Manti & Saint George – Sept 2014

Kim and I really enjoyed watching the musical “Wicked” earlier this year, so we thought we would see ‘the rest of the story’ and attend the “Wizard of Oz” production at the outdoor Tuacahn Theater near Saint George.

Rather than merely drive I-15 to and from, we decided to take a less direct route and explore some lesser traveled roads along the way.

Nebo Loop

For many years I have wanted to ride over the Nebo Loop. Since the autumn leaves were starting to come on, we decided that now would be a good time. We were a few weeks early and the lighting was poor, but it was still an enjoyable and scenic ride.

Early Autumn leaves on the Mount Nebo Loop

Yellow Aspens

Mount Nebo

Manti Temple

Several years ago I took my sons Gary and Kevin and we attended the Manti Temple just prior to Kevin entering the missionary training center. Kim had never been, so we decided that now would be a good opportunity to visit that historic temple. We ran into some road construction one half mile from the temple, which almost caused us to miss the 11:30 AM session, but we just barely made it. I think Manti and Salt Lake are the only two temples (at least in Utah) that did perform live sessions rather than the newer movie-based sessions.

Manti Temple

After the session we found some picnic tables and took a break for lunch. We then worked our way south to Salina, took I-70 to I-15, and pressed on to our motel in Saint George. We had just enough time to check into our motel and get a quick dinner before heading up to the theater.

Tuacahn

The Tuacahn Theater is in a narrow red-rock canyon northwest of Saint George. The venue is very nice with small waterfalls and a swift stream running down the middle of the main sidewalk. There is also a gift shop and several shops to buy refreshments. They even have various pre-show activities and entertainment.

Tuacahn Theater

The product of “Wizard of Oz” was nicely done, but I have always thought it was kind of an odd story. It was entertaining and worth seeing, but it was not nearly the caliber of “Wicked”.

Saint George Church Historical Sites

We hoped to attend a session at the Saint George Temple, but it was closed for cleaning. So we spent our morning visiting some of the nearby church historical sites. We started with the new (since I was there last) Visitor’s Center and then took an interesting tour of the Tabernacle. We learned that the wood for the Temple came from Mount Trumble, where we were earlier this year, while the wood for the Tabernacle came from Pine Valley. They painted the pine to make it look like various hard woods.

Saint George Temple

Kim & Dee

The main Temple entrance

The Christus

The Saint George Tabernacle

We also took a tour of Brigham Young’s Winter Home. All of the tours were enjoyable and informative.

Brigham Young’s winter home

Prior to leaving town we stopped at Nielsen’s Frozen Yogurt for a refreshing treat. We then drove up to Red Hills, overlooking the city.

Refreshing

Saint George

Mormon Meadow Massacre

We headed home via Hwy 18 which heads into the mountains north of Saint George. We took a quick side spur out to Pine Valley but did not take the time to tour the Historic Church building.

We did, however, stop and visit some of the memorials commemorating the Mormon Meadow Massacre. I have never understood what could drive people to do such terrible things, but I found the memorial to be very thoughtfully done and offered a good opportunity to reflect on our beliefs and our relations with those with other beliefs.

Mountain Meadow memorial

Overlooking the valley where the party was camped

Kim at one of the burial sites

Our next objective was to get past Provo before the BYU football game ended so we wouldn’t get caught in that heavy traffic. We made it past during the fourth quarter and arrived home at 5:30 PM.

Posted in History, Utah - Southern | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

San Rafael Swell – Aug 2014

Aug. 21-23, 2014

I have wanted to explore the new SITLA single track trails that were opened up last year in the La Sal Mountains east of Moab. I figured August would be a good time since the elevation is up around 9000’. Bob and Ross decided to join me, so we put together a plan to explore the area for three days. But as luck would have it, a huge monsoon rain storm moved into Utah. Southern Utah got hit the hardest, with flooding around St George. The entire state was impacted by this storm for about a week.

So, that put a damper on our La Sal plans. Since the temperatures also dropped, we decided we would go to the San Rafael Swell instead.

Thursday: Fix-It-Pass and Devil’s Racetrack

Our original plan was to drive down Wednesday evening and camp, but since it was only a 3.5 hour drive to the San Rafael, we decided to leave early Thursday morning. That turned out to be a good decision since the Swell got hit with some pretty heavy rain Wednesday afternoon and evening.

When we arrived at the Swell we could see signs of the heavy rain, but the trails looked to be reasonably dry. We quickly found a place for our base camp and headed off to the Wickiup trail – a good warmup ride for Ross on my Husaberg FE450. We then proceeded over Fix-It-Pass and dropped into North Coal Wash. The sand in the wash was very firm from all of the rain. This made it really easy to ride the wash.

Base Camp

Wickiup, Fix-It-Pass, & Devil’s Racetrack

Our main objective was to ride Devil’s Racetrack, which is a really fun, but semi-technical trail. Afterwards we visited some of the nearby petroglyphs and Swasey’s Cabin. Ross did really well and we finished our 58 mile ride with no major mishaps. We then returned to camp for some BBQ hamburgers.

Ross and Bob coming down Fix-It-Pass

The “steps” section of Devil’s Racetrack

Friday: Waterfall Trail and Behind The Reef

We got a brief rain shower during the night and woke up to a beautiful day, but it was sort of chilly. We started out on our ride after Bob’s great breakfast and quickly made our way to the Waterfall single track trailhead.

