Day 1 This is an account of a five day blast across <st1:state><st1lace>California</st1lace></st1:state>, <st1:state><st1lace>Arizona</st1lace></st1:state>, and up into southern <st1:state><st1lace>Utah</st1lace></st1:state>. It was initially conceived as a backpacking trip, but turned out to be more of a series of marathon rides on both pavement and dirt, with a little hiking thrown in to keep us honest. The original plan was for me to ride from <st1:state><st1lace>California</st1lace></st1:state> into <st1:state><st1lace>Arizona</st1lace></st1:state> on Wednesday afternoon, and spend the night at my friend CJs house; the two of us would then set off for Glen Canyon, Utah early Thursday morning. We were hoping to make it to the backpacking trailhead by late Thursday afternoon, park the bikes, throw on our packs, and put a few miles under our boots before dusk settled, setting up camp with nothing but stretches of sandstone and a flask of bourbon for company. But it wasnt to be. Heres what actually happened.<o></o> <o> </o> I took this after pulling up at CJs house at about 8:30PM Arizona time. The temperature was in the high twenties. <o></o> Thursday morning. We couldnt figure out a way to securely strap CJs pack to the very clean XR500. Here he is seeing how comfortable it will be to wear and ride. <o></o> CJ, geared up and ready to rip.<o></o> Me. (Dont worry; that gas can isnt full ) we ended up getting a late start, due to the fact that when we woke up at 7ish it was in the low twenties we probably used a gallon of gas between us getting the bikes warmed up. We figured that waiting a couple hours for the outside air temp to warm up would be worth it. This would later turn out to bite us in the ass...<o></o> We pulled over here about 95 miles north of <st1:city><st1lace>Flagstaff</st1lace></st1:city> on the 89. The XR had run out of gas, so CJ switched to reserve and we continued on. He had borrowed the bike from a friend, and we didnt know what the range was, so we figured it would be good to find out early on.<o></o> We made it about 30 more miles before the bike died completely and we had to break out the gas can.<o></o> From the 89 we planned on taking a fifty mile off road shortcut north on <st1lace>Cottonwood</st1lace> road to the town of <st1:city><st1lace>Cannonville</st1lace></st1:city>, instead of traveling the much longer 200 mile paved route. It had recently snowed though, so we decided to stop at a BLM office to ask about road conditions. The BLM guy on site told us That road is impassible, especially on motorcycles, youll just end up getting stuck CJ and I met in 2002 while serving in <st1:country-region><st1lace>South Korea</st1lace></st1:country-region>, and thanks to our mutual disregard for rules and regs, similar world views, musical tastes, and senses of humor, we forged a quick friendship. When guys like us are presented with a pair of choices, one safe and boring, the other exciting and challenging you can guess which option is invariably chosen. <o></o> <o> </o> I took this right after pulling off the pavement.<o></o> <st1lace>Cottonwood</st1lace> road<o></o> So far the road had been wide, dry, and smooth. We were hauling ass, taking names, and making damn good time, CJ was doing a fine job hustling the XR along with the heavy pack on his back. (Notice that he is now carrying his own gas; I figured it was a better deal to have it spill on his fender than my backpack ) <o></o> CJ, or Kenny from <st1lace><st1lacename>South</st1lacename><st1lacetype>Park</st1lacetype></st1lace>? I love the rock formations in this picture, as well as the way the road snakes up over the ridge.<o></o> We had begun to see snow on the ground, and portions of the road were now turning a bit muddy.<o></o> and then very muddy. As others have said before me, Scorpions are completely useless in mud; I might as well have been on racing slicks. Descending this particular hill was a real bitch. Mud ended up getting crammed under the front fender, so much so that the front wheel wouldnt turn. (The second time this has happened to me this month see www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=123707) We ended up pulling off the front fender and scraping out the mud mid-hill. Not fun. Notice how long the shadows are getting in this picture. By the time I was done bolting the fender back on, the sun had set. We werent really worried though, as we plenty of warm gear, food and water. We could have pulled over on the side on the road and camped comfortably for a week. We actually did consider pulling over and setting up camp before dusk finally settled, but we then remembered how good beer tasted and decided to trek on. We probably spent 20 minutes on the dirt in the dark before finally hitting asphalt again. <o></o> At the end of <st1lace>Cottonwood</st1lace> road there is a state park with camping, but it was 15 bucks, and we didnt have any cash. So we decided to press on to Cannonville. Plus, state parks dont sell beer. <o></o> <o> </o> When we finally made our way into Cannonville, we found a KOA that charged 20 bucks a night, and a small store/gas station below a motel that was closed when we got there. There was a sign on the window with a phone number to call if you needed service though Some German lady was hanging out front smoking, and told us she had already called it and the clerk was on the way. The clerk turned out to be the daughter of hotels owners, visiting mom and pop from her home in Vegas. She was helpful and pretty, offering to turn on the gas pump for us, but this being small town <st1:state><st1lace>Utah</st1lace></st1:state>, they didnt have any beer. We settled for topping off our tanks and grabbing some orange juice and Gatorade which we gulped down greedily, still recovering from the last few grueling miles of trail. <o></o> Feeling recharged from our break at the Hotel, we decided that there nothing left but to press on for Escalante, the last town we would pass through before jumping onto the dirt road leading to our trailhead. The ride from Cannonville to Escalante was damn cold, but we finally made it. We found a Wells Fargo, got some cash from the ATM and went in search of a reasonably priced campsite. We almost immediately stumbled across a lit up store with a neon Espresso sign in the window, and people moving about inside. Seeing as it was the only lit up storefront in town, and the ride between Cannonville and Escalante had been frigid, we decided that some espresso sounded damn good at the moment. Maybe they could recommend a good campsite as well We tried the door and it was locked, but after some enthusiastic knocking, one of the people inside came over and opened up for us. Not only was this place a coffee shop, but they had camping gear, good beer on tap, a wall of liquor, a nicely stocked wine rack, a fridge full of microbrews, free internet access, and a CAMPGROUND out back. What a bargain! They hooked us up with a campsite for $14 and a six pack of their own microbrew for $8. Kick ass. We pitched the tent, cooked up some dinner on our camp stove, downed some brews (which were delicious) and racked out. This is their web site: www.escalanteoutfitters.com<o></o> <o> </o> I took this picture before we rolled out Friday morning. <o></o> Stay tuned for day 2! All dirt, more crashes, more great scenery, mind blowing slot canyons, the works!!!