Mountain Biking Zion’s Doorstep

Emily & Silent Partner


Evening, Peeps!

Today was our last day winter Airstreaming in St. George so we did it up in style and rode the Hurricane Cliffs JEM Trail, which is literally on Zion National Park’s doorstep.

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The weather was bright and clear, if not a bit cool but it made for exceptional desert riding.

Mellow JEM

Our trail of choice was the Mellow JEM feature ride. I chose this ride because we wanted something, well… mellow. The climb is only a few percent and the route makes a classic lollipop. Total mileage ~11mi (18km) and 1100′ (335m) of climbing.

Ride Preview

This ride stitches together the JEM Trail.

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To the Cryptobionic Trail.

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To the Dead Ringer Trail.

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In truth the outbound leg was OK – nothing wildly technical though I found the initial exposures up against the Virgin River a little gratuitous and unnecessary. As I contemplated my own death it occurred to me this shelf ride is very similar to Porcupine Rim in Moab. Oh, and that’s Zion National Park directly ahead – not half bad eh?

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Even the less deathy stuff is still mind boggling. I can’t imagine what this looks like when it’s running.

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All these trails were tight green single-track with occasional blue uppers. When I finally “got” this trail though was on the way back.

Oh, that’s cool!

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Parting Thoughts

Winter Airstreaming

Winter Airstreaming is a little hard – the roads were icy getting out here, the Airstream is covered in road salt which is just awful for this rig, and it’s f’ing cold – around freezing daily. We pounded through propane like nobody’s tomorrow but in exchange we saw something amazing – the desert in winter tableau, staged just for us.

I’d recommend riding here 10 times over. Just bring appropriate winter gear. Need I say more?

Pssst KOA – Pass It On

A quick shout out to the St. George/Hurricane KOA. This place rocks – electrical outlets were in awesome repair, all hose bibs were new, pads were level and clean with round high quality aggregate keeping the dust away. Pavement was even new. The bath house was in excellent repair, clean and warm. Despite the proximity to I-15 we also didn’t particularly pick up on the road noise.

KOAs tend to be expensive, but we splurged for this exact reason – you always know what you’re going to get and these guys know what they’re doing. Nothing beats rolling into a killer campground after 8 hours on the road and feeling all snugly inside that you’re going to get exactly what you paid for. And we did!

What Could Go Wrong

I try to make a point about what can go wrong in RVing. Not that I have a dark demeanor or anything, but I just think it pays to keep everyone’s eyes open to the possibilities when they travel.

This trip we had a few gremlins.

The water pump in the Airstream kept “topping off” even though all faucets were closed. We didn’t have a leak so I suspect it’s something to do with being in storage for so long. After a couple minutes it would eventually chill out. As I finish this post it’s stopped entirely so that will be one for a future service visit. The internets suggests it may be a bum pressure sensor.

Also the Clarion stereo the Airstream shipped with decided to lose its mind and spontaneously cycle through all modes instead of staying on Aux, which we use for DirecTV. That too has mysteriously “fixed” itself. Since I’ve always hated the Clarion stuff anyway this gives me an excuse to replace the sound system with all Bose.

Lastly Dee, our 2500 HD Denali decided to complain about low coolant today. I topped off the antifreeze while fueling up with winterized diesel and checked for leaks (nothing apparent). We may have an appointment at the Chevy dealer soon, time will tell.

And with that my friends, peace out!

This Blows, Mountain Biking Hurricane UT

Emily & Silent Partner


Evening, Peeps!

Yesterday I mentioned we’re at a KOA in St. George Utah. Ok, so technically speaking, we’re actually in Hurricane, UT which is next to St. George.

I suspect Hurricane is called Hurricane because this place blows – literally.

Today it was 43°F (6°C) with 20mph (32kph) winds.  ; o

The Ride

I wasn’t sure what the wind would do to the ride, but today’s journey took us on White Reef Trail to Tipple Trail to Red Reef East Trail to Prospector Trail.

This Blows

My silent Partner bailed early on due to the face-freezing wind but not me, no siree bob, I was on a mission!

White Reef Trail

White Reef doesn’t offer much in the way of views, but it does offer a nice easy warm up. All trails were easy blues, nothing technical just a bit of fitness. Courtesy of our GoPro 7 you can see my POV.

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For me there’s no such thing as a bad day mountain biking, even when my face is frozen in place.

Tipple Trail

Next up, Tipple Trail offered a sweeping view of the surrounding terrain. By this point I was warmed up and the intense wind was at my back offering a nice little assist up the climbs.

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If you’ve ever been to Sedona or Moab this area very much has ‘that’ feel. Replete even with unexpected water crossings.