The Waterfall Trail & Behind The Reef

The Waterfall Trail seemed to have more whoops and loose rocks than I remembered. This is probably because the trail is getting heavy usage since there are not many good single track trails in the San Rafael, so those that exist get very heavy use.

A narrow and technical section of the Waterfall Trail

We made good time and finally came to the steep hill climb with the ledge at the top. This was the only section that had me worried. Last time I was here (going the other direction), someone had removed the ramp made of rocks at the top. This time, someone has constructed a much better ramp. Bob noticed that by making a slight left turn just before the top you had a very clean line. Bob made it look easy. I almost made it – I was a little off my preferred line and chickened out at the last second. I got my front wheel up on top, but not the back. I know it was all mental. If I were just a little more aggressive I would have easily made it.

Bob making it look easy

After finishing the Waterfall trail we rode the scenic Behind The Reef trail. Sections of this trail have suffered serious erosion, which would make it a very challenging ride on an ATV. There were also a lot more rocky sections than I remembered. But we enjoyed the ride and again had no mishaps.

Ross coming down the ATV ramp on Behind The Reef

Somewhere along the Behind The Reef trail

We rode down to the Muddy Creek near Hidden Spendor Mine to see how much water was flowing. I was pleasantly surprised to learn that the road is now open down to the river. When we floated the Muddy a few years ago it was a real pain carrying our inflatable kayaks all the way up to the cars on the bluff.

Muddy Creek access point

On our way back to camp we explored a few less traveled roads and ended up going down South Fork of Eagle Canyon to Eagle Arch. We then returned to camp and Ross treated us to a fantastic steak dinner. We put in about 88 miles and the Husaberg low fuel warning light came on at 81 miles.

Ross enjoying the view on the way back to camp

Saturday: Breakfast at the Tamarisk Restaurant in Green River

Just before bed we noticed a lot of lightning flashes off to the west. It then got really windy and I had to get up and re-stake my tent and tighten everything so it wasn’t flapping in the wind. It was a good thing I did, because shortly thereafter it started to rain. It rained all night long and there was no sign of it letting up in the morning.

We decided to just pack up our gear and head to Green River for a nice cooked breakfast at the Tamarisk Restaurant. I have had dinner there many times, but this was my first time eating there for breakfast. Once again I was not disappointed.

As we drove home it was clear that this was another very large storm. All of the side streams were extremely muddy and flowing higher than normal for this time of year. There was evidence of recent rain all the way back to Salt Lake City.

Posted in Dirt biking, Utah - Southern | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Adventure Bike Luggage for Small Bikes – Sept 2014

Sept 9, 2014

To do a multi-day adventure bike ride you need to be able to carry some luggage.  If you plan on staying in motels, you don’t need as much space as you do if you plan on camping out.  In an attempt to get three of my family bikes ready for camping adventures, I took the opportunity to compare three different rack-less luggage options; Wolfman Luggage, Giant Loop, and AltRider Hemisphere.  Here is what I found:

Wolfman Luggage:

I have a Wolfman Enduro fender bag on all of my bikes to carry my registration and some tools.  I try to keep the bulk down so I can swing my leg over the back of the bike.  One thing I like about these bags is that they can easily be removed.

For an adventure ride, I will remove this bag and use something larger.  The heart of my Wolfman setup is the E-12 Saddle bags.  The saddle bag has two straps that hang over the fender or seat as well as three attachment points; one on each side and one on the rear fender.  Each saddle bag holds about 11 liters.  There is a compression strap so you can keep your gear from rattling around inside the bag.  The bag also has numerous D-rings so you can attach other items like the Wolfman water bottle holster.  The E-12 works well as a base for a complete adventure ride or as a stand alone system for a day trip.  I used the bag stand alone for our trip on the White Rim Trail in Canyonlands earlier this year.

E-12 saddle bags for a day trip

The E-12 bags are not large enough to hold my sleeping bag or tent, so I bought a small Wolfman Expedition Dry Duffel.  I can fit my tent and sleeping bag in this bag without problem and have a fairly low rear bag on the bike.  I can also stuff it full with other gear, but then it sticks up pretty high, interfering with my backpack, and it puts a lot of weight on the back of the bike.

I finish off my Wolfman setup with the 6L Enduro tank bag.  This bag is fairly small so it doesn’t get in you way at all.  But it also doesn’t hold a lot.

Wolfman luggage

This setup provides a lot of storage space, but the bulk of it is really high on the bike.

  • Enduro tank bag: 6L
  • E-12 saddle bags: 22L
  • Dry duffel: 33L
  • Total: 61L

Note: I also have two Giant Loop exhaust shields (one for each bike) so that we wont’ melt our bags.

Giant Loop:

I also have a Giant Loop setup, with a Fandango tank bag and a Coyote bag.  The Coyote bag carries more weight down low, and is large enough to carry my stove, some food, clothing, and my sleeping bag.

Giant Loop luggage

I use a 20L Sea-to-Summit dry bag with side loops to carry my tent and camp chair.

The zippers on the Coyote bag are difficult to operate since the bag is curved and it tends to get wrinkles in it.  But it offers some water resistance (not water proof) and pretty good abrasion resistance.  When I bought the Coyote bag, I think Giant Loop claimed it to be 30L in volume, but it seems much, much bigger than the E-12 at 22L.  I noticed that their new spec is 39L, but I don’t know if they made the bag larger or just updated their spec.

