Rides & reports of motorcycle adventures..


Day 4. No joy in Mudville. Hanksville mud, 10/7/10

Day 4.  No joy in Mudville.

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the mudville 4 this day.  
Tom was staying home so only 3 of us would play.  
But since Bryan was a newbie, & Kim & i were lame,
The sticky mud would be the only winner of this game.

Tom's ribs were pretty sore after the last drop on the right side from the day before.  He found out later he had cracked them.  But he did not complain, just rode the bike out of the most difficult riding i had ever done.  But that minor inconvenience, with the flakey running of the honda convinced him to stay at the hotel this day.  So after a hearty breakfast at Blondies.. & i do mean hearty.. they do not serve a stingy breakfast.. we gassed up & headed for the surrounding hills.  An easy dirt ride to Goblin valley, then a loop around.  This was some of Kim's old riding grounds.  We were all looking forward to riding after he had regaled us with tales of derring do in his long lost youth.  Kim's gps was too small or his eyes too dim for him to see it, & Bryan didn't cotton to that sort of thing, so i defaulted into riding point.

The 'dirt' road into Goblin Valley.  The shiny ground is wet mud.

We crossed a few puddles.. a reminder of the past few days steady rains, though the early part was reasonably dry.  But after a few miles we came upon a longer wetter crossing.  I saw it coming up, and tried to pick up momentum to get through, hoping i would find solid ground underneath the wet mud.  I soon found out why i was appointed to ride in the lead.

I buried it to the axles.  I got off & the bike stood up by itself.. no kickstand.  I walked around it some, looking wistfully back at my riding companions.  Have you seen nature shows where a lion catches a gazelle or water buffalo & the rest of the herd watches at a distance as their hapless friend is eaten?  I was the gazelle in the lion's claws.

I tried several times to walk it out, but only moved a few feet, & sunk it deeper.  I went for a walk to see where the nearest exit point might be.  It was at least a hundred yards in any direction.

I was about in the middle of the mud patch.  It was a low spot where all the drainage from the rains had collected.  The mud was deep & consistent.  Finally, Brian & Kim came out to help.  We picked out a spot that headed toward some high ground.  Bryan pulled with a tow strap he had thoughtfully brought, Kim pushed, & i walked beside the bike spinning the rear tire.  We started to move!  First a few inches.. then it picked up some momentum.. finally when it got in some grass clumps it caught & took off.  I jumped on it while the back was still spinning, & rode it onto high ground.

This was the brown mud challenge.

Kim & Bryan were walking around by my mud road entrance to find a drier, easier way to cross.  Kim did not want to get his jersey muddy.

I yelled across to them that i would ride ahead some more & see if i could find where the road continued.  If it was more of the same, i would have to come back.  I went up more, & could see something that kinda looked like a road.. but it was very rutted.  I gave the signal that there was a road ahead.. one long blast on my fog horn.. then walked over where i could see them.  They must have debated the merits of trying to cross for a long time.  ..or maybe they were eating lunch.  ..or telling old stories of when they got stuck in the mud.. or wondering if they left me would i would hunt them down like Clint Eastwood in Hang 'em High. They stayed there for a while, then finally, i see them turn around & drive back the other way!  They would take their chances that i would not survive to hunt them down.

Right.  It's not like i could run into any trouble on this easy trail.. and i certainly was not going to turn back & cross the mud field alone.  So my only option was to press on.  Tom was not there to inspire & motivate me, & i could only imagine the maniacal laughter fading over the hill as Kim & Bryan disappeared from view.  I checked the rope scar on my neck, grim determination setting in.

OK.  Abandoned by my closest friends, I turned to one who could get me out of this jam..  one who could be relied on in every situation, to not care about mud, rocks, rain, or unsteady companions.  ..who is strong & reliable & can be trusted in a tough situation to keep their cool.  My trusty motorcycle.  It had already taken me through some severe riding conditions the day before.  This was just another routine challenge for the wrx.

