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5435 Views 53 Replies 34 Participants Last post by  Oceans05
Several weeks of real winter and difficult (if any) riding conditions prompted Skippy and I to plot a brief escape to pseudo-spring. We pointed the car west and put this in the rearview.

Saw lotsa this along the way.

Fiveish hours of mellow, ice-free driving brought us into a valley shaped, at least in part, by the Virgin River. Knowing we had extremely limited daylight, and fueled by a severe shortage of recent on-dirt time, we headed straight to the most easily accessed trailhead. Stepping out of the car we found dry dirt under our feet, rock and desert veg all around us, and smiles on our faces.


We suited up in short minutes and were immediately wending our way through the creosote, cacti and chamisa. Destination? We didn't need one--we were here.

By any standard the illumination we had this evening was exceptional. Wispy low clouds diffused the warm, angular light, while the amber rock absorbed and amplified it. More than once I caught myself stopped, feet on the ground, arms draped, mouth agape, just gawking at the landscape spread before us. Sure it was good to see dirt and rock and color instead of shades of grey and white, but this, THIS went way beyond a change of scenery.

This was, as I said, exceptional.

A lack of consistent riding these past several weeks left our legs unsure of how to respond to all we asked of them. Crank then coast? Sure, fine. Perch and grind? Um, not for long. Due to the complaints of our legs and the sweetiousness of the too-brief evening, we kept it mellow and just enjoyed what came.

Zero wind, deliciously uncold air, and the warmth of the visible (visible I say!) low sun drew us out of winter mode faster than we expected. I didn't even know I'd been *in* winter mode--I needed the silly gaping grin pasted on my face to make me understand.

I zoomed in on Skippy's face while composing a shot and noticed that he, too, was grinning. Possible that it was a grimace, but I'd bet on the former.

We chose this trail merely for simplicity of access. We were rewarded with far more than we expected, or even hoped for.

Not wanting to push our luck, we wrapped it up before full dark.

Can't speak for Skippy but I felt like I could have gone home, satisfied already, from just these two hours out on the bike.

Fortunately, we had three more days to spend.

Stay tuned.

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Great post and pics. Look forward to the rest of your post about your trip to "there". :)
Trippin' too

The road to dirt and sun.

We stopped in Beaver for some Cache Valley Cheese Curds. This man definitely had the right idea.

We finally got to some dry dirt and rock. With enough light to get in a quick ride, we wasted no time in getting onto our bikes.

After four weeks of riding in more wear than I can stand, it was nice to just put on a short sleeve jersey and hit the trail. Mike didn't make the conversion so quickly.

We were treated to a warm sunset as we returned to the sleigh.

The lift to my spirits was evident as the sun sank below the horizon.
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Excellent Mike, I always look forward to your words and picture. I seen this link on my phone and knew I couldnt open it until I got home to see the pics on my wide screen. Thanks again!
great photos! i am very jealous New Jersey its about 20 degrees.
Sweet pics! Keep em coming!
Thanks for allowing me to escape the Front Range snow vicariously through your posts, guys. I am more in the mood for some Utah desert this winter than I have been in several winters. Already planning my spring trips.
What are those strange garments you guys are wearing? It almost looks as if you have skin exposed.

Great pics, looking forward to the next installment.
Looks great, thanks for posting. I got my desert fix in a couple weeks ago. It was quite refreshing.
Beautiful colors!
All we seem so see for the last month and a half are different shades of grey and looking at these makes for a really welcome change.

Allowing oneself to be in-the-moment seems like a pretty simply concept; threads like this remind me that it is indeed a life long ambition.

Day one looks like Church Rocks? Terrific light, indeed. Looks like it wasn't wasted.

Looking forward to the rest of your trip.

I'm hoping for a trip to St. George over the MLK weekend. Can't wait.
What trail is that if you don't mind sharing?
Breakable said:
The road to dirt and sun.

Thanks for the Trippin and for Trippin too, great photos.

Breakable...... Is that the San Rafael Swell on I-70 ? It's been years since I was there.

With chips, please?

The last quarter mile of dirt road up to the Guacamole trailhead is on the steeper side. More importantly, it's tucked up against a north-facing rock wall, and doesn't get any sun this time of year. While the rest of the road was pretty well dry and smooth, this last bit was a sheet of lumpy ice. On a hill. Next to a cliff.

I started this trip with a newfound confidence in my car's AWD and ABS capabilities. This confidence was the direct result of an abundance of snowpacked and icy roads (and parking lots...) at home, combined with my own keen interest in finding the limits of said AWD and ABS systems. For me, the week before leaving looked a lot like this:
(Not me, not my car, not my vid, etc...)

Our only attempt at driving up the road was aborted at the crux move, as all 4 tires spun and forward progress turned suddenly to sideways progress. I backed the car down (Skippy was all-too-happy to get out and walk, under the pretense of giving direction), parked, then we unloaded the bikes and rode easily up.

Up top we found clean, dry rock, staggering views, an occasional ice-filled pothole, and an otherwise empty trail.

Traction on the rock was outstanding, prompting us to attempt and execute several, um, interesting sequences that probably should have waited until MUCH later in the day--when we'd finally found our feet again.

We'd been told that the trail was short--a mere 8 miles comprised the entire loop. But we knew better: the 'entire loop' merely scratched the surface of an ocean of seemingly virgin and interconnected rock.

Sometimes our exploring was necessary--it's easy to lose the thread of the 'real' trail and once you've lost it you need to circle out until you stumble back onto it. But more often we'd see an interesting feature and head over (if possible) to check it out.

It was emphatically a slow-speed, rock-crawling, on-the-ground kind of day. That's the kind of riding I prefer, and although I felt rusty and a bit disconnected from the bike, I was at least within my comfort zone.

Skippy, on the other hand, was not in a happy place. It's not that he's bad at rock crawling--he's actually really good at it. It's just that he prefers speed, and air, and, if possible, more air. He never really found his groove on this day, stacking hard once on a committing gap move and spending the rest of the day delicately limping around.

As with the previous evening, there was no real rush to get anywhere, nor to cover ground just for the sake of it. We rode, we scoped, we gawked at the gawkables. And, at least one of us wondered how the trail came to be named as it is.

Sunset threatened a little earlier than we had hoped, prompting me to ask (rhetorically, of course) when I had last burned 6 hours on a mere "8 miles" of trail?

Rhetorical question notwithstanding, I answered myself aloud if only to underscore the obvious: Too damn long ago!

As the sun slid lower we grudgingly yet cheerfully turned tail and headed from whence we'd come.

Back at the motel we feasted on a disgustingly blissful combo of freeze-dried lasagna, tortilla chips, Oreos, dark chocolate gelato, jalapeno cheese curds, winter-harvest huckleberries, and Nuun.

Downright heavenly.

Two more days to go...

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mikesee said:
It was emphatically a slow-speed, rock-crawling, on-the-ground kind of day. That's the kind of riding I prefer, and although I felt rusty and a bit disconnected from the bike, I was at least within my comfort zone.
Good Stuff!:thumbsup:
One thing this front range winter has made me realize. Some down time is essential. Been hiking above treeline in RMNP an effort to renew my love for the big wheels and desert and to keep the lungs and legs optimal. After trudging through 3 foot snow drifts on a beautiful sunny day this past weekend, I look at these pictures as something so foreign and exotic that I'm plotting and angling as if it was the first time I saw pics of the west and had yearned to know more. These days will come again and I will be all the better when I fall into the first yucca of the season. Thanks
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