2 Dirtbags do Northern AZ & Southern UT

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Eastbay Dirtbag, Nov 5, 2019.

  1. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Fabulous 14 days and 2300 miles mostly off-road in No. AZ & So. UT. We rode through remote and beautiful terrain and rarely saw anyone else off-road. We criss-crossed and looped back to the start. (More figure 8’s. I’m good at those!)

    We did the AZBDR north from Flagstaff and overlapped 40 miles of the UTBDR. Everything else I pieced together. We explored mountains, canyons, mining ruins and fun two-track. Our route spanned everything from forest and green meadows to sparse desert to red rock country.

    We rode June 2 thru 15, 2019. The temps were a mix of comfortable and hot. One track was blocked by snow and another by a washout, but mostly it went according to plan.
    TRACKS ARE ATTACHED

    Teaser pics
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    The Big Picture
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    Attached Files:

    #1
  2. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Who are the Dirtbags?
    This might be a long answer to a short question that no one has asked...

    We’ve moved around the US and live near San Diego. We love exploring this great land and the whole big wonderful world.

    We’ve been getting dirty together a long time.
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    We met at work after college. He rode and raced dirt bikes. I invited myself along for a casual ride. He didn’t say no.

    I had never even sat on a motorcycle before. One ride and I was hooked.

    A friend gave me a used street-legal Suzuki TS100 with expired plate and missing title. I didn’t have a MC license. I rode it anyway.

    My soon-to-be-Sweetie convinced me to try an enduro — our first real date.
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    I got better bikes and gear and we kept riding and racing.
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    For our engagement he gave me a CR125 with gold rims. The way to my heart!
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    What would Mom say?
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    Weekends and vacations were spent in forests, deserts and mountains on two-strokes and thumpers.
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    I borrowed a brand new XT350 and rode it WOT chasing a 650 over mountain passes.

    My first taste of dual sporting! I never forgot that day, but years would pass…
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    We did street bikes and sporty bikes and road touring. But we grew tired of white lines.

    Out of the blue, an old friend said: “Let’s ride to Alaska on KLRs.” So we did.

    Those KLRs took us to Copper Canyon Mexico, through the Southwest, along the Continental Divide and many backroads in California. The sporty bikes gathered dust.

    And the rest, they say, is history…

    https://advrider.com/f/threads/2-dirtbags-dualsport-the-southwest.240023/
    https://advrider.com/f/threads/2-dirtbags-on-the-continental-divide.181499/
    #2
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  3. scarysharkface

    scarysharkface Faking it/Making it

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    In
    #3
  4. Critic

    Critic More or less!

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    West of the Illinois, heart of the state!
    After an intro like that; who wouldn't be interested! Well, I have kind of been hooked on your RRs.
    #4
  5. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Let’s skip day 1 and get to the good stuff

    Day 2 Blythe CA to Wickenburg AZ, 165 miles
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    North of Quartzsite we headed across the desert on paved Plomosa Rd. At Quinn Pass I checked out a two track heading north. It got rougher past the ridgetop but could be fun for those wanting a challenge.
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    We passed through the tiny town of Bouse (don't blink). From there it was a short jaunt to dirt Swansea Rd, not to be confused with Swansea Mine Rd.
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    This connected to easy Lincoln Ranch Rd...
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    which intersects a remote pipeline road, which is a big roller coaster. (We've been here before, but accessed it from a tougher pipeline two-track from Swansea ghost town.)
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    The pipeline is labeled Bernard Mine Rd on maps but you won't see any signs out here.
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    Some parts are steep. There are a couple "bypasses" which loop around the hills instead of climbing straight up.
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    Burros might have been here. We didn't see a single cow.
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    Woo hoo! It saves the biggest roughest climbs for last. This is second-to-last.
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    The very last climb has a bypass, although its a little rough. I would not attempt the straight climb. I checked Google Earth. The climb is 235 ft over ~ 0.25 miles so ~16% grade, assuming its linear, which it isn't.

