So if you're still following along, this was supposed to be day 5 (Moab UT to Salina UT) but due to a combination of late start, heat, shitty nav and boiling gas, we find out intrepid travelers stuck in the Motel 6 in Green River.
Amazingly we are up and at the Green River Coffee Company just after they opened. Yelp
and my recollection both say they open at 7am. Exactly how we managed this magical feat I'm not sure. I just know it's probably never to be repeated.
After the navigation issues of the previous day (blue arrows
on maps below, where we got stuck initially South of I70 and then North of the railroad tracks) we decided we'd skip that section, head West on I70 and rejoin the track where it meets Hwy191/6 (red arrow
). We would then follow the track along FOUR CORNERS MINE ROAD (emphasis deliberate) back to I70 where it would be a short ride along the frontage or freeway to where it heads North into Black Dragon wash (purple arrow
Anyways, a picture or 3 is worth a thousand words, first from the Benchmark map:
Then Mapsource showing the GPS track from the previous day which led us past the gate into the swampy wash and then got us stuck on the North side of the railroad tracks where Brians gas started to boil:
Then Mapsource showing todays detour where we planned to pickup the TAT where it crossed Hwy191/6:
So we're off, it's early. We've had a good breakfast. We're heading West on I70 and turn North onto Hwy 191/6. We easily find where the track intersects the highway. I'm a winner not a loser. A short while later we're heading North and I stop at a junction where a new dirt road heads West. Brian motions that this isn't the correct way. I look at the GPS and sure enough, the track actually keeps going North before heading West further ahead. So off we go and soon we're into a wash. In case you're not following along, scroll back a little to the "emphasis deliberate" bit
We lose the trail/wash, we find a trail, we lose the trail etc etc .... we get more lost and we basically go around and around heading nowhere useful for about 75 minutes. In the middle of this, I get confused and start thinking this is the Black Dragon wash. Actually pulling the map out doesn't cross my mind. Had it crossed my mind, I mind have seen that a) we're nowhere near Black Dragon b) we should actually be on a dirt road. About an hour later we remember the ROAD bit and since we can see a road to the South, think to ourselves, hmmn, maybe it would be good to head back along that
Anyways, the wash riding was kinda fun but hard work
And kinda sandy, fun fun!
Anyways, eventually having discovered our nav super powers we get back onto a road. We're south of the track but we're on the correct route. We end up at the I70 intersection with Hwy 24.
It's about 9am by now, 90 minutes after we left Green River. I have this odd feeling that I was drinking a lot of water. I'm carrying 3 liters in my bladder and another 1 1/2 liters of backup. I find I've drained TWO liters of my bladder. Brian has drained one. An odd thing on this trip was that some days one of us would consume way more than the other but another day it would be the exact opposite. There is a pickup truck sitting at the interchange. I knock on the window and ask if he has any water. Amazingly he had a case of Costco water bottles. He gives us 4. That gets me almost back to full.
We head along I70 and Brian misses the pulloff (not an exit) for Black Dragon. Fortunately there is a primitive rest area 1/2 mile ahead (Ran Rafael Reef View Point). There there is another truck parked with a couple inside. I again knock on the window, ask if they have water. They too have a case of Costco water bottles and they give us 4 bottles bringing us back over 100%. Two sets of very generous good Samaritans come to the assistance of one and a half major losers.
Directly opposite the view point is a police U-turn, so we head back down the entry ramp, then cross I70 and use the U-turn to get us headed East on I70. Half a mile later we pull off and there is an underpass that will take us to the North side:
Anyways, regarding Black Dragon wash. I'd been a little apprehensive about it because just before I left, Brian forwarded me this thread of doom and gloom
. I recall watching the video and thinking, hmm that doesn't look bad and it would be a lot easier if the rider stood and used some gas but videos can be misleading, so I was still a little uneasy.
Right after we cross under the underpass, we see the sign for Black Dragon on the North side of I70:
And we're off:
Pretty sure these pics have shown up in the odd ride report or two:
[one of the decision points, straight ahead or follow the wash to the right]
It really is pretty easy (and I don't consider myself to be much of an off-road rider). There are usually two possible routes, the actual wash and a detour. Sometimes the detour is an obvious actual trail, sometimes it's better to be on the wash. After a couple of miles the wash itself becomes impassible but the trail heads up to the right and gains some elevation. I did have one genius moment. Fairly soon after we started we were at one of these decision points, stay to the right on the wash or go up over a lip to the left. Brian looks at the lip and says "no way I'm going up there". Now Brian is a better rider than I but I have delusions of grandeur and decide I can easily make it up there. Unfortunately a) I don't get anywhere near enough speed up because I bog down in the sand b) I told Brian to video it. I get about 3/4 of the way up and come to a sudden halt on the lip falling back down and having the bike topple onto me. Comical but being more serious, messing around here wasn't a good idea. In this case you're close to I70 but there are some remote places later where it's just not wise.
