hours of the morning.   One of the coyotes sounded like he was right outside of tent.  I could hear the other end of the conversation way off in the distance, so evidently the fellow near me had to put a little extra spank on his call to get there.   It was still dark out and after Mr. Coyote moved on, I got another hour or two of shuteye before getting up for good.   Here was the view of Casa Del Bill for the weekend.

 
After seeing a few “new-to-us” forks in the trail and cairn stacks yesterday we decided that we would ride a second day here instead of hitting up a different location.   It certainly made the logistics easier by not having to break camp and pack up before heading out for a ride.    Cook up some breakfast and hit some trails straight out of camp was the plan.

Little Creek Mesa once again did not disappoint. We found our way over to the stuff we had seen the day before and we were soon on some nice stuff not on our map.

I later did find the trails on some other maps where it was listed as something along the lines of “The Alternate Loop”.   It is a fantastic alternate.

I like the way the photo above came out as I think it captures one of cool aspects of riding on the huge sections of rock on the mesa.   You are routinely scanning for the route, looking and chasing rock and looking for lines across and through the fields of slick rock.   It is a form mental engagement with the trail that is hard to come by on different forms of topology.

While scoping along our route, we came across sizable rock overhang that required an assessment of its chilling out worthiness.   Oh its most worthy!  This area we were was marked with cairns but was to later not be found on any of the maps/resources I have.

Talk about a tough way to make a living.   This small pine tree is literally between a rock and a hard place.   You see this often out on the mesa and it pretty to cool to see how life is going to find a way.

One of the section of the mesa we were on was quite fun and required quite a bit of route finding as we went along.   The picture above is looking back at the direction we came from.   We realized we would have more ups than downs on the way back.

This was the view off the edge of the mesa we had ridden down to.   The view did not suck.   From here we would trace our way back to camp and start getting packed up for the return trip home.   I pulled back into the garage at home at roughly 10pm.   This was a pretty easy there and back kind of weekend with some quality trail time from sure.   I tend to forget just how accessible this area from San Diego.    I need to make more trips here.

Little Creek Mesa – Utah Day 2

Day two of the quick Utah weekender started off by waking up on Little Creek Mesa.   Both Bill and I are Scotch and Bourbon fans so we both brought some offering from our collections to share around the campfire.    I was clearly too enthusiastic with the barrel aged goodness that night and I found myself having a rough go of getting started in the morning.    Luckily it was a short commute to the trailhead 🙂

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I love this mesa, the slick rock, the vistas, single track, it just sooooo good.

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One of the first spots along the main loop that comes out onto the western rim of the mesa.

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Gooseberry Mesa out across the valley.

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Good stuff and good views along the main loop.   There are a few spots where you don’t want to wildly blow a turn.

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At the junction of the north loops and the main loops, a flash gathering of the Yeti tribe happened.   The two Santa Cruz riders in the group took the pictures.

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Cruising along out near the North Point.

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I dig how this rock formation looks like some kind of ape skull with the way the light is on it.

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More slick rock awesomeness.   While on our way back to camp we saw a few lines of cairns heading off in directions we had not been before.   We decided then and there we would come back and check that out tomorrow vice dealing with additional logistics of going someplace else and bringing down camp.

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After the main ride for the day, we did some poking around at other spots on the mesa.   We came across this “Waterglyph”.   According to my readings, these were made by the Anasazi inhabitants in the timeframe of 900-1200AD.    While most like they have nothing to do with water, there are some interesting theories on their use.  Solstice markers, prayer shrines and bird of prey snares were just some of the more intriguing theories.  There seems to be plenty of debate among the theories.   You can find some the resources used at Waterglyphs.org and Dixie Rock Art.  I think next time I head out here I’m going chase down an archeology/rock art enthusiast with a MTB problem or a Mountainbiker with a archeology/rock art problem to show us around.

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Once back at camp, we were devising plans for the following day, eating huge tasty camp burgers and enjoying tasty spirits.

Quick Weekender – Guacamole

Last weekend, Bill O’Neil and I got in a quick weekender in St George, Utah.  This is not our first rodeo for a roadtrip so most of the planning came down to the “You bring the usual, I’ll bring the usual.  Meet at the usual spot.   What time?”   So with all that intricate planning done we were headed north on Friday morning.

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We made really good time and were rolling through, Huricane, La Verkin and into Virgin by early afternoon.    The destination for the afternoon ride was Guacamole Mesa.  We had ridden here a couple of years ago and were itching to get back out here.   Above is the view from where we parked on the mesa.