On my first adventure ride I quickly learned that the Sea-To-Summit bag was in my way.  It interfered with my backpack – especially on a steep descent.  I therefore moved the dry bag behind the Coyote bag, which worked much better.

Tent mounted on the rear

The Fandango tank bag is about the largest tank bag that will fit my dirt bikes without being in my way while either standing or sitting.  I have three minor complaints about the tank bag; 1) my maps got wet inside the pocket during a rain storm, 2) the zippers are hard to open when they get dirty, and 3) the front of the bag is really shallow, limiting what objects fit in the bag.  I am pretty sure this tank bag was listed as 10L when I bought it, but now the spec says 8L.  I think the 8L number is more accurate.

I also picked up a set of Giant Loop Pannier Pockets, giving me 2 more liters on each side of my tank.  I put heavy items like my tools and air mattress pump up here to help keep more weight on the front of the bike.  I found that I could also mount a 1 liter water bottle with the Wolfman holster to each pannier.  The panniers are slightly in my way when seated because I have fairly long legs, but having that extra space is really nice.

Overall the Giant Loop system works quite well.  You need to put your gear in dry bags since the system is water resistant, but not water proof.  The biggest drawback is the difficulty in opening and closing the zippers.

  • Fandango tank bag: 8L
  • Coyote saddle bag: 30L (or 39L)
  • Dry bag: 20L
  • Total: 58L (or 67L)
  • Note: I did not include the Pannier Pockets in the total since they can be used with any of these systems

AltRider:

My favorite system is the AltRider Hemisphere system.  It was designed by the same person that designed the Coyote bag, but it has some really nice improvements.

AltRider Hemisphere luggage

The tank bag is just slightly larger than the Fandango bag (11L).  It appears to be the same length and width, but the front end of the bag is a little taller.  It has a nice map pocket that seems to be waterproof, but it is a little difficult to get your map inside the small zipper on the bottom of the cover.

AltRider luggage covered in ice

The tank bag has an integrated dry bag to keep all of your items free from dust and water.  You don’t have to seal up the dry bag, but I usually do for added security.  If you fully stuff the dry bag it is difficult to rummage through the bag and find what you are looking for, but if you don’t completely fill it, the dry bag works out great.  I found that I could also put items like gloves or guide books on top of the dry bag, making them easier to access.

The best feature of the tank bag is the metal snap.  It makes it really easy to open and close the bag.  At first I was a little skeptical, but it worked great.

The saddle bag has some really nice innovations.  The main compartment is fully waterproof and closes like a dry bag by rolling down the seal at least three times.  It mounts to the bike with a novel holster.  You can even use the holster stand alone for day trips, so you can carry your jacket, tools, food, etc.  The back of the holster also has an easily accessible pocket on each side.  These pockets worked great for my Keen river shoes.  They will also hold tools, a 1.5L fuel bottle or water bottle, etc.

AltRider holster

Using just the holster for day trips

The saddle bag is rated at 40L, but it is easy to overfill if you don’t need it to be fully waterproof.  It does get difficult to roll down the opening if you put too much gear in there, but it is much easier to work with than the Coyote zipper.

 

  • Hemisphere tank bag: 11L
  • Hemisphere saddle bag: 40L
  • Dry bag: 20L
  • Total: 71L

Summary:

There are pros and cons to each of these systems, so figure out what best meets your needs.  The E-12 bags are really nice for day trips, but they are kind of small for over-night trips.  But if you have really small camping gear, they may work great.

The Coyote bag has been around for a long time and is quite popular.  But the improvements of the newer AltRider Hemisphere bags make them my overall favorite.

A great ride over the Continental Divide in the San Juan Mountains in Colorado

 

Posted in Dirt biking, Technology | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Murdock Basin – Aug 2014

Aug. 9, 2014

I enjoyed the scenery in Murdock Basin during my adventure ride back in June. I wanted my family to see some of the spectacular scenery – especially Little Deer Creek Falls. So, we planned an ATV outing to explore more of the area.

Since my last visit, I picked up a map that shows the ATV trails in Murdock Basin (shown in red). My hope was to explore some of the ATV specific trails, but since the Jeep roads are so rocky, we decided we didn’t want to risk trails that may be even more technical.

Murdock Basin

We met the Bradley’s at the staging area and took road #0027 down to Little Deer Creek Falls and the Duchesne tunnel east portal. This trail, like many of the roads in the area, is really quite rocky. It isn’t overly difficult since most of the rocks are embedded in the soil, but it is a rough ride.

We made a few stops along the way; first to see the remnants of the old earthen dam that broke many years ago, and then at a spot to enjoy the cascading falls of the stream.

Little Deer Creek cascades

As we approached the bottom of the road I was surprised to see a fairly large lake in the gorge. I didn’t recall seeing it in June, and I wondered how I could have missed it. I missed it, because it wasn’t there in June.

Back in June the lake was mostly empty

Just over a month later, the lake was completely full.

Duchesne Tunnel intake portal

The lake is full

We enjoyed a nice break near the lake, and the girls had fun skipping rocks across the water. We then headed down river to visit the waterfall, which was just as spectacular as before.

Dee & Kim at Little Deer Creek Falls

Since no one was in a hurry to ride more rocky roads, we took our time and enjoyed our lunch at the base of the falls.

