Riding the White Mountains – Land of the Pioneers Trail

 

Fred & Emily


Morning, Peeps!

As promised, we’re pumping out more content than political ads in October so please enjoy our next trail review for Land of the Pioneers. As before we’re experimenting with ways to make these videos more interesting including a preview during the cold open and split-screen riding.

With that, enjoy the format, see Fred endo and watch us get eaten alive by mosquitoes.

 

Riding the White Mountains – Los Burros Trail

Fred & Emily


Evening, Peeps!

I’ve been remiss – career and life have gotten away from me and the blog has gotten very little love. But fear not, Fred has been busy and we’ve put together a most excellent set of videos reviewing the Los Burros trail, which we rode on our firs day Airstreaming the White Mountains.

We’re having some fun experimenting with format so here’s a long-cut video in our usual style.

And a second video in a more contemporaneous form.

Enjoy our review and please punch the like button on your preferred version of this video!

Airstreaming Louisiana’s Indian Creek Recreation Area

Emily & Silent Partner


Morning, Peeps.

Amazingly, I still haven’t quite finished chronicling our journey across America in the Airstream. Our YouTube channel is keeping us very busy, and to say the least, our appetite to publish content is bigger than our stomachs. Still, I find myself with some time this morning so I thought I would weave together a quick post about another place that stands out in our memories as an extraordinary camping location: The Indian Creek Recreation Area, which sits in the middle of Louisiana’s Alexander Forest Wildlife Management Area.

Our stay-over in Louisiana was essentially accidental, we needed to get from Bentonville, Arkansas to Marianna, Florida – but I didn’t have enough PTO time at work to do the drive over multiple days straight. So we sat down, looked at a map and threw a dart. It landed on Indian Creek Recreation Area as a crude half-way point. Knowing nothing about what to expect we decided to drive from Bentonville, stay in Louisiana for the week, then get to Florida that next weekend. And oh what a lovely coincidence of serendipity that turned out to be.

Booking

Reservations at Indian Creek Recreation Area can be made on Louisiana’s Department of Agriculture & Forestry here. We stayed there in early December so the campground was largely empty. Rates that time a year were roughly around $20/day though incredibly they offered monthly rates, which we came to learn many retirees in the area took liberal advantage of.

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Pads were meticulously clean and in good repair, we had 50 amp service and city water. No sewer though, so we did the dump at one of multiple stations throughout the park on our departure day. Landry and bathroom facilities were available at a central building.

We also scored a clear view of the southern sky so satellite was ‘rockin. And as always, since I program computers for a living we needed good cell internet service and Verizon was clear as a bell.

Amenities & Activities

Indian Creek Lake

Indian Creek Recreation Area abuts Indian Creek Lake. We had an unbelievable view. Mornings were especially amazing.

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There are several pavilions located along the lake and boat launches as well.

Mountain Biking

While there are some hills in Louisiana along the the Arkansas border the terrain quickly flattens out and merges into low-lying forest and swamp as you move south. As such there weren’t any “mountains” to ride here, but there was a lovely nature trail running the perimeter of the recreation area. Speaking with the local rangers they said it was open for biking, though I must admit I did get a strange look when I asked.

As with my rides in Florida, I found this ride to be sublime.

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Certainly not technical but the ride gave me what I needed, which was peace and centering. Deer were a-plenty as was awesome lakeside views, especially in the evening.

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New Friends

By now if you follow our blog it’s clear one of the primary objectives of our cross-America trip was to “get away from it all”. I think our multitude of posts shows we accomplished that in spades, which routinely put us in remote quit locations with few people. Neither of us are introverted, it’s just sometimes you just need to unplug.

In the case of the Indian Creek Recreation Area, though, we had one of those wonderful chance encounters. We happened across another couple while doing laundry of all things, and got to talking. Char and Danny if you’re out there, hi! Our conversation grew into a friendship and it taught us the true meaning of southern hospitality.