    Looking back at the last hill. The bypass is not visible somewhere on the left.
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    Then its a mix of gravel, pavement and more gravel to the Wayside Restaurant and RV Park near Alamo Lake.
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    The Restaurant was closed for the season but the caretaker was kind enough to provide us with ice water. He told us about a two-track to a giant saguaro and off we went.
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    Its about 2.2 miles then hang a right. There is some sand and mirror-slappers along the way but not bad.
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    The main two-track might have continued but wasn't in our GPS's.

    Something lives here.
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    We continued east on dirt Alamo Rd (also labeled Wickenburg Rd). We've been this way three times and have only seen one vehicle. Most drivers use paved Alamo Dam Access Rd.
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    Its mostly a dirt highway but occasionally throws in some surprises.
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    It gets more narrow and fun as it approaches US93.

    In Wickenburg we stayed at the Best Western, which is nice and quiet and has large rooms in the main buildings. They have a pool and do a good breakfast.
    #5
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  6. chudzikb

    chudzikb Long timer Supporter

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    Great back story! Your husband is a lucky man, well, actually both of you are lucky you have something you like to do together. That is the ticket right there, to longevity in any relationship. And that is one big cactus.
    #6
  7. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 3 Wickenburg to Kingman 175 miles
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    We started off on a dirt road called Scenic Loop. That connects to a great two-track that weaves past Stanton ghost town.
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    There is one wash-out ahead but someone had thrown rocks into it to make it a little easier.

    This wash is sandy and has a steep exit. That and the washout are the only challenges out here.
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    It becomes a wide dirt road, crosses Hwy 89 and gradually climbs to the tiny town of Hillside.

    My first gila monster! (Actually my second, but the first one was a mountain man / hermit who called himself Gila Monster, so it doesn't really count. But I digress…)
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    We took the wonderful and twisty Hwys 96 & 97 toward US 93. Before reaching 93, we turned north on amazing, fun Burro Creek Rd.

    What's so amazing?
    It starts off like an ordinary dirt road but gets rougher and narrower as it climbs.

    It gets even rougher and rockier dropping to a creek crossing. Don’t get close to the road edge near drop offs - its soft! Yikes! Gave myself a scare.

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    The terrain wasn’t that picturesque. The attraction here is the road.
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    Sometimes its very steep like a jeep trail. What a kick. Sorry no pics of that part.

    We got on US 93, got gas in Wickieup and a decent lunch at the Trading Post Restaurant. (Someday I want to stay in Wickieup and explore more backroads to the east.)

    We backtracked on the highway to dirt Cholla Canyon Ranch Rd and continued north parallel to the Big Sandy River valley.

    After 25 miles we crossed 93 onto Blake Ranch Road. This is an incredible route that climbs high onto a ridge then has steep up and downs as it crosses the foothills of the Hualapai mountain range.
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    We crossed I-40 near Love’s truck stop and took dirt backroads into Kingman. We stayed at the comfortable and reasonably priced Best Western Wayfarer’s Inn. (Not to be confused with the other BW just down the street.) They have a good breakfast.

    We had a good, but pricey, meal at the Indian Restaurant across the street. We find the portions are large enough to split a meal. There's also a Mexican restaurant nearby.
    #7
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  8. Ol Man

    Ol Man Long timer Supporter

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    I enjoy your reports. Just the right amount of prose and pictures. Nice to see the two of you and your history. How about a now pic?
    #8
  9. advrockrider

    advrockrider Been here awhile

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    Awesome intro, can't wait for the rest of the report...
    #9
  10. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    We share many activities but I suppose it depends on the couple. For some, time apart is what keeps them sane. :lol2
    #10
  11. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Thanks. Keep reading. I'll show my mug eventually.
    Thanks. These reports are for entertainment but they're also a trip diary for us. I enjoy going back and reading my old RRs and seeing how my viewpoint and reaction to things changes over time.
    #11
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  12. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 4 Kingman to Flagstaff 190 miles
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    We jumped on I-40 then off again at Love’s Truck Stop for gas and snacks.

    The navigator (me) goofed and missed a turn. I had forgotten that the “new style” OSM maps are routable and only created a track for this section. I had gotten lazy expecting the Garmin to spoon-feed me turn-by-turn directions with the big, fat white arrows that mean “Turn here, Dummy!”

