Trouble in John's Canyon... Again! (AZ-UT Autumn Tour)

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by dave6253, Oct 15, 2011.

  1. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
    May 1, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,702
    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    John's Canyon, Utah

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    I visited John's Canyon last year, but was in a hurry to make a ferry. I didn't have the time to exlore this beautiful, remote, dead-end
    canyon like I wanted. I promised myself a return trip John's Canyon someday to spend the night and finish the exploration.
    The main goal of this tour was to fulfill this promise. ​

    I had a little trouble last year in John's Canyon when a bad battery nearly stranded me.
    Trouble of a more serious sort followed me into the canyon this year............................​


    This was supposed to be my fall tour. I may have to reconsider this as my winter ride. Will I find any fall colors?​

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    Fun roads were ridden...​

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    ...and beautiful sights observed.​

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    Let's make tracks!​

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    Not those tracks. These!​

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    Trouble!
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    #1
  2. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
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    Friday October 7th, 2011


    With a 4 day weekend for riding I don't want to waste a minute. I'm riding hard by 4 am. Two hours later I roll
    through Flagstaff before sunrise. The temp is 29 degrees and the road is wet from last night's snow. Brrrrr!​


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    Waiting for the big fireball in the sky to warm me up.​

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    Looks Like Wet Weather​

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    Golden Showers Ahead! :puke1

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    San Francisco Peaks are already capped with snow.​

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    If I can sneak under that cloud I may find blue skies.​

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    That's more like it. Sun!​

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    #2
  3. Signal

    Signal Cynical Idealist

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2007
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    9,855
    Location:
    Utah
    Fair enough
    In :evil
    #3
  4. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Phoenix, Arizona
    I don't have much more asphalt planned for today.


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    I was nearing hypothermia so stopped to warm up.

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    The highway to Page, AZ cuts through this gap in the rocks...

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    I've always noticed the interesting sand dune next to the gap.

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    I trudge uphill to warm up and check out the dune.

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    Daddy Long Legs (KTM 990 Length Legs)

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    I caught an unusual sight this morning. Bobcat roadkill. Now I find evidence a bobcat has been patrolling this dune.

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    I'm 3 hours from home when I realize I'm missing something. My fully loaded Camelback is sitting in the garage at home!
    I guess I can make do without the extra water in this cool weather. I had almost packed camera lenses in it. Glad I didn't.
    I can probably go without the extra memory cards and the bear spray, but I have hiking plans
    for this trip and need something to carry water, snacks, and camera gear.

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    I make a quick stop in Page and find a cheap backpack that barely fits inside the panniers.

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    #4
  5. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
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    I had only about 350 miles of riding planned today. I wanted to take Smokey Mountain Road, Hell's Backbone Road, and
    UT 12 to a campsite near Capitol Reef NP. I was worried Smokey Mtn RD may be impassable and figured Cottonwood RD
    would be the alternate route. Utah backroads are routinely marked "Impassable When Wet" on maps for good reason.​

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    Washouts and superslick mud are the hazards. I guess I was hoping the weather had not been all that wet yet. I stopped
    at the Visitor Center in Big Water and was warned that Smokey Mountain RD and my alternate, Cottonwood RD, are definitely impassable.
    I'm also realizing Hell's Backbone would be snowed in. Crap! There goes my plan. What are my options. I could take a big
    detour to the south then North to the Moab area, but I had my mind set on Capitol Reef. I head west towards Kanab.​


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    The Paria River (Normally Just a Trickle)​

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    It's gonna be a long day on the asphalt, But Wait!​

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    I do know of a scenic backcountry shortcut that should be passable.​

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    Johnson Canyon, Alton Amphitheater Scenic Backway​

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    I was only about 8 miles from Alton when I started worrying the mud may cause another detour. ​

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    But I made it through.​

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    Alton Amphitheater, Sunset Cliffs

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    #5
  6. Whatdayisit?

    Whatdayisit? Adventurer

    Joined:
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    43
    Can't wait to hear the rest.
    #6
  7. The Toecutter

    The Toecutter Adventurer

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2006
    Oddometer:
    92
    Location:
    Stone Canyon, CO
    Love the B&W photos.
    #7
  8. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    Alton Traffic Jam

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    If you have a day full of...

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    ...Asphalt to ride...

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    ...the Utah Highway 12...

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    ...is as good as any.

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    I'm getting close to hypothermia again...

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    I stop for a foot-long lunch at the Subway near the Bryce Canyon Entrance.
    Not recommended: Slow Service, Overcharged, Not Clean...

