Canyonlands White Rim Trail Ride

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In September 2014, as part of Shane’s “60th Orbit Adventures”, he organized a group of eight friends to join us to bike/drive the White Rim Trail — 100 miles of treacherous road in Canyonlands National Park. Seven of us live in Colorado Springs: Shane, Stormy, Charlie, Beth, Karen, Bill, Mary. Three traveled from the Seattle area: Val, Leslie, Eric. We gathered in Moab, Utah on Wednesday evening and began the adventure on Thursday morning.


Wonders included this arch, which we did NOT drive over.

Val and Leslie enjoying the view from Musselman Arch

Val and Leslie enjoy the view from the top of Musselman Arch

Our first campground was about 20 miles from the trailhead. Beth, Leslie and Val cooked us delicious dinner and weather was perfect for stargazing. Next morning brought a brilliant sunrise and excellent cycling weather.

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The weather turned hot and the cyclists went through a LOT of water. The group stopped half-way at White Crack for lunch and some went out to the cliff point, about 1.5 miles from the main route. There were several “solution pockets” of water from the last rain that contained Fairy Shrimp. They were about 1.5 cm long and would fight when they ran into one another in the puddle. They were feeding on what looked like tiny Sea Monkeys — how they survive when everything dries out, I don’t know. Back at the road, we ran into some wild women celebrating a 40th birthday and enjoying life in general. High fabulosity indeed!
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The Murphy Hogback was a difficult part of the trail: scary steep, narrow, and rocky. I didn’t take many pictures while driving this part. :0) After 35 miles, we came to the Candlestick campground, which is set right next to the rim where the cliff drops hundreds of feet! Everyone was dusty, sweaty and tired but the landscape and gathering of good companions made it all worthwhile.
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The next morning brought an unparalleled sunrise, complete with a rainbow over our tent — but the weather was changing.
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The day went well, even if the road was again too steep to see over the hood of the car and sometimes too narrow for vehicles to pass. We ran into a group traveling the other way (right after some steep switchbacks) and trail etiquette gives the right-of-way to the vehicle going uphill (us). The other drivers were too scared to back up, so Bill, Mary, Beth and I guided our three trucks backwards down the switchbacks until we came to a wider spot. It was 15 minutes of deep breathing with heart pounding. (No pictures of this section of road!)
Lots of interesting landscape and the road dropped down close to the Green River, a good place to stop for lunch.
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By the time we came into our camp at Labyrinth, it was definitely ready to rain. We pitched tents and while cooking dinner, the rain came. And then the downpour came.
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And it rained and howled all night… and Val and Leslie were only under a tarp! They are some tough cookies, that is for sure. In the morning the overriding word was MUD. Everywhere.
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The ‘road’ was bottomless squish that grabbed tires and wanted to spin the truck around. More rain was coming, so we needed to get out of the bottomlands as fast as possible. It was a bit hairy for both the cyclists and the drivers. But we all made it. Charlie and Shane did a ‘woohoo’ with their bikes as we entered solid ground.
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Then began the climb out of the canyon onto the mesa. Look at those switchbacks all the way to the rim!
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The long climb ended and we cycled and drove back to the trailhead — 100 miles in all.

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