Rides & reports of motorcycle adventures..

10/14/09

9/28/09-10/1/09. Fall Ride.. N. Az, S. Ut.

Northern Az, Southern Utah. 9/28-10/1/09

Bikes & Riders:
Tom, Honda xr650L
Corky, Honda xr650L
Kim, Kawasaki klx250
Me, Yamaha wr250x

Day 1.
Wynona ranch road, Navajo sand roads, monument valley, mexican hat.

It was after 8 when we left sedona. Corky trucked his & Tom's bikes over from prescott & chino valley. We started heading north & east toward mormon lake. To make up for a little lost time, we cut off some of the dirt around mormon lake, & went up lake mary road to the wynona ranch road turnoff.


Tom & Corky suiting up for the ride from my house.

The wynona ranch road is a great mix of terrain.. it starts right off with some baby head sized boulders in the road/wash. Then it mixes in some flat hardpan (when dry), plenty of ruts, & a bit of graded gravel.

I got a new helmet cam a few weeks ago, & was wanting to use it for this ride. It worked pretty good, & the colors & resolution are much better than my old one. Here's a clip of the wynona ranch road:



The new camera records in high definition, so on the youtube vids, you can select higher resolution.. as long as you have a fast connection & computer. I have more vid clips on my youtube page of this ride.. i just didn't want to link them all to this report. Also, i turn the camera on, then off. Then i upload the clips. I don't edit them or polish them up.. my computer won't even display them very well in HD, let alone edit them! I've been getting along fine with my netbook, but might have to get some real computing power if i'm going to edit video..


Looking toward our faithful reference point.. the san francisco peaks.

Here is along a graded section.. a couple of elk cross the road toward the end of the clip. It's easier to see them in hd.





Most of this day had a lot of dust.. it hadn't rained in a while, & everything was pretty dry. On the sandy reservation roads the dust was very bad. We had to spread out or eat a lot of dust.



We crossed the highway, & headed up into the Navajo reservation. We took a road that crossed the little colorado river at grand falls.


This time of year crossing at grand falls is easy. During spring snow melt, grand falls is very grand. Now it's pretty tame.


you can see the mighty grand falls at the left side of this picture.


..from the other side, where we stopped for lunch.

We left grand falls, & continued north. The roads from here were very sandy, & got deeper & sandier as we neared monument valley.




..our mountains getting more distant. Corky was almost always ahead & didn't care to stop for photo opportunities. Kim & Tom had more patience, or were glad to have a rest break!


Most of the rez roads were right on with the gps... Some forest roads in the nat. forest aren't as accurate as the bia roads. We did have one setback.. this was one of the roads we were supposed to take. Tom said we could have ridden it, anyway, but it's probably good that we didn't.

We had a communication mixup.. i told Corky our next turn was about 5 miles ahead, & he went ahead because he liked to go fast on the sandy roads. I thought i *was* going fast! But Corky is an old baja rider, & has a different definition of 'fast'. Anyway, he ended up going about 20 miles, so we skipped the road we were planning on riding & took pavement to the next waypoint. Kim had an extra gallon of gas, but on the sand roads, his mileage was worse than expected. It would be a while before we came to the next known gas station, but then we came upon this.


It is the rocky ridge general store.. gas, drinks, snacks.. an oasis in the desert.


Corky enjoying a soda with his new friend.


Tom was so happy he broke out dancing while Corky & the cat watched. Kim tried to get Tom under control, but neither Corky nor i would try to stop him. I think the locals were somewhat amused. Entertainment in these parts is pretty scarce. Plus, he was pretty good.. :)



With full tanks, we made our way through the rez & toward monument valley. The sun was hanging low, & daylight was coming to an end. By now we were on pavement, & would be to mexican hat. The shadows on the rocks in monument valley were spectacular.. it was still a good time to view the scenery.




One last stop for gas.. Kim found someone to watch his bike while he went in for an icecream... but he didn't bring us one.. :(



This helmet cam handles the shadows better than my old one, but lighting is always an issue with video..



We rolled into mexican hat, ut at dusk. We stayed at the san juan inn, which is right on the san juan river. It has a very nice restaurant right on the premises, so we got our gear put away & went out for dinner. Morning would come early, at the usual time, so we wanted to be rested for the next day.


All the bikes happily resting outside our rooms.


The san juan bridge.

We did a total of about 300 miles the first day.. more than we routed, but a few detours added some miles. The first dirt section on the wynona ranch road had the toughest technical sections, but the deep sandy roads on the rez were challenging, too. No mechanical issues.. it was hotter than we expected, but everyone was ok. Everyone's luggage stayed attached, we had plenty of gas, & enough food & water. a good ride.

end of day 1.