    No biggie, but I get annoyed with myself after spending time to scout out a backroad and then blow past it. We continued to Hwy 93 and a short jaunt south to dirt Knight Creek Rd.
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    The next 20 miles were great.
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    It climbed through scenic, flowering desert.
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    It became narrower and rougher and weaved along a creek. Loving it!

    The gate was closed but not locked. I didn't know we'd encounter a gate. Which is a good thing, because I might have given up when planning this route.
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    Near a ranch it crossed the creek and split. The straight-ahead road ended at the ranch. The go-around took a sharp turn into the hills then got steeper and even rougher.

    I always scout stuff like this in GE, but its hard to judge two-track from satellite view.
    It was doable and followed a wash. :thumb
    The two-track became road again.
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    I could tell the road would get better by the big sailboat parked nearby. :hmmmmm They didn't haul that on the track we just took. The boat is hidden by the trees.
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    The road wove past some rocky hills to I-40, where there was this one lonely little cloud in a big blue sky.
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    flowering bush with soft shoots
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    We followed a combination of I-40 and dirt frontage road, which zigged to the other side of I-40 and continued through Seligman.

    It took a dozen tries to capture these flowers dancing in the wind. Yes, I'm stubborn.
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    orange carpet along I-40
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    We picked up Route 66 and took it and I-40 to Ash Fork.

    We got gas then had lunch at the Ranch House Cafe. It soon filled with locals in cowboy boots and hats and big belt buckles.
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    This is for a good friend, who is single.
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    #12
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  13. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 4 cont'd

    We buzzed south on Hwy 89 and picked up Nf-4 into the forest. If you are familiar with the conventional USFS route numbering system, single and two digit roads are good for passenger cars, three digits for 4WD vehicles and four digits get into two-track, jeep and ATV trails.

    NOT HERE! Nf-4 became a rough, rocky, chunky beast. “Lucky” for us, we got practice with similar terrain on the AZBDR near Mormon Lake.
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    Think pretty thoughts.
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    Maybe its not so bad after all...
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    It was too much for this RV.
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    Grrr. I didn't know how much longer it would last. After I've pieced together a couple thousand miles of roads I can't remember all the details.
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    Whew. Through the big rocks. Now into long sections of ruts.
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    Nf-4 was 10 miles long.
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    After that “special test section”, we followed a series of nice forest roads.
    Threatening but no rain.
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    Ahhh.
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    We eventually jumped on I-40 and zipped into Flagstaff. We stayed at the Best Western. Our room was small but comfortable. A nice breakfast is included.

    We had a good dinner at the nearby Golden Dragon Chinese restaurant and toasted a good day.
    #13
  14. Aikenrunner

    Aikenrunner 18 KTM 690 Enduro, 14 CB500X RR Supporter

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    Nice RR with beautiful photos and descriptions. Thanks and keep it coming!
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  15. billmaxx97

    billmaxx97 Adventurer

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    IM IN and ready for more !!
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  16. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 5 Flagstaff to Page, 195 miles

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    We picked up the AZBDR 17 miles north of town on road 417.
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    Hmm, more roads to explore next time.
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    This was an absolutely wonderful section. Highly scenic, fun roads with some challenging rocky bits and no one out here but us!
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    This is the road. Hillsides were sometimes steep and very rocky.
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    A rare ranch
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    Forest near the Grand Canyon
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    We visited the Tusayan Indian Ruins and Museum. Its nice and free.
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    Obligatory canyon shots
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    One advantage of doing the route northbound is no National Park fees. There is no toll booth for the exit lane on Hwy 64. (I've been here twice before - they got my money.)

    We gassed up in Cameron and had a good lunch at McAlister’s Deli.

    We also got permits for the Navajo Reservation. We planned to ride the Rez at the end of the trip (north to south) so we asked them to put the future date on the permits. This worked well.

    After droning north up Hwy 89 we turned off onto Copper Mine Rd. It is shown as dirt on some maps but is paved the entire way. It had less traffic than 89 and I think its a tad more scenic.
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    In Page we stayed at the Rodeway Inn. It was ok but the parking is far from most of the rooms. It included breakfast. There is a grocery store across the street.

