Headed out the desert for eight days over thanksgiving week. I
borrowed a trailer and pulled the Elefant along with the GTI. Worked
Went down to Utah to explore some canyons in the hinterlands between
Monticello and Blanding, Utah. Most of the canyons I wanted to check out
required 10-30 miles of 4x4 roads to reach the access points. That’s
why I trailered out the Elefant.
First, I followed the Colorado River down into Utah.
And set up my camp for the next week. I was probably 50-60 miles south east of Moab, Utah as the crow flies..
First day there I just wanted to locate the access for a canyon about
20 miles away. So took off on the bike racing a storm system.
I expected the storm to drop some rain that day, but I had rain gear
so I wasn’t too worried about it. I did think about a story a buddy
told me about how the dirt out there turns to a slick clay when wet...
and completely gummed up his motorcycle. I figured I’d be fine- it
probably wasn’t going to rain too hard.....
After some exploring, I found an old road leading to the top of mesa overlooking the canyon. Amazing zone.
Crazy views from the mesa rim...
The slickrock canyon walls were between 400 to 600 feet tall...
Got some rainbow action while on the mesa rim.
Even the bike got some rainbow love!
Soon thereafter, I found my access point to drop into the first canyon. I still had a hour of daylight so I thought I’d go check out the trail leading into the canyon.
And of course, once far enough from the bike, the skies opened up. Got to see some cool waterfalls form though....
So it was dark (and wet)(and cold) by the time I got back to the
bike. And not surprisingly, the dirt had turned into the slimy clay I’d
been warned about. The 20 miles to the canyon probably took 45 minutes.
The same 20 miles back to camp took two+ hours....
The wet clay was slick as snot and my front and rear of the bike would constantly fish tail without warning. The tires got caked with so much mud they resembled big frosted doughnuts... Doughnuts so over-iced they had trouble fitting through the front forks.. and the entire rear swingarm was just a blob of mud; with the chain digging its own tunnel deep under the muck.
Next day I had to chisel about 40 pounds of dried clay off the bike. Glad I brought extra chain wax. (note: this pic was taken AFTER I’d already been at work cleaning the bike for a while..) Eventually I just had to suck it up and drive 45 miles to the town of Monticello to a carwash to hose it off.....
On the way back to camp, I decided to check another zone following a road that wrapped around this mesa.
The old road, perched on a shelf overlooking another canyon, went forever. It was amazing. No other tracks.. Just the desert, me and a big-ass Italian dirt bike... Probably one of the best days I’ve ever had on the bike. It’s like the thing was born for flying across deserts.....
Nice views from the mesa shelf I was on—
Racing the sunset back to camp..
Next day, dropped into the canyon I was checking out the access to earlier- But rather than head all the way down to the canyon floor, I traversed the rim and explored the many higher-up slickrock zones... I should of brought a skate board for this one:
Random little arch within the rim rock.
Just craziness....no matter where you looked..
Even the lichen was cool.
Escaping back to the rim.
The next few days I spent checking out some other out-of-the-way canyons. The first required driving up a river bed for 15 miles! It alternated between hardpack sand with “tidal pools” from springs. They were great! Wonderful traction on a terra firma with puddles to hit at high speeds. Fun stuff.
But for every mile of hard pack with splashy fun, I probably had to deal with two miles of deep sand....
Once in the canyon proper, I found some magical stuff....
On the backside of the above arch, I wanted to boulder up to some ledges for a sunny lunch spot. But once getting closer to the rock I noticed some moki steps! (Steps carved into the rock by anasazi.. roughly a thousand years ago)
I bouldered up onto the first ledge, but saw that the ledge systems kept going... leading to a walkway about 100 feet above the ground that traversed around a wall. I got a feeling that I’d found something special...
Here’s a view of the whole escarpment I was on, and the ledge system I was following. But you see how the ledge system traverses into the big grotto on the left...
When you followed the ledge into the grotto, I knew what I was going to find... Hey! What’s that hiding under that wall??
A pretty cool place to kick it is what I found! Those guys that lived here from around 700-1300 AD knew how to do it! Amazing that these structures were around 1000 years old and still in good shape...
Crazy how well preserved the structures were... It looked like there were two ‘houses’ with two graineries....
And totally crappy views from the pad.
Imagine living here your whole life.. Tending small plots of corn and beans augmented with deer and rabbit..... Must of been horrible.
But all good things must end... made my way back to the bike to head back to camp as the sun was getting low...
Alright, back into the river wash!
Anyway.. sorry such a long post, hopefully it didn’t burn up any modems.......