October Road Trip, Part 2 of 2
Passing the mouth of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, we checked the weather in Grand Junction’s Lunch Loops and found rain again! Frustrated, we decided to take the scenic route down towards Telluride, west through Norwood and Paradox, and finally approaching Moab from the south. We met up with Zac’s parents for dinner, and I decided to wear my still-damp jacket in the hopes the desert air would dry it out as we walked to and from the restaurant. Unfortunately it started pouring before we finished dinner and my clothes were significantly less dry when we got back to the hotel.
Zac’s parent’s handed us keys to another room and informed us we wouldn’t be camping that night. It was incredibly gracious and we took the opportunity to dry out everything we owned. We had tents, a hammock, sleeping bags, jackets, shoes, and bags strewn on every available surface so our room resembled a well-stocked used gear shop.
Mag7 looked like one of the driest trails so we headed that way after a great breakfast at the Eklecticafé. Apparently a lot of people had the same idea, and we even ran into my old roommate with the Rude Boys crew. We got lost once, but in general had a great (and dry) ride! The synthetic bibs were choice for this long, warm ride with lots of aggressive moves. Lunch had a pretty unbeatable view.
We descended Portal where I cleaned my favorite vertical switchback on the first try. I was fairly nervous about this feature all day but since I’ve only ridden it a few times I was half way through before I realized where I was. At the end of the trail we enjoyed a scenic pedal along the Colorado River back into Moab.
That night we made our way out to an awesome but remote campsite on the north side of town. I didn’t think the road would be washed out, and if we were in something bigger than a Subaru sedan it probably wouldn’t have been that big of an issue, but as it was we had to get pretty creative.
Saturday Zac went to Dead Horse State Park with his parents so I rode the Navajo Rocks figure 8 to the Bar M trails and back into town. It was nice to have a shorter ride because I knew, especially with Zac, the next day would be an adventure. Zac was motivated to ride the Whole Enchilada despite what everyone was telling us. For some reason I usually get caught up in his excitement and end up agreeing to go.
Sunday morning we packed up camp, crawled through some sandy washes, and headed towards town while watching a beautiful sunrise. Zac’s dad had agreed to drive my car back down, so we picked him up and headed towards the trailhead. We were making our way to UPS when Zac suggested we explore the road going up to Burro Pass. “We can always turn around.” So we started up the dirt road, seeing progressively more snow as we got higher, until I was scraping the undercarriage of the car on the ridge of snow in the middle of the road. At this point we stopped, got dressed in everything we owned, and started pedaling uphill.
The ride was actually amazingly serene and tranquil. One group of hunters passed us in a Razer, clearly worried we had lost our minds. Our idea was to crest Burro Pass by the time it warmed enough for the snow to thaw, but it didn’t work that way and eventually we had to carry the bikes on our shoulders to keep the wheels from packing up with the sticky snow.
At the top of Burro Pass we paused for a bit of food and enjoyed the view. There’s something comforting about being able to see a hot dry desert below when you’re walking through snow in cold, soaked shoes. The trail off the pass was basically a slip and slide – our seatposts slammed, rear wheel locked, surfing through hub deep snow turning the front wheel to gently encourage the bike to change direction.
As we descended out of the pines and into the aspens the snow thinned to the point we could actually pedal and ride for the first time in nearly 2 hours. The climb into Hazard County was slick and wet but just a little way past the crest the trail dried out and I got dizzy following Zac’s rear wheel as it dived in and out of a million consecutive bermed corners.
Crossing the road to UPS I had to stop cause I had lost all feeling in my left foot. It was completely white when I took it out of my shoe, but some sunshine and fresh socks seemed to remedy the issue.
The speed on UPS’ fire road is fun, but we wanted more singletrack so we took a left on the new Jimmy Keen trail. It was our first time riding it, but I highly recommend this detour! It’s longer but super fun and twisty, and drops you right back on the Whole Enchilada trail.
The rest of the trail was pretty predictable just like every other time we’ve ridden it. Couple oddly placed puddles are the top. Bunch of jarring rocks on the 4×4 road. Feeling a little cocky I tried – and crashed on – the UPS Notch but it wasn’t too bad. By the bottom we were pretty exhausted but still had enough energy left to contemplate some techy lines.