Friday, October 28, 2011

A week away from it all.....

This week felt like it would never come. It had been planned and rethought multiple times but finally I awoke in the great state of Utah on Sunday. Our good friend Skip and I had been throwing around the idea of making the trip to New Harmony to visit our friend Steve for a week of riding and eating. Making it happen was a little like herding cats....

We made the 650 mile trip from home to Steve's on Sat with a unique trip out through the southern Sierras that turned out to be a great idea on Skip's part as the fall colors were pretty amazing. Lots of people on the side of the road taking pictures throughout the trip down 395 to Mono lake.

395 outside of Mono Lake

The fall colors going over Monitor Pass( through the windshield:)
Hope Valley

It took us a solid 11 hours to make the trip, but overall it was pretty uneventful which is what you want from any driving adventure.
Sunday we awoke to beautiful day in Utah, the forecast was for somewhere around 80 degrees in St George which is where we decided to ride today. Sunday was our easy day, 30 miles on the Bear Claw Poppy, Barrel Roll, Sidewinder and Rim Runner trails. We had a great day riding these local trails that were new to Skip and I.

Skip on Barrel Roll

Steve on Sidewinder?
Monday brought another blue sky day in southern Utah. The loop for today was to be the Racecourse and Zen trails which were located not far from what we had ridden the previous day, in fact the Bear Claw Poppy trail was in sight for most of the day. These were great trails with a little bit of climbing and some killer descents, especially the Zen Trail, definitely one of my favorites to date. We took a bunch of video on these trails, but my dumb ass couldn't seem to get it to work correctly so we ended up with a lot of video of the ground and us sitting around talking.

Steve on Zen Trail.
Steve and Skip on Zen Trail

Tuesdays weather brought a chance of rain later in the day so we scrapped the idea of riding Thunder Mountain and Cassidy/Losee Canyon. We decided to stay local again and head up to a new trail called Gander off of Gooseberry Mesa. Steve's friend Holly joined us for the day so we had to be on our best behavior, and our game, as Holly is a really good rider even though she is relatively new to mountain biking. Gander started off with some switchbacks down and then rolled out along the rim of Gooseberry Mesa for 10 miles or so. We rolled along to the North Rim of Gooseberry and decided to head back, Steve and I had gotten just a few hours of sleep over the past couple of days and it was beginning to take it's toll. The views were amazing along this trails, I never get tired of  seeing the big country that is the great state of Utah.

Looking at Zion from Gander Trail
Holley on Gander

Trying to get artsy, next time I'll cut that tree down :)
Steve on Gander
Steve scared this guy right into my path!
Holly bringing it home

Wed saw us awaking to snow on the ground, a bit of a surprise given the sun and warm temps of the previous day. It turned out to be a bit of a lazy day. It was 2pm before we finally decided the sub 40 degree temps and 40 mph north wind was a good  reason to take the 2 mile drive over to the Kolobs for a hike along the Kolob Arch Trail.  It was a beautiful day and the wind was much tamer in the valley along the creek. We got about 6 miles in a couple of hours with much picture taking.  

The mighty Kolobs.

Fall in the Kolobs

Last remnants of last nights snowfall

Fall with a touch of spring

Water in the desert, always beautiful!

Thursday brought blue skies again and we decided to head off for Gooseberry Mesa as it would be a bit warmer than some of the surrounding areas, warmer being subjective, it was 37 when we started! Skip had wanted to try my Anthem out as he is looking for a replacement for his Moots so I was on the Flash, the first time since my crash and concussion in May. We had a great day, Steve took the GoPro on his Stumpjumper so it was nice for me to not have to worry about being responsible for today's footage, plus unlike my bikes we could mount it under his bars, a nice feature on a technical trail like Gooseberry where one wrong move could wipe it off the top of of your bars. We did all the trails around the mesa, it's only about 16 miles but it's a tough little ride with lots of short, steep slickrock climbs and drops, a real playground. 

Skip on the North Rim

Hey, a picture of me for once!

Out along the South Rim

Skip on Hidden Trail

Fri. we were off to do Little Creek Mesa out of Hurricane. This is a great set of trails, but judging from the lost souls out there you need to have a local, which lucky for us we did. This trail has been left natural with no paint to mark the way. Although the trail is more worn in then the last time I was here, it was still a bit rough for me to follow at times so Steve led the way for us. Skip was having a great day on the Anthem, I'm thinking Giant will be selling a bike when we get home.

The view from Little Creek Mesa

Skip at the mesa's edge.
The backside of Zion National Park, always in view.
Smiley face lichen!

One of the literally hundreds of ledges you ride at Little Creek

Although it's a bit of a journey, we all decided that making the haul to Thunder Mountain on the last day would be the ticket. The route we decided on was up the Cassidy Trail out past Lossee and Casto Canyons and up the Freemont Trail over to Thunder Mountain. We arrived a bit before 9 and it was coldddd, 34 degrees as we suited up, brrr! 

Pretty nice view for a bike path!

More bike trail porn

The previous weeks storm had dropped a bit of snow and we were a little worried that our drive might be for naught. We cruised up the paved trail to the Cassidy Trail and headed off. The boys were feeling the weight of the week and I was finally starting to feel better from not having ridden much the past couple of months so I took off at my own pace with their blessing.  The trail was pretty beat up from the horse traffic, much rougher than the last time I was here but overall in pretty good shape. The horsies are certainly widening the trail which is frustrating, apparently one trench isn't enough, they have to start another one right next to the first one.I forget the history of this trail and area, I believe that Butch Cassidy used this area to hide out after robberies.

Cassidy trail
Steve on the Cassidy trail

We met up at the bottom of Casto Canyon and rode up the frozen wash to the Freemont Trail, an OHV route that travels a good portion of Utah and Arizona I believe. The views from the Freemont were pretty good and it was a rippin gravel road decent to the Hwy.

Freemont Trail

Looking towards Bryce Canyon on the Freemont Trail
Skip decided he had enough for the day and headed back down to the car via the bike path for a nap I suppose, Steve and I continued up to the Thunder Mountain trailhead. We arrived at the trailhead and Steve told me to ride my own pace again, so off I went on what amounts to a roller coaster ride through some of the most scenic country the state has to offer. I was all alone and feeling pretty good so the trail flew by pretty quickly, I did stop to take some pictures and got a bunch of video for later editing.
All in all a spectacular day and a an amazing way to end the week.
Thunder Mountain
Thunder Mountain

Slumming it at Steve's house, not a bad view!
Skip and I got our crap together on Sat night and were out the door at 6:45 Utah time. We burned out Hwy 50 and made it home by 4pm, great trips with good people always rate high on my list.

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