Thursday, November 8, 2007

Exploring Sinbad Country

Having beaten up my knee I decided that I still needed to get out into the country while the weather was good so it was time for a truck trip. When I first started coming to Utah in the early 90s I used to go to the San Rafael Swell but I hadn't been back there since I moved here so it was time to put that right. This particular area of the swell is known as Sinbad Country because the rock formations look like those described in the Arabian stories.

My off road ride started in Temple Wash where I found this strange balanced rock on top of a spire.



As I went on I found all sorts of interesting rock formations - this is Dutchman Arch


The rest of the story is on my main blog

Friday, August 10, 2007

Ride n' Hike to Mount Ellen

I can see the Henry Mountains from my front yard but in the three years I'd lived here I hadn't made my way over there. They seem so remote and barren and most people that write about them use the word 'inaccessible'. Nonetheless there are several interesting facts about them, geologically they are a mammoform laccolith which is a feature where volcanoes have pushed lava up under them but not broken through the overlying sedimentary layers. The Henry Mountains were in fact the first range to be called a laccolith and are mentioned in every basic university geology book. They are also home to the largest free roaming herd of buffalo in the US, they were introduced in the mid 20th century and now number around 200. They range over a huge area on the mountain range and the surrounding deserts and have no restrictions, unfortunately they were nowhere to be seen on this day. The mountains are named after the secretary of the Smithsonian who helped Powell finance his expeditions in this area, they were the last major mountains to be named in the US (Powell actually called them The Unknown Mountains on his first expedition). The weather forecast called for a clear day so it was time to go an explore The Unknown Mountains. I decided to take the CRF because I had no idea what the roads up the mountain were like or what condition they would be in after all the recent rain, as it turned out the roads were good and the CRF definitely overkill. I also wanted to get to the highest point in the range which would involve a healthy hike between an altitude of 10,500 feet and 11,500 feet.

The Henry Mountains - Mount Ellen Peak is the obvious conical peak in the centre.
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That's where I'm hiking to...
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The full story is here

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Grand Junction, Moab and Blanding Loop

I needed a few things from the BMW dealer in Grand Junction which at 200 miles is equal closest to me with Salt Lake, but a better ride. I headed out over Sweeper Madness (UT72) to I70 which is really nice ride until Green River but then becomes desert and therefore hot.

After taking care of business in Grand Junction I came back on UT128 which follows the Colorado River down to Moab. On the way I found Utah's longest suspension bridge - the Dewey Bridge:

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Later in the day I ran into some storms but was also treated to some great views

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For the full story go here

Sunday, July 29, 2007

Assault on Rim Lake

Rim Lake lies at the southern end of Boulder Mountain Top at an altitude of 10,853 feet, ever since I first discovered it a couple of years ago I've wanted to hike round it. Two weeks ago I set off to do that but took the wrong road and was then chased off the mountain by a thunderstorm. Since then pretty much every day has been stormy, this morning while sitting listening to the cricket commentary on the internet I noticed that there wasn't a cloud in the sky.
I quickly martialed the camera gear, riding gear, hiking gear and some lunch and headed out on the KLR. The KLR is a better bike for this kind of expedition than the CRF, the roads are not technical, it has carrying capacity and is much more comfortable with it's soft seat and saggy suspension. OK, so the lights don't work...
I blasted up the hill barely stopping, there were a few clouds forming but nothing threatening.

Until I reached the lake, the only place on the whole Aquarias Plateau with a storm was Rim Lake.
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As soon as I arrived it started to rain, then hail, pretty soon the hail didn't melt when it hit the track.
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Continued here

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Exploring Sand Creek After The Flood

Following the flash flood during the week I decided to see what had happened further upstream, there is a trail that follows Sand Creek for a ways up into the hills in part to service the pipeline that brings Torrey's water down from the heights of Thousand Lake Mountain.

It didn't take long to find the effects of the flood, that's what I call a Rut!
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But as if on order here comes my personal road builder
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Continued here

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Flash Flood in Torrey

July 25th 2007

We have been having heavy thunderstorms every day for the last week with quite a lot of rain falling, on the evening of Tuesday 24th the
rain fell particularly heavily for a couple of hours over the canyon between the Anthill and Thousand Lake Mountain (and over Torrey at the same time).
This is the catchment area for Sand Creek which flows down from Thousand Lake Mountain then turns east across the north end of Torrey before joining
Sulphur Creek and flowing into Capitol Reef NP.


The bridge is on Center Street which runs up from the side of the Chuck Wagon to the Sleeping Rainbow area behind Torrey, this road was only just paved last year.

Looking west from the bridge, Sand Creek is normally a trickle at this time of year, maybe a couple of feet across and an inch or two deep, even during the snow melt it rarely has more than a foot of water in it.
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The water went right up over the bridge
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Continued here

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Ride on Boulder Top

A rather hot spell was followed by a stormy spell up on the mountains but finally on Saturday it looked like the clouds were not going to gather over Boulder Top, well not the black storm clouds


I think I'll head up there (this is the southern view from my house)


I turned off UT24 just through the gap between Torrey and Bicknell and immediately noticed a sign for an access road to the Great Western Trail, I thought maybe I would find a track leading to the Boulder Top access road.