    We had dinner at the nearby Fiesta Mexicana Restaurant. Another great day!
    #16
  17. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    The Evolution of a Dirtbag Part 2
    Some of you seemed interested in how I went from non-rider to dirt racer (or you're just being polite - thank you). So indulge my ego again for the rest of the story from dirt racer to ADV rider. OR, feel free to skip ahead!

    The Hubby always had street bikes. I rode pillion a couple times but didn’t like it. After 10 years riding dirt, I asked him to buy me a street bike; any bike. He brought home a gorgeous Honda Magna 700.

    I wore my dirt helmet and goggles and practiced after work. I was terrified of a metal grate bridge and would go an extra 20 miles to avoid it.
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    We moved to California and discovered twisty roads. The Magna’s shaft drive spooked me in the corners. Hello Katana 600!
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    The Katana was buzzy below 70 MPH. Even with foam grips and padded gloves my hands went numb. After a couple years my fingers developed Raynaud’s. I sold the Katana and gave up street riding for 8 years.

    I kept dirt biking and my hands could tolerate that. Honda made lighter CRs. I stepped up to 250s. Wow. What a difference.
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    The Hubby did some dual sporting but I never considered going. His XR400 was too heavy for me in rough terrain.

    I wanted to street ride again. I tried a CBR600, liked it a lot and got a used one. It was so well “balanced” I could easily do tight circles and U-turns at idle speed. No small feat for me. Loved the purple!
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    BUT, it had been modified by the previous owner and had no low end. Crack the throttle and it was a light switch — on or off. It had to go.

    I don’t remember why I picked the SV650 but I loved, loved, loved this bike. Oohh aahh. Absolutely beautiful, fun and easy to ride. It was soooo pretty!
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    I hated to part with it, but after the KLRs came along, I didn’t ride it anymore.

    I wore my dirt gear to Alaska. That was too suspicious for the Canadian border guards. I got pulled over for questioning, proof of funds and a background check. I passed and an ADV rider was born!
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    #17
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  18. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    OK, back to Arizona!

    Day 6 Page AZ to Escalante UT 95 miles

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    Today we did the famous Smoky Mountain Road into the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (no entry fee). It is 75 miles of extremely remote dirt road. Have plenty of gas because, as far as I know, there are no easy bail out points. When you’re in, you’re committed.

    We headed NW on US 89 to the barely-there town of Big Water then turned east.
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    The first 10 miles are used by people accessing Lake Powell. After that we only saw one truck and one ATV until Escalante.

    The mountain gets it's name from a burning underground coal seam. There is a road to the burn but we skipped it. :bubba
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    It climbs from the desert floor to the top of the huge Kaiparowits Plateau.
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    Its steep at the beginning.
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    This is called Kelly Grade for the guy who ran the bulldozer.
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    There are rock blocks the size of houses that could have collapsed onto brave Mr. Kelly.
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    Coal seams are visible along the way.
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    The views during the climb are phenomenal.
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    On top of old Smokey...:strum
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    #18
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  19. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 6 cont'd

    It crosses wide open terrain at first.
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    The rest of the way it winds up and down, crossing drainages and ravines.

    Its sometimes steep, sandy and has rock slabs and short steps.
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    Its a long way to the first sign of civilization.
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    Dropping off the plateau.
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    Rainclouds circled the basin the rest of the afternoon.
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    I sometimes feel there are ghosts looking over my shoulder at ancient pictographs or cliff dwellings.
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    OSM map indicates a short trail to Serenity Natural Bridge not far from Escalante. We didn’t know about that. Next time!
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    It was marvelous and I hope to do it again.

    We stayed at the Circle D Motel which was nice and quiet even though its next to an RV park.
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    They have a good restaurant and bar next door.

    In small Utah towns most of the restaurants will be closed on Sundays. Plan ahead.

    This map was in the bar.
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    We also went to a new bar about a block away, which managed to be dull and noisy at the same time. There was no music but they had a loud shuffleboard table.
    #19
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  20. AzMtnThumper

    AzMtnThumper Been here awhile

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    Flagstaff, Az
    Great pictures and reporting, looking forward to more.
    #20