A recurring theme in my life revolves around recreating atop Gooseberry Mesa in SW UT. Fall/winter/spring it becomes ground zero for a lot of fun with friends, stress relief from cramming too much work into too little time, as well as a proving ground of sorts for whatever component of the bike I've chosen to focus on most recently.
The LenzSport Leviathan, Behemoth, and LunchBox, as well as the White Brothers Fluid 135 and (soon to be released) F150 were all dreamed up and proven out while riding up there. And in some cases they were dreamed up specifically for riding up there. Many, many, many rear dampers have been taken to The Mesa to be fine tuned before production, not to mention countless rim extrusions, and (currently) several iterations of beef baloney 29" tires. It's also a great place to fine tune the rim, spoke gauge and crossing recommendations that I make. If something can last 3 days on The Mesa, chances are it's gonna last anywhere.
It's a fantastic place to play and explore, but so many folks that go there tend to see it through a twisted sort of tunnel vision that prevents them from really seeing it. Following the white dotted line is easy and fun and flowy, but every now and again (as in all aspects of life) you gotta diverge from that path and see what you can see.
The pics in this post were chosen to illustrate the 'other' Gooseberry that so few are aware of. Some of these moves are as little as two steps from the main trail, while others could be as much as 100 meters away. Potential is limited by how much time you have to play, how much skill you have to work with, and how much your bike can take. And unlike so many other semi-desert trail meccas, riding off trail is just fine on The Mesa because (and as long as) it's on rock. Did I mention that it's a great place?
There is most definitely some bashing to be done, both onto and off of boulders and ledges large and small. But there's also a huge amount of finesse riding that the pics don't necessarily highlight. Knowing the limits of your tires, as well as the low end of their allowable PSI spectrum is key. And then feathering those edges ever so slightly to maintain traction can get you into (or out of) some unbelievable places.
Last week's trip to The Mesa ended almost before it started with a stupid injury on a nothing move. Biding my time and counting the days til I can get back to play some more.
One last thing: If you go to The Mesa please, please, please be smarter and more eco-sensitive than those who've been there before you. "Campsites" are springing up wherever people feel like pulling their vehicles off of the road, and as unthinkable as it seems, people are harvesting wood for campfires from the juniper and sage that line the mesa rim. I love sitting around a campfire and telling lies as much as the next gal, I just make sure to bring the wood from home (or buy it en route) and burn it at one of the established campsites. End rant.