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 Post subject: Re: Utah convert : )
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 3:17 am 
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Adventure Rider
Adventure Rider

Joined: Sat Jun 28, 2014 11:45 pm
Posts: 963
Location: Reno, NV
Sorry, busy early on last night, and then when it calmed down, my browser didn`t want anything to do with DRRiders.

I had arranged to meet up Thursday afternoon with another group in Escalante. With two days to get myself there, I hatched a plan that started with the partially paved route through the upper part of Zion NP to Kolob Reservoir then onto paved Hwy 14 near Panguitch. Had to ride out of the park for several miles to reach the start of that road, then headed north into what looked like a southbound storm. It`s a long road that gradually works its way up pretty high.
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After a while I started to get occasional views back towards the same formations I had been looking up at from the bottom of the canyon.
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The road kept climbing and it started to rain, then turned to snow with gusty wind. About an hour after I turned off the main highway, I decided I didn`t really want to take my chances that I would be able to get all the way through on my intended route, decided to take in the view from Lava Point and throw in the towel, backtrack and take I-15 around the long way.
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Damn, company work to do- hopefully will get back in an hour or two.


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 Post subject: Re: Utah convert : )
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 6:36 am 
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Adventure Rider
Adventure Rider

Joined: Sat Jun 28, 2014 11:45 pm
Posts: 963
Location: Reno, NV
The interstate has an 80 MPH limit down there, and it seems that most everybody rolls at least that fast, so it didn`t take long to get up to Cedar City. There was a squiggly highway out of CC that runs up to Cedar Breaks NM. Squiggly probably means mountainous, so I figured to head up that way and look for a cheap room, check out CBNM the next day. After gassing up in Cedar City, I started on 14 to catch my squiggly highway, but as soon as I was out of town I saw a big sign that said Squiggly to Cedar Breaks was closed- strike that one. Pulled over to check the map and changed my route. Continue on 14 left on 89 and up towards Panguitch. Wow, Hwy 14 was really pretty too! More towering rocks : )
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It was also a climber, though. Pretty soon it started raining again. Then kept going higher and changed to snow again. And cold and windy. I`m used to roads that go up over high passes, but where I`m from, once you`ve gone up you go back down the other side. I was learning that Utah`s plateaus meant you often go up and then just stay up, cruising at 7k feet or more until further notice. If you don`t know what you`re looking at on the map, there`s no telling when your road will head back down! I spent a good half hour with all my clothes on, still shivering and constantly wiping slush off my visor, REALLY wishing I had stayed in Cedar City, then eventually came upon Duck Creek Resort. Saw a road house-type place with the neon "open" sign lit up and did not have to think twice- made a U-turn on the highway (the access road cuts off before you can see what it accesses) and stopped in for a warm up. They happened to have delicious veggie beef soup on special that day. It doesn`t look like it in the picture, but it was still snowing at that point.
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The waitress also warmed me up by telling me that I was just about to start dropping elevation in a hurry and that I was less than an hour from Panguitch. Dropping off the plateau, the snow soon stopped (did not bother turning back into rain first), the temps went back up, and the sun even popped out a few times. Down on the bottom, the Sevier River winds a crazy zig-zaggy course through sage brush and meadows with beautiful red cliffs for a backdrop. Soon enough I was in Panguitch, ate dinner at a local burger joint and made camp at a dirty but inexpensive hotel.
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 Post subject: Re: Utah convert : )
PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2016 9:16 am 
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Adventure Rider
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Joined: Sat Jun 28, 2014 11:45 pm
Posts: 963
Location: Reno, NV
The first thing I wanted to do Wednesday was an ATV trail I had heard of called Casto Canyon. Had to backtrack a little bit on 89, then started on the famous State Route 12, finally cut off near Red Canyon for the Casto TH. The Casto trail is skinny ATV double track, sometimes crossing back and forth across a small creek, other times rolling right up the creek itself. It`s only a few miles long, but what makes it so special is that you get to Ride With The Hoodoos. That`s something like Swim With The Dolphins, but for a different target audience. Lots of fun.
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Then back to Famous 12 and a short hop to Red Canyon. Pretty easy to see what the deal is there. It`s the paved version of Ride With The Hoodoos, haha!
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Then cut off the to the south of 12 for a ride down to Tropic Reservoir. Very nice, but not up to the standard of the rest of the stuff down that way.
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Bryce Canyon would have been next, but I decided to skip that one in order to spend more time up in the Grand Staircase area. A week isn`t enough time! So I had a piece of apple pie in Tropic instead of exploring the NP down the road.

