Let the real riding begin

Monday, September 7, 2015. Moab, UT Weston stomped the black widow spider before I had a chance to take a picture for the blog. Fortunately he spotted a web on his sock that had been stuffed in his boot all night and thought to shake his boot just in case. The spider dropped out and was positively identified as a Black Widow by Jon who seems to know about these things. That was this morning, Labor Day 2015 at the Murphy backcountry campsite about halfway around the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park, Utah.  But how did we end up camping at the halfway point of the White Rim Trail? (Click link to read about it) Let’s backtrack. Thursday September 3 we had a late start after spending a few hours in the morning with Deby, Leah and Savannah who surprised us in Salida. It was 2:30 when we finally got under way and that is when the sky let loose welcoming us into the mountain terrain with big drops of heavy rain. Seventeen miles into the mountains Weston’s dry bag broke a strap and fell into his tire rubbing a hole rendering it no longer “dry”. Only a few miles more of the much rougher terrain and Weston’s stop KTM license plate assembly came in contact with his knobby tire and ripped off, necessitating some roadside repair. Used a camp saw to remove the stock license plate holder. And used zip ties to attached the license plate to his extra gas tank. Before long the rain let up a bit and we made it to Marshall Pass. We were trying to faithfully follow Sam’s tracks but some of the roads were long gone but we needed to try anyhow, this one ended up at a fence and we had to route to a nearby road. As it was getting dark we found a flat spot near the boat launch down a path from the main road next to a reservoir. A great camp site as it turned out complete with outhouse and picnic table, two nice things to have. Despite the nearby thunder and lightning we managed to mostly stay dry and even gather enough wood for a fire. Happy campers. The campsite was at almost 10,000 feet and the night was cold. We were glad for the new sleeping bags from Walmart. Friday 9/4/15 After morning coffee and oatmeal we once again donned our rain gear and rode off in the light rain towards Cinnamon Pass. Great riding all the way up the mountain trail. Rock, ruts and some steep sections but not too bad. Along the way we noticed a motorcycle headlight behind us. We slowed and along side us pulled Bryn! The guy we met at the TAT SHAK over a week ago. Ha, good to see him. We rode together the rest of the day. It was pretty cold most of the day but we had fun. Great roads, a little slick at times because of the rain. At the time we thought this was muddy, ha, the worst was yet to come. Eventually we found our way into Silverton, CO. Bryn, being much smarter and not having the camping challenge to contend with checked into a warm and dry hotel. We… rode down the road a few miles and found what they call “dispersed” camping which is basically a clearing somewhere where it is ok to camp. Right after I took this picture it started raining, we managed to cook dinner under the trees and stay slightly dryer before giving up and spending the rest of the evening in our tents. It dumped hard rain all night, a serious deluge. I was glad we learned to position our tents away from likely area of flooding. Amazingly we managed to stay dry all night. Saturday, 9-5-15 We managed to just get packed up and don our rain gear when the rain returned with a vengeance. Back we headed into the mountains for some cold 10,000 foot plus passes. We rode into Lake City where we found a dry spot for breakfast and a chance to warm up. It seemed like everything was wet. the town was full of side by sides for some type of rally on the start of the holiday weekend. I stopped at a Ski Do shop and splurged on a pair of heavy duty snowmobile gloves, boy were my hands happy. I had my heated Gerbing liner on as high as I dared with my little stator that was under warranty recall with chance of catching fire. I managed to stay warm enough, I wasn’t too sure about the boys. A little after lunch we stopped at some type of truck stop, convenience store, deli and decided we needed food. Gas station fried chicken. We were tired, cold, wet and dirty. Finally we dropped out of the mountains and neared the border with Utah, the rain let up but we were following huge thunder storms in the distance. We could see where the rain was falling but it seemed to be staying just ahead of us. Just into Utah we ran into mud, lots of it. Gooey, bad, stick, clay, ugly mud. This is the stuff they say to avoid at any cost. We hit it on an uphill section. My little 250 halted. The tires were so jammed with mud that the engine wouldn’t turn the rear wheel. You would think we would be discouraged but all of us were laughing so hard in our helmet communicators first Weston dumped then Jon then…. I almost crashed but my bike just stopped unable to go any further. This is actually pretty hard on a motorcycle as we would find out. I needed to find a stick and break off enough mud to get my bike going. I found the only way to move forward was to run next to the bike up the hill. When we got to the top of the hill we were laughing so hard at the crazy mud and had a great sense of accomplishment that we survived. We checked the GPS and found we weren’t far from a small town where we promptly located a car wash. Perfect, boots first. Then bikes Good as new! The closer we got to Moab the weather dried out and we crossed over a great pass, Goat Pass? We rode into Moab with 300 hard miles behind us, Rain, Cold, Mud and then into HOT dusty and technical sections. And…. we arrived in Moab, a huge tourist destination on Saturday of Labor Day weekend looking for a camping spot. As luck would have it we found a place not too far out of town that was basically an overflow farmers field but we were glad to have a place to set up camp and ride into town for dinner. We treated ourselves to a nice Italian place. It was a half hour wait for a table at 9:00 at night but they were really nice to us scraggly bikers and served great food. I had two Polygamy Porters (why have just one). We returned to our campsite in the farmers field and promptly crashed. Sunday 9-6-15 The astute reader may notice that the places we’ve camped the last few nights probably did not have showers. They didn’t. We hadn’t had showers since Tuesday Morning in Salida. Hmmm. What to do in Moab on Labor Day weekend? Ride! I decided we would take a break from the Trans American Trail and explore some of the routes Deby and I rode when we were here a few years ago. We loaded the bikes, stocked up on groceries, and headed out the Potash road for the Shafer Switchbacks. We cruised up easily.

