Day 4: Going home.
I woke up too early on the last day, so i got dressed & went for a walk. The sun was not yet up, & i took a few night shots of the canyon with the very dim beginnings of dawn on the horizon.
Near the El Tovar hotel, there were some elk grazing in the grass.. not too many people out, but they weren't afraid, anyway.
I had on my black jacket, a black hat, & pants.. i guess this bird thought i was a relation. He was following me chattering away. This is with a flash, not zoomed in.
I wandered aimlessly in the park, taking pictures of the nearing sunrise.
Even the birds have something to say, here.
I stopped by the front desk & checked out, then went back to the room about 5:30am. Tom was ready.. even had his boots on! So i quickly dressed up & packed everything, loaded the bike, & off we went. It was still pretty chilly, & i had to stop & put on another shirt under my jacket.
We passed these mule deer on the way out of the park.
After gassing up again at desert view, we went down hwy 64 about 15 miles to the gray mountain truck trail.. a reservation road. It was pretty rocky, but wide. Some of the switchbacks had some steep turns, but we stayed upright.
These were more wide open spaces.. no traffic. a few horses & cows every so often, but mostly open rugged roads.
We made pretty good time, & with our early start got to 89a at grey mountain about 10. We decided to ride up to Cameron, about 10 miles further north, cross the little colorado river, then follow it down another reservation road to the wupatki crossing. This was another great ride.. long, straight sections of flat gravel, with some deep sand mixed in. There were painted desert hills to the east, & the San Francisco mountains to the southwest. It was pretty windy & dusty, so we had to space out quite a bit.
I found by going between 40 & 50 mph, i could cruise through the deep sand without trouble. I did have to slow down a lot for some of the curves in the road. We could see the treeline of the little colorado river on our right, but the road never got close enough to see the river or any canyon.
This was no place to have vehicle trouble.. miles from nowhere..
We finally came to the spot that the gps said another road intersected that would take us across the river to the other side. We rode up & down the road for a couple of miles looking for a road, but found nothing. There was a downed sign at the spot the road was supposed to be, but it looked like a lot of baked clay & gravel with no sign of tire tracks. So we headed out across a big flat section & finally came upon the right BIA numbered road.
There was the river, with the mountain beacon in the background. That was our destination.
I was a little nervous.. what if the little colorado river crossing wasn't a bridge? These roads didn't look very well traveled, so it was likely it would be a low water crossing. We approached the river & carefully crossed, hoping the bikes would not disappear in a deep hole..
The Little Colorado River:
It was a dangerous crossing, but luckily we made it..
Once across the raging river, we entered wupatki national monument.. an historical spot with ruins & native american history & folklore. But Tom had an important meeting in Prescott at 5, so we just drove through. The road became paved, & our dirt riding was officially over about noon on the 4th day. We rode into Flagstaff, stopped at kfc with our mountains watching over us, then headed home.
I had over 520 miles on my odometer, & Tom had at least another hundred. It was a pretty cool loop altogether, & the great majority of it off pavement. We got sprinkled on a couple of times, got hot in the lower parts of the reservation, & basically had a blast with this epic ride to probably THE most spectacular natural wonder of the world.
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