Pretty sure the Red Canyon area doesn`t officially continue on the other side of Tropic/Bryce, but the road beyond is even better than it was west of the park. Highway 12 deserves its reputation as a gorgeous route and a good curvy moto ride.
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Even the less colorful sections are curvy fun.
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Before getting into the town of Escalante I passed Escalante SP, which is where I would be staying the next night with the group I planned to meet up with. I turned in and rode down to the park just to see how it looked. The lake as well as all the camp sites were full. Good thing I already had an offer to share a space.
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Lunch stop in Escalante, just 5 miles up the road from the state park.
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Hell`s Backbone Road was another route from my wish list, running from Escalante to Boulder. But I was told it was high elevation, so might not be open until full-on summer. Asking around at the restaurant, the word was that it was indeed open, so it became my next ride. Along with a side trip to Posey Lake, which is only a couple miles off the Backbone.
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I guess I won`t be swimming in Posey Lake today.
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Hells Backbone makes a loop around the Box Death Hollow Wilderness area, a maze of eroded box canyons that I wish I had time to hike a few of. The backbone gets up high enough that I was passing snow drifts off to the sides of the road, but the weather held out for me and I didn`t get snowed on for that leg. Aspens were just starting to leaf out for the spring.
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Down a bit from the actual highest point on the route is the "moment I`d been waiting for" high point- Hells Backbone Bridge. Far out! It`s on top of a ridge overlooking boxed death on both sides.
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I guess this is what a box of death looks like:
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Last stop before I get off the computer (not quite the end of my riding day) was Boulder, UT at the other end of Hells Backbone. Boulder is just a tiny little town, spread around near the bottom of the cliff in this picture.
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Signing out for today, be back over the weekend or early next week with the rest.


Last edited by bdesj on Tue Jun 14, 2016 11:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Utah convert : )
PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2016 3:51 am 
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Adventure Rider
Adventure Rider

Joined: Sat Jun 28, 2014 11:45 pm
Posts: 963
Location: Reno, NV
F*k. It looks like corporate IT has blocked all image hosting sites here. Photobucket, Smugmug, Flickr, Shutterfly, Picasa... they all give a denial page, and when I look at any RRs here or ADV, almost every pic has been replaced with an image icon. Sigh...

Well, that sucks but since looking at and/or writing RRs is not what they pay me to do, I guess I don`t have much room to complain. It`s going to take a bit longer, but hang in there- Waterpocket Fold is a seldom mentioned "weirdity" of this world (though it looks like any world EXCEPT this one), and I passed through on a gloomy, rainy day, so got some really killer pics of an area that doesn`t get much air play on the moto forums. It`s coming up very soon.


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 Post subject: Re: Utah convert : )
PostPosted: Tue Jun 14, 2016 12:45 pm 
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Adventure Rider
Adventure Rider

Joined: Sat Jun 28, 2014 11:45 pm
Posts: 963
Location: Reno, NV
Okay, back at it. There was just a little more riding Wed after Boulder. I kept on heading east (north, really) on 12 over Boulder Mountain. It really gets up there- sign on the summit says 9600 ft, so maybe the highest I hit on that trip? According to the information I read, the paving of that section was only finished in the mid 80s. Aspens up high had not even started to get their spring leaves yet.
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Heading down the other side into Torrey they were waking up nicely.
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It was late afternoon by the time I got into Torrey and the visitors center was closed. I had just turned to start looking for a camp spot when I met up with an Israeli bicycle tourist who had the same plan. Barely out of town, we rode off the highway a little bit into some bushes next to the river. That guy had more crap strapped to his bike than I had on mine! Mkes me wonder if Surly has LHT frames built by Kawasaki in the KLR plant. Maybe Tombo knows.
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End of Wednesday, another early roll out Thursday with the Burr Trail as the main course. Sunny and no wind, good. The ride took me briefly through Capitol Reef NP, more red rocks.
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Didn`t have time to see much of the park, mostly I was just passing through to get to the Burr Trail. But I did stop briefly at the visitors center and saw this CRAZY hood ornament in the parking lot. When I asked the driver (a young girl about 18 or 19 years old) if it was real, she had no idea what I was talking about, so I suggested she get out and look at it herself. Bwahaahaa! She looked like she didn`t know whether to cry, puke, or pee her pants! She asked me if it was dead. Um, that would be my guess. Her passenger (boyfriend?) was not affected the same way. He burst out laughing and ducked back into the car for his cell phone, took his own picture. I wish I had thought to take a picture of the poor girl.
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My escape from the asphalt was onto Notom-Bullfrog Rd, a long dirt highway that eventually would have dead ended into a ferry crossing of Lake Powell if I had ridden it all the way. This was the big event for Thursday. Notom-Bullfrog runs right down the middle of the Waterpocket Fold, which is like an un-fault. It`s a 100 mile long "monoclinal fold", which is basically a big wrinkle caused by two plates squooshing together. It`s weird! The general shape is like two walls of cliffs facing each other with a puckered seem up the middle.
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(starting to cloud up now)
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Down in the bottom are all sorts of oddities.
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Boulders surfing a sand dune, WTF???
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Wild colors even by Utah standards.
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Wanna see that painted sand dune up close?
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After about 45 minutes on Notom-Bullfrog I turn off onto the Burr Trail, an old cattle-drive "shortcut" that will take me back to Boulder. Looks pretty much the same as Notom at first (not a bad thing).
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Until it`s time to ride up and out of the fold.
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View from above the switchbacks...
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(heavy clouds now, starting to sprinkle)
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More cool stuff and waterpocket weirdness up top...
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 Post subject: Re: Utah convert : )
PostPosted: Wed Jun 15, 2016 12:13 am 
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Adventure Rider
Adventure Rider

