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Old 03-10-2011, 02:34 AM   #1
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One Week in Utah

This is a brief write-up of my trip to the Moab area during Thanksgiving week in 2010. I trailered my XR650R down for a week of mild trail exploring. I didn't do any extreme trails, or venture into any remote areas, I just sampled some of the routes available to bikes.

My first stop was Grand Valley OHV area near Grand Junction Colorado. This is 16+ square miles of open riding on badlands type terrain:



















After about 3 hours I headed back to my car for lunch. I actually had to use my GPS to find my way back, as there are no straight trails or roads amongs the hills.
After lunch I decided to venture out of the open area and follow the Bookcliffs west. It took awhile, but I eventually picked up a hydro line trail going west. I was looking for the Hunter Canyon trail and after some trail and error, found it (there are no signs-I should have scoped in out in Google earth and downloaded some waypoints).

Hunter Canyon has been described as a rock crawling trail. I found it similiar to the Kane Creek trail near moab. I found it to be easy in the first few miles, before it narrows down. It appeared there had been recent snowfall and I was soon riding over solid ice and snow- covered rocks- at this point I decided to turn back and find a different route into the Bookcliffs.

Hunter Canyon:





The travelled further west and picked up some designated single track. The Fruita area is famous for its MTB trails, however the best trails are non-motorized. What's available for dirtbikes is okay, but nothing special:




to be continued...
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Old 03-10-2011, 06:32 AM   #2
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Utah's pretty hard to beat for any kind of riding!

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Old 03-10-2011, 07:24 AM   #3
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I'm sooo jealous!!

I'm sooo jealous!!

We hope to head there later this year!!
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Old 03-10-2011, 10:00 AM   #4
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RR Cont'd

RR Continued:

I still wanted to get up into the Bookcliffs, so after some singletrack I headed to Coal Gulch road. This road ascends to the top of the cliffs and is a bladed and maintained road. I ran into patches of snow and mud but managed to maintain a steady upward pace:




I continued on up some switchbacks and noticed that conditions were getting steadily worse. From the road surface I could tell that only two 4x4 trucks had come this way recently, their tires leaving deep ruts in the road. I figured if they made it, so could I! I was in a hurry as it was 3:30pm and my car was along way off. I had been told about a singletrack trail coming down off the Bookcliffs, and I wanted to ride this down before dark.

The mud was so slippery on the incline that I decided to ride in one of the ruts, where traction was abit better. I struggled on, using my feet to paddle. After awhile I noticed my boots becoming very heavy. The rear wheel was frequently cutting loose and then all forward motion ceased. I revved the bike up but the bike wouldn't move. I leaned over to take a look and was immediately horrified.

The wheels were so covered in mud they were almost unrecognizable, they just looked like two chocolate donuts. There was a huge glob of mud jammed between the top of the front wheel and the fender, so big that it was stopping the wheel from turning! I realized then that I had blundered into "Gumbo" mud. I had read about this but never encountered it before. This was the reason that some desert roads are marked "Impassable when wet"

It was 4:00pm now and sunset was not too far off. I frantically tried to pull off as much mud as I could. The stuff was incredibly sticky and slippery. After clearing the clog in the front wheel I checked over the rest of the bike. The area behind the countershaft sprocket cover was jammed solid, and there were two perfect 6" long "extrusions" coming from holes in the cover. The wheel rims were not visible at all. I used the rest of my strength to pull the bike out of the rut and turn it round.

I was worried now. My car was 30-40 miles off, it was getting dark and alot of my bikes moving parts were coated in sticky mud. I didn't take a picture as I had lost a camera before to handling it with muddy hands. I started to ride back down as fast as I could. At the first turn I pulled the front brake lever in all the way to the bar! Great, no front brakes!! I moderated my speed and tried to use compression braking.

On the way down I continued to pump the front brake lever, and managed to get some braking effect. I hit a patch of snow too fast and went down hard. After picking myself up I calmed down abit, and realized it was going to be a late night. This was exactly the type of start to a riding trip I was hoping to avoid.

I made it down out of the Bookcliffs and decided to head for Fruita instead of riding trails back to Grand Junction. This was the right decision as I hit reserve before town. I gassed up in Fruita, cleaned my bike off abit, and decided to take the interstate back. Some of the front brake had come back, and I figured a high speed run would help fling the mud off.

It was completely dark when I made it back to my car. I barely had the strength to load the bike up! From then it was on to Moab, a 30 minute bike wash,and another 30 minutes of picking mud off my bike. The front brake was at about 50%, but I was too tired to work on it. End of day one.

to be continued...
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Old 03-10-2011, 11:13 AM   #5
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Well done & w/ good pix
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Old 03-10-2011, 06:28 PM   #6
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RR cont'd Day2

Ride Report continued-Day 2

My front brake was still at 50% in the morning and I had to make a decision-work on it or just take a chance and ride. I decided to go riding. I didn't want to do anything too technical, so I chose Black Dragon Wash in the San Rafael Swell. This trail connects up with the Swasey's leap and Mexican Mountain trails. Overall this was an easy day of riding.

















































I finished up the day with a trip down the road known as the "squeeze" (Don't ask me why its named that):




















After I snapped this last shot I noticed my rear tire was flat as a pancake. I sensed another late night coming. As it was 4:30 I decided to limp back to my car-only about 10 miles. On a more positive note my front brake was back to its full strength. I'm not a fast tire changer and it took me 2 hours back at the hostel to change the tube. To my concern I could not find what caused the flat. Exhausted again I decided to call it a night.