9/29/09,Day 2. Mexican Hat to Escalante

Day 2. Mexican Hat to Escalante

Goosenecks, valley of the gods, seafaring swabs, moqui dugway & burr trail.

Everyone got up pretty early, since now we were on utah time, which was on daylight savings time. Az stays on mountain standard time year round. But we don't go on a ride like this to sleep, so it's early to get ready, eat & ride! Our trusty steeds were well rested & raring to go. Kim & I had washed our bikes the night before.. the front desk guy said we could, so we did. Tom & Corky were too tired or too macho to wash theirs.. they think hondas look cooler with some mud & dirt on them. But our dainty little 250's can't be saddled with any extra weight, so we washed them off.. it streamlines them while riding, too.

The restaurant at the san juan inn is probably the best one in town, it opened at 7, & we could walk to it. The wait staff were friendly, & must have been really funny, judging from this picture.



Maybe it was a joke at Tom's expense.. he wasn't laughing as much as the rest of us. From near left & clockwise: Tom, Corky, Kim, me.


There was a path down to the river, but no one wanted to look for a water crossing.

After breakfast, we gassed up & headed out.. & saw the rock that was the namesake of the town.


Mexican hat rock.

Our first stop was the goosenecks.. a winding section of the san juan river. It's a very interesting geological formation. I had to combine the pictures to get a full view from this close range, even though my camera has a pretty wide angle lens.






Kim is a utah native, but had never been to the goosenecks.. Utah has a lot of sights to see.. it would take a lifetime to see it all.

This was all pavement, but then we went to the valley of the gods loop.. about 20 miles of dirt.

valley of gods video.. ~3.5m



I had seen this road on the maps, but did not know it was a dirt road.. pretty rough in spots, nor that it was so scenic. it was a definite highlight of the ride.



More valley of the gods video.



Corky taking a break while waiting for the other riders.

We no sooner get off the valley of the gods loop than we start heading up the moqui dugway switchbacks. This is a tremendous ride.. it has some dirt & some paved. It has hairpin curves with sheer cliff dropoffs. You can see colorado. It's an awesome ride.


Kim riding up the moki dugway switchbacks..

Moqui dugway video..



view from partway up.

The next part of the ride went to natural bridges nat. monument. We were going right by it, so decided to check it out.




The angle on this shot isn't good for seeing the 'bridge', but you can see a hole in the rock where the upper parts crosses as a bridge.

Now we had about an 80 mile ride on pavement to hall's crossing. It had been a while since we had a fuel stop, & going down to lake powell, Kim ran out.


The rotopax setup was pretty easy. Kim had to unload his tail bag to get to the gas, though.

As we headed down to powell, a park ranger stopped to make sure we weren't going to ride offroad. He was reaching for the shotgun until i turned on the camera.. :)


But he let us go.. & we continued down to lake powell.



We got lucky & only had to wait 10 minutes for the next ferry.. they run about every 2 hours during daylight.




Here are some real seafaring old salts.. Corky telling of the time he fought pirates off of key west.. or was he the pirate fighting a british frigate? i don't remember.


Now this is a water crossing!





We crossed lake powell at hall's crossing, got gas, & headed up the burr trail toward boulder, ut.

More of it had been paved since i had ridden it a couple of years ago, but the last time Kim had ridden it was with Mr. Burr in a covered wagon, so we had it pretty easy.

Corky rode on ahead, & the rest of us dawdled along, stopping every so often for pictures.

Here's some video of the first section of the burr trail, before getting to the red rock canyons:




Tom & Kim coming up the burr trail..








The first part of the burr trail had bigger views.. more distant & panoramic. There was a little more pavement, a few sandy roads, & some dry washes. The next part had the red rock canyons.. some very scenic climbs in the switchbacks.


We cut through the back side of capital reef park on the way up.

I mostly took videos of the canyons.. Here's one going toward long canyon.




This next one is pretty long.. & it's in long canyon. It is a beautiful scenic ride.



Next we came to boulder, ut. We had about a 50 mile ride through some terrific paved twisties, plus a lot of fierce crosswinds. This whole day had been pretty windy, but this section it was the strongest. I would hug the right side of the road, & a big gust would blow me almost to the centerline. But in the twisties we lost some of the effects of the wind, & could open it up a bit.. at least that's what i did! I pushed the little wr, shifting a lot to keep the revs up. Every turn i leaned a little more, went a little faster.. wondering how far this bike could go with knobbies. I never found out. It scared me more than i could go! I left the other guys in the twisties, but they caught me in the long straitaways. I was very impressed with how the little wrx cornered.

