Four Corners, Four Days

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by Southmt, Oct 22, 2014.

  1. Southmt

    Southmt Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    365
    Location:
    NM, USA
    Well, this was supposed to be a RR of a trip to Bonneville, that big flat place where people do crazy things. I'd done a couple trips on a Concours, and last year was on the KLR. But no luck this year. Got screwed around on vacation time at work, and the rains made this year pretty much of a wash for the racing, with the biggy SpeedWeek having 6-8" of water on the track and in the pits. SpeedWeek was rescheduled (sorta) and this morning I found out it was cancelled..... rain. Cheesh.

    So I had 4-5 days to go... somewhere. NOT south, too hot down there! (I'm in the Albaturkey, NM area). So it's north, into familiar territory, visit some favorite spots and explore some new ones.

    Obligatory photo of Cabezon Peak, the exit/entry point to Home Turf.

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    Onward, destination was the (familiar) Angel Peak south of Bloomington/Farmington. Usually pretty empty, nice place, free w/potties. Thanks to the BLM. Stopped along the way, noticed some clouds getting closer.

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    Well, the rain was really nice, I didn't get drowned. Just a nice little shower.

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    Got a nice rainbow out of it. Seems every time I come this way I get a rainbow.

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    Onward, the 'badlands' around Angel Peak. (That's it, that teeny nub in the background).

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    Well, this is the story of Angel Peak. Got there and (hallylooya!) there was my favorite gazebo open. Hauled the stuff up there, and the glom set in.

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    Then it went away, nice sunset.

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    I thought I might have been silly packing firewood, but here it is.

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    Raining again, the place is way picked over for firewood, it would have been frying pan time, but I did this.....

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    Ended up with a nice piece of meat, and some of that primo juniper left over.

    Next morning, here's what camp looked like.

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    Continuing the meterological roller coaster, while I was breaking camp, there was this...

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    ...then this....

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    ...then this....

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    Wasn't cold or wet, good deal. Onward on a bypass route around the Bloomfield/Kirtland/Fruitland/Waterflow/Farmington/etc. mess to Shiprock. The road goes through many miles of Navajo projects, mostly irrigated farming and "Oil & Gas". I kinda think this picture says it all.

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    Onwards to Shiprock. I did a trip through here in '69 (Detroit-San Diego-Seattle-Idaho on a 125 Honda) and was at Mesa Verde in Colorado. I was amazed at the yellow cloud of crap all over. The guy told me it was from the power plant down in NM. I learned something that day. (It's much better now, thankfully).

    Here it is.

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    I proceeded to Shiprock, hungry as hell. I figured I'd just hop on over there and get some breakfast. Right. Got there just before lunch, but got some Micky D's fries (very good) and a double green chili cheeseburger. I hate to complain, but I got this.

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    This is BAD, people. That clown ought to be made to suffer for this travesty. Sell it, but don't call it a "double greeen chili cheeseburger". Not in New Mexico. Maybe in Iowa it'd fly.

    Obligatory Shiprock (the rock, not the town) photo. We're looking south. On the way back, we'll go south of it, much more interesting.

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    Roads across the Reservation, heading for Utah. Couldn't pass up this big oil pumpjack.

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    Monument Valley in the background.

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    Big one-lunger motor. Pop Pop burp Pop....

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    Whut state ya in? Try "UT".

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    Whoa! There's somebody living up there! I guess the thing's been non-operational for some time... and it's a big bird. Raven or hawk, I'd expect.

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    Onward past some cool rocks. Heading towards the south end of Comb Ridge.

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    There are paved/good roads to the Moki Dugway and the top of Cedar Mesa (familiar ground) where I was headed, but there's part of the UTBDR that goes along the west side of the ridge for a ways, then heads west up to the top of Cedar Mesa. I thought I'd try that. Here's the start, heading north. That's Comb Ridge on the right. Lotsa miles of it, things are big out here.

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    Onward.

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    The road went up the wash (Comb Wash on this side, Butler Wash on the east) and I kinda expected some cottonwoods and verdant lushness (!?). Nope.

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    Then I (finally) saw a road heading west, out of the wash (Snow Flats Road). Ok, things looked right.

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    Up out of the wash, looking back at.... oh, what's the name of that ridge?

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    The road was IG (Interestingly Gnarly). Put a little spice into it, wondering if I'd run into something I didn't want to try and have to backtrack.

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    Oops! At least there was something to fall against. The second-worst tump of the trip.