After lunch we took a short walk to the head of Cataract Gorge. It would be fun someday to hike down the gorge and enjoy the cascades and pools.

Falls at the top of Cataract Gorge

We eventually got moving again and decided to ride out to Pyramid Lake on trail #0137A. The first part of this trail was quite enjoyable, but it gets pretty rocky as you go further east. The spur out to Pyramid Lake is also very rocky.

Paul, Sarah, Jamie, and Lauren at Pyramid Lake

After a brief visit at the lake, we returned to our cars and drove down to Kamas for a nice refreshing milk shake. We covered a grand total of 15.8 miles on our ATVs and dirt bikes, but everyone had had enough. The Uinta trails are very scenic, but they are also very rocky.

 

Posted in Dirt biking, Utah - Northern | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Willow Creek Single Track – July 2014

July 19, 2014

Back in 2011, I took Jamie and Jason on a ride to explore the single track trails up in Spanish Fork Canyon. The trails were very narrow with lots of steep side hill exposure. The kids did not like it.

Ever since that time I have wanted to go back and finish the trail. In the meantime, the Forest Service, along with numerous dirt biker volunteers, has greatly improved the trail. Most of the side hill portions have been widened from about 6” to almost 2’.

Ed Lamborn, Scott Barton, and Bob Dawson joined me on my quest. Our intent was to park at the Tie Fork rest stop in Spanish Fork Canyon, but it was closed due to road construction. So we ended up driving to Soldier Summit and starting our ride from there.

We rode approximately 75 miles in about 8.5 hours – almost half of that being single track (shown as dashed lines in the GPS track).

Our GPS track

We rode up #131 which is an easy dirt road that actually leads to the beginning of the Willow Creek single track (#083), but we wanted to include the Tie Fork single track (#023) in our adventure.

We went down #311 which still has a nice rut down the middle of the road. This rut caused Jason some grief last time because he got stuck in the mud. The trail was mostly dry this time, and it wasn’t too difficult other than dodging numerous small tree branches scattered all over the trail. This was a good warmup for what was to come.

Following Bob down #311

#725 is a dirt road that heads up Tie Fork. It has several stream crossings which could be a challenge in the spring. The road eventually turns to a single track (#023) which climbs the mountain side until it joins gravel road #042. This single track was fun and had a few semi-challenging climbs and switchbacks.

Bob on Tie Fork

Ed on Tie Fork, with Scott in the background

Once reaching the top, we decided to ride the southern end of the Center Trail (#09) and then back track on the dirt roads to the top of Willow Creek. Many of the dirt roads in the area have recently been graded, so portions of #131 had several inches of fine powder that was a little tricky to ride through.

Taking a break before starting down Willow Creek

We took a short break at the top of the Willow Creek single track trail (#083). #083 is fairly narrow and I noticed several rocks that have been kicked up since I was here last. It still has a few exposed side hill crossings, but they aren’t too bad. There are also numerous stream crossings as we ride down this valley.

Scott on Willow Creek

Willow Creek single track

The lower part of #083 and all of #025 has now been greatly improved. The side hills are not nearly as intimidating as they used to be. There was, however, one new section of trail that bypasses some beaver dams that had really loose and soft dirt. Our bikes tended to wash out on that section of trail.

Because we were making good time, we decided to ride up Buffalo Canyon (#026) and back down Racetrack Hollow (#025a). We stopped for lunch at the top of #025a since there was some shade.

Lunch stop

Racetrack Hollow

Once we reached the intersection with French Hollow (#027) we decided to ride up and back on the northern spur. This was by far the hardest section. The first part was fun as it rode up through the pine trees, but there was one really exposed cliff crossing that was pretty sketchy. We all made it up okay, but coming down was a different matter.

Some trees that caused a reroute

The sketchy cliff crossing

Beyond the cliff section the trail gets pretty steep and rocky, but eventually pops out on road #90. I don’t know why, but you can’t go west on #90 with ATVs or un-plated bikes. That is a really scenic road with great views overlooking Strawberry Reservoir.

On our return trip Bob suggested that we have two spotters on the cliff crossing. Bob and Ed got in position as I started across. The trail is slopped towards the gully with loose dirt and a diagonal ledge. It is further complicated by jagged rocks on the uphill side that could easily bump your handlebar and throw you off course.

Spotters ready

I carefully worked my bike across the slippery slope and got my front tire up the small ledge. I thought I was home free, so I gave it a little gas. Unfortunately, my rear end washed out and down I went – right on top of Bob.

The view from the bottom

Luckily the hill was very steep but not too dangerous. We just slid and tumbled down the hill together. Bob did break my fall and slow down my bike, which luckily stayed up top. Neither of us was hurt, so the four of us picked up my bike and worked it back onto the trail.

We decided that riding down this section was not a good idea, so Bob rode his bike down into the gully and worked his way through the rocks until he could rejoin the trail.

Ed was next, and he decided to walk his bike across. Scott and I helped, and we managed to get him across without incident.

Scott found the best route of all. Back up the trail about 50’ he found an easy entrance into the gully, and then followed Bob’s route. This section of trail needs some serious work before someone gets injured.

