My vacation website

Moab Utah 2003

March 29th

7am, I wake up at Mark’s house with half of the gear already packed in the Subaru turned Toyota roof rack. We’re already late since we were suppose to leave at 6am. Like last year, this only had four participants, myself, Mark, Mike and Paul. Mark and Paul were last minute additions and sporting their new full suspension bikes. So after packing the remaining things Mark and I set out to pick up Mike and Paul. The plan was different this year because although we had four guys, we only had three drivers. So we attempted to pack lightly to enable us to place a full length sleeping bag in the back. Our packing attempt was successful and we only used up 1/2 of the cargo area in the 4runner. We learned last year that while putting 4 bikes on a 4 bike hitch and driving it 1200 miles, that bike parts will bounce on bumps and sway with the wind. Unfortunately, we also learned that 4 bikes next to each other bouncing for 1200 miles will scratch each other and put deep gouges in the frame, tubes, shocks and headsets!

So this year, we were prepared! We purchased 12 ft of pipe insulation from Home Depot and wrapped all metal parts touching each other with them. Then we bungied the bikes together so they bounced around as a unit. It was a success as no bikes were scratched from transporting them, during riding however is another story. So for the first 12 hours, Mike drove from Chicago to Nebraska. Mark took over and our first real memorable event of the trip came at around 12am. This is when we realized that we were almost out of gas. The yellow fuel light came on as we were on a stretch of I-70 just west of Denver. This stretch has no towns, let alone gas stations! To preserve the gas, we coasted through downhills and gently pushed uphill. Finally, after minutes of blackness in the surroundings with no exits and only snow, we saw our savior sign, “NEXT EXIT – GAS – LODGING”. I don’t remember what town it was but we just filled up gas and got a hotel room next door for the night.

March 30th

The next morning it was my turn to drive. Although my driving duration was short, I had the honor of driving through a snowstorm on the curvy hilly highways of Colorado. What is amazing is that one hour later when we were out of the mountains, it was sunny and warm! We finally reached Moab at about 4pm and decided to camp at the Arches National Park. The campground here is spectacular! There are 53 campsites, all either have a great view or are embedded in between huge rocks to give that arches feel. When we arrived at the site and we looking for a campsite we noticed these two guys waving at us so we waved back. On the way back through the campground, they were waving again, walking towards us and gave us the peace sign. They looked puzzled when we drove by. So we just called them the ‘gay’ guys since we had no idea what they wanted. After we found our campsite, which was about 3 sites away from the ‘gay’ guys, we began to set up the tent. It was then that Mark noticed another 4runner, same year and same color, with a roof rack on top and four bikes on a hitch rack. This 4runner was identical to ours. I guess these are the guys that the ‘gay’ guys thought we were! Now that explains it, we hope. I would love to add a picture of our campsite here but the truth is that in camping here for four nights, we do not have a single picture of the campsite, an arch or the view! You can see a glimpse of it in the video below.

March 31st

All I can say was, it was a cold night!! The low was mid 30’s. We woke up and cooked breakfast and began reading through the Mountain Bike Moab book by Lee Bridgers to determine what trail to ride. After our fiasco from last year (Crested Butte Dyke Trail) we decided to do a trail marked as easy. This trail was called the Hurrah Pass, an 18 mile out and back on 4WD road. The Hurrah Pass trail ends at a pennisula overlooking the canyon that we just rode up. We rested and had lunch here and enjoyed the mostly downhill ride back to the truck. There wasn’t really much to this ride, two creek crossings, a spring, some petroglyphs and a really good tan! Afterwards we got back to the campsite and had mac and cheese for dinner.

April 1st

(Side note: a new addition to my tech-geek collection of toys is the Garmin Rino 120. This is a combination FRS radio and GPS receiver. It also has the ability to store 8mb of USGS map data and record tons of trip data). Ride number two was suppose to be Two Tortoise Rock. To get to the trail head we had to drive the truck up the side of a canyon and down into the canyon. This ride itself was adventurous as the 4WD road was a single car width only and any slip would have given us a quick 200 ft trip. We parked and began to ride on a 4WD road. This trail consisted of a very sandy 4WD road and some rocky spots. It wasn’t all very fun. As we rode uphill we were awaiting the rewarding downhill ride later. After one and a half hours we had only gone four miles! Eventually we ended up in a canyon and the trail suddenly ended! That wasn’t right because we were suppose to be riding a loop. This is when the Rino 120 helped us. Looking at the track that the GPS drew, it did not look similar to the trail on the map.

For a moment, we were lost. But then flipping a page forward revealed that we had inadvertently rode the Bull Canyon trail instead of Two Tortoise! Luckily we only had to backtrack two miles to get to the intersection on the map. The two tortoise trail is an absolutely great trail!