A little muddy, but ready to ride!

I walked back to the bike & surveyed the terrain ahead.. not much of a road.. lots of washed out ruts.. some too deep to cross.  I started out trying to follow the road, but it disappeared every so often.  I kept near where it was supposed to be by watching the gps.  I got on the wrong side of some washout ruts & had to backtrack to keep on the road.  There were also occasional puddles in the road.. puddles i didn't want to go through, considering what they can be like, & that i was alone to fend for myself.  I comforted myself with the hope that Kim & Bryan would at least call search & rescue in a few days if i didn't show up.

But at last i made it to a park boundary gate!  The road was pretty muddy & i still did not trust it.  But after opening the gate, i walked around on the road & it felt firm under a thin top layer of mud.  If i could keep moving, i should not sink.  So i sling shot myself back on the road & followed it to the pavement.  This was near the entrance to Goblin Valley state park, where we were planning on turning north to another loop.  Kim & Bryan should be back this way in an hour or so.  They would have gone back on the dirt to hwy 24, then taken it north to the paved Goblin Valley turnoff.  I had taken the scenic route & the shortcut.

This was my last video of the day... i don't know if the card was full, the battery low, or a bad connection in the switch.  But i retired it for the day.  I had gotten enough on video.

I waited for almost an hour.  I got to fill up on fluids.. take plenty of pictures.. ponder life's mysteries, & rest up for the remaining ride.  I even stretched out on my jacket & closed my eyes for  a bit.  They eventually showed up.

I think Kim was upset there was mud on his bike..

I don't know how, but they convinced me that i should go first, again.  We were on an easy gravel road, now, so i did.  It wasn't long before i no longer saw anyone in my rearview mirror.  I waited a bit, then turned back.  Kim & Bryan were watching some antelope on the hillside.  Bryan's sharp hunter's eye had spotted them in the distance.

Then the easy gravel road ended, & we were riding in a wash.  It was wide & firm.  It ran through a bit of water, but nothing too deep.  Mud was thin & was in small patches.  Fun riding.

There was ease in scotty's manner as he climbed upon his ride.
There was pride in scotty's bearing & his beaming smile was wide.
The mud might claim a lesser man, but scotty would prevail.
He'd roll through every obstacle on every hill and dale.

But after a few  miles, we climbed up out of the wash & rode along a semi-muddy road.. it was mostly drained off, but had some spots.  I got through everything by keeping my momentum up &  by keeping power to the rear wheel.  Then we got to the grey mud.  This was the bentonite Kim spoke of in somber tones.  It would stick to the tires, jamb up the chain & sprockets, & cripple the bike.  He told us of many poor souls who had burned out clutches, slid off roads, or gotten lost & never heard from again.  It was the utah bentonite that did it.. lying in wait.. looking innocently easy when dry, only to seize it's victims after a rain, never to release them from it's sticky clutches.  We rode into a section that looked like it had a thin layer we could roll through.

Several spots we cruised through.. sliding around some, but getting through it.  But then we got into a longer section.. i was fishtailing through it, trying to keep moving.  But i couldn't keep it up & went down in the mud.  I picked the bike up, but before i could remount, Bryan came along & tried to pass me.  But the mud was not very maneuverable, & he went down & ended up facing the other way.  I helped him pick his bike up.  Kim approached slowly, riding in our tracks to have better traction.  He did not go down.

Let's not turn back.. this is surely just a short section & will end soon.  Once we get out of it, it will be easy riding, again.  You think?

We mostly stayed out of long stretches of the bentonite, winding along the trail, crossing washes, & avoiding ruts in the road.  But then i came over the crest of a hill with a long grey stretch of road before me.  There was a few hundred yards going down, making some turns, then climbing back up.  I'll keep the wheel driving & my momentum will get me through.