Joined: Sat Jun 28, 2014 11:45 pm
Posts: 963
Location: Reno, NV
I was a little nervous about the weather- very dark and sprinkling on and off. I had read warnings about the long dirt roads down that way becoming impassible after heavy rains, but determined to at least check out the Strike Valley Overlook. That one is reached by a short section of light 4WD road followed by a 20 minute walk up to the rim of the fold. The 4WD track goes up a cool wash called Upper Muley Twist Canyon and it made for a very tasty prelude to the overlook.
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Got a close up view of a window rock that I had seen from the other side while still down on Notom-Bullfrog Rd.
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Hike time. Boots upside down so they won`t be full of water if I have to mud-march out after a cloudburst:
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Was not surprised to find that it`s nice up there.
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And finally, what the Waterpocket Fold looks like from above...
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Wow. That view really knocked me out! But I was anxious to get myself back onto paved road before it rained hard (it never did, thankfully). Back down Muley Twist to the Burr Trail, another 15 miles or so of dirt that I actually found myself getting bored with. At one point I came up behind a SUV who was taking his time- I had seen speed limit signs out there, and I think they said 25 MPH. I passed the guy so I could get back to roughly double that speed, but I felt like an ass about it, so was afraid to stop for a long time in case he caught up with me and passed my back! A strange thing happened when the pavement started again. The excitement came back into the ride. Weird for the dirt to be boring and asphalt to be stunning, eh? But it was- check out how this road squiggles up the canyon!
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That end of the Burr Trail put me right back in Boulder, next to the Burr Trail Inn for lunch. I parked next to this WA plated KLR but never found the pilot- parking lot was for a coffee shop as well as the restaurant, so he must have just wanted coffee.
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This place also offered ho(me) made pie- sure was a lot of that in Utah, but I won`t complain! I had ginger-mixed berry for lunch, interresting flavor. Backyard of the place where I pied down...
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 Post subject: Re: Utah convert : )
PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2016 8:29 pm 
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Adventure Rider
Adventure Rider

Joined: Sat Jun 28, 2014 11:45 pm
Posts: 963
Location: Reno, NV
That was the exciting part of Thursday. The remainder was a short highway ride back down to Escalante, check in at the campground and meet the gang that I would be hanging with for two nights and a day. The highway was actually pretty nice. It`s another little piece of the famous Route 12 that I had missed when I took the Hells Backbone detour from Escalante to Boulder. This section is known for the hogback just south of Boulder. It`s just what you would imagine, but I could NOT find a way to depict it in a decent picture, so here it is in a mediocre pic...
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Beyond the hogback it winds through more lovely Utahness, curvy city with giant red rocks and canyon views.
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Overlooking the Calf Creek rec area...
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...and into Escalante.
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Finally, to Escalante State park.
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The "gang' turned out to be good folk. Four old buddies who all went to high school together in CA, now retired with a mix of bikes and toys. Two are currently based in (Reno) my home town, one came up from AZ, and another down from Telluride. They fed me well :s_smile


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 Post subject: Re: Utah convert : )
PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2016 8:58 pm 
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Adventure Rider
Adventure Rider

Joined: Sat Jun 28, 2014 11:45 pm
Posts: 963
Location: Reno, NV
Friday`s plans were very simple. We all rode back up Hells Backbone to Boulder, ate lunch and went back to Escalante. It was all rerun for me, but still worth the trip.
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Back to the same restaurant (not a lot of choices in Boulder, but it was worth eating at twice). Damned good pies! I went for peach my second time around.
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From their beer selection. What is the world coming to?
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...and ride back to Escalante. Overlooking Escalante River from 12...
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Since the run to Boulder and back only took half a day, I grabbed my hiking shoes and wnet to talk to the good people at the Escalante Multi-Agency Visitors Center. I was bummed that slot canyons were out of the equation due to chances of rain for most of the time I was down there, but the lady at the center clued me in to a good alternative. I could safely hike the Escalante River canyon up to an arch, a few miles down river from the bridge we had just crossed on Hwy 12. She told me it was mostly a river bank walk with several crossings back and forth. Sounds good.
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River hiking was new to me. I like it.
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Escalante Natural Arch...
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Then back into Escalante for the last time. The cemetery was all decked out for memorial Day.
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The guys back at camp had saved me a plate (way to go, old guys!), so I ate another tasty dinner and talked over some options for my route home (those guys have been ALL over and know lots of good roads), called it a night. I planned to get up and make an early start in the morning.


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 Post subject: Re: Utah convert : )
PostPosted: Thu Jun 16, 2016 10:53 pm 
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Adventure Rider
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Joined: Tue Jul 05, 2011 11:33 pm
Posts: 500
Location: Wilseyville, Calif.
Enjoying this immensely. :2_thumbsup:

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 Post subject: Re: Utah convert : )
PostPosted: Fri Jun 17, 2016 1:37 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:10 pm
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Location: NorCal
That.. . . and possibly double that. :good: :drinks:

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