Char introduced me to boudin, which I practically gorged myself on, and Danny taught us about gumbo. Over a few short days we met our new friends for a southern style dinner that blew our socks off. Turned out Char and Danny are retired and kept a brand new trailer in the park for most of the winter and they commuted up from Lafayette during the week. What a great stroke of luck we should meet.

It’s an old trope, but people really are what make places special.

Recommendation

We found Louisiana’s Indian Creek Recreation Area has “it”. If you have the means by all means stay there!

Riding #9415 Wolverton Mountain Trail

Emily & Silent Partner


Afternoon, Peeps!

It’s 4th of July weekend and time to Airstream again! For the next few days we’re up here at Prescott’s White Spar Campground. We already did an extensive review of this area here, so instead we’re using this time to blog about what’s new – in this case, more mountain biking!

To that end, we we rode #9415 Wolverton Mountain Trail this morning.

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The Wolverton Mountain Trail is rated as a blue-black and after comparing notes on the ride we agree with this rating.

This 10-mile (16km) out-and-back begins across from the campground and immediately slaps you in the face with aggressive sustained climbing that meanders anywhere between 5% and 10%.

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I think the trail might be better named “Touched by Fire”, though. The climb takes you through dense scrub and evidence of a terrible forest fire sometime in the past.

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One thing that caught us off guard climbing here was the exposure – there is so little foliage, and so much dead-fall, the temperatures already hit low 90s (33C) by 9AM.

By the end of the ride we’d both worked our way through most of our water.

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The climb consists of moderately technical surface though much of the trail is steep off-camber single-track and crushed rock like this. It never occurred to me why the campground was named “White Spar” but it turns out the term “spar” refers to any bright crystalline substance.

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We only made it 4mi (6.4km) in before turning back, the altitude and heat was getting to us.

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On the descent you are greeted with an extraordinary view; San Francisco Peaks visible in the distance.

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Also we took some time to smell the flowers.

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And… enormous private telescopes?

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Conclusion

We’ll absolutely ride Wolverton Mountain Trail again, probably on Tuesday. By then we should be adjusted to the altitude and we’ll head out a little earlier. Seen you soon with more Airstream updates!

Reflections on Airstreaming Moab, Utah

Emily & Silent Partner


Evening, Peeps.

My heart is heavy as we are now back in Phoenix….and therefore, not Moab. As I work my way back into my professional life, it occurs to me there are a few additional thoughts to share about Moab from previous trips, so enjoy some random musings.

What’s In a Name

I find it totally fitting that even the name Moab is somewhat mysterious. For me the Paiute origin story, referring to the word moapa, meaning “mosquito”, has the most resonance. Still if Moab was instead named Vina or Uvadalia I suspect it would have exactly the same energy and feel.

Arches National Park

Yes, Arches National Park is pretty amazing.

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But keep in mind – all of Moab and surrounding area is amazing. Do you really need to pay for it, when everything is amazing? For example, drive up Utah 128 from Moab to Interstate 70 along the Colorado River, it’ll blow your mind. Or, Utah 313 to Dead Horse Point. I happen to find the drive through Canyonlands more rewarding, and the view at the point equal to the task (though yes you do have to pay for that too). Or for free you can ride the Zephyr trail (mentioned later) that crosses into the north end of the park.

Still, we stayed in Arches one time (see the featured image) because, well, everyone said it was the thing to do. The park has essentially one road that you can drive for an out-and-back, at the low low fee of $25, or, you can pay the low-low fee of $25, drag your trailer all the way to the end of the 28mi (45km) road and maybe get a camping spot.

A year ago we made a point to get to the park early and found the front gate can’t (or won’t) tell you whether the campground is full, so we paid the stupid fee and drove the 28mi (45km) and we discovered that almost no sites fit the Airstream, and ones that did were occupied. You can’t mountain bike the park, you can’t take your dogs out anywhere except on the streets & campground and cell coverage is terrible.

Despite these setbacks the campground host took pity on us and offered us a one-night stay in the host’s spot because they were staying in the ranger’s cabin. For this we are profoundly grateful, but my take on Arches National Park is that the park is pretty cool but the fee is outrageous for what you get.