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    I start worrying about the snow levels on Boulder Mountain.
    I really should've planned this route out a little better....


    #8
  9. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
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    Signal, Sean, & Toecutter, Thanks for joining in!
    #9
  10. Bob

    Bob Formerly H20Pumper

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    Location:
    Corral de Tierra CA, Ketchum ID
    Perfect lunchtime entertainment!
    Thanks Dave
    #10
  11. FlagRS

    FlagRS Gone to the Dogs

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    Location:
    N. AZ
    Great pictures! It was probably 90 on Ut 12 a few days after you went through.
    #11
  12. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    Yeah, The freak wintry storm hit just in time for my trip. Thanks for rubbing it in FlagRS. :D I enjoyed the cooler than Phoenix temps, but there is a long list of places I had planned to ride that got scrubbed. It does clear up soon.

    Welcome to another report Bob!
    #12
  13. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    I don't always stop at scenic overlooks, but there is one I've never passed up.

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    Utah Highway 12

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    Boulder Mountain is getting hammered. I have to ride over that mountain!
    I chat with a photographer from Oklahoma. He said the roads were clear,
    but he drove over Boulder Mountain in the morning.

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    The Henry Mountains are already snow-capped.
    Look at that road! What a landscape to ride through!

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    #13
  14. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
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    I get my first glimpse of Autumn colors as I gain elevation.

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    Pretty soon the ground is covered with snow.

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    The road is wet from the storm that just passed, but thankfully no ice or snow.

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    I stop at another overlook.

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    The small shower has moved out over Capitol Reef National Park.

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    Fall Colors and the Henry Mountains

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    #14
  15. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
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    I was gonna try to get a camping spot in Capitol Reef National Park, but scored a free spot with a better view!

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    My tent is nearly invisible in this big landscape.

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    I get a view of the National Park and the Henry Mountains in one direction...

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    ...Boulder Mountain and Torrey, Utah in the other direction.

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    There are several places to camp off this little path only about 1/4 miles from the park entrance sign.

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    The day was longer and less exciting than planned.

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    #15
  16. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

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    I crawl out of the tent and notice a storm on top of Boulder Mountain. It was cold and windy last night with occasional rain.

    I was planning to eat breakfast before departing, but looked towards town to the the storm closing in fast! I'd better get outta here.


    There used to be a mountain there?
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    I really wanted to shoot some in Capitol Reef, but rode through the park in a light rain without stopping.

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    The sun finally made an appearance when I was just past Caineville. I found a perfect spot to stop for breakfast.

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    And a little fun.

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    I had done two laps around a little track with this hill used as a berm for a turn. I decided to stop on the sidehill on the 3rd pass.
    When it was time to start up again I was being careful with the clutch, not wanting to spin up the rear tire on the slippery sidehill.
    Probably because of the thick winter glove, I killed the engine after pushing off. Doh! I felt for the ground with left boot, but there
    was only air. Nothing left to do, but put the boot back on the peg and wait for the right moment to somersault down the hill.:lol3

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    I get the bike downhill and after several tries it started. I left it idleing while I return to the hill to gather my stuff.

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    The bike decided to show me she was in control again.

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    A bent luggage rack was the only damage. The left pannier is getting pretty close to the swingarm. That'll need fixin'.

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    The bigger hills will have to wait until next trip...:D

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    Defeated, I retreat to the damp highway.

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    #16
  17. FatherX

    FatherX so͞oˈpərflo͞oəs

    Joined:
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    Location:
    NE Ohio,USA
    THANK YOU for the visual feast sir!


    I'm GOOD...time for a nap to sleep off the beauty

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    I'll need more later though :evil
    #17
  18. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
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    Location:
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    The weather was supposed to be cleared up today, but it's not the case yet. My plan for today had been to ride up
    Cathedral Valley RD in Capitol Reef and ride the full length of the Skyline RD before taking the highway to Moab.
    I realize Cathedral Valley RD is one of those "Impassable When Wet" Roads, and Skyline RD is most likely snowed in.​


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    Oh well, I'll just shoot over to Moab to find a drier place to ride.​


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    The clouds hang low over the San Rafael Reef.​

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    I-70​

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    #18
  19. dave6253

    dave6253 GCBAR Explorer

    Joined:
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    Don't nap to long. Plenty more coming FatherX! Thanks!
    #19
  20. Signal

    Signal Cynical Idealist

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    Location:
    Utah
    Stunning pics :eek1

    Like much of the high desert, the mud/sand/clay stuff around factory butte is truly unusual- when dry is like a clay/cinder powder. When wet, slick as snot and thick glue.
    #20