Anyways, we stop for a break for about 15 minutes where the trail heads up out of the wash:
I recall reading that the wash was 5 miles long. I'm not sure where this measurement is taken from. A while after the above photo, we get to the corresponding Black Dragon sign at the far end. I think it took us about 45 minutes sign to sign including the break but I'm not really sure of the distance.
It was fun but seriously nothing to worry about if you have the most basic of off-road riding skills.
Shortly after you cross to the South side of I70 and reach Paige Flats:
It wasn't far after this where we saw a woman wandering along the side of one of the dirt roads, middle of nowhere and first person we'd seen since the rest area.
Heading towards Swayze's cabin
Brian standing outside the cabin:
Right after the cabin is the start of Eagle Canyon. This was an absolute blast. Narrow jeep trails, climbs, descents, rocky washes, sandy washes. It was the most fun I'd had on a bike in a long time:
Yet another picture of the I70 bridge crossing Eagle Canyon:
The Canyon trail ends just after the bridge where two OHV trails continue on, this one heading East:
And this one heads South West (which is the TAT track):
Right after it starts a steep climb with a couple of ledges, I believe this is the "difficult" Eagle Canyon climb I've seen mentioned in other ride reports such as Docking Pilots:
We're still on the North side of I70 (after crossing under the bridges) and there are a couple of long sandy uphill climbs further on. Nothing too hard and no ledges.
Crossing to the South side of I70:
brings you into the Justensen flats OHV area and the beginning of Cat Canyon. This is one remote place and for me, this was the part of the day that never seemed to end. The trail just went on and on and on.
Just after crossing to the South side of I70:
Heading towards Cat Canyon:
We take a break for 25 minutes rolling the bikes under some trees. We've brought some granola bars and goo for lunch and we drink some water. Shortly after this there is a great set of sandy washes, I don't have any pics of them, hoping Brian does.
Then there is the silt. Man this sucked bad, I'd get the bike upto second gear and my ass was as far back as I could get it but the bike was all over the place. A bit later it turns into sand. Then crossing a wash there is a steep right hand transition into another silty area where I biff it (again).
After the silty two track, there is this seemingly endless silty road. Not as silty as the two track but it still sucked. Finally the road improves slightly, looking back in the other direction I see a sign saying we're now on a county improved road. We're heading through a series of washes and the road is totally deja-vu, no straight section lasts more than 75 yards before you make a turn and this goes on for probably 10 miles. I think this is the part of the day where I was just ready for it all to be over, mostly just tired.
Finally we're out of the washes and onto clay roads with some great mesa views.
Shortly after this intersection we cross what I believe is the Muddy River.
And then into this cool area of small black boulders. I wish I had taken a waypoint to know exactly where this is. I believe the boulders are glacially deposited but I'm not sure if the area has a name and my google-fu turned up nothing. Docking Pilot in his report refers to these boulders being near Justensen Flats but that's not correct. JF is right just after you cross South over I70, nowhere near here:
There are some fun washes to cross. This one was pretty easy, if I recall correctly there was one earlier where Brian stops on the far side and calls out to me. I have my ear plugs in so I keep asking him to repeat what he's saying. Finally he waves his arms in frustration and motions me to come over. I get over and promptly dump the bike on the far side. Brian says "I was trying to tell you it's slicker than snot over this side"
The road then straightens out and we';re getting close to I70, we pass signs saying 5 miles on some perpendicular road but we keep going straight:
One of the things we both came to "love" about the TAT was just as you think you're close to something, town, major road, the trail will just head out on a 15 mile jeep trail detour and this was no exception, following are a couple of pics where it was easy and fast. Lots of climbing and descending on rocky trails.
Finally we reach I70 and we're riding the frontage road which is mostly dirt with the occasional sign that parts were once paved. You cross under I70 often:
And occasionally the frontage road goes through some cool tunnels:
We could see we were heading towards a thunderstorm for a while and about 20 miles before Salina we start getting dumped on. Here is a cool double rainbow pic for Ladybug:
We're close to Salina now and it's time for another TAT detour loop to the south. We're both tired, it's been pouring and the detour looks sandy and wet. So we decide to skip it and stay on the much better dirt frontage into Salina.
We ride through Salina and realize there isn't much there, so we push ahead to Richfield, the trail runs along irrigation channels and basically any dirt that avoids the highway:
Upon reaching Richfield it's iphone time again and we score a good room at the Days Inn. $55 with free breakfast. The owner tells us thats a major discount as the motels in town are in trouble.
We settle in and later on head out for dinner at PepperBelly's
I think Brian has a picture of the food, portion sizes were absurdly huge and worse, there was no beer.
Anyways, we head back to the hotel. I hop in the hot tub and relax before bed .... oh and yeah, the bruise is starting to take shape, starting to see some blues and greens: