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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    Day 11 Torrey to Kanab 230 miles

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    Originally we had planned to go south in Capitol Reef on Pleasant Creek Rd, ford the creek, then west on two-track through Tantalus Flats and Lower Browns Reservoir to UT12 at 8600 ft. High creek levels and snow on the mountains convinced us that wasn’t going to happen.

    I didn't have an alternate scoped out, so we hopped on scenic paved UT12 and climbed into the Fishlake NF.

    Henry Mtns
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    That's probably Lower Browns Res. It was snow-free but the ground was soggy.
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    The road climbs to 9400 ft. There was snow on the other side of the highway.
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    We got gas and had a good lunch in Tropic.
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    We chatted with some locals who warned us of a washout on Skutumpah Rd, our intended route. Let’s go see.
    #41
  2. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 11 cont'd

    We backtracked through Cannonville to dirt Skutumpah Rd.

    It climbs steeply into the hills. Looking back.
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    After ~ 10 miles we came to this...
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    ...and this!
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    There is still a strip of road about 3 feet wide on the right. What is holding the crumbling dirt up? I have no idea.

    I am usually game to push past a washout, but didn't want to be the straw that broke the camel's back. I could see the headline: "Stupid Californian goes past well-signed road block and plummets to her death. Tragic loss of DRZ."

    The gorge is awesome and there is a trail along the rim.
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    The dirt is the remaining strip of road. Still not sure what is supporting the dirt. Back we go.
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    Along the way back, there is a hiking trail into a slot canyon called Willis Creek. This is all part of the Grand Staircase NM.
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    In retrospect we could have taken Cottonwood Canyon Rd to Hwy 89, then west to Kanab. I didn't add that track to my GPS on this trip and forgot it was an option. D'Oh! Double D'Oh! Next time!

    We made a big long paved detour through Bryce and Hatch. Nice, but yawn.

    Near Alton we got off US 89 onto backroads. Alton sits in a lush green valley, a quaint little town in an idyllic pastoral scene...
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    …with a coal mine being dug on the edge of town! 200 trucks a day will be on the local road and highway.
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    The county road was rerouted and wasn’t on the map but was easy to follow.

    We continued south through nice ranch land with old buildings.
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    Most of the valley seems to belong to one big ranch, so they don't need the old homesteads.
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    In Kanab we stayed at the Best Western and had pizza down the street.
    #42
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  3. bomose

    bomose Long timer

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    Just catching up on this RR. Great scenery and pictures. My wife and I have done many vacations around the Capitol Reef- Grand Staircase area. The colors of the area are always spectacular. You do need to go when you can go over the Henry Mtns. The views are fantastic. Willis Creek is a great, easy hike, too. One place you need to go to is Strike Valley overlook. Few people know about it.The "road" is just before going down the Burr switchbacks. It is just a sand wash of a couple of miles, but the view is worth it. I've never done Smokey Mtn road. It doesn't look doable 2 up on a 990. Maybe I'll get out there on my DR. Looking forward to the rest of the report.
    Strike Valley
    Utah Reunion 2007 343-1.JPG
    #43
  4. rollergirl

    rollergirl Adventurer

    Joined:
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    My heart is in Africa
    I was just reading your ride report and I thought I would say hi.
    My husband and I ride too.
    I am enjoying your ride report and your bike/hubby history.
    My husband has been talking about doing a ride on the UTBDR so, I'm excited to read more about your adventure.

    We noticed that you live near SD. So do we.
    I keep saying to my husband (whynowthen) that I need to ride with women occasionally.
    Pm me if you would be interested in chatting.
    #44
  5. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Thank you and thanks for the info. I spotted the Strike Valley overlook on the map but wasn't sure if it was doable. Adding it to the To Do tracks.
    Smokey Mtn could be difficult on a big bike and even tougher two-up because of the off-camber sandy surfaces and V dip ravines. When we were riding it, the only truck we saw (oncoming) turned around when they reached the narrower ravines.
    #45
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  6. Blaise W

    Blaise W Long timer Supporter

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    Great RR and thanks so much for adding in all the info on where you stayed, dined, routes missed and places that need to be explored. This is in my backyard and I've done quite a bit of your route, but you strung it all together very nicely. I think it would be a great ride for some of my friends who come West to ride during the warmer months. Early June is nice because the monsoons haven't usually moved in yet. Even mid June to start wouldn't be too risky. Next time, don't skip the Black Dragon. At least try. It can be really difficult, or a cake walk two up. All depends on when the last flash flood occurred. Now, you need to continue on up thru Idaho to the Canadian border. Idaho is phenomenal!