Beginning from the top of a hill, we could see two tortoise rock in the middle of the picture below and the trail leading off to the right. At this point we guessed the rock was about 1.5 miles away. From here, the trail was almost completely downhill. It was a rough 4WD road and filled with rock ledges and drop offs. It took us only a few minutes and we were right under two tortoise rock.From there it was more ledges and some rock stairs and then a steep uphill back to the car. Since we were tired we decided not to cook and just go to a restaurant for dinner. We went to Poplar Place for some pizza. When we got back to the campsite, the tent looked funny. Yup, it was blown down by the wind slightly. A few stakes were pulled out and we just had to put them back in. One of the tent poles was actually bent by the wind!!

April 2nd The ride today is called Prichet Canyon to Hunter Canyon Rim. Listed as an 11.7 mile loop with an .8 mile portage at the end, it sounded easy enough. We were thinking of riding Two Tortoise again if we got back early! The first part of this ride was just sand and sand. It wasn’t very fun but as usual we were climbing first and downhilling second. It was very windy today with gusts up to 45 mph. Don’t want to be on a ledge when that happens. This ride basically starts out riding in Prichet Canyon. Then eventually you climb up the canyon and end up riding on the rim of Hunter Canyon. This portion of the ride had awesome views, especially looking down into the canyon while on the edges. What we didn’t know was that the 0.8 mile portage was greatly understated in the guide book. In fact, after we completed this we went back and reread the guide which says, “The portage at the end of this ride is a real headache and I hesistate to describe it in any detail for fear I’ll just confuse you more… Don’t get frustrated and just jump. Realize that the last bit is simply up to you. Have faith.” How did we not catch that when we picked this trail? The portage is really hard to describe, but here are some quotes during the portage…”There’s no way this is a 4×4 trail. Let’s check the book. Oh yeah this is the singletrack at the end” “This is the portage part right?”. “Where’s the trail?” “Try to find the caims (markers left by others to show the way, usually three rocks piled on top of each other)” “Hey there’s the road where our car is parked! (pointing down into the canyon) “According to my GPS that road is 900 feet below us!” “How do we get down there!” “I guess we keep walking along side of the canyon” “Guys this is a dead end, go back and look for another trail” “How far down is that? Do you think we can jump down that?” “I wonder if my bike will break if I toss it down there and then jump”. Two hours later and an incredible hiking with bikes journey we reach the road. We’re not done yet, there’s still a two mile uphill ride and to top it off my rear derailleur is broken so I end up walking my bike back to the truck. 4.5 hours later we’re back to the truck. Time to cook? No, it’s restaurant time again! Tonight it’s Pasta Jay’s for some carb reloading.¬† The video¬†has some scenes of us carrying our bikes along the edge of the canyon.

At about 9pm when we got back to the tent, we found out the wind had blown it down again. This time the tent poles completely snapped and three stakes were pulled out of the ground and there was sand in our sleeping bags and clothes and it was 40 degrees! It took us about 30 minutes to jury rig the tent back up and to empty our sleeping bags of sand. It was so close to being hotel time! After getting the tent back up we tried to go to sleep but the tent flapping all night and the fear of collapse kept us awake all night.

April 3rd

Our last day of riding and we saved the most famous trail for last. It was finally time to do Slickrock again. We attempted to complete this trail last year in July but it was just too hot. This year, the weather was cloudy, high in the 50’s. We already decided that we had enough camping so we packed up our stuff and checked into the AArchway Inn before the ride. The slickrock trail is about 13 miles roundtrip. I don’t know how to describe it except that you basically and riding on very sticky (in

bicycle tire terms) rock, going up and down incredible angles and not losing traction.

This trail was crowded, meaning you actually see other riders, alot of them, we bumped into a few tour groups and probably saw about 50 riders on this trail. In contrast, we saw 4 on Hurrah Pass, none on Two Tortoise and 5 on Prichet Canyon. There is a point of this trail that is just back luck for us, last year Mark got the flat tire coming back and this year Paul got chain suck at the exact same place! Then there’s the incident that gave the nickname ‘nipple boy’ to someone. I won’t say who, but ask one of us about it!After completing the trail it was time to look forward to the nice hotel room, warm shower and nice bed! Dinner tonight was at Eddy McStiff’s. (When only cooked dinner twice on this camping trip).

April 4th

The last day is souvenir day where we get the stickers, the t-shirts and whatever else to remind us of the trip. By 1:30pm we were on the road, stopping to take a picture of the highway sign and then the 1200 mile ride home. One final stop in Eagle where we ate at the best Chinese restaurant in a small town along the side of the highway in Colorado. 23 hours later, we were back in Chicago.

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