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Thread: The Maze.

  1. #1
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    The Maze.

    During a recent outing to that certain remote part of Canyonlands I combined three non-motorized ways of travel, namely mountain biking, packrafting and hiking. While it sounds complicated at first it turned out remarkably simple both in planning and execution. This was important as I, as usual, conceived the idea to this trip some 36 hours before setting out.

    On the river side of the Maze, there's only one spot where a road leads all the way down to the water:way up north at the mouth of Millard Canyon on the Green. It's directly across from the White Rim road in the Island in the Sky district, near a spot where this road also dips down close to the river.

    Seeing a potential back door to the Maze not needing 4x4 wheels, jet boats or a long commute to Hans Flat I packed up the bike with some light bivy gear, 3 days of food and a 5 pound Alpacka raft and pedaled out the White Rim. Nearly 10 miles upstream of Millard I launched the boat with the bike and everything and leisurely drifted with the current.

    At around noon on day one I pulled up on the beach at Millard and began the 25 mile ride to the Maze Overlook. The huge terrain out here, this early in the year, had a very remote feel to it. It was obvious no vehicles had ventured this far out yet for the 2014 season.

    Storm cells, headwind and crusty sand made for a taxing ride. At sundown amidst sprinkles I got to camp and quickly dipped below the rim to a secure rock shelter, out of the wind. Had a beautiful evening and excellent sleep.

    A bright clear morning on day 2 was ideal for a loop hike into the Maze involving the super fun descent down from the Overlook, the ridge near Pete's Mesa, Chimney Rock and Pictograph Canyon. 13 miles later, with fresh water from the abundant springs in the canyons I was back at camp for a modest lunch and nap, then relocated my camp to the top of the Golden Stairs, with its far ranging views of the Fins, Ernie's Country and the benches ultimately leading to Hite.

    The third and last day started with mare's tails, strong gusts and shortly followed by building darkness to the west. Ahead of me I had a long cruise back to the boat, but hoping for at least partial tailwinds I decided to spend a few hours first descending the Golden Stairs trail and visiting Lou's spring on the outskirts of the complex Fins area. Unable to completely relax, with an eye constantly to the sky, I rushed this amazing hike leading to an area worthy of many days.

    Back up I cleared out before 11 and pedaled non stop for 3.5 hours to arrive at the Green in complete overcast, ominous conditions. Relieved to find the raft not absolutely destroyed by pack rats (a worry that stressed me out most of the ride back!!) I recrossed the river and rode the White Rim back to the car. That evening it rained hard over the entire region. Over the span of three days I saw just two jolly backpackers at the Harvest Scene.

    For full disclosure I should remark that although I secured a permit for this trip, I was later contacted by the NPS and told that it is illegal to move a bike on the river. Whether this obscure rule is in fact in the regulation book or merely a misinterpretation by an office bound ranger remain to be discovered.

    10 miles packrafting, 22 miles hiking, 98 miles riding on VERY remote jeep roads.

    All photos with a GoPro Hero 2.


    image
    by kullaberg631, on Flickr
    The boat and bike.


    image
    by kullaberg631, on Flickr
    A minor defile below the Buttes of the Cross


    image
    by kullaberg631, on Flickr
    Rock shelter bivy


    image
    by kullaberg631, on Flickr
    Water in the desert!!!


    image
    by kullaberg631, on Flickr
    If there's a cairn there's probably a way.


    image
    by kullaberg631, on Flickr
    Moki steps


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    by kullaberg631, on Flickr
    More fun Maze mazing.


    image
    by kullaberg631, on Flickr
    This catwalk would have freaked me out with a heavy pack along.


    image
    by kullaberg631, on Flickr
    The incredible Lou's spring, unfortunately marred by the bizarre tragedy of last year. Thankfully I had forgot about it until returning.


    image
    by kullaberg631, on Flickr
    Golden Stairs tarp camp.


    image
    by kullaberg631, on Flickr
    The bike, a Surly Krampus. Socalled mid fat technology.


    image
    by kullaberg631, on Flickr
    Golden Stairs trail, a hard to follow jumble of broken rock and debris zig zagging down thru layers of sandstone. On the map marked as 1.3 miles but gps'ed at 2.2


    image
    by kullaberg631, on Flickr
    China Neck


    image
    by kullaberg631, on Flickr
    Yes that little thing of a mere 5 lbs can haul a full size mtb and do class 4 (with an optional spray deck)
    Last edited by jan_nikolajsen; 03-09-2014 at 10:17 AM.

  2. #2
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    AWESOME photos....Looks like an E-ticket trip....Thanks for sharing.....

  3. #3
    650b me
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    Oh man, thanks so much for sharing! Now that's an adventure!

    The title of your post caught my eye. I toured the Maze district via mtb with Nichols Expeditions back in 1993, when I still lived in Illinois. That trip literally changed my life. A year later, I moved to Colorado where I still live today. Can't get enough of the American West!

  4. #4
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    Great trip report--thanks for sharing.

    Would love to hear more details about the rule they dredged up or re-mis-interpreted. You can move a gazillion things down the river from coolers to blenders to livestock to RC planes, using jet boats or outboards or oars, but not a bike?

  5. #5
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    Re: The Maze.

    Fantastic! Love the spontaneity.

  6. #6
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    Yeah the bike on a raft rule has got me too? This was NPS or BLM or forest circus rule? Could be that squatter Randy has them all fired up? Nice trip for sure! Miss the desert Thank You!

  7. #7
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    Way to go Jan, looks great! Invariably the trips with the least planning are the most interesting.

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