I thought i had the camera on a few times, but evidently it had turned itself off, so i have no record of my high speed exploits. It was fun for me, though!

We came into escalante, ut & checked in to the circle d motel.. fortunately i had made reservations, because it was filled. We unloaded our gear & headed over to the pizza place by escalante outfitters.

The 'Desert Doctor', a local escalante bike shop dude, came by & offered his services. Tom's mirror had broken off when unloading his bike at my house, & the guy had one, with an adapter he made up at his shop.. only $25, too. A good guy we can recommend.


I don't know if Kim & Corky weren't speaking, or what. Tom was very intent inspecting the bikes. Yamahas can double as a clothesline..


We got polygamy porters.. the wasach brewing company's dark beer.. it's good.. for 3.2 beer! It helped our reputation as hard core drinkers.. we each had at least 2 glasses! ..except Corky.. he really used to be a hard core drinker, & has given it up. Kim, Tom & i are really lightweights.. but on the ride reports we can drink anyone under the table!

But even after all those polygamy's, no one felt like getting more wives.. Maybe the beer was from an old batch?

Beer & pizza consumed, we returned to our rooms & went to bed.. we put in about 230 miles this day. It was the most scenic, imo, & we did a lot of ups & downs in elevation. There were miles of dirt roads, switchbacks, & paved twisties. A good days ride.

end of day 2..

9/30/09, Day 3. Escalante to Page

Day 3.

Smokey Mountain trail, lake powell overlook, big water descent, page.

Very early in the morning, we heard a loud crash of thunder.. it was about 5 & woke everyone up. It started raining, & i began considering alternate routes to page. I got up & retrieved some of our laundry we had hung on the bikes. The rain was just starting. By dawn it had stopped. The roads were a little damp, but there was not enough to make mud. But Corky was getting a little tired, & decided to take pavement all the way to page. We got some breakfast at the motel, gassed up, & hit the trail.

The smokey mountain trail is a pretty cool trail with a lot of variety. The sand & mud washes you cross early on were dry, even with the rain we got. The only downside to this day was a fierce wind. It was blowing dust & us all over. We didn't stop for breaks much, as the wind was too unpleasant & blew dirt in our faces.. we might as well ride.



Kim & Tom on the smokey mountain trail.



Here's an early section of the smokey mtn trail:


The first part was fairly flat, with a lot of wash crossings. This day they were all pretty dry. Sometimes they are running & can be pretty muddy. We would have only 2 crossings with water.. the one right before the climb, & the big one at bigwater. They were both ahead.


We stopped a couple of times to check out some scenic canyon overlooks.

The middle section had a lot of winding, rocky roads, with lots of ups & downs.







Tom has been trying to decide which 250 to get. He's read the specs, the user reviews, & has ridden the bikes. He had it narrowed down to the klx, then thought about the wr, so we swapped bikes for a bit to help Tom decide.


Here's Tom coming up a rocky climb on the shiny new wrx.

Now you see me sitting on a bright red honda, trying in vain to catch Kim flying through the trail on a yamaha, who can't come close to catching Tom tearing it up on the kawasaki.


Fortunately, there was a steep sandy hill to slow Tom down.. We might not have seen him again. Kim thought that was enough bike swapping for now.

We got back on our own bikes, & this is where the road got rough.. it was steep, rocky, stepped, & curved around a lot. It was the big climb up.







Once on top, the road flatted out more & became sandy.


We followed it a few miles until we came to the big view.






The wind made it kind of hazy, but it was still spectacular, seeing lake powell & the grand canyon in the distance.




Now we were ready for the descent. We winded & curved our way along sheer cliffs, narrow,loose gravel roads, & endless views.






The big wash at bigwater.. it was almost 3" deep & a foot across!! Kim & Tom were so disappointed.



We got back on the pavement at bigwater, crossed the dam & went into page.


Tom & Kim crossing the dam.

Corky beat us back.. the wind blew him around some, but at least he didn't have to brave the bigwater crossing!


We put our toys away, & walked down the road for a mexican fast food dinner.

This was the short day.. we were in page by 2pm. We barely went 100 miles. But they were interesting miles. This was our last night.. we'd be heading home back through the navajo reservation.

end of day 3

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Sedona, Arizona, United States
Semi-retired home builder. Musician. wr250x adventure rider. Amateur philosopher. Innovator. Tech & gadget freak, genealogist.