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    The Abajo/Blue Mts. to the north. They're west of Monticello and Blanding.

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    More IG.

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    Not IG. There'd been a lot of rain recently, lots of these mudholes. Now I know what some of you guys are thinking. I was in a motocross in Utah and it rained really bad, then rained some more and the track was a real mess-- survival mode. And this foreigner from Back East lapped everybody else, about 3 times over. So I know about you guys.

    Anyway, these things were snotty and rutted and I sure didn't want to drop the thing in the water as I usually can't lift it with all the crap ... er... camping gear... on it.

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    So i semi-paddled and was really thankful for my spiffy Gaerne trials boots. Tall, waterproof and really comfortable.

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    This hole could be ridden around, but the worst tump of the trip was trying to get around another one. Slow motion, zero-speed flop over. Gas leaking, hurriedly unload and get the bike back up, reload. No biggy, really. Just thought I'd mention it. No photo.

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    So it's a nice ride up to Cedar Mesa. Hoped to spend the night at Muley Point. The road to the Point starts at the top of Moki Dugway. Been here lots of times, never get tired of being there. It's the south end of Cedar Mesa.

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    On to Muley. The first big overlook was jammed with cars and people. What the %&#$% ? Not good. Onward.

    Got to the point itself, one other group down a sideroad, other than that, deserted. Ahhhhh.

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    Then... oh sh*t. Here comes two vans full of people and a third car to boot.

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    Another "what the &^%$?" moment. Well, one lady wanders over and she has a "Crow Canyon" cap on. Ah! An archaeological field trip. I've heard of Crow Canyon. (The following is dredged out of my rusty memory)...

    "Crow Canyon, a field trip, eh?"

    "Yup, we came down here to see the sunset".

    "Well, do you know Jean and Jerry Brody?".

    "Of course we do, they're the fantastic couple that's forgotten more about rock art and ancient America than most everybody else will ever know and lead many of our field trips. Do you know them?"

    "They're my next door neighbors".

    Damn. Instant friends! Who'd a thunk it?

    So they leave but the other car is still there. Turned out to be a great German couple, looked like newlyweds, but I dunno. Camped right there together, he took pictures of my great Benchmark maps to help them find the obscure place they saw in a German travel book (near the Bisti Badlands, but I'd never heard of it). They were having a ball, and I was glad to have run across 'em.

    Sunset. Yeah, people drive a long ways to see the sunset here.

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    Came the dawn.

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    Blocks. Big blocks of rock.

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    House-sized block breaking off, ever so slowly.

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    A crack between a couple. Maybe in a coupla hunnert years, it'll be an inch wider.

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    Amongst all this, some really cool lichens.

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    Dunno why they grow in circles...

    Onward, back to the top of Moki Dugway, a cool French guy asked if I wanted him to take a picture of me... sure! (LOTS of Europeans enjoying our great country. I think a lot of us don't know what we got...)

    Anyway, here's me and da bike.

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    On back south towards the Rez, looking back to where the road (191) crosses the San Juan. Pubic trees.

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    On across Navajo-Land, some cool rocks, I expect they're volcanic plugs.

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    Well, here's where my uncanny ability to look at a map and look at the countryside and determine exactly what was happening and what went where... umm... didn't work out. It must have been a flaw in Navajoland. Or something.

    Heading south on 12 past Round Rock (half the names around here have "Rock" in them, does that tell you something?) road 13 heads east from Lukachukai, that's the one I wanted. I had a crummy Navajoland map, as I hadn't taken the proper, very good, highly detailed, wonderful Benchmark (tm) maps with me. (Ok, you can send the check now).

    Anyway, I though all the way along that the 13 road must go around the mountains, as that was the most obvious route. I came to a place that I thought might be Lukachukai... no signs, maybe not. Maybe it was foggy and I missed 'em. Anyway, there was a major ridge to the east, didn't see any way a road would go up that. Onward, but got to Tsaile (it had a sign), and the 64 road junction was way off what the map said... avoid cheapo maps. (Did I mention Benchmark?)

    Anyway, it's back to Lukachukai.... the road headed east and should have been 13.... yup! This is 13.

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    Glad I don't live in that trailer. Ok, so the road takes a crook up the valley...it wasn't as obvious as here, it looked more like the last picture. Note how the bottom part of the hill is red, the upper part white. Pretty dramatic geologic thing happening.

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    Lower part, red rock stuff....