But it didn't.  About halfway through i go down again, slipping in the slick mud.  It is caked & jammed in the wheel, chain, & sprocket.  I had difficulty picking the bike up, as the rear tire would slide in the mud, & my feet didn't have much solid ground, either.  It was about a 4" layer of sticky but slick grey mud.  I had about 150 yards to go either way.  I pushed the bike, spinning the back wheel for a few feet.  I was really having to give it throttle to get the wheel to spin, so thick & jammed up was the mud.  On the hilltop in the distance, i could see the rest of the herd watching as another one of their own is eaten by lions.

I get the bike to rest on it's stand, then walk ahead to see how the road is.  It is slick & muddy the whole way.  I am sweating bullets from working the bike, & drink the rest of my sport drink & most of my water.  I walk back to the bike, the lucky ones still watching on the hill.  I realize if i go on, i will be alone.  They will not cross this mud patch.  Then what?  What if there are miles of bentonite waiting for me over the next hill?  I figure i will have to push back through the mud, climb the muddy hill, & get back on the road we came from.  Once i got back on the watcher's hill, i would not stop, but keep moving & return home.  It was me & the bike.  We were on our own.

I turned the bike around & spun it through the mud a few feet at a time.  It was a grueling workout.  I was fully geared & had to keep the wheel spinning to free it from the mud, but it would fishtail on me, & the front would build up with more mud.  My feet would slip & i dropped the bike a few more times.  My gloves, grips, seat, boots, &  pretty much everything was covered with grey, sticky mud.  I had about 100 yards to go through to get to the hill.  I didn't know how i was going to climb the hill, but i knew i wasn't going to help anyone on this ride.  I would work for a few minutes, then stop.. my heart pounding & my head spinning like the back tire.  I would catch my breath after another few minutes, then go at it again muttering insinuations about the watchers & their moms.  I was probably at it for 45 minutes, though it felt like hours, before i got to the base of the hill.  Then Bryan started down.  Why bother, now?  I'm almost there.  But i probably would not have been able to climb the hill by myself.  The mud was too slick & the back just wanted to spin out.  We wrestled it about halfway up the hill, then Kim came to help, too.  We worked together for a few minutes, & got it on top.  I took off my gear & collapsed on the roadside.

Oh, somewhere in this favored land the trails are wide & green.
The temperatures are perfect, their gear is nice & clean.
The riders ride with carefree joy, their bikes remain upright.
But scotty, mighty scotty is undone by bentonite.

I did not take any pictures during this ordeal.  I would have completely covered the camera with mud.  I did see Kim & Bryan taking some on the hill.  I doubt they will post any, though.  This was the grey mud challenge.

The view down the hill, after i was back on top.  The shiny grey mud is the bentonite.

I sat on the side of the road uncharacteristically quiet.  I was panting hard, trying to get my vision back, & catch my breath.  Kim got a tire iron out of his bag & began digging the mud out of my chain & wheels.  I had some trail mix, but couldn't eat after all the exertion.  I finally cooled down.. my vision cleared, & my breathing returned to normal.  We got on the bikes & headed out.  I was going to take off & not wait, but i didn't.  I kept my speed up, but would stop & wait for them to come.  I cleaned off my gloves, boots, & other parts while waiting.. stopping by puddles.  We eventually got out with no further drama.  Back on the main road, i was not going to get on another road that was not gravelled & graded, this day.

Once we got back to the goblin valley pavement, Kim & Bryan wanted to continue the ride.  It was about 3pm by now, but we were only about an hour from the rooms.  Fine with me.  You guys lead the way.

We rode along a nice, scenic gravel road for a few miles.  It was starting to get dark & cloudy again.. rumbling in the distance.. plus the temps had dropped quite a bit.  I put my rain jacket on because it looked like we would not get back before the rain hit.  But we turned back in time, & missed the rain.. only got a few drops.

We got back to the room & i ditched my muddy gear.  I washed off my jacket.. it had gotten covered with mud.  I cleaned up & we headed over to Blondies for a nice dinner.

End of Day 4.

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