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It was a fabulous day out in the low-mid 70s.   In the valley below is Dalton Wash Road that we came in on.

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View that don’t suck.    I love the nice combinations of singtletrack dirt trails, up/downs, slick rock, mesa views it just a great buffet of the stuff I love about this area.

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Near the south end of the mesa on the Holy Guacamole trail.  The trail names are all pretty cool and themed;  Margarita, Lime, Salt-On-The-Rim and of course Guacamole.

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More mesa goodness.

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A great time of the year to be out here.  Lots of the flora has thier springtime happy face on.

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Zion National Park is the backdrop to the north and east.

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There are some cool rock formations to ride through around and over.    The trail can be technical enough that the views can be thier own hazard.  Sometimes its best just to stop and take a look around.

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Riding on the slickrock (equestrians came up with that term – it really should be called griprock) is always fun and I enought the route finding aspet of following the trail.    Finding and chasing cairns is demension of riding out there that I find quite in enjoyable.

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Of course when you have a whole field of this stuff sometimes freeforming on the rocks are a ton of fun as well.    (There is a waldo in shot above).   After knocking out this ride we head over to Little Creek Mesa where we setup for camp for the next couple of days.  And enjoyed some tasty beverages and camp food.

The Good Water Rim Trail

Man, I got back from vacation and found a mountain of work had piled up while I was gone so it has been a bit slow getting my pictures and thoughts together on that last trip.  But I have managed to get a page put together on the first stop on my most excellent jaunt through Utah and Colorado.

The Good Water Rim Trail in “The Wedge” area of the San Rafael Swell was an awesome opener.

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The Chasing Aspens Tour

I just got back from a 10-day jaunt where I did some riding in Utah and Colorado.   I meet up with some old friends, made some new ones and rode some bucket list quality trails that are already on my Top … list.  Riding in the aspens during the brief window that they are turning has been on my list for a long time.   So when a slow-down in my work schedule along with a tip-off on the aspens turning coincided I pulled the trigger.  I packed my truck with camping gear, two bikes, fly-fishing gear, every map and guide book of the regions I owned along with a cooler full of enough San Diego microbrew cans, bottles and growlers to keep half a dozen people chilling for a week .   After stuffing my laptop and GPS with tracks and waypoints I headed out.   I had some general ideas but my schedule was not set more than 2 days out and it was all subject to change.   This was going to be a very loosey goosey  vacation.   Just have a great time, see beautiful country and ride good stuff.  This trip really did turn out to be something I am going to be talking about for years to come.  I have many gigabytes of photos to sort through and hopefully I can gather up the right words to articulate in a meaningful way just what a life enriching experience each one these places were.  For now here is a quick recap of what my on-the-fly itinerary turned out to be.

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Day 1: I did a full day of driving to the San Rafael Swell in the eastern part of Utah where I setup camp in a area known as “The Wedge” on the edge of The Little Grand Canyon.

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On Day 2, I did a dawn patrol ride along the Good Water Canyon Rim Trail where I enjoyed some great scenery and some high quality on the edge singletrack.  Afterwards I broke camp and did another sizable drive to Winter Park, CO to met up with my old friends Kevin and JD and met Greg and Barb.   I would be crashing at Greg’s house for the next two nights.

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Greg owns a trail design and construction business and the next day I was treated to some of the local goods that he played a major part in bringing to life.  This was also my welcome to high-country Colorado riding day and boy was the top elevation of around 11,000 feet a wake up call to my sea-level lungs.  The aspens were awesome!

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On Day Four we did a point to point ride from the Vail Pass Summit to Minturn on the Bowman Shortcut trail and the Two Elks trail.   Oh my what a great trail and with some good technical riding. This trail really made you use pretty much your entire range of on-the-ground technical skillsets.  I was blown away by the beauty of this ride.   We enjoyed some tasty post-ride grub and beers in Minturn.

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Afterwards we heading back up to Vail Pass summit and then further up a forest service roads to Shrine Pass where my and Kevin’s truck were at. When we got there I noticed there was a fire ring already setup not far from my truck.  The views were great so I did not even move the truck.  I pulled up out the gear and setup camp for the evening at 11,100 feet.  The rest of the trip would follow this same kind of short-tem decision making.

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On Day Five, I traveled south and rode the trails around Twin Lakes. Part of the loop I did was also the Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail.   After the ride, and a review of the weather forecast,  I continued south and camped near Poncha Springs.