    What a treat to be able to do this as a couple! Some guys have all the luck......:)
    #46
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  7. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Thank you. We lived in Idaho for 10 years before moving to SoCal. We were there in October to do the northern IDBDR and a loop thru eastern WA. We got snowed out in Sandpoint after 5 days on the trail. :dirtdog
    I'll be sure to remind The Hubby how lucky he is! :lol2
    #47
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  8. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Hello! Thanks for reading and replying. I rarely hear from woman riders.
    I read some of your hubby's RRs. Looks like you've had some great adventures in Baja! We'll be heading there next year.
    We've done all the western BDRs (except northern NV). They're all fun. I'd be happy to share any info on those. I'll PM you in a few days.
    #48
  9. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 12 Kanab UT to Page AZ 130 miles

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    We headed south on US 89Alt through Fredonia then east on dirt Winter Rd.
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    We met a bikepacker. This looked like a good road to pedal. Scenic, no traffic, good condition, flat ...
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    Then it climbed into the hills and got rougher and rougher. Forget what I said about pedaling here.
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    We do people drive on wet roads and tear them up?
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    The road goes through the hills for 10 miles and was rutted and rocky but not difficult.
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    It dropped steeply and rockily(?) toward the Vermillion Cliffs where we joined the AZBDR and headed south. (Rockily doesn't seem like a real word but can be used in Scrabble. Now you know!)

    That bicyclist must have been a tough cookie to make the climb.
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    We passed this. Hmmm...
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    The Vermillion Cliffs are favored by condors. I thought: "What are the chances?" Our homage at the temples must still be paying off!
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    We connected to US 89Alt again and checked out the mining ruins near Lee's Ferry on the Colorado River.
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    Raft trips launch here.
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    Its still my lucky day! Found a penny!
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    We had lunch in Marble Canyon.
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    In Page we went to the Powell Museum but it was closed for renovations. Either that or they didn't want two sweaty dual sporters stinking the place up.
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    This time we stayed at the Best Western Plus - Lake Powell. Its a busy place and
    was filled with Chinese traveling by tour bus. The hotel cooks in the breakfast room prepared omelets etc.

    We've encountered many Chinese tourists in the past few couple years (including in Morocco!). I'm amazed at how much food they waste at buffets. They pile up their plates and only eat half of it. Growing up we were told: "Clean your plate. They're starving in China."

    Still speaking of food, we had an excellent dinner at the Steer 89 Steakhouse around the corner. Good service too. No Chinese there. They go to the buffets...
    #49
  10. AZ Mark

    AZ Mark Long timer Supporter

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    Have to say "Great Ride Report". :clap
    I have traveled along many of those corridors and now I have added a few more to my will-do-someday list.
    If you find yourself overnighting again in Wickenburg give me a shout. I would gladly treat you two to a meal just to hear about your ADV travels! Unless you don't enjoy talking about such things...
    #50
  11. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Thank you. Happy to hear that you found some nuggets in my ramblings. Thanks also for the invite. You might have trouble getting us to stop talking...:lol2
    #51
  12. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 13 Page to Flagstaff 180 miles

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    We headed south on US 89 to the AZBDR on the Navajo Reservation. We had gotten permits on the way north the week before.

    I was expecting it to be flat, sandy and ugly. Wrong.
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    The hard-packed two-track weaved and rolled past washes, hills and buttes.
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    I really enjoyed it and was kicking myself that we didn't ride it the week before too (northbound). The advantage of doing it today was starting in the morning before it got hot.
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    Bring a GPS. Most roads were unmarked and there were lots of two-tracks branching and braiding.
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    This part of the Rez is 1500 to 2000 ft higher elevation than along the highway and greener and cooler.
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    We only saw a few houses. There were some scattered shacks, probably for the shepherds.
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    Forest fire in Utah made it hazy.
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    A local in a pickup stopped us and asked what we were doing. We explained the AZBDR. He was casual and polite although he had never heard of it and was surprised it went through the Rez.

    There was another truck traveling with him driven by a white guy. He was less polite and told us we were trespassing on private land. We told him we had permits but he still seemed annoyed. BTW the permits cost $12 per person (I think that is per day also.)
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    We saw a couple flocks of sheep with shepherds on horseback. There were always dogs with them. One flock on the road did not have a shepherd. I was stunned when the dogs saw me, rounded up the sheep and moved them off the road by themselves!
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    There's an out-n-back spur to the Little Colorado. We met two riders here from England who had rented bikes.
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    We headed east and dropped to US 89. You'd never know that lovely backcountry was a few miles away.
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    We had lunch at the Cameron Trading Post. The club sandwiches were enormous. Good thing we split one.
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    This picture of a Navajo silversmith was next to our table. They learned the craft from the Spanish.
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    It was a hot slog down the highway until we neared the mountains of Flagstaff.

    We stayed at the Best Western. We dined at the Golden Dragon again, which was busy with a busload of Chinese. The service was still good and we were given a quiet spot to ourselves.

