Fall Moab 2012 - Late Edition

My interest in blogging is waning. But I should record a few things, like Fall Moab 2012, because it was fantastic.

Cori and I hitched a ride with Steve and Doug at 6 am Friday morning. It was a little tight in Steve's Subaru but we managed.

We met the rest of the guys (Kenny, Paul, Elden and Bob) at Klondike Bluffs, which used to be just one ride but is now a fantastic trail network. Here we've regrouped at an intersection.

For the record, our route was: EKG, Mega Steps, Little Salty, UFO, Baby Steps, then the old Klondike Bluffs trail out to view the actual bluffs, then back down Baby Steps and Dino Flow back to the cars. The only new trail to me (since riding this area in the Spring with Jolene) was UFO, which is a good trail.

Once we got into the rocks, Bob turned into a kid in a candy store. It's fun to see Bob light up as he spots a new stunt and makes a run at it. Here's a sample:

Check out this insane obstacle course that most of the guys rode (that bridge rock on the left was wobbly):

Moab demands sacrifice and Elden kindly stepped up to make the first offering.

The weather forecast wasn't the best, and we did get a little rain.

After the ride we settled into the Aarchway Inn and Elden cooked up his notoriously delicious brats which we ate on Kenny's equally infamous bread.

On Saturday we rode a variant of the Magnificent 7, a route of seven phenomenal trails starting 5 miles west of Gemini Brides with the Bull Run trail, then Great Escape, Little Canyon, , Golden Spike. Here I am going up a rock ramp.

There's Bob crossing a wash on Great Escape.

And climbing up the other side.

I try and try to get up this ledge on the Gold Bar Singletrack. Finally made it after around 6 attempts.

Dear [Deity of choice], bless that we may ride well, and not die out here. Actually this was the lunch stop.

After traversing the Gold Bar Rim on the Golden Spike trail we headed down the legendary Portal trail. Yes, there is a trail there.

Regrouping at an overlook on Portal.

Me descending one of many, many technical sections on Portal. I crashed on the first attempt, made it this time.

I'd heard so many stories about Portal that I braced myself to hate it, but I liked it OK. Sure I walked a lot, but the stuff I could ride I had fun doing so.

Elden had left his truck at the bottom of Portal so he and Kenny drove back up to get the Zen Van while the rest of us rode back to town, during which it snowed on us for 10 minutes. Nothing a soak in the hot tub wouldn't fix. Then dinner and a movie (Skyfall).

Sunday over breakfast we seemed all agreed that it would be best just to head home, but slowly the idea of one last ride on the way out of town took root. We stopped at the Brand trail system and rode EZ and  Deadman's Ridge. My legs were shot and anything the required power ached deep in every muscle. But it felt good to get one more ride in, even with the skiff of snow.

I didn't know how much I needed this trip until it was over. Mountain biking makes me happy. And getting out and riding with the guys lifted my spirits. I'm ready for Winter now.

Also read Fall Moab 2012 reports from Doug and Elden.

Cheap Mountain Biking Sunglasses

I don't buy expensive sunglasses because I'm a klutz and scratch, destroy or loose them - usually within a year, especially mountain biking sunglasses. So, yeah, I'm a gas station glasses guy.

Several years ago I bought a pair of Pugs at a hardware store in St. George and really liked them.

The orange tinted lenses block just enough light so I'm not squinting yet add sharpness like yellow lenses. And they make the sandstone of Moab and the Fall leaves look even more colorful. The only thing I don't like is the Pugs logo etched on the left lens.

The frame is light yet pretty tough (tested by me many times). The arms have the right amount of curl to hug around my ears and they don't pinch my head. And the rubber nose pads stay put on my nose.

Last month I scratched my good pair but haven't found a replacement at the few gas stations I checked. Fearing that this model may be retired, I checked the Pugs website. Relief, they still sell them. So I bought 3 pair from the Pugs web store, and saved 30% with the code SUNNY30 I found here. My total after tax (free shipping) was $38. Not bad. Let's see if I can make them last more than 3 years.