A million fantastic photo opportunities. The view from the top of the road. I should probably just stop taking pictures, they just don’t do justice. At the top is a visitor center and ranger station for Canyonlands National Park. We stopped to inquire about a permit to ride the White Rim Trail, a famous 100 mile trek around, what else, the White Rim. We were informed that there was actually one campsite left and it was at approximately the halfway point of the White Rim Trail, did we want to reserve it. Sure! We were told that we should leave soon since it was already 1:30 in the afternoon and the ranger predicted it would take 5 hours to arrive at the camp site. Did we go directly there? No. First down one of my favorite tracks, Pucker Pass. Here is why. We were going down and these Jeeps were coming up. We managed down the pass and headed to the start of the White Rim Trail. We arrive at the starting point at 3:00 PM. Hmm, I hoped we could make it 50 miles in less than 5 hours. Riding with these guys, no problem until…… CRASH The riding was tough, technical, very rocky and steep. Weston was in the lead when he came to a steep uphill with a sharp left turn over the rise at the top. Miss the turn and it was about a 1000 foot drop over a cliff. Weston managed the turn but tried to yell out for us to slow down in the helmet communicators. The line of site communications turned off and Jon tore up the steep incline even faster than Weston. When he saw the cliff  and realized he couldn’t stop he skidded left on purpose dumping the bike instead of flying over the edge. I was behind him a minute later but exercising more caution made the turn. We pulled under an overhanging cliff to triage the situation. The good news is that his protective gear saved him from some really serious injury. The bad news was that he appeared to have a sprained ankle. That happened 30 miles into a 100 mile backcountry ride, I suppose the prudent thing would have been to ride back to town but we decided to continue on and “see how it goes”. We made it to Camp Murphy at about 6:00 PM, almost half the time the ranger predicted. The camp site was fantastic, words and pictures can’t even come close to how cool it was. I’ll try with a few pictures here. We made Jon stay put with his leg up while Weston and I set up camp and cooked dinner. Great sunset and views. Monday 9-7-15, Labor Day We slept with our rain fly’s off and were plenty warm all night, with only a crescent moon rising later in the night we hoped for some great star gazing. A layer of clouds moved in and the sky was obscure all night. I was up early for the sunrise and we weren’t disappointed. Storm clouds and nice rainbow. A good place to sit and drink coffee Those clouds are moving away from us right???? NOT, we packed up in a hurry as the rain started and a big black cloud with dark earthbound streaks headed our way. Rain following us in the desert, go figure. Took time for a quick glamor shot of the bikes before we rode out in soft rain. There were more than a few really technical spots on the trail. I was amazed what the 250 got me through. Numerous really tricky steep uphill sections, some with loose rock, some sand and one I somehow managed to get up was giant steps. Whew! No time to take pictures of those places. The road ahead. Jon and Weston waiting for me (as usual) at the bottom. I love this picture of me that Weston took. Just a small example of some of the craziness on the White Rim Trail. Seriously, you don’t want to fall off any of these edges. Whew. We rode the 50 or so miles off the WRT in about 2.5 hours, again, about half the time recommended. Jon and Weston set a pretty fast pace. The trail has many sections of deep sand so against all intuition the safest technique is to go really fast! Lean back, stand on pegs, steer with feet. It works. Jon was having a hard time shifting and walking but managed to get back to his old riding speed of pretty fast. About noon we rolled into Moab, all three bikes with the gas lights on but we made it to gas and a Denny’s next door for breakfast. We have arrangements to get new tires on Tuesday and we noticed there is a KOA campground a few blocks from the tire store so we decided an early day was in order. We picked the KOA because it has a shower, WiFi and a laundry. After 5 days we got showers and clean clothes. There was even a pool for Jon to soak his foot. Tomorrow we get back to the TAT. I notice it leaves Moab on the Gemini Bridges Trail, cool. Deby and I rode that when we were here. Should be fun. Thanks for following. Note: Thanks for your comments and messages here and on Facebook. They do keep us going even though It’s difficult to respond due to sparse connectivity. If you want to see where we are in real time click on the Follow Us tab above. Finally, I’m using my cell phone for pictures and whenever I get a good connection I upload them to my Smugmug account. You can view them here: https://donnh.smugmug.com/Motorcycles/ADV-Dual-Sport-Rides/2015-TAT Donn, Jon, Weston

3 thoughts on “Let the real riding begin

  1. You have to be some kind of crazy to take this huge trip and ride but I am loving reading about it. Keep up the good work and stay safe.

  2. What great photos. Great write up also. I’m so thankful You guys are doing this adventure without me. I rode desert endures as a teenager in the Mojave Desert I’ve ridden in the Elsinore California mud so thick I’ve had to dig it out with a stick. I know what your going through. I don’t remember having 2 great guys with me laughing so hard it did not matter though. I’m so thankful to be sitting here after my shower in clean underwear and socks with all my cloths dry. I want to thank all 3 of you for sharing this experience with us your followers. What memories you have brought to mind.

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