Rides & reports of motorcycle adventures..


Grand Canyon 2010, Day 2.

Day 2.
Switchbacks, travertine & solitude.

I got up to catch some early morning views while Tom went through his morning routine.

We were heading for the east side of the canyon & knew we'd be in for a long day. So we got an early start & gassed up in desert view at the east entrance. We went down the rocky switchbacks that came out in the Navajo rez. It was very rocky, steep, rutted & required all our concentration, riding skill, & dumb luck to navigate.

We left desert view about 7am & started down the rocky switchbacks.. they were even more washed out this year, & had deep loose ruts added to the steep decline. That made the descent a little tricky, especially being distracted with the awesome views.

There were a couple of pretty gnarly sections on this road.. we had to roll along a narrow ridge to miss some deep ruts, & some of the turns were in steep, loose rocks. But we made it through, & weren't planning on coming back this way for the ride back.

Some of the next few pictures have a small tower in the upper left corner.. this is the desert view tower.

Eventually, we made it down the steepest switchbacks, & began heading east into the Navajo rez.

The road continued to be very rocky, had lots of ups & downs, some loose steps, & occasional ruts. We would get a workout today, & have to be very alert for the whole ride.

Along this road there were several ruins.. some smaller hogan foundations, some old wooden remnants, & lots of rock stacks of unknown function. Some were fairly new, others were very old.

The road continued, becoming more open & arid. Junipers disappeared & sage, low shrubs & small cactus dotted the countryside.

Along here we had our only mechanical mishap.. a bolt had vibrated out of Tom's rack somewhere, & was now flopping uselessly on the side of his bike. Finding it seemed impossible, & we couldn't find a spare that would work. So we pushed some zip ties through the hole until we could get a replacement bolt.

Our problems temporarily solved, we continued along the long & winding road.. miles & miles of open road with plenty of surprises to keep us awake.

Somewhere along here, Tom remembered he used to be a racer, & got tired of my plodding pace.. he flew by & increased our speed for a while, but the long road takes it's toll with the constant concentration, & he eventually slowed down to a more leisurely pace.

There were no breaks.. no flat stretches of easy riding, but rocks, hills, ruts & off camber riding for hours.

We didn't stop because we thought we'd need all the time to get to our destination & back.. but we could have stopped a few times to refresh & recharge.. next time we will.

When the rocks thinned out some, the ruts replace them.. i got tossed off the road a couple of times by the ruts.. no spectacular crashes, but i did have to regain control & get back on the road.

We kept hoping the next hill would afford us a view of our destination.. but for miles we only saw open spaces & rocky grades.. the road endlessly stretching out before us.

Finally we made it to our destination: The confluence of the Little Colorado & the Colorado rivers: Cape Solitude.

We were not disappointed. The views were spectacular. The sun was high.. it was nearly noon. The visibility was pretty good, even with the smoke from the north rim fire. We had a pretty good breeze blowing to the west, so it kept the smoke away, & it kept the temps down. We were in the 5-6k ft range, so it was hotter than on the rim, but not too bad. The sun was pretty intense, though.

We were also a little closer to the river from here, & could see rafts on the river.. they were tiny specks, but we could see them.

We stopped & had our lunch here.. looking out across the vast expanse. Cape Solitude was aptly named. We didn't see another person along the entire road. No hikers. No jeeps. No bicycles. ..just an occasional bright green lizard & a chipmunk scurrying across the road.

To the north, the river was a bit straighter as it came to the rivers confluence..

The bikes were tired, too, and seemed to enjoy the views.

As we started to walk down to get a better view of the little colorado river, i noticed this guy under my jacket on the bike.. he snapped his jaws at me & made a funny chirping noise. I thought he wouldn't be any happier than I if he got under my jacket on my person, so i got a stick & relocated him to a nearby bush.

The confluence. Tom & i both wondered why the water was blue from the Little Co. river. I looked it up later & found it was because of travertine & limestone in the canyon above, which turns the water blue. It dissapates when it hits the main river. During high water, it is muddy. It was kind of cool seeing it bright blue. You can see a group of rafts right above the blue water. There were several more coming down river. I'm zoomed in 5x in this pic.. you can't see any better detail with the naked eye.

Here's the view to the east along the little colorado river canyon.. the river is blue all the way.

Back north along the Colorado..

More pics of the area..

This was definitely a primo destination spot. we oohed & ahhed at the views for a while, took lots of pics, & finally decided we should head back.. we had to backtrack for about 30 miles of pretty tough terrain before we got to a different way out.

I didn't take many more pics, since we'd been this way before. It was still pretty fresh in our memory.

We eventually came to where we had come down, but we didn't go back via the rocky switchbacks.. we thought we'd take the 'easier' way of going up the gray mt. truck trail to hwy 64, then return on the pavement. I didn't take any pics or vids, but i had forgotten how long & steep & gnarly the climb is from the Little Colorado river plateau. It went up for nearly 2k ft, & was almost as tough as the casner mt climb, but with more steps. But we finally made it through, & got on the pavement. We went through the east entrance & got back to our room. Too tired to go out, we crashed & napped for about an hour before heading over to the pizza joint at Maswik for pizza & beer. We were too tired to walk over to the tavern for our usual rounds before dinner.

