I'm a little behind on this one. Better late than never, right? I also condensed the mega-post into a single one chock-full of highlights for this incarnation.
This is not a new story for many of you. Another year, another trip to the desert, another anniversary of endings and new beginnings. This May trip to the desert has many times been a solo excursion. This was not one of those years. Somehow, the tag-team came together and I had wonderful company the whole time.
As per usual, there was "bad" weather in the mountains on at least one leg of the drive. I had swapped out my snow tires just in time for this trip and was a little apprehensive about the forecast. It did snow, and Vail Pass was actually closed when we left Denver. We started off anyhow; plan B was to stay over in Summit County if we couldn't get through. Our timing was good--we had passable roads and minimal traffic through the tunnel and over Vail Pass. Onward to Junction!
Saturday morning the gang convened at 18 Road. We sampled the highlights, including PBR, which left us all grinning. Joe's Ridge provided an enticing view, as well.
An afternoon nap felt awesome after getting in late and getting up early. We regrouped in the afternoon for a potluck BBQ that was most excellent.
The Sunday ride was at Loma and we hit the usual Rustler's, Mary's, Horsethief deliciousness. After a lovely day on the trails, it was time to part ways with the first leg of the friend-relay. I sadly sent them on their way to Denver and Boulder and happily headed off to Moab to meet up with the next set of friends. They had secured a fantastic campsite at Sand Flats. The sunset certainly did it justice.
I was pretty beat on Monday and was content with a recovery ride from town to the Amasa Back Trailhead and back. I sent P on his way up the trail and headed back to my "Southwest Regional Field Office" (aka Moab Library) to catch up and stay cool. We connected with J in the City Market parking lot as he arrived from Boulder and headed back to camp.
The forecast was for hot weather and I was eager to head for the hills on Tuesday morning. We stopped in at the brands for a really fun ride en route. Here's J enjoying the singletrack.
Showers and ice cream at the Archview Campground were a welcome treat on a hot afternoon! We headed up to the Horsethief Campground which was cooler and much less hectic than Moab. The sunset was outstanding, as well.
Wednesday morning we headed over to Deadhorse Point State Park and had a blast on the Intrepid Trail.
It was another really pleasant evening in camp. Everyone contributed something tasty for dinner and we feasted.
I had a hankering to camp at least one night in Canyonlands NP. J and I headed into the park first thing Thursday morning to nab a campsite. Then we headed back to the visitor center to meet P and P. We went down Shafer and out on to the White Rim just a little way. Even a short ride on a hot day was pretty wonderful. Even more wonderful, P had driven his 4Runner to the bottom of the Shafer Trail and we didn't have to climb the switchbacks!
Friday morning I had the unparalleled luxury of moseying just a quarter mile to the Green River Overlook. The White Rim Trail sure looks inviting, doesn't it? More time on the White Rim would have to wait for another day, though. Next stop, Green River and the San Rafael Swell Mountain Bike Festival.
I'm not sure what any of us expected from the festival, but I knew for sure that it would be different from our typical Boulder/Fruita/Moab gatherings. First stop: Green River State Park. This is a very pleasant campground! It was really nice to have green grass, giant shade trees, and shelter from the wind after being at Sand Flats and Island in the Sky all week. Showers and electricity just sweetened the deal. The festival featured loaded goody bags, a good dinner, and a raffle on the first night. We were shocked to collect 2 of the 4 raffle prizes (really nice Camelbaks filled with goodies), donated by Deckers Bikes in Price. We were singled out as newcomers and made to feel welcome. "You're from Colorado? How (on earth) did you find out about us?" It was definitely a family vibe with many folks who have returned year after year.
Saturday morning started with a more than ample "pancake" (and eggs, french toast, juice, coffee, sausage, and bacon) breakfast. We then loaded into carpools and headed off on our respective rides. I opted for an intermediate ride and was surprised to realize that I had done part of it on a previous trip into the Swell. It was fun to revisit it and then to ride into a side canyon that was new to me. The weather was spectacular and we were fully supported with a pickup truck.
It's a gorgeous area! I look forward to future explorations.
Saturday evening we were treated to some incredible BBQ and sent home with a pile of leftovers.
Sunday morning we regrouped and were shuttled to the top of Black Dragon Wash. This is a fun downhill run with just enough pedaling to keep us engaged. We ended up at the Black Dragon pictograph panel. Again, it was my second visit there and it was cool to have more time to look around and see a few of the things I had missed previously.
Then it was time to head back to Green River and then Junction. Re-entry to reality is always an adjustment and it was nice to have one more night visiting friends before heading home.
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