I woke up early, while it was still dark. I packed up a few things, took a nice hot shower & called home. I walked to a cafe a couple of blocks away. The thermometer on the bike said 40 f. at about 7:30am.
At the cafe there were about 20-30 people in their 60's mostly.. hikers I presumed.. This time of year, i guess is the time for the retirees to get out.
All loaded up, & at the start of the smoky mountain trail.
The first 25 miles or so were pretty easy, wide graded roads. Every mile or so there was a wash crossing.. some of that got a little sandy, & there was some mud in a couple of spots, but nothing too difficult.. i was still glad to have the drz in this section.
There were a few places where the road washed out some, but i could keep a pretty easy line most of the way. I probably kept it around 30-35 mph most of this part. Then i came on a sharp turn at the end of a downhill section. When i made the turn, there was a steep incline with the road all washed out, full of rocks & ruts & generally not the kind of road i wanted to on solo.. but i had no time to think or second guess. I twisted the throttle & climbed the hill.
For the next 20 miles or so, the road was mostly rocks.. sometime there was no road at all, just solid rock with some scrapes from lower clearance vehicles to mark the way. The elevation varied a thousand feet or so, with some water crossings & hills cutting through open .
I came upon a bigger wash, with water flowing, & thought the road ended. But as i ventured into the wash, i could see it follow along the wash for a bit, then turn back up hill.
The road climbed back up.. you can see a small section on the far right.
I saw a lot of jack rabbits. When i moved to Az over 20 yrs ago, they were common. Now they seem to have depleted.. i don't know why. But they were hopping around everywhere along this trail. This guy thought he was invisible.
I guess they get hunted along here, so are hard to photograph.. either that or there are so many papparazi they get tired of the publicity.. the one i photographed finally got bored striking poses & bounded away. He ran & jumped like a gazelle.. i had not seen one run that way before.
The next bit of road was almost solid rock. This was the last switchback to the top.. i didn't take a lot of pictures here, because i didn't want to stop. The road kept climbing through solid bedrock, with a few steps, some loose boulders laying about, & plenty of white knuckle sections.
The road climbed for 1-2k'. When it came out on top, it was another easy dirt road with wide open views.
This road went on for about 25 miles.. i probably went 40-45 most of the time.
The road came upon this spectacular vista. You could see lake powell & half of Az. I stopped for lunch here.
I also figured it would be getting warmer, so i peeled off a few layers & stuffed them in the bag. The only vehicle i saw was here.. a white govt. pickup came bouncing up the hill while i was stopped. I chatted with the guy a bit. He said the rest of the road had been freshly graded down.
All the way to big water the views & formations were still very scenic. There wasn't a dull moment on this trail.. something for everyone.
I could see the boat storage buildings at big water when i came upon the biggest wash, running with water. It was about 15' across, & about 1' deep. The mud was pretty firm, so i got a little momentum & flew across. The wake drenched me & the bike, but i crossed.
It was considerably warmer, but i quickly got up to speed on the hiway to page. I filled up with gas & headed for Flagstaff. It was about 2pm, & i didn't want to go through flag in the cold & dark. I kept it about 70mph on most of the straightaways. There was a section of road construction, so i felt i had to make it up later.
When the road construction ended, there was a long line of slow cars & rv's. There were enough passing lanes for the traffic to clear, & i could do short bursts into the 80's to get by. It's kind of strange going from rumbling along 5-10 mph in rocks & gnarly roads to 85 on the open road. But that's part of the fun of dual sporting. I did get into flag by 5, & went down oak creek canyon to home.
I was home by 6:30pm. 730 miles.. almost 300 the last day. 3 days/2nights. averaged about 55 mpg. Would i do it again? I would. I might like some company on the smoky mtn. road, though! I also would give myself another day to do the valley of the gods loop, the monument valley loop, & the hell's backbone loop... might also go down the hole in the rock road for a side trip.
There is so much to see in this area. I think i could spend months riding & not see all there is to see. It is a great area for motorcycle touring.
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