It's great to have adventures. It's a priveledge to be able to see great sights, beautiful scenery, and new stuff. It's fantastic to meet folk from other cultures. It's fun to return with ideas that you might be able to adapt to your own environment. And to top it all off, to share the whole experience with someone you love...what could be better.Ju and I had 55 days in our camper van in the USA, and rode close to 800 km of single track in 48 days. That in itself was quite an achievement, (and lots of fun), but to add to that we left forest fires, floods, thunder, hail and lightening, searing heat, and bitterly cold days behind us. We reestablished old friendships, and made new friends. In one city alone(Las Vegas) we saw Rod Stewart, Michael Jackson, Spiderman, Chewbacca, Bob the Builder, some really hot female cops, Robbo Cops, Darth Vader and a Storm Trooper, and several other weird and way out sights.(this is a very strange town). In another city we learnt about poligomy. In another about the rivalry between Colorado and Texas. We were locked out of National Parks. (We sneaked in the backway). We sampled lots of delicious Mexican food, American breakfasts, served by waitresses on roller skates, ice cream potatoes, smoothies, pancakes, and Ju tried a host of local beers.Perhaps the most exciting stuff were things we could see working in our village, Hammer Springs. Here are some ideas: a cycle track to the river, a sound shell , a surf wave on the local river, a rock climbing wall, astro turf for year long sport, and of course, the town only slightly bigger than Hanmer with 150 miles of single track for mountain biking.......hmmmm. So much to strive for...... and that's after only two months. What's going to happen after two years Cycling?
The kiwi team are busy breaking down and packing their steads, cleaning them up so as to get through NZ Bio Security with minimum hassle. It's been raining most of the night, so timing works well....but I am fidgety. Enter Carol and Gary, down from Biose Idaho to watch the Red Bull Rampage.
After an ten hour drive yesterday they are keen to get on their bikes as well.....
But first Team Brunch and we all head to "Main Street" Hurricane where Kevin and his lovely wife Pam, serve up an amazing range of fantastic grub, all fit for hard biking dudes like us. Kevin was not long ago and ultra racing, riding dude, but realized that sometime in life you need to make some cash to support the obsession, so is now feeding all the mtbers in the area. Drop in and say "Gidday" if you're in Hurricane.
The riders in the Red Bull Rampage are out in the desert this week, sorting their lines for the big comp this weekend. These guys drop off the edge of the Mesa down ridiculous lines, defying gravity (serious injury and death), testing their skill and bikes to the limit. We won't be able to watch (thank goodness...I hate hearing bones break), but guess who walked into "Main Street"? NZ'S own Kelly Mc Garry. He and his lovely, stunning girlfriend are from Nelson/Queenstown, and they have been out on the Mesa planning and digging Kelly's line. Good luck mate. Keep safe,(all the women in our party were drooling over your good looks, so protect that face......)and bring home some dosh.
So the concensus is that "Church Rocks" trail will be dry enough to ride, so Carol, Garry and I are off. Only 10 minutes drive from Diane and Freds we are on the bikes pretty quickly and enjoying the sandy smooth trails that lead up to some really sweet slick rock. Juliet would love this. Can I convince her to come out tomorrow??
Pizza for tea. You buy them prepared, but not cooked, then heat them at home..... Lots of stories and laughs. The group splits up tomorrow. Morning time is quick in coming and a little sad. Fred and Diane have been amazing hosts. However we will see them again soon. They are committed to coming back to NZ to ride.
Ju and I head out to Church Rocks. She loved it, so I have managed to reverse the trend....she was beginning to believe that Fred was the most wonderful man....but I have regained that spot...sorry Fred. We meet an Aussie guy, and his American wife, that spend six months in each country...mainly playing on bikes, boats or hiking trails....sounds good to me. Then off towards Vegas.
We want to get another ride in today, so head out to the pretty little town of Blue Diamond, on the edge of Red Rocks National Park (which is closed). There we meet Chris in the local bike shop (I think it was the only shop in the village). Chris gave us the totally most animated route description of a trail that we have ever seen. Obviously an absolute passionate mtb nut...... We rode 12 miles of really nice trails, with a gentle climb resulting in at least 6 miles of continuous downhill. Only problem was we got slightly geographically challenged a couple of times....despite the graphic description from Chris. Oh well.....
And then we are off into Vegas to a motel. Tidy up of our bikes tomorrow. The biking is over........until next time.....
We are still in Hurricane at Fred and Diane's, being treated to all the delights of the area by our wonderful hosts. As well as hearing all of Fred's stories ( he is the only fireman that ever stayed in the job after twice ripping the door out of the front of the fire station with the fire appliance), we have been treated to a host of "you won't be able to this at home in NZ" experiences.