Park City Anniversary

It's our 23rd wedding anniversary. For Jolene this means she's been married half her life. To me. Poor woman.

To celebrate we stayed at the Silver Moose Ranch bed and breakfast in Park City. We've gone to Park City several times for our anniversaries. It's just far enough from home that we feel like we're away, but not so far that it takes hours to get to. And there's lots to do and see in Park City.

We used to stay at the Old Miner's Lodge bed and breakfast, but it closed more than 10 years ago (strangely the website is still up). We tried a few other places, some were OK, a few were bad.

The Silver Moose Lodge is pretty nice. Nestled back against conservation land, the setting is excellent with two duck ponds and a stream running right by the house. The omelet breakfast was good, the hosts friendly, and the hot tub out on the deck was relaxing. Our only complaint is the very firm bed, we didn't sleep well.

OK, back to the story.

We arrived in Park City Friday morning, parked at Park City Mountain Resort with the plan to bike up Armstrong and the new Pinecone trail. We were enjoying the climb up Armstrong...

...then it started to rain. Which was OK because the trails were very dry and dusty and it was hot. The rain drops were like little bombs sending up smoke-like plumes of dust upon impact. But then it started to hail. We took shelter under what trees we could find. Here's some video:

Fortunately the hail only lasted a few minutes.The rain slowed so we kept going. But then it started up again and we waited under a pine tree.

Two guys came down Pinecone from the Crest and told us it was dark, grey clouds to the west as far as they could see. There had also been some lightning and thunder, we decided going higher was not smart. So we stayed lower by taking Mid Mountain south and riding Johns 99, Empire Link, and Tour de Suds down to Daily Canyon. Finished off with Daily Bypass and lower Sweeney.

Back at the car we cleaned the mud splatters off us best we could then drove the short distance to the B&B, took a shower and went over to The Canyons and enjoyed a free concert, The Chickens.

After the concert we ate at Nick's Greek Cafe. Jolene had Slovakia and I had the the Gyro platter. Good food and sizable portions (we were starving and couldn't finish it).

Back at the B&B we relaxed and had a soak in the hot tub.

Since we got rained out on Friday, we decided to give Pinecone another shot. Climbing Armstrong was OK, but we could tell our legs weren't fresh. But the trail was nice, tacky dirt with no dust, thanks to the rain the day before.

We made it to Pinecone. Jolene liked the first part. (In this photo I like how it looks like Jolene's front tire is disappearing, like she's entering another Narnia.)

Somewhere near the middle of Pinecone, still doing OK.

About 2/3 up we stopped to eat in the shade under a pine tree.

We got going again, but cold legs into the steepest section (in the deep pines) was a little harsh, and Jolene shows how she feels about it.

Made it to the top.

Yep, there's the top of Puke Hill.

We sat down to enjoy the views, watch people grind up Puke Hill and eat a little. A few minutes later Jolene spots a tall rider who had just come up Pinecone and says "that looks like Andy". Sure enough it was, and Rhonda arrived a few minutes later. We had a good chat with them and got caught up on what they've been up to. Fun to run into them up there.

We finished off the ride by going down Puke Hill (feels weird to go down that beast that before Pinecone I had only suffered to climb). Then we took the Scott's Pass single-track down to the Shadow Lake trail then down Keystone, Two Step and Steps. Next we took Mid Mountain north to Crescent Mine Grade (CMG) down then Eagle and finished with lower Spiro, which was deserted because the middle part of Spiro was closed.

We loaded up the bikes, changed, got a slushy at Maverik then headed to Midway for lunch at Tarahumara where I had Chiles Rellenos and Jolene had a taco. Then we drove back home.

The rain Friday put a little dent in our plans, but overall we had a good time. I enjoyed spending time with Jolene. I'm so lucky to be married to such wonderful and adventurous woman.

Catching Up

It's been a while since my last post. Time to catch up.

This Spring a pair of Robins built a nest in our playhouse and laid some eggs.

They hatched about two weeks later.

The chicks got big and two weeks after hatching they flew off.