Tom said this was the toughest ride he'd ever been on. But remember, Tom forgets anything more than a few days old, so it probably wasn't really the toughest. But you get the idea. It was a rugged, gnarly, challenging, & long ride. Would i do it again? In a heartbeat.

End of Day 2.

Grand Canyon 2010, Day 1.

The Climb, the Canyon, the Cows.
Grand Canyon, July 2010, 4 days

Every year I try to take at least one ride to the Grand Canyon.. it's close, it's amazing, it's a wonder of the world, for crying out loud! So this is a must do ride for me.. the highlight of my year.. probably the only reason i haven't despaired of living altogether.. well, maybe not the only reason.

So anyway, this year we got a little later ride in than usual, but it was fairly cool & we were mostly in higher elevations. We had 4 or 5 riders who were going to come, but things came up for everyone except Tom & I. So we met in Cottonwood, Az at Bill Gray road about 7am on 7/5, & began another epic ride to the Grand Canyon. I had rooms reserved at the maswik lodge & Tom always liked going there for the long island iced teas.

Bill Gray road turns to dirt almost immediately, & meanders in the foothills until we hit the powerline road going up Casner Mountain. This is a great ride by itself, & the first time we've done it at the start of the Grand Canyon ride.

The staging area.. just the bikes with the big church in the background.

We went up Bill Gray road for a while, then started up the powerline road, through the gate (no 4 wheeled vehicles!), & climbed the mountain. It is steeper than it looks in the video.. but when i look back, you can see how high we came. This part wasn't a particularly hard switchback.. i just was slowing to look at the views, & lost my momentum, then my balance.. my only drop of the ride, & we got into much nastier terrain. Perhaps i could suggest that i 'stopped' on purpose to take some pictures?

The view from where i 'stopped' in the above video..

More climbing up Casner..

The view toward Sedona.. it was a little hazy early in the morning from the fires on the north rim, & the ones that are mostly under control to the north east of Flagstaff.

..still more of the casner climb..

Here's Tom taking on one of the switchbacks..

The view to the northwest. It's getting some morning sun. We're still only about halfway up. We started at about 3k ft, & will climb to over 7k in the pines.

The riders.. Scotty & Tom.. hiding our faces under our helmets so as to travel incognito.

Once you get to the top of casner, there is still more climbing & following a ridge or saddle with spectacular views on either side. In the morning light, the green hills to the east overlap each other with great shadows.

Southeast toward Sedona..

Climbing again from the saddle..

Once on top, we got into the pines. The vegetation changes & the air gets cooler.. we're probably about 6500' in this area.

There were still plenty of rocky roads, though..

We had some views of the burn in the area last year.. it looks like they have been harvesting some of the burnt timber, which removes future fire fuel, & gets at least something good from the fire. It still looks bad, & you can smell the smoke as you pass through, even though it hasnt' rained in a while.

we were heading for Park, an old route 66 stop near I-40. We got on some nice cool roads in the pines.

After we crossed I-40, we filled our tanks in Park, had an ice cream break, & continued our way north to the canyon. We had a short bit of pavement around the I-40 corridor. But the road turned back into dirt, & we got onto the old stagecoach roads that are common in the area.

There was a lot of wildlife along these roads.. they were pretty slow getting off the road sometimes.. But you should always approach cows very slowly.. you want to make sure they don't spook & jump into you or suddenly dart in front of you. Big animals & little bikes do not mix well...

It was only about 10am, but we both had a sudden urge for a hamburger..

The terrain changed again & the pines slowly disappeared. We were now in open high prairie. There weren't too many trees, but some sage & a few grasses..

The road went on for miles.. long, flat & wide open. We had to keep alert for the ruts, though. They would appear suddenly & can easily flip you over or toss you off the side of the road. No daydreaming allowed.

We were on the coconino rim road for some of the ride, the Az trail for some, then got on grandview road as we got closer to The Canyon.

Soon we got off the dirt & turned onto hwy 64 that follows the canyon rim. We stopped here for our late lunch, enjoyed the views for a while, then turned to the village & our room for the night. It was now about 3pm. We had been riding for about 8 hrs in some pretty tough terrain. Plus we had to hit the tavern & sample the local brews, & get ready for some serious dinner fare.

No longer incognito.. posing for the paparazzi. Fortunately, there were mostly europeans & other foreigners at the GC & they didn't recognize us.

While staggering back from the tavern, we came upon a couple of these guys browsing along the railroad tracks.. There must have been a bright spotlight shining.. surely we weren't going home while it was still light..

We made it back to the room somehow, & fell asleep after catching some sportcenter for the important news of the day. We had a big day planned for tomorrow.. a long ride to the east of the canyon & through the Navajo rez.

End of Day 1.

Scotty's info

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