This is the big day – we’re riding in to Moab. Yeehaa!
We packed up camp and got rolling before 8:00 a.m. we knew this was going to be a hot one. Our ride started out retracing our path from yesterday afternoon heading back out to Lands End. We stopped to take in the view once more. Here’s a shot of the road we’re about to descend.
The road was completely non-technical but it sure had a bunch of switchbacks. I suppose the hardest thing was watching out for traffic headed the other way around all those blind turns. After a short while we made it down to highway 50 just west of Grand Junction.
Consulting the map we saw we had just a few miles to ride along 50 before we would turn south onto the road to Gateway, highway 141. We’d driven this road a couple of winters earlier and thought it was quite scenic. I was excited to be back on it. Now, I would have rather been on my Triumph Sprint ST for this section but hey the KLR is a do-everything go-anywhere bike so it’s hard to complain about that side of things.
Here’s a shot along the road to Gateway.
And a not-so-informative shot of the big resort in Gateway.
What’s the deal with this place anyway? For those who haven’t been there this place is a a huge lavish-looking resort in the middle of nowhere. We took a spin around the “compound” and thought momentarily about grabbing lunch there but it looked darn expensive and it was way too early to be getting lunch anyway. So we pressed on and soon found the road out John Brown Canyon.
John Brown Canyon was a non-technical dirt road that crosses over from western Colorado into eastern Utah, coming in behind the La Sals. From what I had read it was to be a fairly straightforward ride. It was. Here’s a couple of shots en route.
And a sign (sort of) marking the border.
We stopped at a pull-out a few hundred yards above the trail head to Fisher Mesa and cooked up some tasty lunch – those just-add-water noodle bowl things. Yea, lunch pretty much sucked on those 140 calories didn’t last long. The view from our lunch spot was sweet, looking down into Fisher valley and out towards Polar Mesa. While sitting there it hit me – let’s ride down Fisher Valley and Onion Creek! I’d been bugging some of my fellow mtb buddies about doing this ride for a few years with no takers but since the opportunity was presenting itself I convinced Kerry it would be fine, “it’s just an easy dirt road”.
So we back tracked a mile or so back to the turn off that would take us down to Fisher Valley. I noticed a more direct route that appeared to drop you right into the very top of the valley but we opted not to take this route, saving that for the 30 lb bikes some other time.
Instead we rolled around Polar Mesa taking in the scenery. The road started out to be fairly solid but in good Moab tradition it got softer and sandier as we progressed.
Some of the turns were quite loose and soft.
We both laid our bikes down several times for some apparently much needed dirt naps. Guess the bikes were tired and hot. By now Kerry had become an expert in lifting her bike back up. I had not had much experience with this. In one particular case my bike was lying with the wheels slightly uphill which meant it was going to be extra tough to get it back up. I tried for a bit but couldn’t quite get it up. Kerry finally convinced me to unload all my gear and try again. It’s amazing how much easier it is to pick your bike up if it isn’t laden with an extra 50 lbs of gear. Sorry, no pics – camera was packed away inside one of Kerry’s Givi boxes at this point. Not sure why.
Anyhoo, we persevered and finally made it down into the Fisher Valley.
And into Onion Creek…
It really didn’t smell all that bad.
We took a quick break when we got out to the highway but it was now mid-afternoon and must have been close to 100 degrees. With no shade around we opted to keep moving – it was to be all highway along the Colorado River from here to Moab. Woohoo!
After about 2 miles we pull up behind a bunch of stopped traffic just sitting there baking away in the desert. The road was closed temporarily due to a movie being filmed. We must have sat there for half an hour. When we did get to go by, judging from the props we saw, I’d say there were filming some sort of Western with a big old fashioned steam locomotive (mounted on the back of a flatbed trailer).
Soon we were cruising into Moab. This place is pretty much void of tourists this time of year, except for the French who must really love the heat. We saw loads of jacked up 4wd diesel trucks with huge tail pipes spewing clouds of soot. (Oh, wait, I have one of those
) Gotta love this place. We pulled into the Moab Cremery and bellied up to the ice cream counter. Two scoops on a waffle cone please.
The ice cream didn’t last long in this heat. We did step outside to get these shots but then quickly retreated indoors to finish off our treats before the dripped all over the side walk.
Since we had heard the waters of Onion Creek can be quit corrosive (too much salt?) we headed to the nearest car wash and cleaned our bikes off. They needed a bath anyway since we had now been on the road for a week.
We headed south out of town, rode out through the Spanish Valley and headed up towards Geyser Pass. We headed to a spot that in the past had good water and a potential camping spot. No water, no snow on the peaks, no nothing. We pressed on and got water from a creek just below Geyser Pass. While stopped there filtering water we came across two fellas riding the TAT. The first guy was on a KTM 690 Enduro. Looks like a fun bike. We chatted for a bit and I think I had convinced them not to head down to town but up to the Oowah Lake Campground instead, just off the La Sal Loop Rd. Much cooler up here I told them.
We found a nice camp spot just over the pass but as we began to unload our gear we noticed another tent hidden a bit further back in the trees. Not wanting to invade someone's spot we pressed on, and on, and on. We headed down the western side of the La Sals and rode for what seemed like another hour, and by now it was getting close to being dark and we were freakin tired. The 140 calorie lunch followed by ice cream in this heat wasn’t a great combo. Eventually we headed up some small road and ended up just camping at the dead end. Hey, it was flat and we were done.