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mtbr dismember
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It's still a bit early to ride the high country at Tahoe so I headed to Arizona for some high altitude riding on The Arizona Trail on the north side of the Grand Canyon. When I arrived at the trailhead at about 6:30 am it was 34 degrees with a light mix of rain and sleet, and the winds were near gale force. Although this was prime hypothermia weather, I had most of the necessary clothing. I failed to bring my Gortex socks so I used some plastic grocery bags as shoe liners. I pretty much gave up the idea of doing the entire trail, an out and back to the National Park boundary, which would be over 40 miles, all between 8,400 - 9,000 ft. There were near constant winds of 20 - 30 mph, and occasional gusts to probably 50 mph, which knocked me around a few times. However, once in awhile the sun peeked out and the winds subsided, so I kept going, hoping the sun would eventually stay out and the winds would die down. The sun eventually came out for much of the ride, but the winds never stopped, and thoughts of hypothermia were never far from my mind. The winds were especially strong and cold in the open valleys, so I tried to clear them as quickly as possible.

After about two hours my right eye fogged up, something that has been happening occasionally in cold weather for the past 18 months. So far nobody has been able to diagnose the problem. But it hasn't stopped me yet. At 13 miles I reached the east rim of the Grand Canyon and it actually felt warm for awhile. So I decided to push on. I felt pretty good as I reached the national park boundary at about 21 miles. My alternative emergency plan, if necessary, was to ride back via the paved highway out of the park. But I felt pretty confident I could return the way I came. I was moving pretty fast to get through one of those broad, windy valleys, when my chain snapped! Given my feeble mechanical skills, shaky hands, and the weather conditions, one could not imagine the absolute terror I felt at that moment. I tried to remain calm and carried my bike into the forest to try to get out of the cold wind. I had the proper tools, a "missing link", and a short coat hanger to hold the chain together while I worked on it. It would have been an otherwise fairly easy job sitting in my living room, but it took me awhile to fix it under these conditions.

Fixing the chain really buoyed my spirits and I made my way back much faster than the trip out, despite it being a bit more uphill. This is a beautiful, high altitude, pure XC trail, with virtually nothing technical. It is very well marked and under normal circumstances is probably pretty fast. However, the altitude made some of the climbs fairly difficult and slow for this old geezer. One disappointment however, is that the views of the Grand Canyon are pretty crappy. I suggest the Rainbow Rim Trail to the west for great, up close views of the Canyon. My main GPS batteries went out with about two miles to go but I brought a back-up and merged the tracks together using Topofusion. I can't get all the stats and merged tracks on one Garmin Connect activity so I put a Topofusion screen capture below. I took photos mostly only when the sun came out, so don't be fooled by those below. It was cold an windy!

Photos here.

 

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You've got grits, wherewolf! We did the Rainbow Rim trail awhile back on a much more temperate day, but I do remember the elevation. It is such a long drive to get into that area, makes sense to do more than one ride. Perhaps it would be worth revisiting this summer. Thanks for posting, and I'm glad you got your chain repaired and lived to ride another day.
 

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Some 411 please

My fiancé and I are going to be staying at the Kaibab Lodge this coming week and are looking forward to riding some of the AZ Trail. We'll likely want to ride 15-20 miles of the trails one of the days. Which part would you recommend the most? We're riding the Rainbow Rim two other days so Rim views aren't the priority, more so she wants to ride those meadows.

Thanks for sharing!
 

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DFL>DNF>DNS
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Nice job & great pics!! That picture of the Nat'l Park boundary was your 'end of the line' for the day? Bikes are allowed to continue on to the start of the North Kaibab Trail, right? My wife and I were just up there for the Annular Eclipse last weekend, so I was doing some mtb scouting as well!! The open meadows of the north rim are truly spectacular. Luckily for us we had temps in the low 70's!!
 

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My fiancé and I are going to be staying at the Kaibab Lodge this coming week and are looking forward to riding some of the AZ Trail. We'll likely want to ride 15-20 miles of the trails one of the days. Which part would you recommend the most? We're riding the Rainbow Rim two other days so Rim views aren't the priority, more so she wants to ride those meadows.

Thanks for sharing!
Well, this route is 25 miles, but it starts right from the lodge and takes you through all the meadows and the East Rim views too! I've attached both gpx and kmz track versions.

A good route in either direction, though I think counterclockwise is a bit better. And, you can take a left on to FR610 after the AZT downhill and connect back to the main road (AZ67) just South of the lodge, making a route in your desired mileage range.
 

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Do you have any other formatting? I can't read either. I like the idea of a loop......if its all trail.
 

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Do you have any other formatting? I can't read either. I like the idea of a loop......if its all trail.
Oh, you don't use a GPS or phone for following routes? I just assume these things. Unfortunately there is no map I could post up that would give you enough detail to find your way.

And, no, half the route would be on AZ67 and forest roads.

May just be better for you to have the folks at the lodge point you to the East Rim viewpoints, then just do an out-n-back to the park border or as far as you can go via the AZT/KPT. It's a stretch of trail you really should check out!
 

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Do you have any other formatting? I can't read either. I like the idea of a loop......if its all trail.
Riding both trails over 3 days will be great, the ride north from East Rim View it what you want to do on the AZT. You'll get into the meadows Crystal Spring 2 miles in is nice then its 5 miles to the park that would make a nice 14 mile out and back. You can always change your mind and take the easy way back on the road. Its pretty obvious you drive by the only road on the way to the trail.

Have fun.

Wherewolf thanks for posting, great pics.

Tim
 

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Great TR and adventure Wherewolf! With the exception of the tour companies like Western Spirit the AZ trail on the n. rim doesn't get ridden that much. The trail is much more primitive now that when it was built in 90-91. While not as dramatic as the views of Grand Canyon from the Rainbow Trail, geologically speaking, the E. Rim is spectacular: the Kaibab monocline lifts the same rock formations 4000' above the Marble Canyon platform defined by House Rock Valley and the Vermillion (condor land) and Echo cliffs are in the background. On a clear day you can see Navajo Mtn 100 miles to the ne.

And it was indeed a burly day in no. Arizona. An experienced long-distance runner died on the SF Peaks that day. Probably from exposure.
 
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