Looking down Willow Creek from the intersection with French Hollow

Once we got back to the junction with #025 we took a break to settle our nerves. We then proceeded up the southern spur of French Hollow. This trail also climbs up through the trees. There is one tricky turn that is easily missed. It looks like you make a 90º left turn, but you actually need to make a 180º turn and then cross a small stream. Bob missed this turn and ended up lost in the bushes for a while. I knew the correct way because I remembered this section from someone’s YouTube video.

#027s had some good climbs and some steep side hill exposure, but it was still pretty fun.

Single track through the trees

We eventually popped out on #147 and rode over to enjoy the views from Strawberry Peak. Unfortunately it was a very hazy day due to all of the wildfires.

Group shot on Strawberry Peak

I happened to have cell phone coverage up on the peak, so I sent my wife a text letting her know we were still safe, but running late. We left the peak at about 4:30 PM and decided to continue on our original plan and ride down Trail Canyon (#104). It turns out that Trail Canyon had not yet been cleared of downed trees. The top part is very steep with a few switchbacks.

The first switchback

When we reached the first downed tree we didn’t want to ride back up the steep part, so we rode over the tree. We did this for several other trees until we came to one that we could not easily get over.

The first downed tree

We decided to test out our hand chain saws. Luckily, Bob’s worked great as mine was a total piece of junk. By taking turns we were able to cut the tree and move it out of the way.

Lumberjacks at work

After tree removal

After finishing Trail Canyon, we enjoyed the easy and scenic ride #81 back to the car. We arrived at the car at about 6:00 PM, packed up, and headed for home.

Posted in Dirt biking, Favorite Rides, Utah - Central | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Main Salmon River – July 2014

July 11-15, 2014

The Main Salmon River has always been one of my favorite rivers. It has fun rapids that aren’t overly technical or scary, beautiful sandy beach camps, wildlife, and great scenery. Karla Lloyd was lucky enough to pick up a permit for this year.

Who:

We had 15 people with 4 rafts and 2 two-man inflatable kayaks.

  • Lloyd raft: Barry, Karla, & Jarem
  • Gardiner raft: Dee & Kim
  • Robins raft: Clyde, Karla, & Scott Johnson
  • Redd raft: Lee, Kit, and Bob
  • IK1: Jamie Gardiner & Nicole Zitting
  • IK2: Wade & Hannah Robins

Group shot at Buckskin Bill’s

Weather:

The weather was hotter than expected for mid-July. It felt more like August weather, with temperatures in the upper 90s most of the time. We did get a 20 minute light rain shower one morning, which cooled things off a little. The warm temperatures were great while on the water, but energy zapping while at camp.

The Main Salmon River

Transportation:

We made good time traveling to the put-in at Corn Creek. We left Sandy, Utah at about 7:00 AM, stopped at Barry’s house to meet up with the group and load his gear in the trailer, and arrived at Corn Creek at 4:20 PM. Our goal was to be there in time to sign up for our desired campsites at 5:00 PM.

We hired All River Shuttles out of Whitebird to drive our vehicles around for us. They did an excellent job. Their price was lower than the competition, and they even power-washed our vehicles to get the mud and tar off. The road to Corn Creek was under construction, so it made a mess of our vehicles.

Lee’s crew left for home as soon as we de-rigged our boats, while the rest of us took an evening run on the Lower Salmon from Riggins to Lucile, and then drove home the next morning. I have done the “all-nighter” drive home too many times. I much prefer driving home after a good night’s sleep in a motel and a hot shower. We made it home by about 7:00 PM, with just enough daylight (and energy) left to put away most of the gear.

Water:

The water level on the Corn Creek ramp was at 2.0’ when we arrived on the afternoon of July 10. It dropped to about 1.75’ by the time we launched the next morning, and continued to drop throughout the week. This is roughly 6500 cfs.

The flow at Whitebird (below the take-out) was about 12,000 cfs when we launched, and about 9500 cfs when we finished our trip.

Rapids:

Even at this relatively low water level the Main Salmon offers some exhilarating rapids and large waves.

  • Killum Rapid is often overlooked, but it can be a fun rapid at some water levels. At 5.5’ on the ramp, Killum had huge waves. At 1.75’ there is a nasty hole on river left, but it is easy to miss and run the main wave train.
  • Ranier Rapid is one I can never remember. It has some nice waves, but we ran it without knowing it was Ranier.
  • Alder Creek rapid was newly formed in 2011 by a debris flow from Alder Creek. It has some nice waves, with an easy run down the left side.
  • Devil’s Teeth Rapid has several very large rocks. The normal run is on the left side, but you need to be careful not to wash up on any of the rocks. I ran it down the right side since we camped right above the rapid.       This run was less exciting, but it was the safest run from our launch point.

The right channel of Devil’s Teeth Rapid

  • Salmon Falls is nothing more than a small ripple. It has been flooded out by Black Creek Rapid.
  • Black Creek Rapid was also formed in 2011. It is easily the largest rapid on the Main. You can scout the rapid from the left shore, but it is a treacherous endeavor on slanted rocks covered in sand. The scout is harder than the rapid. The main run is down the left side, but at some water levels an easier run is possible on the right side. The middle is chocked with rocks, so you must go either right or left. We opted to go left. The drop down the tongue is impressive – somewhat like a log flume ride at an amusement park. You really pick up speed, which doesn’t give you much time to maneuver, so be sure to line up properly at the top of the tongue. The waves on the far left are potential boat flippers, so most people run just right of the center of the tongue. Our rafts all made it fine, but both IKs flipped in the third hole.