We've been mountain biking - together, with friends and solo. I still hit the foothill trails but this time of year the high mountains are better.

Fun to get out with the guys now and then.

We had a family reunion at Palisades State Park. It's a nice place. The swimming and fishing were good.

I went with Todd S. to see his FPV (First Person View) quadcopter fly over Stewart Falls.

I did the MS-150 with some cyclists from work.

Two weeks ago I pedaled up Armstrong and the new Pinecone trail to the Crest. Wednesday I did a loop starting at Guardsman Pass going down Dead Tree (shown below), Apex and CMG to Mid Mountain then up Armstrong and Pinecone, and finally down Puke Hill and up Scott's Bypass.

Nice view from Dead Tree (Jupiter Lake below).

Yesterday Jolene and I did the Ridge / SFDC loop.

She went home while I took Timp Perimeter, Battle Creek, Curly Springs, Dry Canyon and BST back home.

The loose rock of upper Battle Creek.

Pretty good Summer so far.

Sometimes the Scientist, Sometimes the Rat

Yesterday someone left an open bag of chips in the break room. According to the unspoken but universally understood rule, this means they're free for the taking, Other treats have been shared in this manner so precedence has been established.

So I grabbed a handful and went back to my desk. I was craving salt and the first chip hit the spot so I ate another. And a few more. But then I became aware of another flavor. Something was off with these chips. They tasted soothing akin to stale but different.

Then the red and green colors of the chips brought on an awful suspicion.

Walking back to the break room, the coloring and design of the bag elevated the suspicion to realization.

The date code confirmed the alarming and mildly disgusting truth: 12/28/11

They were beyond stale and left an icky aftertaste that only got worse.

OK, first, I'm an idiot for not immediately recognizing the red and green chips for their obvious associated holiday.

Second, who puts out a bag of Christmas chips in June?  Could this person really be guileless? This person really didn't notice the chips expired last year, or knew they were expired but thought people might enjoy them anyway? I began to suspect that someone was performing an experiment to see if engineers would eat any food left out. (The answer is, yes.)

Today a coworker went for the bag and I called his attention to the coloring. He asked, really? I nodded and told him to check the date code. He thanked me for the warning and threw them in the trash.

Having been the lab rat, I'm on the lookout for this evil scientist.

Hike Across Grand Canyon, Part 2

The previous post covered the hike down from the north rim.

Leaving Phantom Ranch, two deer wandered along the trail ahead of us. They were as tame as dogs. Around a bend this third deer didn't care that we walked by so close we could have reached out and touched it.

A short distance further we crossed over the Colorado River on this suspension bridge.

Looking up the river with the suspension bridge in the foreground and second foot bridge (used mostly for the South Kaibab trail) in the background.

Looking down the Colorado. (To me the Vishnu Schist rock at the bottom of the canyon looks like the bowels of hell.)

It was past mid-day and quite hot so we took every opportunity to get wet. Here I am enjoying the first dunking.

Indian Garden was a welcome rest with shade, water and bathrooms. Only 4.9 miles to go.

Above Indian Garden looking back down the trail.

Then came the grueling part. Many, many switchbacks and hundreds of log steps.

 There are two rest stops, 3.0 and 1.5  miles from the rim. We stopped at both. I was getting tired.

But Mark seemed to be feeling fine, and annoyingly chipper, so we hid a rock in his pack that he discovered at the top.

Speaking of the top, here's the rim:

We checked into the Yavapai Lodge, showered, went out for dinner then crashed. When I got out of bed in the morning my legs were so sore I almost fell down. I hobbled around like I was 80. I don't think I've ever been so sore.

Mark and I were taking the 1:30 PM shuttle so we had time to check out some of the viewpoints, like this:

The shuttle back to the North Rim took 5 hours, but went pretty quick. We loaded up the car and drove home, I arrived around 1 AM.

Hiking across the Grand Canyon was a good experience. I really liked the North Rim. It's a long hike, but worth doing. And now I've seen the Grand Canyon for the first time.