Finally having reached the point of insanity, with the weather, and the un-ridable trails, and those damn rollers... I realized a last minute trip to SLC/Moab was in order. Got the blessing from my wife, bought a Southwest ticket, and Thursday morning was on my way with the prospect of a beautiful weather weekend.
After landing and picking up the rental, I did the 45 minute drive from the airport up Little Cottonwood Canyon to Snowbird.
Managed to get a half day in with soft groomed/packed conditions, perfect weather, and so-so boarding on my part. Regardless of my abilities (on that day!), a fun start to the weekend. Had time to relax for one beer at the Tram Lounge (3.2% - Utah's finest), before hoping in my car and doing the four hour drive to Moab.
The next morning, after several great cups of coffee and a killer bagel/egg sandwich at the Red Rock Bakery (Thanks Season!), I picked up my dually 29er rental at Poison Spider Bicycles
. A quick word about Poison Spider: these guys rock! When I walked in the store, they were just building up the new rentals for this spring, and were going to have the new Pivot Mach 429
in the fleet. They hooked me up with an Intense Spider-29 from last year for the first day (Friday), but told me to return it in the morning for a brand new Pivot. On top of that, they charged me the $35/day off season rate! Thanks to Rolf and all the guys there -- MAD RESPECT!
And poof! Before I knew it, sanity was restored with the increase of heart rate, as I did the long climb up Amasa Back.
This ride does have a few "Oh Shit" moments that made me question my adherence to the "not too sketchy" promise given to my wife; but I pressed on and was rewarded with some great views from the top. The descent was a thrill and made me pine to be a local, so that I knew the lines, and could really "let it go".
Had some time left in the afternoon, so I decided to hit the practice loop on Slickrock.
Good times but I was pretty spent from the mornings activities. Finished the evening at the Moab Brewery
, quaffing several IPA's and a blackened tilapia sandwich -- YUM!
Picked up my Pivot 429 first thing Saturday morning with every intention of hitting Sovereign Trail, but was dissuaded by the crew at Poison, as they thought with the warm winter conditions, it would be a combination of mud and quicksand. Instead, they though Poison Spider Trail was a good call with plenty of climbing, incredible views, reasonably hard sand (this time of year) and little 4-wheel traffic.
With the morning sun still rising, I began the climb out of the Colorado river basin.
By mile three, the views became outstanding.
About three quarters of the way up, is a turn-off for Little Arch:
Ultimately, you crest the top of the ride, to sweeping views of Moab valley and the Colorado River Below.
The two riders visible in the last photo, were the only humans I saw all day as they summited about fifteen minutes after I arrived. We waived but did not speak, and I regret that decision. You see, I had every intention of riding the Portal Trail back to the car completing an epic loop. When I got up there, I realized the trail was North facing, snow packed, and from a distance, looked way too sketchy to perform solo. Those two riders took off in short order and I did not see their tracks the whole way down. When I got the parking lot, they were there, and we had a real nice chat over a beer. Turns out I did not see their tracks because they HAD taken the portal trail. If I would have hooked up with these guys at the top, I would definitely had ridden it. Oh well -- a promise made...
There was an unintentional 3 mile detour on the way down as I was happily bombing down slickrock, and missed a turn-off. After riding the spur for way too long, I retraced my steps and found the location where I had erred. Lesson: the Poison Spider area is HUGE, and you can mess up big time if not paying attention. No harm, no foul, and I eventually made it back to my car and the aforementioned beer.
After dropping my bike off and profusely thanking the guys at Poison Spider, I drove back to SLC for one more day of boarding. I had decided Solitude was a good choice of terrain and proximity to the airport, and I was not disappointed.
Forty degree temperatures and perfectly groomed slopes was just the ticket for my confidence on the board. I was back to my carving self, relaxed and perfectly sane, wondering what I was so stressed out about in the first place.
Thank you Utah! Thanks for reminding me that no matter how busy we get with our lives, and how disillusioned we get from our lack of outdoor pursuits; a mere four days on your soil can heal all that ails you.