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    Steep climb up, much steeper than it looks here. Redrock down below, white mountaintop to the right.

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    On top.

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    I'd hoped I'd get this view of Shiprock. Love these big landscapes! Just about 25 miles away.

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    On down the other side. Really narrow mountain range, but a very cool one, something new to me. On to Red Valley. Wonder why they called it that?

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    Volcanic country... a little plug.

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    The mother of them all, Shiprock, south side. Not only the rock, but a couple monster volcanic dikes extending for miles outward. Hot molten stuff oozing up through a big crack, with Shiprock being the main place the stuff squirted up.

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    Another view. I'd been here about 35 years ago, took the same pictures, was as totally blown away as I was now. Awesome stuff.

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    Just to prove I was really there, didn't just suck the photos off the web...

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    On back to Angel Peak, an easy, nice place to get to for to spend the night.

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    Sunset. Love these trees.

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    Breakfast. Didn't want to backtrack to Bloomfield, and heading south the next prospect was for... lunch. So it's Ramen, with onion and peppers and a good dose of steak rub. That's the main cooking kit, cutting board, fork, spoon, cheap Coleman pots with dish soap, olive oil, a big pocket knife, lighter, steak rub, and a copper scrubby. Fry pan, coffee stuff, Whisperlite stove and vice grips for a pan handle. Been carrying vice grips on my belt for about 40 years now, feel naked without 'em.

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    Getting ready to leave.

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    Whoa! A horny toad!

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    On down the road.... here are the Jemez Mts., the main road to Albaturkey goes around the south side. The town of Cuba is about in the middle of the picture (don't try to pick it out, it's hiding). From Cuba a road goes straight east up and over the mountains. Much more fun than the slab.

    I decided to get wild and crazy, and following my wonderful Benchmark maps decided to go north and up the mountains from that end (left side of the photo). New country.

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    So it's pavement up through Regina, there was a store open there, and the Nice Lady had a can of green chiles for sale. Cool! I had a roasted-green-chile deficiency, for sure.

    Needed to find Forest Road 76, that's the turnoff I wanted. Yup, this is it.

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    Through the mountings.

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    Needed to hook up with FR103... yup, here it is.

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    Then a coupla junctions, I wanted to stay on 103.... yup, we're good.

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    Onward.

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    Ok, I know where I am....

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    Idiots with guns.....

    Came upon this nice ramp in the middle of the road. A bit short for my use, but it sure is nice.

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    Will this work? Nah.

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    How about this? Nah. Leave it for somebody else....

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    Oh well. Nice little valley with water.

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    A burn. Green things popping up....

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    Ain't this sweet? Young feller lying in the nice cool grass.

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    ...but to each his own.

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    Teakettle rock. Yeah, right.

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    Oh, there it is!

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    Turned a major mileage.

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    Fun road.

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    Made it to familiar places, this is above La Cueva (cave, cellar, den). I'll camp up on the mesa tonight.

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    Now this is nice. The road sign had fallen off, but somebody put it up on top so folks could still see it. I guess there's a different kind of people down at this end of the mountain.

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    Lots of sick Ponderosas, weakened by drought then fair game for the beetles.

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    Camp.

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    Building a fire, got sucked into our small-town newspaper...

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    ...but I can relate to this!

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    Ok, built the fire, opened up the chiles with a trusty P38, scarfed up from the Forest service about 40 years ago.

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    Camp shot.

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    Another, tortillas, cheese and chiles waiting for the meat. All spread out on my kitchen counter. Life is good.

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    Next morning headed out.

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    This is scary! A "barberchair" that resulted when some idiot, for some unknown reason, decided to fell a nice big healthy Ponderosa. They obviously didn't know anything about cutting trees. Didn't look like a simply stupid firewood cutter, looked more like vandals to me. (I've run into both working for the Forest Service). I hope that scared the sh*t outa them when that thing split, if not flung their saw across the road and ruined it.

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    On down the mountain and into the canyon that has Jemez Springs (some hot springs and an awful lot of spiritual retreats, Catholic and Zen). It also has Jemez Peublo (keep out, don't take photos) that has a lot of Pueblo folks living there. This is a nice cottonwood at the Ranger Station, much more impressive in real life.

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    Just above Jemez Springs is the Soda Dam.

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    On down the redrock canyon....

