Day 5 continued...
We got back on the TAT and headed to Green River. The roads were mostly flat and boring so I didn't take any photos. Matt was on cruise control and we got there fast.
We originally thought we were going to spend the night in Green River, but there was some confusion about the mileage (the day was 100 miles shorter than anticipated - Sam has you reset the odometer in Green River from 158.06 to 258.60). This really screwed us up, putting the most difficult riding of the day in the afternoon and not first thing in the morning as we had hoped. Oh well. It wasn't even noon yet and we both felt pretty good.
There was some more boring, ugly riding along the powerlines and then,
we were in Black Dragon Canyon.
The trail got rocky and sandy and pretty technical. It had been a while since we had done a lot of sand, 2up, so I was glad we had seen a tiny bit in Death Valley and at Slickrock. Still, I was pretty tense.
I think this is still in Black Dragon Canyon
At some point, we discovered that my foot pegs stick out further than Matt's do. We were going around a rock and his giant size 15 boot cleared, but my left ankle got whacked on a rock. Hard. Really hard. Matt felt the bike move when my foot got mushed. At first we were worried that it was broken, but eventually I could stand on it and take a couple of steps.
We kept going on the trail and I quickly got used to bracing myself with just my right foot.
We took the customary under-Interstate-70-bridges photo.
and the tunnel one.
Next came the dreaded Cat Canyon. Sam wasn't kidding when he said it was "very deep sand." We had done sand 2up in Baja (Laguna Hanson to Rancho Santa Veronica, etc.), with full camping gear and it was fine. But there was something about Cat Canyon - maybe the sand was finer and more powdery, maybe the trail was narrower...
Either way, I had to get off and walk for the first time of the trip. It just wasn't working 2up. Fine with me! Sand freaks me out and even with my messed up ankle, I was happier walking that quarter mile...
The colors in the photos are kind of weird. It was a HOT day and there was a lot of glare from the sand. I had to fiddle with the contrast to get the details of the photo to come out and it made the colors all funny and retro.
That little dust cloud in the top right is Matt, plowing his way through.
Even once we got out of the sand, the rest of the trail took forever. The washes were so monotonous. The same gravely sand and rocks and the same turns back and forth through the canyons. Over and over...
Eventually, we got out of the canyons and it got better.
Funny black rocks. I should have zoomed in.
Took a water break here. Did I mention that it was HOT?
At some point we thought we saw 3 bike tracks - maybe it was the guys (P, J and A)? We got on the gas and tried to catch them. Unfortunately, the thrill of the chase, plus the heat, plus total exhaustion led to this:
Yeah. Cool. We were totally FUBAR'd.
It was a complete lapse of judgement on our part (one of several of the trip). Oh well.
We tried to take a better look, but the mud was like quicksand - it was devouring the bike and trying to pull our boots off. It was deep and sticky and wet under a deceivingly thin crust. Hmmm...
Matt was angry at himself and throughly frustrated, but I thought it was a great challenge. Trying to pull the bike out only made it sink in deeper. It was a mess.
Eventually, we were able to break the suction on the front tire - a gooey slime (like concrete slurry) rushed to the surface. We had to lift the bike up and over to the side (where the mud was slightly drier) again and again. No easy task when the damn thing weighs somewhere in the neighborhood of 500 lbs. I picked up rocks from the nearby wash and placed them around the bike so we had something besides more mud to fall into. It took a while, but we finally got the bike out by lifting and moving it a little at a time. It was exhausting work and the heat and the thick smoky air (something near Salina was on fire) didn't make it any easier.
The front wheel had been completly packed full of mud. We had to scrape it off/out with rocks and sticks. Wish I had thought to take a before photo!
Oh well. Back to the trail...
We rode and rode and rode. Eventually, we got tired of the frontage road - it was so slow! We were tired, hungry and my ankle was on fire. So, when we had the chance, we got on the highway and slabbed the last 16 miles to Salina.
The clerk at the Roadway Inn in Salina was so nice. He let us use their hose to wash off the bike. He didn't really get the off-road thing, but he showed polite interest and said nice things about the bike. Also, the hot tub was working, which made me happy.
Tomorrow - the Paiute Trail and more sand and single track! whoo hoo!