Mountain Biking Pipe Dream

Pipe Dream is a blue/black trail that runs directly along the western edge of town. I found this trail more black than blue so I never got any zen here owing to the habitual dabbing and dismounts. I can still see it being a handy go-to trail if you lived in Moab as an excellent “work on your skills” destination.

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Mountain Biking Zephyr

Zephyr is considered more of a connector than a destination trail, but nevertheless we rode it once to see what’s there.

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The oddity about this trail is is crosses briefly into Arches National Park for free, and it offers some truly heart-stopping landscapes such as these. Though this looks like an undulating landscape of routine slickrock, look closer and you’ll notice the beginnings of a verdant canyon filled with water, green trees and birds. Though the trail itself was, for me, entirely forgettable the “Planet of the Apes” like scenery absolutely made it worthwhile.

La Sal Mountain Range

The La Sal mountains just blow my mind. I just can’t get over the juxtaposition of looking up at the mountains and seeing snow when it’s 100° F (38° C) in the canyons.

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Also I don’t know why this amazes me, by the La Sals are considered part of the Rocky Mountains and a source of Uranium.

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Fred and I rode The Whole Enchilada a couple years ago, which starts high up in a snowy aspen grove and bottoms out on the Colorado river. We caught a shuttle from the previously mentioned Poison Spider Bicycles, but honestly, the shuttle should go two hours earlier – it was hot as hell and I wound up with early signs of heat stroke at the end of the ride.

Overall we both found the ride a little too extreme for our sensibilities, and agreed that the Porcupine Rim portion of the ride was the most enjoyable and least deathy. The final segment down to the river, though, was way more than either of us would do again.

Still, it is pretty amazing to start a ride in snow and wind up over 100°!

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Eats

I forgot to mention Milt’s Stop N’ Eat in our previous blogs. Milt’s is a kitschy actual 50’s era diner located on Moab’s former main drag. They serve exactly the right food for after mountain biking including delicious burgers and yummy salty fries. We highly recommend the experience, though sadly they’re closed Mondays.

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Conclusion

But Emily, you didn’t mention the most Moab of all Moab mountain bike trails, Slickrock!

I’d have some pictures for you if my crappy Buffalo NAS hadn’t taken them to the briny deep, but I’ll commit heresy here: We didn’t like Slickrock.

Stone ● Cold ● Silence

Here’s why – the trail is blue/black. Fred and I tried Slickrock a few years ago really before we should have. Specifically, Slickrock is steep – like 100% grade steep. That requires massive fitness, and we found we just didn’t have it at the time. And fitness is important when you’re pumping your way up this massive incline with your eyeballs exploding out your face and there’s just no place to bail. If you stop your’re sliding to god knows where.

Someday we’ll do it again, especially now that we have the fitness and the skills. But I still remember it, and I suspect I’ll like Klondike Bluffs better (gasp). We’ll see!

And that, my friends, is what Moab is all about. There’s always more to come back for and great stories to tell (someday ask me about Magnificent 7 and almost dying in a Uranium tornado).

Cheers!

Airstreaming Moab, Utah – Day 6

Emily & Silent Partner


Morning, Peeps.

Yesterday was an early start with but one objective – mountain bike Klondike Bluffs. Even though temperatures this time of year hover in the 50’s (10C) in the morning and low 80’s (27C) in the afternoon something about slickrock reflects a lot of sunlight making it seem much hotter than it is. We wanted to eliminate any chance of dehydration and/or heat stroke since I’ve gotten myself into trouble here in the past.

Mountain Biking Klondike Bluffs

Reaching Klondike Bluffs in the AM we set off.

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Klodike Bluffs is so named because of these.

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The trail system is a brilliant arrangement of easy to hard trails where you can make your own adventure across amazing terrain. Crudely speaking the bluffs is a large rectangle with the long sides running north to south. The rectangle is bisected by multiple east/west downhill runs rated in the blue/black category.