Scouting Black Creek Rapid

Lee entering Black Creek Rapid

Heading down the tongue

  • Bailey Rapid is another fun rapid with the potential to flip boats. The hidden hole just left of center was runnable, but only Barry had the courage to hit it head on. The rest of us took the safer right sneak.

Barry punching through the hole in Bailey

Wade and Hannah getting a good ride

  • Fivemile Rapid is not very well known, but it has a rock or hole hidden behind the large waves at the top of the rapid. The safest run is to sneak down the left side and take a look at the monster hole waiting there to consume unsuspecting boaters. I warned everyone about this, but coming into the rapid it looked so harmless. Barry and Lee both hit the hole head on. Luckily both rafts made it through without flipping.
  • Split Rock Rapid has a huge rock in the middle of the river, splitting the river into two channels. We chose to run the right channel, which offered a fun ride through a long set of waves.
  • Big Mallard Rapid is deceiving. It looks like you should go right of the monster hole or rock near the left bank, but the current is very strong and pulls you toward the hole (been there, done that). The easiest and safest run is to sneak down the left side about 10’ off the bank.       There is a gap between the big rock and a rock on the shore just wide enough to sneak through.

A view of Big Mallard Rapid from the trail near camp

  • Elkhorn Rapid is actually a series of rapids back to back.       One of them contains “elephant rock”, which in high water makes a hole large enough to swallow a school bus.       At lower flows, just pick your way through, avoiding the smaller rocks and holes.
  • Growler Rapid is similar to Elkhorn, but smaller and shorter.
  • Whiplash Rapid is pretty easy in low water – you just need to avoid slamming into the cliff. In higher water, Whiplash and Elkhorn are the two most dangerous rapids.
  • Boise Bar Rapid has a hole that is also capable of flipping a raft, but it is easily avoided if you pay attention.
  • Ludwig Rapid is pretty long, but for me it has always been uneventful.
  • Dried Meat Rapid has perhaps the largest wave on the river.       There is a good drop down the tongue and a huge wave waiting at the bottom. But it is very smooth and easy to run. We didn’t even get any water over the bow.
  • Chittam Rapid is a potentially dangerous rapid. If you flip in one of the holes, you could get pushed into the cliff on the left side. If the water is low enough for the island to be visible above the rapid, some guide books suggest running the left side of the island and then ferry to the right to avoid the largest holes. Next time I will do that. We stopped on river right to scout the rapid, but it is a pain to work your way through the bushes and boulders. If you take the right sneak it doesn’t even create good video.

Clyde makes a perfect run through Chittam Rapid

  • Vinegar Rapid is big and fun. There are some holes that could flip boats, but there is a good Eddy below, so the danger level is not nearly as high as with Chittam.       We ran just right of center to avoid the largest hole. One of our IKs dumped one person and then flipped the boat while trying to rescue her.
  • Carey Falls is the last rapid before the Carey Creek boat ramp.       It has a large wave at the top right, which provided good surfing for a group of kayakers. This would not be a good place to flip since you would likely miss the take-out.

Campsites:

The Main Salmon has a set of campsites that you can reserve, and others that are first-come, first-serve. We prefer to use the reservation system so we have a destination in mind and don’t have to race other parties to get the good campsites. We were able to reserve three of the four we requested.

  • Corn Creek. We had heard that the Corn Creek campground near the put-in sometimes fills up, but we had no trouble getting two campsites for our group.
Corn Creek campground

Corn Creek campground

  • Upper Devil’s Teeth. We tried to get Lower Devil’s Teeth camp, but lost out to another group.       Upper Devil’s Teeth wasn’t too bad, but Lower Devil’s Teeth is much nicer.

Cooling off at camp

  • Lower Yellow Pine. This is a very nice campsite with plenty of trees for hanging hammocks and providing shade. There is also a trail so you can scout Big Mallard Rapid (although a set of binoculars would be helpful).

Relaxing at Lower Yellow Pine

Lower Yellow Pine

  • Paine Creek. We had Paine Creek reserved, but another group had already set up camp. They said they thought it was a first-come, first-serve campsite. We didn’t feel too bad losing out because this campsite had no shade and the heat radiated out from the rock wall lining the camp.
  • Boise Bar. About one mile below Paine Creek we found Boise Bar campsite to be available.       This turned out to be a fairly nice camp. There was one large pine tree that provided some shade, although we had to keep moving our chairs as the sun moved west. It had a nice beach for swimming.

Boise Bar

  • Rabbit Creek. Rabbit Creek camp was a very pleasant surprise. We expected it to be rather poor, but it had a huge beach – and I mean huge. It also had good mid-day shade from some pine trees and early evening shade from the mountainside.

Rabbit Creek

Jarem enjoying some shade

Here are some miscellaneous photos from our trip.

Kim enjoying the ride

A hot soak on a hot day

Photo time on the pack bridge near Jim Moore’s cabin

Cooling off – again

Seeing if I still remember how to paddle a kayak

Lee’s crew on dinner duty

Videos:

Here is a highlights video of our entire trip:

Here are more detailed videos of our entire Salmon River experience.  Watch these videos if you want to learn more about life on the river, campsites, and rapids.

