Category Archives: Trans Utah

The Journey

The older I get the more I like to take my time with things, it leaves more time for savoring.    Destinations often have a finality attached to them; everything that happens before then is the purpose.  I don't seek the payout, I seek the experience. 

You can draw a ton of analogies to this...racing is certainly among them.  How often have you done a big event, full of excitement for it only to hit the post-race blues?

So this past weekend I continued on with my journey, explorations of new surroundings.  It's cloaked in the guise of course research, but it's fullfilling other needs beautifully. 

The previous week's outing gave glimpses of this huge plateau.  I simply had to find a way to it's summit.

There are easier ways up than I chose.

But the easy ways don't have these views - and the summit would come and go too quickly.  More savoring.

It was one of those all day climbs, filled with wonder around every turn. 

With 4k' elevation over the surrounding region most of southern Utah is in view.  It's a powerful chunk of turf up there. 

And, wouldn't ya know it - from the top more new terrain comes into view, picquing my curiosity for another adventure.

The journey continues.

Challenges

To quote Curiak, "a challenge is something I'm not quite sure I can do."  This Trans Utah concept is becoming a challenge in many ways.

The original concept was to have something that would make a good shakedown roughly 2 months prior to GDR.  Big problems with that though:  it limits elevation to ~ 7k' (april snow up high), and an April race date will force riders to choose between Scott's AZT race and Trans Utah.  But the real deal killer:  there's a massive chunk of real estate between StG and Moab that is made up entirely of sand.  Unrideable sand.  Improved/paved roads are the only way through by bike.

Creative redirection this weekend yielded  some pleasant surprise finds - and ideas.  The fall is crispy dry in southern Utah; the deserts and the mountains are rideable and pleasant.  So why not shoot for an October date, remove the elevation restriction and AZT conflict?

'xactly.

It's an evolving process, but I'm leaning heavily towards an early - mid Oct '08 start.  Level of effort along the lines of GLR, perhaps a bit more.  First half in '08, StG to Escalante, 2nd half in '09, full route in '10.  Start training now.

Not many viewpoints will go untouched by this route.

Off the grid

What a constrast.  Last weekend was a struggle within; this weekend was a purely, deliciously, physical struggle.

Post Moab recovery took about 2 days.  I built a SS out of my old Trek 9.8 hardtail - I had the parts in the garage to get it done and within 2 hours of motivating I had a SS bike.  It has got to be the fastest thing I've pedaled....so after a couple days of hammering SS style, the weekend was ripe for some Trans-Utah explorations.

The setup I was using on the Yeti earlier this year, this time on the Lev.  On front is the sleeping kit, misc food/maps, note water bottles on fork legs.  This proved much too heavy on the front end of the Lev, repacking day 2 I learned that the sleeping kit fits nicely under the saddle and the bike handles oh so much better.

As I was cruising through Warner Valley towards the Hurricane cliffs all that joy and excitement of the spring came flooding back.  The realization of a night away from civilization was a breath of fresh air. 

The first sign is a nice try by the BLM, but I'm fairly convinced all Utah OHVers are illiterate.  The second sign came out of freaking nowhere, posted about 30 ft off trail as I was cruising along beneath Little Creek mesa.

Gould spring.  Yum.

The view from the top of Little Creek is endless.  That "small" ridgeline is Gooseberry mesa.

Little Creek mesa was named for the creek, not the mesa.  It's huge, higher than Goose and pinyon/juniper covered.

The timing couldn't have been better for this as I decided to pass on the Gould Spring oil slick.

This is an interesting slice of americana.  Hilldale and Colorado city are adjoining towns on the AZ/UT stateline where polygamy is the norm.  The homes are massive 10+ bedroom affairs.  This is the site of Warren Jeffs that Krakauer had so much to say about in "Under the Banner of Heaven."  Awesome read.

As I was rolling through the area my proposed route had me bumping into several locked gates.  No signs, just locks.  Usually I might go past such obstructions...but not here.  Something about potentially trespassing on folks property who's way of life is against the laws of the land is most unsettling.

Shortly past Hilldale the hiking began.  I spent the better part of the next 9 hours on foot.  Steep & sand was the rule.  The only place there was no sand was where the terrain was too steep for it to settle - and even the slickrock areas were sandy.

But, it was over the top gorgeous.

Sand.

Rock.

Sand and rock.

Views.

Just as I was thinking the trail couldn't be any harder (5 labored steps, bike on back and 3 points of contact, rest...repeat) reality showed it could be worse.  Choose your horse carefully.  Two laser like holes in the eye socket told the full story.

Just past this point I ran into a polygomous hiking group (or so I was informed by the next crowd I met):  40ish year old guy and 4 gals in their teens wearing long dresses.  We chatted for a good long while, mostly about the area.  They told me the route I had come up was nothing compared to what I had planned...I should have listened....one of the gals asked me why I didn't just toss my bike into the bushes since it was only slowing me down. 

Plenty more happened beyond that point but it gets on towards a painful blur... 

The first 64 miles took about 6 hours.  The last 16...well let's just say that won't be part of the southern trans utah route.  But if you need some beta on a good hike in the area let me know!

Ah, and looks like the blogosphere is about to explode.  We've been joined by Laughs at Licraphobes.