My favorite make-your-own-adventure is:

Dino Flow

Dino Flow is a nice green/blue trail where you can get get warmed up.

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The trail flirts with portions of slickrock but also follows plenty of hardpack and has a half-dozen features that make you work your skills so you can never quite get complacent.

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Dino Flow is also undulated which gets your heart rate at just about the right level before diving into Mega Steps.

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Mega Steps

Mega Steps is one of several blue/black trails that run east to west forming dramatic downhills (or climbs), depending on your direction of travel.

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We find the Mega Steps climb to be lung-busting but the least lung-busting of all the options out there.

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In Moab parlance a “step” is a natural slickrock feature resembling human steps. Mega Steps, as shown in the featured image, look like steps more suited to Godzilla. Personally I feel like climbing Mega Steps is what the bottom of an empty swimming pool would be like like to an ant.

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At the top of the steps we took a breather.

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Klondike Bluff Outer Loop

Mega Steps joins into the Klondike Bluff Outer loop before splitting onto Little Salty.

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This is a blue connector that at times shares a 4×4 trail. Yes this is a jeep trail.

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Little Salty

Time got away from me on the tie-in to little salty so I didn’t catch more pictures, but the Little Salty is a blue/black decent of about 50% hardpack then 50% fairly intense downhill slickrock like so.

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For one reason or another this kind of slickrock descent puts me in a deep zen mode, picking lines and following the dots. By far Klondike Bluffs is my favorite ride out here. At least, until I ride more of the dozens of trails out here that I have yet to explore.

Conclusion

Sadly yesterday was our last day of riding, and tomorrow we prepare to go back home …and back to work. I’ve mentioned “it” as a recurring theme in this blog – and Moab has a thousand different kinds of “it”. Should you decide to visit, keep in mind everybody else knows Moab has “it” too – plan your lodging well, be prepare for crowds, but also be prepared for vistas and experiences so gorgeous they’ll break your hear.

Airstreaming Moab, Utah – Day 5

Emily & Silent Partner


Evening, Peeps.

Welcome to day 5 of our Moab musings! See what I did there? A little alliteration – pretty fancy right? Today was another mountain bike ride and lazing about and gazing wistfully into the Colorado while eating Doritos, drinking beer and reading my book.

And wondering why cell coverage is so bad…

But anyway, because of all that belly button gazing today’s blog is shorter but that’s ok, enjoy the pictures.

Mountain Biking the North 40

The North 40 is a short and fairly laid back blue/black trail north of town in what is referred to the as the “Bar M” trail system.

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Adventure Machines

Before I tell you more about this trail, I should mention I love geeking out over how people build their “adventure machines”, some of which were in the parking lot.

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I wonder how much difference that roof rack really makes in the scheme of things?

The Ride

The North 40 is kind of like when your own dog bites you. You’re thinking- but – you love me. You know me. Why would you bite me? North 40 seems so tame as it climbs some easy going slickrock and hardpack.

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But then it starts throwing this kind of stuff at you.

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Now that’s ok. I mean, I don’t want my dog biting me – but a trail like this keeps you honest. It makes you a better rider, and the risk is generally well constrained. I dismounted a half-dozen times, but I think laying down your Moab neural network would make internalizing those lines a snap if you were lucky enough to ride here all the time.

More Flowers

I’m not sure why, but flowers in the desert amaze me. I think it’s because of the contrast – in a terribly hostile place like the Utah desert where almost nothing lives you find this!

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A Little Geology

Evidently Mighty Manganese is responsible for the black coloration on the rocks in Moab. We read that on a sign in canyon lands. Well – ok they didn’t say “mighty”, I added that part, probably from too much Sesame Street in the 70’s, but my statement is still accurate.

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The distinctive green color in many of the hills around here is, according to the fine folks at the Utah Geological Survey, caused by chlorite or clay consisting of iron silicate.

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To Be Continued…

Tomorrow we’re riding the Klondike Bluffs. Peace out my friends, one more day of riding to come.