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Old 01-28-2014, 12:38 PM   #15
Rut Runner OP
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Jan 2008
Location: Toronto
Oddometer: 153

Next day’s destination was Sunset Pass via the Maze district of Canyonlands National Park. I arrived the night before and snapped this picture from the overlook above Hite:

The plan was to ride from Hite to the Dirty Devil River and back. The crossing would obviously be impassable. Several years ago I did Poison Springs canyon to the river crossing from the other side and was very impressed with the scenery. At 55 miles one-way, this would also be a longer distance ride. The bridge over the Colorado:

There were many nice campsites in the area. Hite would make a good basecamp to explore the surrounding area. The road started off fast and easy:

I came to a fork in the road and had my first decision point. My only map was the pdf put out by the park service, and it didn’t show this intersection! With zero vehicle tracks to go by I used my best judgment and went left.

After following several drainages I came through here and realized I must be going the wrong way. Oh well, might as well see where it goes! The trail ascended onto the bench lands and seemed to go on forever:

With time marching on I decided to turn and backtrack to the last intersection. I reached the turn-off for Poison Springs Canyon road and headed towards Sunset pass. I ran into an endless amount of this:

Even the culverts don't help much:

Every few hundred feet I would have to brake, assess, and either go for it or stop. It was hard to get into a rhythm and more often than not I would underestimate the wash-out and end up skidding to a halt in a panic stop.

I did yet another wrong turn as I took a fork out of a wash. This one costed me several miles.

The path approaching the river feels like it goes on forever. The route is anything but a straight line, and follows the intricate contours of the mesas and buttes. At one point I could see the river on the GPS a few miles distant and thought: “Great, I’ll be there in 5 minutes” Half an hour later I’m still riding! The road emerged high above the river and provided stunning views. None of my pics really shows the true scale. I finally made it to the river and had to stop a distance from it:

I ate lunch on a rock shelf above the river. It was flowing very swiftly and every few minutes the hydraulics of the river would produce a loud crack or boom. My odometer read 73 miles, which made me feel a bit uneasy. I hadn’t seen anyone all day and if the bike didn’t start it would be a long walk out!

The trip back was uneventful. These are some pics on the way back:

Later that night I got this surprise driving back up hwy 95 to Hanksville:

Twenty four hours earlier the road was intact, now half of it was gone. The road was marked “Closed” and was barricaded off. I just moved the cones aside and drove through.

To be cont’d…

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