Lower Salmon:

At the take-out we de-rigged our boats but left my raft and the two IKs inflated. Lee headed for home as soon as everything was loaded, while the rest of us enjoyed left-overs for lunch at the picnic area near the take-out.

Following lunch we drove down towards Riggins and stopped at Shorts Bar and launched for a paddle boat run down to Lucile. We did this back in 2006 and it was well worth doing.

This year the water was more than double that of 2006, so we were pleasantly surprised at how many huge roller waves we hit.

  • Time Zone Rapid has two sections. Back in 2006 Marcy and Isaac flipped their IK in the first section, climbed back in before the second section, and flipped again.       This year Jamie and Hannah flipped.       They found it very difficult to climb back in since everyone was very tired after five days on the Main.

Jamie and Hannah in Time Zone

  • Tight Squeeze was actually smaller at this higher flow. It was a pretty straightforward run down the right side.
  • Cherry Creek had some large waves, but was fairly easy.
  • Chair Creek probably had the largest waves of the river. We missed the first big wave in the raft, but managed to ride out the rest of the wave train. It was really fun.
  • Trap Creek had big waves but I didn’t notice any rocks or holes like we experienced in 2006.
  • Fiddle Creek also had huge waves, as well as some monster holes that you would do well to avoid.
  • Black Rock Rapid was pretty tame at this level.

Big waves

The run down this lower portion of the Main Salmon was a great way to end our week on the river. We were all tired, but it was really fun to ride those large waves.

 

Posted in Idaho, River trips | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uinta Adventure Ride – June 2014

June 26-28, 2014

For some time I have wanted to try a multi-day motorcycle adventure ride, camping along the way. It took a lot of research and experimentation to find a good way to carry all of my camping gear on my small dirt bike.

I teamed up with seasoned riders Ross Vellinga, Scott Connors, and Danny Lunt. Our plan was to spend three days and two nights out in the Uinta Mountains in eastern Utah. We planned routes that would avoid the crowds of the Rainbow Family Gathering and the Ragnar race. Our route is shown in this image. Each day is indicated with a different color, with yellow representing routes we planned on taking but did not.

Three-day adventure route

Three-day adventure route

My dirt bike does not have a strong metal sub-frame on the back and I don’t have a rear fender rack. I therefore had to find ways to carry my gear without such a structure. The bulk of my gear fit inside a water resistant Giant Loop Coyote bag. I also had a Giant Loop Fandango tank bag, Giant Loop Pannier Pockets, and a blue Sea-To-Summit dry bag for my tent.

My camping gear loaded onto my bike

Ready for my first adventure ride

With so much gear on the back of the bike, I am unable to swing my foot over the rear of the bike, so I have to lift my foot directly over the seat. Being old and stiff, this is challenging – especially with a 39” seat height. This turned out to be a good indicator of how tired I was getting.

The hardest part – getting my foot over the seat

 

Day 1: Sandy to Murdock Basin

It was sunny and hot when we met at the mouth of Big Cottonwood Canyon shortly after 4:00 PM on Thursday. We rode up Big Cottonwood Canyon, over Guardsman’s Pass to Midway, and on to Jordanelle Reservoir where we stopped for a short break. They let me lead the way since I was the rookie and had the smallest bike. I found that my bike handled pavement just fine up to about 60 mph.

Day 1

Day 1

While taking our break it was obvious that we had a storm moving in. We hurried on to Kamas and stopped for gas. It started to rain just as we finished up at the gas station. It gradually began raining harder. When we stopped to pay our entry fee for the Mirror Lake Highway, we discussed our options for finding our camp. We considered camping at a lower elevation camp, but decided to press on with our original plan to Broadhead Meadow. We could feel the temperature drop as we climbed in elevation. We eventually turned onto the wet Murdock Basin dirt road. Luckily, the trails in Murdock Basin are really rocky – not muddy and slippery.

We found an absolutely beautiful place to camp right on the edge of Broadhead Meadow. There were two Moose there to greet us.

Moose in Broadhead Meadow

It stopped raining about the time we got to camp, so we were able to set up our tents and cook our dinner in decent weather with just a few pesky mosquitoes.

Our first campsite

My new Exped Gemini II tent worked great

The view from my tent

Ross quickly got a fire going so we could cook up our steak and potatoes. Dinner was fabulous.

Ross tending the fire

Steak and potatoes for dinner!

We enjoyed sitting around the campfire during the evening until it started to rain once again at about bed time. It rained throughout much of the night. I was pleased that my new tent kept me nice and dry. It got a little chilly during the night since we were at 9500’ elevation.

Day 2: Murdock Basin to Upper Stillwater Reservoir

We woke up to a beautiful sunny day. I tried out my small camp stove and some freeze-dried breakfast and hot chocolate. It wasn’t too bad. My compact camp chair worked out pretty well too.

My breakfast kitchen

Our tents were wet from all of the rain, so we decided to explore some of the trails in Murdock Basin while we let our tents dry out.

Day 2

Day 2

We first rode down to the east end of the Duchesne portal that takes water from the Duchesne River and diverts it over to the Provo River. I brought my family here many years ago so I knew it was a rocky road. I was surprised with how well my bike handled with all of my camping gear except my tent. I could hardly tell it was there. Of course, if I got into a sticky situation I am sure the extra weight and bulk would become very obvious.

The Duchesne tunnel

On my last visit I did not realize that there is a beautiful waterfall about 100 yards down river from the tunnel in-take. Little Deer Creek Falls is really spectacular.

