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Old 01-22-2014, 01:30 PM   #1
Rut Runner OP
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Dual Sport Meandering in Colorado and Utah

The plan was similar to years past: haul my bike around to choice riding spots, unload and explore …

The difference this year was the September timeframe. In years past I’ve come to Utah in November and December. The riding was good but you always had to keep one eye on the weather forecast. Many times I had to divert to lower altitude trails or leave the state all together. For September I thought I would have complete freedom in Utah and Colorado. What I didn’t count on was record rainfall and flash-flooding!

The riding that I did do was based out of Buena Vista and Georgetown in Colorado. The Utah riding included trails in the Whitewash area south of Green River, Hatch Canyon near Hite, Cathedral Valley in Capitol Reef NP, the San Rafael Swell and various 4x4 roads in the Grand Staircase NM. For most of the Utah routes, my bike was the first vehicle through after the rains had ceased.

The riding included an unscheduled overnight stop, where I ended up sleeping beside my bike in full riding gear. Considering all the solo riding that I do, I figured I would be overdue for this, but not under quite those circumstances!

Here’s some preview pics:

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Old 01-22-2014, 04:54 PM   #2
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Beautiful start. I'm in. I've ridden many places in those areas. Be interested in seeing them again, along with some others.
I prefer a short life with width to a narrow one with length-Avicenna Ouray Adv Cortez & Moab Dinosaurs
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Old 01-22-2014, 05:40 PM   #3
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Wow... nice pics, the scale of the place is amazing. Have fun!
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Old 01-22-2014, 05:48 PM   #4
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Nice photos.. I too faced a few wet muddy nights this September in Colorado which made it more of an adventure than I had planned. Will be interesting to hear your version.
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Old 01-22-2014, 09:17 PM   #5
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Looking forward to seeing the rest of the report...
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Old 01-23-2014, 01:51 PM   #6
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Day 1 & 2

The first day of real riding started in Buena Vista. It’s a small town with a vibe similar to Moab. It’s also very popular with motorcyclists, especially the adventure touring ones. Almost every motel and restaurant parking lot had a selection BMW’s and KTM’s. Deer actually roam the streets freely here, munching on peoples flower gardens and bushes.

I rode up over Cottonwood pass to Taylor Park Reservoir, and gassed up at the general store. From here you can ride 4x4 roads in any direction. I did a number of passes, and went through a few “towns” that were just a collection of cabins. From what I understand you can spend weeks riding in this area.

"Town" of St. Elmo

Day 2

The day was overcast with low lying clouds, none of the mountains were even visible. I decided to head east of town. There’s no peaks east of town but there were quite a range of trails including 4x4, ATV, and very rocky singletrack, With an intermittent drizzle coming down I stuck to the easier stuff.

Nice flowing doubletrack:

To be Cont'd...
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Old 01-23-2014, 02:03 PM   #7
Crown Imperial
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I need to do this on the bike.
Did Moab with the GF and it sucked due to Whining Princess syndrome.
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Old 01-24-2014, 03:25 AM   #8
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Very nice Mike, we have to get together to talk about Colorado riding. I would like to go back and just roam around and explore various areas of the state.

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Old 01-24-2014, 01:15 PM   #9
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Day 3

Tow #4:

This was my 4th tow of the trip. Thank god for AAA/CAA benefits. The local shop in Buena Vista couldn’t fix the problem so it had to be towed back to a dealer in Canon City. I thought CAA would cut me off for this one, but no, they covered the 90 mile, 2 hour tow to Canon City.

The driver for the tow was local to BV, and also does back country towing and extrications with his own 4x4 tow rig. He charges $260/hr from the time he leaves his house until he gets back. Most of his business is foreign tourists driving their rental cars where they shouldn’t.

The drive to Canon City is pretty scenic, even in the pouring rain. Canon City sits on the edge of the mountains like Denver. The service person at the dealer says there is great riding in the area, including one end of the Rainbow trail. Too bad it’s solid rain for the next two days! With little other choice I rent a car and do the regular tourist thing for two days. During this time the town of Boulder gets 9” of rain in one day.

When I got my pickup back there was still no break in the forecast so I hammered it to Utah, desperate to catch up on my riding. I arrived at the White Wash sand dunes in the late afternoon and managed to get in a tour of the slickrock. I ended up riding with these 3 fellows for awhile:

While out on the rock there was a violent thundershower. I didn’t want to risk damaging my camera so I don’t have any pictures. I was in a deep gully when it happened, and it was quite a “transformation” of the landscape. Waterfalls started appearing everywhere and the cascading water produced fast flowing streams over the slickrock. I’ve never seen anything like it before.

To be Cont'd

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Old 01-24-2014, 08:33 PM   #10
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Old 01-25-2014, 07:12 AM   #11
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Originally Posted by Crown Imperial View Post
I need to do this on the bike.

Did Moab with the GF and it sucked due to Whining Princess syndrome.

That's funny!!! (I too have experienced this Whining Princess Syndrome you speak of)
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Old 01-25-2014, 09:10 AM   #12
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Nice pics. I'm in for the ride!!
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Old 01-25-2014, 09:43 AM   #13
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this is where I need to be right now, in for living vicariously
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Old 01-27-2014, 12:14 PM   #14
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I camped out near the White Wash sand dunes. There were flashes of lightning all night and it showered a few times. This was the last day of rain for Utah. For breakfast I thought I could quickly take trails north into Green River. The gravel roads were okay but as soon as I jumped onto the ATV track I had trouble. I barely made it up this hill:

I made my way northwards struggling in the softer sections. Coming across a high ridge I could see a river sparkling below. I thought it must be the Green River, but it didn’t fit looking at the map on my GPS. Hmmm…that’s odd… there shouldn’t even be a river there! Five minutes later I come to this:

It was flowing swiftly. The banks were soft and my feet sank in so quickly I almost got stuck. It was actually hazardous. I scouted up and down the wash but couldn’t find a fording spot. I tried moving east a few miles but ran into the same wash-at that point I could see the traffic on I-70! At that point I gave up and headed back south. I made it back to my truck at 1:30- which made for a 5 hour morning ride, sans breakfast!

These are some pics from rest of the day:

to be cont'd
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Old 01-28-2014, 12:38 PM   #15
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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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