The other night we all went out for Mexican food, to Durango's. This is a fast food outlet, specializing in Mexican, along the same lines as Subway. Fast, efficient, healthy, tasty and cheap. Then we all went to the 3D version of Gravity (paying seniors price as we all looked over 55...Ju wasn't impressed, but kept her mouth shut...) Last night we went to "Mary Poppins" performed at an outdoor Theatre in a canyon. A magnificent show, with fireworks, flying cast, and real livehorses and carts and cars as props, driving off and on the stage. We need one in Hanmer.
Oh and we have been mtbing as well..... Both days we biked on various parts of Gooseberry Mesa trails. These are only 30 minutes from Hurricane, and are sandy, slick rock trails that follow the rim
of the Mesa. Challenging, fun and at times very exposed. I'm sure Morgan enjoys the idea that he can so easily scare the s#&t out of all the riders. So many times, as you are focused on the challenges of the trail, you catch a glimpse of the massive drop off the mesa out the corner of your eye, just to the left of your front wheel.....
Oh I've had a really fun two days, riding a squishy bike for the first time. No I will not be buying one (just yet). I love my Surly. On a squishy (full suspension) it feels like a Disney land ride....you just sit there and pedal, and the bike does all the work...great fun.
Today the other kiwis are packing their bags. We need to make some choices. Do we go and bike the North rim of the Grand Canyon? Do we venture out into the desert to watch the Red Bull Rampage ( crazy young guys mtbing off impossible ridges high in the Mesa cliffs)? Do we drive to Les Vegas and ride the trails around that area? Too many options. Too little time left. Oh goodness. The stress........
Let me introduce you to two amazing people. Dianne is a retired Air Force Colonel. Fred is a retired Fire Captain (and Air Force Sargeant). They have a home in MaCall Idaho, and another in Hurricane, Utah. In the spring and autumn, they live in Hurricane so they can mtbike. In the summer and winter they live in MaCall to mtbike, and snowboard. Last week they drove 10 hours from MaCall to Hurricane to open up their house, so as to be able to host seven rambling, crazy kiwi mountain bikers. Since then they have been showing us the local sights.
Day one, and we headed out to Little Creek Mesa. This was an amazing loop of mixed slick rock and sandy trail, high above the township......at times very high, and very, very close to the edge of huge drops, above the Township . It was very much..keep your eyes on the trail and it's hazards..and don't look left.....cause left was a long, long way down. Not good for a young man like me who doesn't enjoy exposure.....But an amazing, challenging ride, and performed with so much style and panache by our wonderful hosts.
Day two and we were riding Guacamole with the
"Godfather" of Hurricane Mtbing, Morgan. Morgan is a 67 year old who builds all the local tracks, and is nothing but a legend. His riding style is to glide, and this he does over all the terrain, up rock steps, down steep drops, and around huge boulders. He put all us "youngsters" in our place when it came to style and grace. Also joining us today was Phil from British Columbia. He and his wife drive down to this area (12-14hours) twice a year for 60 days of riding (its great to be a retirey on this massive continent).
Day three, and we are all a little bashed about after riding two days with these "retireys", so the plan is to go for a walk somewhere. Too bad Zion National Park is closed.......Hmmmm. Seems there is a way to walk in the back end of the park to Observation Point, that over looks Angel Landing. (Ju and I had attempted to climb Angels Landing 18 years ago, and I wimped out because of the 2000 foot of exposure...). No, of course we didn't take this option. The Park is closed. You are not allowed to enter, hike, bike or take pictures..... Got some amazing photos. Even saw one of only 200 Condors (number 99) that is not in captivity.
The other kiwis have only a couple of days left to go riding before heading back to Las Vegas and
flying home. Tomorrow we are up to Gooseberry Mesa to ride another of Morgan's creations. I am for the first time ever, going to try riding a "squishy" bike (Fred has arranged for the use of a few full suspension demo bikes to be available). I feel a little guilty about leaving my lovely Surly Karate Monkey in the garage...don't worry....it's only for one day.....
What an unexpected delight the drive from Moab to Hurricane was. After the initial section of motorway we passed through some incredible sand like formations, sometimes white, sometimes red, but all having being smashed by flooding. As is often the case in this country, you have to ask why people live in some areas, and how they make a living? Fascinating what ever.
Anyway. The Federal Authorities have closed everything down, so most of the camping areas are closed, the National Parks are closed, even the Grand Canyon is closed, and even those with permits can not get on the Grand to start their Raft trips.....I would have been very disappointed this time two years ago, having traveled from NZ... Yesterday, while we were out biking, someone came and locked the toilet at the campsite we were at, and put a sign on the door....."Closed by Federal Authority"....Oh s&¥t, where do we go to s&¥ t?
The previous evening, after climbing out of the Moab desert, and crossing over a beautiful mountain of colorful Aspen, we found a quiet small car park. It had a No Camping sign. We decided to
go for a walk down into the Canyon, which was stunningly beautiful.....slick rock with volcanic boulders, beautiful waterfalls and pools, and no one about. When we got back to the van, the No Camping sign had a plastic bag over it.....good enough for us.....freedom camping.
We drove out the next morning to find we were in the National Staircase Monument Park.....more stunning scenery, and heading to Bryce Canyon, which was closed.... Instead we did a detour to Kodac State Park. This was very, very small, cost $6 to enter, was extremely under welming, had no available campsites, and all the parking spaces were occupied, so we didn't even get to stop, just drove in, through and out again.
Eventually, along with the other kiwis, we found an empty campsite.....like, no one else was there, and it was only 5 minutes bike ride from the trailhead for today's Thunder Mountain bike ride. Only problem was it got cold. Murray did a great job, as usual with his bbq and Fire, but by 8pm, the snow flurries and biting cold wind, had sent us all to the"warmth" of our beds. Water, froze in our water bottles, inside the vans. Temperature dropped to 22F (that's approx -10C),and it wasn't much warmer at breakfast time. However, the bike ride
made up for it. Stunning track, up to 8500feet, winding through beautiful forest, like we haven't seen since Crested Butte. Mostly smooth and flowing, with some fun switchbacks, narrow ridges, and through some incredible bright red formations. This was Red Canyon. Yet more stunning scenery....gets so boring.... Just to keep us alert, a few of us had stumbles off the bikes, but no serious hurts, and except for the freezing wind, a great days biking.
Then it was off to Hurricane. Ju and I decided to go via Zion National Park. Yep it was closed, so we could drive the road but were not allowed to "Stop, Hike, Bike or leave the road". Stunning, stunning stunning scenery. We dodged all the traffic cones placed across all the stopping points and car parks, (and illegally stopped a couple of times to take photos), and because the park was closed, we didn't have to pay the $25 drive through fee.....
Now we are camped at Fred and Diane's, and looking forward to 3 or 4 days of fun biking on some of the many famous trails in the area. What have you got for us guys???
All Blacks play Spring Boks today. Go Black.
Had a yummy Quesadilla at the Quesadilla Mobilla last night. The lovely young couple running it are keen climbers and mtbers, and are coming to NZ in the next couple of years (to help me start my Mexican Restaurant in Hanmer Springs).
Then this morning (today being dubbed a rest day) we all went to the Moab Diner for brunch. Wow what a feed, although we stuffed the system up somewhat, as swopped tables after we ordered, which caused a little bit of kaos, and as a result, Graham got my non meat breakfast burrito, and my brunch became an early lunch. Ju had pancakes with two eggs and hash browns, and could only eat a fraction of it. Her quote: "I can't believe anyone would order this size meal on purpose...." summed up the feeling of the group, and all for less than $10 per person including the tip......
After brunch all the others decided to bike the pipedream trail. Pretty tough it seemed, especially after such a huge meal. Murray almost rid himself of the lot, and Pauline had bike problems. They cut it short and headed back to the campsite for real relax time.
Ju and I went shopping (well Ju shopped...what is it with women, they seem to get so much delight out of looking....although she can't seem to help herself and more often than not spends as well....I just grumped). Then we went for a quiet gentle ride out at Klonzo.....
Well that is what it was meant to be... The directions to the Trailhead said "cross a sandy wash......" We didn't quite complete that section.....and the back wheels of the van sank into the sand....and we were going nowhere..... We dug. We placed broken branches. We looked for the jack. We swore (only nice swear words....cause we are on an adventure holiday...and this is an adventure....) Eventually a nice man turned up in a 4WD. Unfortunately, he had no tow rope....and disappeared. Fortunately, he reappeared with another man and 4WD. Then they both disappeared......only to reappear, and haul us out. Thanks heaps guys. You Americans are top guys.
The riding was great. Gentle non technical, swooping, sandy tracks, with short sections of rocks, easy climbs, and long sweeping downhills. And the light and temperature were great, as we were now riding almost in twilight, having wasted so much time stuck in a sandy wash...... A great
set of new tracks, just right for a gentle relaxing ride on a "day off".
Our last day in Moab, and the others are off to do the "Whole Enchilada". They had a bit of a rough time. Murray had a spill, and now has an impressive love bite on his lower sternum. Graham had a couple of spills, and a mechanical, but all claim a great day.
Ju and I went out to the Brand Trails. Had a great ride. Trails started pretty easy and flowing, but the further East you went the more technical. Ju handled them really well, taking the obstacles gently, and slowly, and rode most or the track. She's doing so much better than previously, but still berates herself. I am so lucky to have such a wonderful wife, who comes on these crazy holidays with me. Love you sweet lady. After a couple of hours she was pretty knackered, so I did another loop, on the west end of the park by myself. Fun fun fun. Fast flowing loops, with a few easy techno parts. A real fun days ride.
Caught up with the others for a swim, and we planned the trip tomorrow. Seems the government has closed all the National Parks....no funds, so we will have to see what happens re getting into Bryce,
Arches, and Zion....and will the roads that pass through the parks be closed as well? Arches was today.... Hmmmm. But that's what adventures are all about.....
Grum, Ju or Lisa will be updating this blog while Grum is on his adventure.