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    Down to San Ysidro, then the slab to Bernalillo, the 4 options to get home. Slab south through Albaturkey (yuk), slab partways north then 2 dirt-road options over to home (one ok, one pretty good)... then the fourth (which my dim brain picked up on at the last minute) is a road through Placitas, which goes up a canyon on the back side of the Sandia's, comes out on the Crest Road halfways to the top. Then I can go down towards home.

    The road.

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    Stopped at the "Sandia Cave", or the "Sandia Man Cave" as it's sometimes known. "Sandia Man" lived there a gazillion years ago, but it's really controversial as to the exact figure. My extensive research says "a gazillion". Anyway, the entrance is that little brown patch up on the ridge. The "Sandia Man" cave is not to be confused with the many Sandia "man caves", of which I have one. That's where I keep my KLR.

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    On down the road again.

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    The area is very close to Albuquerque, and is tightly controlled. For the most part, i don't bother to go up there anymore....

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    Another road shot.

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    Way back when, my wife-mate and I used to drive my '59 VW bus up here from Albuquerque and drink some wine and cook dinner. Had no idea we'd end up living where the arrow is.

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    Down the Crest Road, the grass is Sandia Peak Ski Area. The tram from the west side ends up at the top, as do the ski slopes on the east. Nice, with a restaurant at the top. If you're ever in town, it's a great ride, pretty dramatic.

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    Last shot... almost home.

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    #1
  2. shelglass

    shelglass No Place Like Home

    Joined:
    May 19, 2009
    Oddometer:
    55
    Location:
    St Louis
    Amazing scenery, great pics, really enjoyed:D
    #2
  3. rgl

    rgl Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2009
    Oddometer:
    32
    Location:
    Mile High City
    Love the pictures and the read. Love wondering that part of the country.

    Thanks
    #3
  4. itspossible

    itspossible never far enough

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2013
    Oddometer:
    146
    Location:
    Thunder Bay, ON
    good little RR, nice pix . looks like you put your time to good use.
    #4
  5. obrianmcc

    obrianmcc Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 11, 2007
    Oddometer:
    909
    Location:
    Boise Idaho
    .........:clap
    #5
  6. ridenfly

    ridenfly Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2006
    Oddometer:
    153
    Location:
    SW CO
    Nice report and pics. Like your cooking and camping techniques. Thanks
    #6
  7. wbbnm

    wbbnm Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2007
    Oddometer:
    4,270
    Location:
    Albuquerque NM
    Great ride, pictures and report. This all is my backyard and very familiar.

    We went up Snow Flats road last May. I don't remember that place you laid the bike over. But going over that slick rock area was the most fun part.

    Looks like Angel Peak is great for solitary camping. Only been thru there once.
    #7
  8. Southmt

    Southmt Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2010
    Oddometer:
    365
    Location:
    NM, USA
    Actually, it's not a 'solitary' type place, it's developed and there are often other people there. But it's not the kind of place where you'd be next to a motorhome with a generator going all evening or anything like that. (Though there are oil & gas engines/pumps running in the area.)
    #8
  9. AZ Mark

    AZ Mark Long timer

    Joined:
    Oct 13, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,203
    Location:
    Wickenburg AZ
    :thumb
    #9
  10. Sledred

    Sledred Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2011
    Oddometer:
    732
    Location:
    N Phx
    Southmt - excellent RR! Enjoyed the great pictures and narrative - growing up in Albaturkey it's always nice to see some of the surrounding areas that I spent time in. Thanks
    #10
  11. bluestar

    bluestar sheep shagger

    Joined:
    Mar 14, 2014
    Oddometer:
    20,227
    Location:
    N.E. Louisiana
    Great pix and RR. :clap
    #11
  12. RedRockRider

    RedRockRider Long timer

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2011
    Oddometer:
    1,615
    Location:
    St. George, UT
    Very nice RR, pics and write-up. :nod Always interesting to see inmate approaches for camping from the bike. Looks like you've got your system down. Thanks for sharing some of the details. :clap
    #12
  13. Starbuck21

    Starbuck21 Manly scooterist!

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2011
    Oddometer:
    162
    Location:
    Wickenburg, AZ
    Great report and pictures! Thanks for taking us along. I have traveled a bunch of these roads; but have not traversed Moki Dugway! Someday.
    #13
  14. bomose

    bomose Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2007
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    2,622
    Location:
    Dixie
    Great pictures and report. I've ridden around Shiprock and the 4 Corners area many times but never took the dirt roads. Didn't know whether travel on Navajo land was restricted or not. I'll have to go back.
    #14