Little Deer Creek Falls

Just downstream from the falls is Cataract Gorge, which is also very scenic, but we did not have time to explore the gorge.

We then took the fun ride out to Echo Lake, and then returned to camp to fetch our tents and eat lunch.

Echo Lake

On the first day I found that my tent interfered with my backpack, so I decided to move it behind the Coyote bag. I was worried that it might slip and get damaged on the exhaust pipe, but this new arrangement worked very well.

Trying a different packing scheme

Just as we left camp it started to rain again and the temperature fell rapidly. A cold front had obviously moved through, and it looked like we were in for a long and wet day. I was sure glad I bought a waterproof set of riding pants and jacket – they worked great!

We sought shelter near the outhouse at the parking lot for the Provo River Falls. We stayed there for about an hour hoping the storm would pass.

The storm finally let up a little, so we rode down the canyon to the Soapstone Basin turnoff. When we got there, the sun was out and it was much warmer at this lower elevation.

Our original plan was to explore Soapstone Basin and ride out to Lightning Ridge. With a massive storm system in the area, we decided that wouldn’t be a very wise thing to do. So we quickly rode over Soapstone Pass to the Wolfcreek Pass highway. Luckily we never encountered any more rain.

As we approached Hanna, we turned onto a dirt road that climbed over a mountain pass at about 10,000’ elevation. The view going down the other side was incredible. Unfortunately I didn’t take the time to take pictures, but you can see it in my video.

This brought us to Upper Stillwater Reservoir. We were hoping that the water was still flowing over the spillway, but it was about 2’ too low.

Upper Stillwater Reservoir

We found a decent campsite a few miles down the highway from the reservoir (~7800’ elevation). It wasn’t as nice as our first camp, but it had a nice stream where Ross was able to catch a few Brook Trout.

Camp #2

Day 3: Upper Stillwater to Daniel’s Summit, American Fork Canyon, and home

We were quite a ways behind schedule due to the rain, so on the morning of our final day we considered all of our options. My bike has a smaller gas tank than the rest of the group, so that had to be carefully considered. Luckily, Danny was carrying an extra 1 gallon of fuel.

Day 3, part 1

Day 3, part 1

Our original plan was to ride down Farm Creek Road, but we learned that we would likely have our bikes confiscated if we rode through the Indian Reservation. We considered taking the pavement to Duchesne where I could get gas, but I didn’t want to ride too many miles on Hwy 40 on my small bike.

We also considered returning to Kamas, but knew we would run into the Ragnar race. And the shortest route back to Heber would have taken us right through the middle of the Rainbow Family Gathering.

So, we decided to stick with our original plan and ride to Daniel’s Summit via the Red Creek road. To do so, we had to return to Hanna the way we came.

Taking a break in Hanna

The Red Creek road is in a very remote area that is seldom visited, so we were not sure if we could even get all the way through. We feared we would encounter private property or banks of snow since the trail went over 10,000’ in elevation. If we did, I was in serious jeopardy of running out of gas. This is an adventure after all.

Red Creek was a fairly rugged road, but it was really fun and incredibly scenic. It offered spectacular views in every direction.

The view from Red Creek trail

After following the ridge lines for many miles, we dropped down towards Currant Creek Reservoir. We stopped for lunch at a nice spot that was sheltered from the cold wind.

Day 3, part 2

Day 3, part 2

 

Currant Creek Reservoir

The roads from Currant Creek to Daniel’s Summit were not as fun as most of the trails because they had recently been graded. There were lots of loose, jagged rocks all over the road. We also encountered hundreds of motor-homes and campers in the area. I have never seen so many campers in such a small area before.

We were still running behind schedule, so once we reached Hwy 40 near Daniel’s Summit, Ross decided to head for home. Danny and I rode up to Daniel’s Summit Lodge to buy gas (expensive).

We originally planned on taking the dirt road to Wallsburg, but to save time we decided to ride down Daniel’s Canyon. For me, that was not fun. My bike can go comfortably on pavement at 55 mph, and it isn’t too bad at 60 mph, but 65 mph is really pushing the bike and the knobbie tires. Luckily we got behind a large tanker truck that could only do 65 in the long straight stretches.

After reaching Heber, we turned south towards Deer Creek Reservoir, and then west through Charleston where we encountered the Ragnar race. We didn’t realize the race went that far south. Luckily the traffic was light and it didn’t take long to reach the road to Cascade Springs.

The Cascade Springs road is pretty rough and wash-boarded, so it wasn’t too fun.

Day 3, part 3

Day 3, part 3

 

After reaching Cascade Springs, we rode up over the Alpine Loop, down American Fork Canyon to Alpine. Scott separated at this point while Danny and I rode over Traverse Mountain to Draper, and on to home.

My odometer showed 297.5 miles for the three days, almost half of which was on the final day.

This turned out to be a great test for adventure riding. I thoroughly enjoyed it even though we encountered some bad weather. I was able to validate my water proof riding gear, luggage, and tent. I was also able to evaluate the bikes handling and stability on pavement, dirt roads, and rocky trails. I learned that I need to make a few minor adjustments on how I mount the Coyote bag, but otherwise my gear worked perfectly. It was a very enjoyable experience.

 

Posted in Dirt biking, Utah - Northern | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment