If there was one band that I could see from the past it would be Van Halen. I’m rocking out to Jump, sitting in bed against the tail gate of my van somewhere in the junipers above Moab. Nobody around. Solitude until the Sunday morning shuttles start passing on their way to Porcupine. Some sources say it’s the world’s most popular mountain biking trail. Funny, I grew up riding it when you might go a whole day without seeing anyone. I guess we’ll see tomorrow; I haven’t ridden it in years. I remember the epic views and rough descents. Falling off of boulders and down chutes and ledges. Breaking my face. My derailleur. My chain. Who knows what else. Realistically, there is probably a 50% chance I suffer a catastrophic failure tomorrow and have to walk a LONG way – 15 miles of trail plus several more to town, where the shuttle will take me 30 minutes back up to my van. Again, we’ll see. I totaled a wheel last Wednesday and was reminded how many of my Moab rides have been reduced to beautiful hikes after I rode a little too hard. Such is life.
This is epic. Epic trance blasting now. Amazing how good this stock sound system is.
I broke my wheel on Minesweeper, itself an epic ride. Departing from Amassaback, we left the designated trails on faint double track that descended to a wash and disappeared. Then we rode the wash as far as we could before shouldering our bikes and climbing onto a ledge. We rode and portaged on and off for 20 minutes before riding into a dry, open park on a remote mesa above Hurrah Pass and the Potash plant. The climb out of the park was short and had astounding views of the vast desert south and west of Moab.
From the mesa top the “trail” descends a disused mining track for a mile or two back to Kane Creek. It’s a rough and dangerous ride on an unimproved trail – the tread is essentially just what remains of the road, which after decades of erosion isn’t much. A handful of local riders that know about this unpermitted trail have ridden it enough to smooth it a little.
Well I broke my rim in the first half mile of the descent, so when I finally found my local friend on the walk down, I decided to provide my own danger – by checking out an extensive mineshaft. So extensive was it that I came out the other side of the mesa underneath where I had broken my wheel more than half a mile away! I exited the mineshaft with an odd sinus headache that faded half an hour later, so I will try to bring back air monitoring equipment when I come back to ride through the shaft in May. Yes, ride through it, from one side to the other – it is that big.
Riding is how my trip started, but that isn’t all I’ve been doing with my shower-less vacation. I also descended several canyons – Medieval Chamber with Jenna, Full Granary and Elephant Butte with Luke and Kiernan, Krill and Lomation with Todd, and I investigated and jumped into the slothole pool at the bottom of Sunseed. Plus, I hiked to the Moab Mastodon and Corona Arch. I camped at Willow Springs, Ledge, Long Canyon and Sand Flats. I met JB who fixed my bike and Amber and her dachshund Jasper, who are both great cuddlers. I met Todd and Marcel from Calgary, and Cory who works with Amber. I even met an old miner who I always see sitting in front of Dave’s Corner Market. My hair is dready and I haven’t showered since Thursday a week ago – that’s 9 days ago. I played a lot of Frisbee with Amber and Chris and Jenna and Luke and Kiernan, and played my music everywhere I went. One person asked me to turn it down and I felt nice and did. The night before I didn’t feel so nice – the people where camping on healthy vegetation and killing it – so I told them to “beat it.” I ate meat 4 times and ice cream 4 as well, and I had at least a little bit of coffee or tea every day. I even did a little “work” by checking emails and doing transcription for Spanish. That immediately put me back into a work mindset and made it hard to sleep. Todd understood this well when I shared it with him. The minds of engineers. I taught a lot of canyoneering skills because neither Todd, Jenna, Luke nor Kiernan are very experienced. It’s never been my intention to teach this stuff, but that’s how it’s gone. As the sport gains popularity and I grow my skills, the gap in skills between me and the canyoneers I meet grows. I don’t think I like teaching, but Cory is a teacher and the 8 weeks off in the summer sure sounds nice. Charter schools don’t require credentials either. But I’m tryna make an engineer’s salary, not a teacher’s. For now.
But how will I deal with having the time to do what I love? I need a flexible job. I love to bike. This trip I biked Slick Rock, Ahab, Hunter Canyon Rim and Pritchett, Cliff Hanger and Minesweeper, Sovereign, Rambler and the Slick Rock practice loop.
Did you know that the old uranium mill site on the north end of Moab has 136 acres of radioactive waste, 85 feet deep? And that it’s been leaching into the Colorado River for decades? By the 2030’s the federal government plans to have trucked it all up to Crescent Junction and reburied it. Not sure why that’s a better place. 38 wells are used to exchange and dilute the contaminated ground water at the site because the waste is buried below the water table. The previous owner, Atlas, declared bankruptcy in 1998 and left the feds with the cleanup. Yikes.
It’s been a good last spring break.