Thursday, October 29, 2009

DHM, the anticlimax.

When you're touring in SW Utah in late summer, and it's *this* cold...


...learn from my experience and take your time getting a move on. It can only get warmer.

TO and I used our palatial-imitation Kabin to spread out gear, do some eating, and discuss our plan for the day. Getting a wheel was simply not going to happen. So we needed to get back to Boulder, a full-day's ride on pavement from where we sat. Without a doubt the scenery on that paved road is stellar, but I'd sooner gouge my own eyes out with spoons than ride more road. The past 5 days had given me *more* than my quota of tarmac and gravel for this year and some of next. We needed a better plan.

Trouble was, we knew we couldn't rely on TO's wheel to make it more than a mile or two. So riding the trail was out. After all possibilities (even the ridiculous ones) were tossed out on the table, we came up with a simple plan. TO would hitch a ride to his car, fetch it, then start heading back this way. While he was hitching, I'd ride along our original intended route, hoping to make it as far as Pine Lake to meet him there. Once there we'd camp for the night, maybe fish a little, then call it a trip and head home.

I headed out into a world blown free of dust and dirt--everywhere you looked seemed newly minted, especially the sky.


Late morning these guys were melting under direct sunlight, but I never felt anything like 'heat' all through the day.


I took my time on the paved stretch up to Tropic, toodled my way along the gravel headed east out of town, then rolled through Henderson Canyon trailhead to find...

...not much. There was sort of a hint of a trail to follow, so I pointed myself that way.

For about 3 minutes the trail surface looked like this:


Hardpacked and easy cruising. For about 3 minutes.


And then it wasn't so firm. From what I could gather while walking the next 8 or 9 miles, someone had brought 15 or 20 beeves down from the high country and their collective hooves had obliterated the crust. Not much to do but grin and keep walking. Except that I didn't really grin.


High in the canyon I found *some* of the perpetrators. Somewhere in there a narrow foot path used to exist...


Erosion and defoliation specialists with a minor in shit production is what they are. I'll spare y'all the rant, just know that I have zero tolerance for private grazing on public lands. Nuff said.

There were a few very, very short stretches where the beeves had clearly not relished obliterating the trail--so they'd gone off trail for a spell, leaving the original tread intact. And it was pretty sweet.


Scrub oak turning.


Getting really close to popping through the capstone here. Often throughout the day I'd turn to mention a thought or point something out to TO, but then I'd catch myself.


I rolled down to Pine Lake (our meeting point) at 3ish and he wasn't there. I pedaled around the lake, through the campground, and back to the lake. Not finding him, and unwilling to sit still while the wind continued to suck precious heat away from me, I decided to spin uphill aways. Twiddling a friendly gear on this rough ATV track was a fine way to keep warm. As I pedaled along I fiddled with the GPS, ultimately guesstimating that Powell Point just might be reachable, for me, today. Lacking a better option, I set my sights on 'higher' and kept climbing.

Long story short, I was cutting it close on time to tag the top then descend back down to meet TO at Pine Lake by dark. I ended up in full time-trial mode for over an hour, giving myself a luxuriant 2 minutes at the Point proper to take in the sights. Truth be told, the view was nice but the ~20 degree temps and 40mph wind didn't encourage relaxing and enjoying. I grabbed these few snapshots on the fly then got the flock outta there.










Between the windchill at the Point and ~30 minutes of high speed descending, I was borderline hypothermic when I got back to the lake at dark. TO hadn't arrived and I was too cold to sit around waiting. I dug out my last layer and contemplated building a fire, but before I could finish zipping into it a pair of headlights rounded the bend and there he was. Phew.

We loaded up the car, drove a minute to a somewhat wind-sheltered spot, made camp. Then spent the next few hours discussing his next ~year of study in AK, my wheelbuilding business, and every other thought that came to mind.

All while staring into this:


What a great, great way to wrap up a summer.

Thanks Dave.

Thanks Pete.

Until next time,

MC