The trail started to climb the spur of Boulder Mountain that forms the southern side of the gap with good views of Bicknell Bottoms


Over the top of the spur was a downhill in some deep fine sand, I careened down it and at the bottom decided it was obvious that the trail was going in the wrong direction, then I tried to get back up the slope. No chance, the knobs on my rear tyre are really worn down but I think I would have needed paddles to get up there. I hit it at about 25mph but barely made it 15 yards up the hill before the rear wheel was buried. The tough part was up in the dark patch, all the tracks are mine. In the end I hauled the bike around and set off to find a way out in the other direction,it wasn't far before a track led back to 24.


Back on the right track I had good views of Thousand Lake Mountain where I had been the day before in the truck



The road rises up through the juniper into the aspen, where there are more open areas of aspen the forest floor is covered with flowers, lupin, indian paintbrush and in the shadows wild roses.



Up on top I took a side trip to Raft Lake

Quite a contrast from last September
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Road 178 crosses the Top diagonally through the small forests that dot the area

I had intended to ride to Rim Lake then hike around it for a while but I forgot which road it was on so never got there, pretty soon the clouds started to look a bit threatening so I backtracked to Bess Lake.

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The Boulders of Bess Lake

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There were all sorts of great flowers in the area, these few were all alone though.

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I left the CRF at a camp spot and headed up a little higher, this place was infested with mosquitoes!

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As I started to walk it began to rain and then suddenly hail, only small soft stones fortunately, I took refuge in some trees with the mozzies.

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The hail didn't last long, the trees in more open areas grow low to the ground.

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Looking across the lake to the bike

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By the time I got back to the bike it was looking very black again so I set off back across the trail to the main track

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Noon Lake - guess that's what time they got there.

There was some thunder but I managed to get off the top without getting soaked, about half way down I came across this sign

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Hmm, that looks like it needs to be explored

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The GWT followed the contour of the mountain past the Aquarius Forest Service station, it was getting hot by now, the CRF and I were glad of the occasional dip

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The GWT is an ATV trail, it kept fairly level round the mountain darting in and out of the trees

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and through lots of small streams

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which had lots of delicate litle flowers growing around them

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In places it was quite open with steep drops off the side

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Finally round the corner Thousand Lake Mountain came into view

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The track was quite narrow and rocky in places

Right after this I came across a sign I was happy to see - Rocky Unstable Trail Ahead - it was facing the other way! Soon after that the ATV track met a good dirt road which led down into Teasdale and it was an easy run home. Excellent afternoon's ride, 83 miles in total.
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My ride is in red.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Hot at Home

After spending 5 days trying to hide from the heat in the even taller mountains of Colorado I get home to find it is still going to be 90+ all week. Last June we had 4 days over 90, so far there have been 11 this year.




It's so hot that Rabbit has dug himself a hole to lay in and try to cool down...

Monday, June 18, 2007

Riding the Uinta Mountains - Day 4

Day 4 - the ride on the way home

This is the blue ride on the map

I wasn't quite satisfied with my riding because there was still some of the Outlaw Trail to investigate, it was an "easy" part mostly and looked like it really just followed the paved road to make a complete loop, still it needed to be done...

I got an early start - no, really! - and was packed and at the trailhead by 11am. I was right about the first section of the trail, it started out very civilised
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and just followed some power lines parallel to the road, I soon became tired of that and found a trail that led off into the trees - the deep trees
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but a pleasant ride
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happily riding along I thought I was way out in the country until I found this
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there was nobody there and throughout the whole area there were numerous trailers that looked as if they had been left in the trees for the whole summer, I assume people take them out in the winter, they would be completely buried in snow if not but maybe that wouldn't be a problem.

The woods were full of flowers
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Eventually I dropped back down to the power line trail and crossed the paved road (US 191), even it looked interesting in places
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My aim had been to find one of the main trails I started out on on Friday and eventually I did, but it was down a rather steep slope
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the little man in my head was a bit grumpy but I went down it anyway, there was plenty of room to crash at the bottom if I needed to, I didn't
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crossing 191 again I found the section marked as more difficult, it was a deep steep sided valley, this is the approach
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the downhill section wasn't too bad but the uphill was steeper, and had a bend in it, and lots of rocks, unfortunately the camera played it's game of "don't want to" at this point so I missed a shot looking up at the slope but I am certain that this was not a good place to stop
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this time I hit a rock with the back wheel and got thrown into the centre of the track which was just loose rocks, I spent quite a while trying to ride or push the bike out of this but just kept digging a hole, then I backed it out down the hill a bit and made 2-3 attempts to get started again, it was just too steep and loose. In the end I backed it 2/3 of the way down the hill before I could find a place to turn it round and ride the rest of the way. By the time I got to the bottom I had emptied my CamelBak and I saw no reason why I would do any better attempting the hill again so I shamefully rode out up the hill I came down, no problem.

this is the valley the dirt track crossed, you can just see the level top of the track on the far hill
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I rode along the pavement a ways and then back on the trail to the top of the rocky hill, it didn't look any better from that direction. I tried to decide if I would have ridden down it without knowing what was on the other side but the decision proved impossible to simulate as I already knew I could ride up the other side. From there I followed the power line road back toward the truck but it was too dull so I had to take a side track up into the hills hoping to find another one down again
I saw several of these over the weekend, I assume they were built by shepherds
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The side track gradually became narrower, then started up a stream
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I was having a lot of fun but was getting further and further from the truck and the lay of the land suggested there would not be a trail back so eventually I turned back and retraced

Truck, Sweet Truck
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From here it was just a 250 mile drive home to Torrey.

They keep US191 open all winter, I am going to head over that way once the snow has built up next winter, it must be really gorgeous.