    I had gotten a nosebleed the last time we ate here. They probably said: “Nosebleed Lady is here! Put her in the corner!” Odd that I lived in the desert for years and have ridden in the Andes and Himalayas with no trouble, but Flagstaff AZ got me.
    #52
  13. bomose

    bomose Long timer

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    I was down 89 to Tuba City in October. Didn't know what I missed.
    #53
  14. msteward

    msteward Long timer

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    Great read.
    #54
  15. alex4515

    alex4515 Adventurer

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    Fantastic RR, thank you for taking the time to put this together!
    #55
  16. BigDogAdventures

    BigDogAdventures Fart Letter Supporter

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    Yes thanks so much if I hadn't said earlier.
    That Bull Run Gorge you came to and was washed out is where 3 guys in their pick up truck fell off into
    long ago------way long ago-------1954 it was. It was presumed they died quickly.
    The pickup is still down in there just below what some might call a bridge--not really a bridge as we all know it-------just some dirt and rock going over the gorge.
    They removed the bodies and left the truck.
    Me, dingweeds and the Mobius riders hiked down into the gorge a few years ago and you can still see the truck---------pretty creepy.
    I think you'll be interested in these pictures.
    We stripped down and prepared for the hike down into the gorge---we had to hike quite a ways just to get to a spot that would allow us to get down in it.
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    Francine (LDF)
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    A picture of the truck------it's still there.

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    #56
  17. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    We typically avoid backroads on Reservations - not always sure if we're allowed or welcomed. Its nice that the Navajos have a permit system so we know where we can and cannot go.
    Thank you.
    Thanks. Keep reading. Two days to go.
    #57
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  18. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Thank you and thanks for the pictures. Cool slot canyon. I agree with you, seeing the crushed truck is creepy.
    #58
  19. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 14 Flagstaff to Wickenburg 190 miles

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    We took side roads through Flagstaff to avoid I-40. We had not seen much of the town before.

    We headed south on dirt Woody Mtn Rd. It was busy for the first few miles then passes lovely meadows.
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    We met some loggers working at the intersection of Nf-530, which was badly rutted. They probably expected the ride leader in pink to turn around. Nope!

    The mud lasted almost 10 miles but I was able to pick my way around it. After the mud ended it got rocky but I still liked it. (I tend to say that when I’m Route Planner.)
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    We wove through the forest on a mix of good and rough roads. Today's route touched on our northbound route but never overlapped it.
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    We popped out of the forest and then back in.
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    The terrain got hillier and we zipped up and down past a couple lakes. Very nice.

    This bee was rolling in the pollen.
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    We gave up on southbound Nf-354 though. It was big rocks similar to Nf-4 the week before. In case you forgot, it looked like this:
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    This required a detour on the much better northbound Nf-354. (There might have been other work-arounds but we took the fastest.) This took us to paved Cr-73 which dropped 2500 ft in elevation and out of the forest.

    We had planned to take dirt Perkinsville Rd south to Chino Valley but it was getting hot and we had a long way to go. We headed west instead on a mix of dirt forest and county roads.

    We jumped on US 89 and got gas and lunch in Chino Valley.

    We swung west through Williamson to Tonto Rd, which became dirt after a couple miles. This was nice and fun and rolled through hills to Skull Valley. Not photogenic though.

    It was 100F in Wickenburg when we checked in at the Super 8 on the north end of town. Super 8s tend to be hit or miss. It was fine. The breakfast was ok. Not as good as the BW, but not as expensive either. We had dinner at Denny’s, which is down the street.
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    One more day to go.
    #59
  20. Eastbay Dirtbag

    Eastbay Dirtbag one track mind

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    Day 15 Wickenburg AZ to Blythe CA 170 miles

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    We headed south on paved Vulture Mine Rd then NW on dirt Aguila Rd. It was fine until we starting meeting mine haul trucks coming in a big cloud of dust.

    We had planned to take the mine road to Little Horn Peak Rd. Not happening. We stayed on Aguila Rd past the mine turnoff to paved Eagle Eye Rd, then south.

    This was the first time we encountered burros standing in the road and had to wait for them to move. They didn't go far.
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    We zig-zagged on pavement then dirt and did a stint west on I-10. We might have been able to take utility roads south of I-10 but we wanted to beat the heat.

    We gassed up at the Vicksburg exit (#45) and headed south on dirt Vicksburg Rd.

    We took the EPNG pipeline road/two-track west through Kofa National Wildlife Refuge. I love this road! It rolls and dips for 25 miles past the rugged Kofa Mtns.
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    We've been on this track 3 times and have only seen one vehicle.

    Pics from previous trips in the opposite direction:
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    It was a toasty 105F when we reached Blythe. Just in time for a tasty lunch at my favorite Mexican restaurant.
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    We stayed at the Best Western. Its our go-to place in Blythe and includes breakfast.

    We had dinner at Sizzler and I ordered a glass of wine. After filling my glass there was half a bottle left. The cashier handed me the bottle and said "Just take it." I must have looked like I was ready to celebrate! Cheers to a great ride! :beer

    We enjoyed so much variety and incredible scenery. Its fun to re-live it through our photos and this report (before I forget everything!)

    Thanks for riding along, :wave

    The End
    EBDB
    #60
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