End of Day 2-to be continued
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Old 03-10-2011, 08:07 PM   #7
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You got me interested!

Very nice pictures...please continue!

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Old 03-13-2011, 12:43 AM   #8
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Ride report cont'd- Day 3

RR cont'd Day 3

My rear tire was still holding full pressure in the morning so i decided to head north to the White Wash area. I didn't want to take the long way (hwy 191 to I70 to ruby ranch road) so I drove in on hwy 313 and parked along a turnout. After riding north abit i came to some nice slickrock:






































I continued north and crossed Levi Wells Road. I picked up some singletrack which led me onto some slickrock near Duma Point. This section of slickrock was quite large and there were only a few rock cairns to point the way. I went in a few miles before deciding to backtrack off the slickrock so I could ride more singletrack.

Slickrock near Duma Point:










I headed back east on an unmarked road. I wasn't following any maps, just riding until I picked up some singletrack. I soon found some and followed these for awhile:








































day 3 to be cont'd
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Old 03-13-2011, 03:28 AM   #9
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Beautiful pictures, the bike is nice as well.
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Old 03-14-2011, 03:56 AM   #10
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day 3 continued

Day 3 continued

I had never seen the White Wash Sand dunes before so I exited the singletrack and followed the signs to the dunes. Just before I got there abit of a squall broke out and the wind starting blowing hard. I was stuck in abit of a sandstorm:







I couldn't really do any riding there so I followed the boundary of the open area west until I found an opening in the fence. It was 3:30 now and I figured I could go straight south and link up to where I was earlier in the day on the Duma Point slickrock. It looked like only a few miles...

The designated singletrack led south up onto the slickrock. The route became difficult to follow, with only a few scattered rock cairns and painted dashes on the rock. This was very similiar to the Slickrock trail in Moab, except more difficult. I dropped my bike a few times.

The time was wearing on but I was making steady progress. After I cleared a ridge I could see a deep wash separating the slickrock I was on from the section I had to get onto. I was only 1/2 mile from where I had to be but it was 4:30 so I pressed on quickly. The trail led down near the wash and then disappeared! The walls of the wash were aroudn 20 ft high and very vertical. After circling a few times I spotted some tracks in the dirt and followed them along the top of the wash. I got a sinking feeling when I realized I was following the tracks made by a single bike!

I didn't want to turn back so I pressed. I squeezed through this openign and knew for sure I was not on the rdesignated route:








I kept going for another few hundred yards before the tracks led to a very steep decline down to the wash. It was about a 70 degree slope and I didn't want to risk riding it. It was almost dark now and I still had to rejoin the slickrock on the other side. I pushed the front wheel over the edge dumped it over. It didn't slide too far down the slope. I climbed down and dragged the bike by the front wheel to the bottom of the wash. I was getting really nervous at this point. I still had to restart my bike and make my way back onto the slickrock. If it got too dark I would never be able to follow the markings on the bare rock.

Restarting a dumped XR always takes awhile, so I took my knapsack, jacket and helmet off while I hurriedly kicked my bike over. After 5 minutes it started up. I threw on my gear and took off. The trail followed the wash bottom and kept going for quite awhile. I could tell from my GPS that I was going away from the slickrock, I figured that wasn't a problem, as long as I hit a road. After a few miles I saw tracks veering off to the left. I followed these and with huge relief came up to this gate:







Not out yet! Day 3 to be cont'd

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Old 03-14-2011, 05:12 AM   #11
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Wooow..what a lonesome and awesome landscape!! Very nice.....
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Old 03-14-2011, 05:04 PM   #12
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RR cont'd

RR cont'd day 3

After I got through the gate I picked up a jeep road. I had waypointed my car on my GPS so finding it in the dark would not be a problem. There was a network of single lane dirt tracks, so I just took turns that would lead back in that general direction. After about 15 minutes I relaxed and stretched abit-but my back felt light. Where was my knapsack?? I realized in my haste I had left it behind where I had dumped my bike! it was going to be another late night!