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On Day Six, I grabbed a shuttle out of Poncha Springs and  did the Monarch Crest Trail along with Silver Creek and the Rainbow trails.   An IMBA Epic, this ride was 32.5 miles long with 2,200 feet of climbing and 6,600 feet of descent with the highest elevation being above treeline flirting with 12,000 feet.   The numbers are meaningless in comparison to the experience.

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On Day Seven I took a rest day by fly-fishing in Salida on the Arkansas River.   It had been about 14 years since I last fly-fished for trout.  I should have checked my wading boots a little better before the trip because about 3/4th of a mile down the river the soles disintegrated loose from the uppers and floated away down the river.  This made for both a comical and gingerly return back to my truck.   I am reminded that it is called fishing and not catching so their was no trout dinner for me.  It was still a great morning of standing in a river waving a stick.   That afternoon I enjoyed a beautiful drive to Crested Butte and setup camp.

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On Day Eight, I rode the 401 trail loop starting right from camp.   This is a mountain bike classic trail and it did not disappoint.  The fall colors were majestic and I have already put a return trip on the list to ride this trail again in the summer when the hillsides are covered with wildflowers.

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On Day Nine, I rode the Doctor Park trail.  Awesomeness was the prescription of the day.  The long middle section of the descent of this ride through the turning aspens is one of the best bits of flowing single track bliss I have experienced.  A handful of the folks from Team B.O.B (Babes on Bikes) and I think of subgroup of the Shreddin Betties that I had met on the 401 trail the day before were also doing this trail.  Turns out some of them were friends with Barb, Greg and Kevin so we swapped some stories over beers at the lower trailhead for a while.  Good times. The afternoon/evening of day nine was going to be a drive to Flagstaff or Show Low Arizona but I did not account for the mountain pass driving and construction so I only made to Cortez.   On the morning of Day 10, I thought about riding Phil’s World there in Cortez but opted to knock out the drive.  I am going to make a separate trip at some point for the Cortez and Durango experience.  One thing that was interesting that morning on deciding to ride or drive, I realized that I was completely satisfied with this trip.  My MTB soul cup was full,  life was good and it was time to head home.

Utah Weekend – Little Creek Mesa

Our last day of the Utah weekend found us rolling out of the hotel at a pretty descent time and headed out to Little Creek Mesa with a pit-stop at River Rock Roasters  for some caffeine and sandwiches for a mesa-top lunch.  I have ridden Little Creek several times before and this place is just great.  It has pretty much everything I want in a trail.  There is plenty  flowing singletrack with technical goodies.  Huge vistas that start right at your feet , rock slabs to play on with features big and small, and nature’s beauty all around you.  It also has a feel of being far and away and the route finding you have to do (even with the aid of a GPS) offers a kind of mental engagement that I love in a trail.

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We started out on the main loop and soon found ourselves playing on rock slabs with Zion National Park in the background.

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With all of the rain over the last handful of days there was plenty of water pooled up in the depressions in the rocks.  The big rock slabs gave way to forested single track that was just awesome with the fresh scent of moisture.

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I was not expecting to see snow on the mountains west of St George.  I just don’t see how the views from this mesa could ever get old.

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“The Hot Tub” along the western rim of Little Creek Mesa.  This was one helluva spot for snacks.

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The rain had lots the cacti blooming.

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Better to look than to touch.

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The main loop took out to the fork for the North Point loops. There are some sweet bits of single track goodness as you head out to the North Point with Gooseberry Mesa typically in the background.

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I had ridden this thing a couple of times before but failed to notice the gap this slab went across until this trip.  I guess I was too focused on where I was going.

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The same gap after it opens up a bit.   What an amazingly gorgeous day!   Once back out to the main mesa  we enjoyed a bit of route finding as there seemed to be cairns here, there and sometimes seemingly no where.  You could play out here all day.

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Our playing around eventually took us to “The Waterfall”, one of the iconic features of the mesa.  This was my first time doing the waterfall with actual water around.  I dug how the water showed the line I took. The dark line on the slab is the rear tire while the much fainter line to the right of it is the front wheel.  Here is a shot from a previous trip that shows the led in.  We took the Magic Carpet Ride trail back to the trailhead.   After leisurely enjoying some refreshments and more snacks we had to lament about the reality of still having day jobs and the continual puzzle of how to grow old without growing up.    Considering that we spent that last few days playing in the dirt and riding bicycles we had scored points for neither growing old or growing up this weekend.   That shit would have to wait until tomorrow.