“That was it?...can’t be, that was too easy,… It showed a DD on the map!” Is what we were thinking after we got to the top of Hog’s Back and past the group of Mountain Bikers Watching us. Hard Scrabble Hill had been much worse. It may like a few spots depend on whether you are going up or down. The clouds were lightening and the heat was coming on strong by this point. We stopped often to hydrate and had snacks like beef jerky and peanuts along for protein to keep our energy up and it worked. Back at the sandy little hill called “Hardscrabble Paul had pulled out an overheated Eatmore bar and that had been a disgusting mess that Chris and I had poked fun at. The Jerky and peanuts at least looked no worse for wear in the heat. Jerky looks like road kill no matter what, but is easy to pack and full of protein and electrolytes.
By my best figuring and the GPS track, I figured we had another hour to go before Shafer switchbacks and back up onto pavement to Moab. We however were running low on water already but figured we should be fine, despite the heat. Each of us had packed 3 liters, Chris and I in our Hydration packs and Paul between his pack and carrying bottles. Days earlier we had figured 5 liters each for this undertaking but had somehow forgotten. We were still finding places to stop and take pictures like newbies (hey we were) and somewhere on this last section Paul lost his Go Pro camera (with all the footage shot thus far on the trip still on the memory card) He didn’t realize this until close to where White rim intersects Shafer road before heading up the switchbacks. He suggested going back to look for it, but without any remaining water supplies and getting low on fuel it would have ended badly. His camera had been in a pocket on his backpack that was bungeed on top of his spare fuel container. Somehow the pocket came unzipped and a couple of empty bottles along with the camera had worked free and ended up back on the trail somewhere. It would have been like a needle in a haystack and I think Paul knew that.
Since the trail was straight forward and easy to spot I ran sweep until the junction of Shafer road where the guys stopped to be sure which way to go. I motioned straight ahead to them just as a couple of vehicles approached having just descended the switchbacks. The first was a black jeep with a load of young kids in the back, and I motioned him to stop. I told the driver about Paul’s camera just as a Park Ranger on a Yamaha WR 250 pulled alongside, so I told him about it as well. I explained that even if the camera was broken when found, we would really like the memory card back, and where we were staying. I then carried on, chasing Paul and Chris up the switchbacks that were in the shade by this time of day. Shafer switchbacks always make it into Moab ride reports and now I know why. They are a truly awesome ride. Shafer is made up of steep straight sections with loose, off camber corners, and a view that is not for those scared of heights. This is another example of very little room for error and I’m sure that is part of the attraction. From just about any corner you can look back down on anyone following you, and realize just how quickly you gain elevation. We were getting overheated, were out of water and the day was slipping away so once on top we booked it for camp. Just about the time I connected with hwy 313 and not long after the turnoff for Dead Horse Point my fuel reserve light came on. I wasn’t sure that I would make it but carried on and was 40 km into reserve (a new record) when we got to camp.
The plan had been to hit the Blu Pig after doing White Rim and that was still on, but gas up was going to happen first. The last time we went to the Blu Pig the food and service were awesome. I had the brisket and it was smoky- melt- in- your- mouth great! Chris wanted to try it this time. When we got there, the house blues guy was playing a set so we opted to sit in the lounge instead of the restaurant side. The hostess told me “Brad will be your server” and took us to a table. Apparently “Brad” didn’t get the memo and we sat ignored for what seemed like an eternity without so much as a jug of water. I needed the washroom so I strolled past the reception and said to the Hostess “Does Brad realize he is our server?” She responded with a look of horror, “What, he hasn’t been over?!” By the time I washed up and returned, Brad was taking drink and appetizer orders. He said “I’ll take your main food orders when I bring out the appetizer; they are really fast here since the food slow smokes all day”. Absent Minded Brad then forgot 2 out of 3 drinks and was gone so fast that he forgot all about our dinner orders to. I had to grab him (while he wandered by in a daze) to take our order. He was very apologetic and this time the food did come quickly. The brisket must have run out a bit earlier and the one that Chris had had not been on the smoker nearly long enough and as such was very disappointing. My Voodoo Chicken was awesome.
Then I actually had to go into the kitchen to find Brad to pay up since he had disappeared again. Just when we were about to leave in came Jettin’ Jim and the KLR crew. We ended up drowning out the poor Blues guy (or maybe his set was done) but he gave up and left, sorry. We managed to finally get away and head back to camp, very much done for the day.