I now had to retrace my route all the way back-this time in total darkness. The route back up the wash was abit tricky, as other dirtbike tracks branched off into other side washes. I eventually found my way back and scooped up my knapsack. Trailriding at night is quite eerie. My view on the way back was essentially this:



Day 4

The weather forecast had called for overcast skies and light snow but when I woke up the next day the sky was blue and clear. I decided to take advantage of the weather break and drive to Temple Mountain in the San Rafael Swell. My goal would be do ride the "Behind the Reef Trail". I unloaded at Temple Mountain and took a quick spin around the small mountain. I got sidetracked abit and came across a small herd of cows. Normally I just ride slowly forward and the herd would part slowly. One cow, however, bolted, and ran down the wash I was riding in. I followed slowly, figuring the cow would leave the main wash to get away from me. It must have been really spooked because it kept running full tilt down the main route! I stopped my bike for a few minutes to let it get away. I restarted and after a few turns found it cornered in the wash by a closed cattle gate. The cattle gate was the flexible barbed wire type, just made up of three rows of wire. It was a wide wash so I edged slowly forward hoping it would just go around me. I didn't get the expected response...

The cow had a look of terror in its eyes and darted left then right then it charged the barbed wire gate! It attempted to jump it but it's back legs caught the wire. I was totally flabbergasted-the top wire must have been 3 feet off the ground. I had never seen a cow leap like that before! Things got worse when it tried to free itself from the wire. All the wires had come down and it was twisting itself round trying to free itself but it just made it worse. It had actually wrapped itself up in the wire! I watched horrified, expecting one of the barbs to slice open its throat. After twisting around for abit it calmed down and actaully sat down:









I dismounted and approached the cow, figuring I might be able to somehow free it. It leapt up at my approach and again started to twist and buck in the wire. I backed off and went back to my bike. I opened my toolkit and looked for something to cut the wire with. The only thing I found was a needle file... I realized I could not leave the cow like that. I had no cellphone signal and the nearest town was Hanksville. That would really put a dent in my riding day. I started to gear up and when I looked up the cow had partially freed itself with only its front legs trapped. I pushed my bike around, looked back again and saw the cow running away! With relief I took alook a closer look at the barbed wire gate. There were tufts of cow hair on the barbs but no blood. Cows must have tough hides!

I decided to turn around and head for the Behind the Reef Trail.

Day 4 to be continued...

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Old 03-14-2011, 07:40 PM   #13
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Fantastic!
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Old 03-15-2011, 02:16 AM   #14
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Dya 4 Cont'd

I followed one of the major gravel roads south. There were numerous trailheads and I sampled parts of the Waterfall single track trail and Little Wild Horse Mesa trail before continuing south to the start of Behind the Reef. This trail starts off quite narrow and immediately rewards you with the following views:


































The next section of trail was the most scenic I had ever seen in the San Rafael Swell. The trail was cut into the side of a huge canyon wall and offered views down into a huge chasm. The pictures do not do it justice.































The trail terminated near the Hidden Splendor Mine. I had the option of riding the trail in reverse, however it would have been significantly harder. After checking out the mine I opted to take the major gravel roads back to Temple Mountain. Along the way I did check out this wash, which on the map is listed as a county road!









I did a few more trails around Temple Mountain before packing up. It was after dusk before I started driving. The paved road out of the swell and Goblin valley was a bit scary at night. It is open range and cows were milling about everywhere. In 2007 I had hit a cow while driving out of Canyonlands on hwy 313 at night. I slowed down to 35 mph but the scary things is that is even too fast. I passed a black cow standing on the shoulder of the road and I didn't see it until I was almost past it! Black cows just look like like shadows when you're driving at night. I would caution anyone about driving at night on open range.

End of Day 4

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Old 03-15-2011, 01:41 PM   #15
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Day 5

Day 5

My plan to ride Lavendar & Horse Canyon in Canyonlands National Park fell through when I learned both trails were still closed due to storn damage. I decided to try Poison Springs Canyon, which would lead into the Maze district of Canyonlands. Trailhead information:












I had done some research on this trail and thought I could cover alot of ground. My quick pace diminished when I actually got into the canyon itself. The 4x4 road existed in bits and pieces only, and most of the time I was riding in the river bottom. There was no evidence of any truck or ATV travel, only bike tracks.












It was fairly tedious picking a path through the river bottoms:































I took one spur which climbed out of the canyon. I wanted to see the Dirty Devil River from higher up.





























The trail led further upwards, but was blocked by a landslide around this corner:











This spur had eaten up a fair bit of time and I quickly backtracked to the main trail down Posion Springs Canyon. It appears a flash flood had swept away these posts and steel cables. I guess the BLM put them there to control travel.









I reached the Dirty Devil River a few minutes later and checked out the river ford:















Again this was different from the pictures I had seen of this crossing. There were no ATV or truck tracks. Crossing it would involve riding through the river and going up a steep 8 ft embankment. It looked like a group of 6 bikes had gone through recently. The water was at least 8" deep. I studied the crossing for awhile, looking for other options. It should be a piece of cake, but I was getting a really bad vibe from it. Feeling totally neutered, I decided to turn back. For each of the last 4 days something had gone wrong, and I wanted at least one day to be normal! I rode back to my car and actually made it back to Moab in daylight.

End of day 5- to be continued

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