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Departed Oct 10 around 3pm. We drove with a full car to Truckee for a leisurely dinner. We continued on to Winnemucca where we crashed for the night.

Back on the road about 9:30am on the 11th. An uneventful trip put us in Moab around 7:30pm. I’d forgotten about Mountain time so we lost an hour. After rapid unpacking, we headed over to McStiff’s for dinner. We checked out the new bookstore, but it was a bit of a disappointment with a limited stock.

Saturday we got a late start and headed over to Wall Street. I wasn’t too keen on climbing this trip as it was hardly worth bringing the gear for one day. Mike had forgotten the nature of climbing on Wall Street. The place was packed, as it was a weekend. We waited in line for unnamed, a 5.9 crack. Mike soon discovered the challenges of sandstone climbing as he contemplated a goodly run out while standing on sand ball bearings. Deciding that the better part of valor is discretion, we packed our bags and headed over to a bouldering area listed in the climbing guide. Unfortunately, I got turned around and we drove West rather than East. We did find some interesting Indian hierogryphics and got to watch some Jeeps start up the Moab rim trail.

We did see some Bighorn sheep on the side of the Moab highway. There were three of them just standing there eating. One had a sizable transmitter tied around his neck.

We decided to take the bikes out for a spin. We headed up to the park with the Slickrock trail. Climbing the hill was a good workout. We came back through town and discovered nice trails through some parks. We stopped at the Moab Diner for milkshakes than headed back to the hotel to wait for Lenore. After she was dropped off and settled in next door we all set out for dinner at McStiff’s. We did some shopping afterwards and I was able to find some jewelry for Edie.

Mike and Lenore went out for breakfast the next day. Terry arrived an hour later and went out herself. We all went shopping for food and supplies. We spent the afternoon on a long ride in the Arches Park. We parked at Balancing Rock and road down to the Delicate Arch area and out on one of the dirt roads. We found and photographed a Collared Lizard.

We picked up the Ford 150XL King Cab pickup on our return.

Day one of the ride (10/7) was complicated by Lenore having to await a FedEx package. Mike stayed with her and the truck. Terry and I drove Mike’s Subaru to the start of the Shaffer trail and left it as the road was blocked by a slide. Terry and I road down the Shaffer trail which had lots of flood damage, but most was easily ride able. The views were incredible.

All too soon we were at the bottom and heading past the junction with the road from Potash. We had lunch out at a lookout point overlooking the river far below. We had about 10 more miles to go (roughly 18 miles that day) which consisted of a dirt road that gently rolled up and down as it tracked the edge of the White Rim sandstone along the canyon on our left. We stopped frequently to walk out to the rim for a better look. At this point we were traversing roughly South with the La Sal mountain range on our left. Quite spectacular.

After a particularly exciting and long decent, Terry and I stopped and chatted in the Sun as we watched our camp (Airport C) across a small offshoot canyon and waited for Mike and Terry. We eventually rode across to camp and started dressing more warmly in case they were late. Just as the Sun was setting, the truck came flying over the small pass in the distance and came hurtling around the canyon. They arrived with little light left, but in plenty of time to get camp set up before it got cold. As it happened, the nights were generally not very cold.

A small desert fox kept stealing garments from Terry’s sleeping spot after dinner so that she had to keep after him with a flashlight.

Day two (10/8) was our longest at ~26 miles. I drove the first half which was similar in terrain to the first day. At points the road moves away from the rim so that one is able to move fairly quickly across a good road. Where a wash crosses the road, the banks tend to drop off sharply even if for six inches that makes rapid progress in the truck difficult.

Terry took over the truck at our lunch stop. After a few miles a trail branched off to White Crack camp. I headed down to have a look. White Crack camp sits on a bench with a rib heading South which divides two large valleys. The views were particularly spectacular on both sides. White Crack itself is a 10 foot split in the White Rim sandstone that allows a defunct jeep trail to snake down and eventually make its way to the Western valley floor. Quite a sight.

There were numerous pools of water in the sandstone, some 8 feet in diameter or better. These were filled with all sorts of creatures. The largest were about half an inch across and were a cross between a crab and a tadpole. I counted at least six species including some sort of shrimp.

Terry had driven the truck out so I threw my bike in for a ride back out to the main road. The spur had been very sandy and difficult to ride. The bulk of the rest of the way was similar to the first part of the day. The end was a road winding up Murphy’s Hogback. This finished with a steep stretch with small rock ledges which all of us just walked. This is one of the challenging spots for the trucks as the road visibility is difficult over the hood and the road bends slightly back and forth. The party behind us hit it at Sunset and had plenty of challenges getting up intact. We camped at Murphy’s camp C.

The next day started with a steep descent down the hogback. Not too challenging, but a good wakeup. The riding was fast with plenty of stops for viewing the canyon. Shortly before the hogback, we had swung first West and then North around Island in the Sky. We finished the day with plenty of daylight left at XXX camp A. Lenore and I road our bikes over to XXX to see what the next day had in store. We had to walk most of the way up. We explored the passage through several strata of rock and found petrified wood in one of the layers.

I drove the next day, which was a short one (~7 miles). Climbing XXX was interesting but not too challenging for the truck. Main danger is getting distracted and hitting the cliff while attempting to avoid the drop off. The road further along had more opportunities to hit the side. Some other riders’ road right up, but we all walked the bikes up.

The road traverses along a slope for a ways until the trail to Fort Bottom. Unfortunately the women had zoomed off down the descent so we had to pass on visiting it. The road went on a long descent down the side of the grade. At the bottom the road offered all sorts of fun. It passes through some small road cuts and narrows down which is probably mostly difficult for the truck. In other spots it runs through very sandy creek beds, which must have been interesting for the bikes.

We got to XXX camp quite early. It is sited right above the river with a 50-foot drop off at the camp boundary. It was windy when we arrived, but fortunately fell off later. It would have been an exposed unpleasant night otherwise.

Three of us road up Taylor canyon (5-6 miles), while Mike drove the truck behind. This road has lots of sand to negotiate. We all were happy to hitch a ride in the truck back. At the head of the road are a campground (Taylor) and a trail leading up to Moses and Zeus towers. We hiked up to circle Moses and gape at the climbing routes. Next year.

The last riding day is a seven mile drive up a fast road to the XXX switchbacks to the higher canyon rim. The switchbacks had been recently graded and the climb was just a grunt. Unfortunately, Lenore’s bike had been troubling her with shifting problems and had to be repaired half way up.

At the rim we threw the bikes in back of the truck and road the last 14 miles up the dirt road. It looked like a steady climb and if one were to do it then reversing the trip direction would be wise. We drove back up the main road to retrieve Mike’s car.

We got back early enough to unpack, get Lenore’s bike repaired, have lunch and then head up to do the Slickrock practice trail. Mike and Terry walked. I should have as my lunch was speaking to me the entire time and my thigh muscles were burning.

Terry and Lenore were gone before 8am on Saturday the 12th. Mike and I packed, did some shopping and then hit the road. We were again on the road at 9:30am. Mike did the lion’s share of driving and we didn’t stop until South Lake Tahoe that evening. Neither of us felt like dinner. We were back home before noon on Sunday.

Lessons learned:

1) I hadn’t expected to be capable of riding more than a few days and was prepared not to ride any due to back issues. Instead, I rode for seven days straight without any back pain. My horizons have been broadened.
2) Up until this trip I thought riding 20 miles on a mountain bike would be a huge challenge. Mike found even the 26 mile day reasonable. With some training, doing the trail in two or even one day looks doable.
3) I got injured twice. Once I was thrown off my bike a high speed attempting to rush through a sandy section. The front tire turned 90 degrees and I went flying. While not hurt, the impact left me somewhat stunned later in the day. On a hill climb I had started to dismount when my front tire hit a 6” ledge. My chain ring came up and sliced open my knee to the bone.

I was the only one who had accidents on the trip. I’m going to acquire and wear knee and shin protection to avoid the leg cuts. Not sure how to avoid airborne incidents as I’d either have to ride more conservatively or get better.

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Copyright © 2008 Art Beckman. All rights reserved.

Last Modified: March 9, 2008