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Red Reef East Trail

Next in line, the Red Reef East trail takes you directly up against the red cliffs of the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area.

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Prospector Trail

The Red Reef East dumps you out into a campground so I took the road from the campground to Prospector Trail just to see what’s there.

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I found some hard climbs.

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And some sweet single track.

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I only rode Prospector for 45min or so, but it was a great trail with some pretty intense fitness.

A Followup On My Wölvhammer Boa Winter Cycling Boots

You may be wondering, how’d my winter MTB boots review in a previous post hold up in this cold?

Absolutely fantastic. Warm and lush. In short – perfect!

Tomorrow…

Tomorrow’s our last day here. The weather isn’t supposed to blow, at least not so hard, so I hope to bring back some great pics.

Peace out!

 

Winter Airstreaming St. George Utah

Emily & Silent Partner


Evening, Peeps!

Sometimes Airstreaming is just about not being home. The destination doesn’t have to be exotic, though you could do a lot worse than the St. George KOA in Southwest Utah.

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This RV park occupies a strange spit of land between the I-15, Quail Creek State Park:

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And the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area:

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The Escape

We’re here more or less on a whim – had some vacation time and a handy Airstream so we headed out of town the day after Christmas seeking mountain biking and, well … not home.

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Temperatures are hovering well below freezing and a winter storm is passing through but wow is it cool to watch the snow fall on the mountains while you’re mountain biking. Today we rode several trails in the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area.

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We headed out on White Reef Trail:

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Then back on Leeds Reef Trail:

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My riding companion was’t feeling especially photogenic today.

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But we persevered on the Quail Creek Trail where we enjoyed the sweet smell of fallen leaves before returning to the Airstream home.

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The Portal To The Mountain Biking Dimension

Ok, Peeps. More frozen adventure to come tomorrow! Peace out.

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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.

 

Airstreaming Moab, Utah – Day 3 & 4

Emily & Silent Partner


Morning, Peeps.

Welcome to day 3 and 4 of our not-quite-as-live-as-I’d-like blog from Moab. Today we’re coming to you from the Eklecticafe where exceptional eats and coffees are found aplenty.

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I’m blogging from here because cell coverage on the Colorado stinks, even with the booster. So we took a nice lazy morning to imbibe some flavored caffeine, eat some delicious strudel and share the past couple days in photos and prose.

Leaving Slickrock Campground

We left Slickrock campground but not before a furry-friend sendoff.

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I have some ambiguity about this campground. The prices were high, but possibly not out of line when you consider being in the heart of town. The facilities were used – hard – but the staff was friendly, and they sold beer at the front desk. The electrical connections at the site bordered on a fire hazard, but the pads were clean, shade covered and otherwise well maintained.

I suppose my conclusion is I would come back, but probably again just as a mid-point while trying to land a better location on the Colorado.

Camping the Colorado

On day 3 of our adventure we moved to Goose Island Campground.

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Goose Island is a remarkable BLM facility located not much more than a mile east of Moab on Utah 126.

We like this campground because it’s close to town yet limited to a couple dozen sites nestled up against a dramatic bend in the Colorado River. For $15/night you get unbelievable views of the river and epic sandstone cliffs worked meticulously by water and wind.

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The campground offers trash collection and immaculately kept vault toilets but no water. Generator hours are a little odd at 8AM to 8PM, though we understand everyone wants to enjoy the outdoors in quiet.

Being so close to town this campground is busy. All sites are walk-ups so prospective campers (including ourselves) troll the area at all hours trying to score a spot. It’s also not entirely unusual for outside campers to stop by and drop trash in the receptacles, though there not supposed to. Given the amount of activity around here it’s understandable.

As I mentioned earlier, cell coverage here stinks. With the booster I can get internet but it’s too flaky to upload pictures for the blog. Still it’s entirely sufficient for texts and email.

Lastly as seen above foliage is light making satellite reception a snap.

Dead Horse Point State Park Take 2

In an effort to economize on our three-day pass to Dead Horse Point State Park, we rode there again on Day 4. You can read up on the trail details in our previous post here. Below are a few more non-mountain biking highlights.

More Flowers

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The Point of the Point

The point of the point is this.

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I’ve been to the Grand Canyon numerous times but I find this view infinitely more rewarding. It’s still grand, but somehow more intimate.

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A Little Moab Walkabout

On Day 3 we spent some time in Moab grabbing food  and groceries. We highly recommend the Moab Brewery. Patio seating is the best.

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Eddie McStiff’s has awesome Pizza, though oddly not until after 3.

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The Moab Information Center right next door has a gorgeous garden.

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To be continued….

We’re lazing around today, I might ride North 40 if I can get out of vacation mode – you’ll find out tomorrow. Peace!