Sept. 12, 2015
The plan was simple enough; meet at one of three staging areas, be at Curtis Creek by 10:00 AM, two hours to ride to Garden City for lunch and a raspberry shake, a two hour ride back, and be home for dinner by 6:00 PM.
Lynn and Lewis arrived early at Ross’s house; they rode over Trapper’s Loop and waited for us in Huntsville. We (me, Jamie, Jason, and Phillip) planned to be ready to ride from the Monte Cristo snowmobile staging area by 9:30 so we could be at Curtis Creek by 10:00. We finally set off at about 10:15, so we were already 45 minutes behind schedule.
But it was a beautiful day and all seemed well as we rode up Hwy 39 through Monte Cristo. The aspen leaves were already turning yellow, so it was going to be a spectacular ride.
Back in 2012 we rode from Garden City to Monte Cristo in 3.5 hours. For some reason (age perhaps?), I remember it only taking 1.5 hours. So our plan was faulty from the start.
We started down the Curtis Creek road (#5) and found that the road conditions were not as good as our previous ride. There was a lot of loose dust and silt, making the road more slippery and it was very difficult to see at times.
Rather than take “easy” dirt roads all the way, we wanted to spice things up a bit by taking some of the intermediate side trails along the way. We ventured off onto trail #43 which is ridden by a lot of ATVs. The trail was very dusty and had sections with loose rocks. It wasn’t overly difficult, but it was slower going than the main road.
At one point we took a wrong turn. The trail turned to a narrow ATV trail down a steep mountain. The dirt was loose, and those on the larger bikes kept sliding. We rode for about ½ mile down this steep, narrow trail only to find that it was a dead-end. So, we turned around and rode back up. Going up was more fun than going down. This took at least 45 minutes, so now we are 1.5 hours behind schedule (not including the 2 hour error in my time estimate).
Back on #5 we were able to pick up our pace a little bit, but it was still slower than last time due to the road conditions. Lynn took a couple of spills in the loose gravel and bent one of his cargo boxes. It took another 15-20 minutes to fix that, so now we are almost two hours behind schedule and everyone is starting to get hungry.
From #5 we turned onto #50 and planned on taking a shortcut to #51. Unfortunately the shortcut was on private property – so, we had to take the longer way around on #52 and then part of #3. Road #3 had some pockets of extremely deep silt. If you were following too closely behind someone, you would have a total brown-out and not be able to see anything. Lynn took another spill here and broke his clutch. Now we are over two hours behind schedule.
We slowed down the pace some since Lynn was tire and losing his confidence. Later he learned that his front tire was going flat, so it wouldn’t hold traction on corners.
Trail #51 (Kearl Pond Road) is a really fun ride through some open meadows and wooded forests. This was my favorite part back in 2012.
This trail drops out in Temple Canyon, which we rode down to Hwy 30, and rode in to Garden City. We finally arrived at La Beau’s just before 3:00 PM – everyone was very tired and hungry. We enjoyed a nice break, a raspberry shake, and a burger.
After lunch, Lynn and Lewis decided to take the highway back home (which is where he learned that his tire was flat). The rest of us rode up Hwy 89 to the pass heading towards Logan.
From the pass we headed south on #3, which was in great shape and allowed us to cruise at a good speed. We turned west on #2, then south on an ATV trail #53. The first part of #53 was quite rocky – it wasn’t too difficult, but it was late in the day to be dealing with a rough and bumpy ride. The middle section was quite nice, but very, very dusty.
The last part of #53 (or #033 according to one sign) was steep and eroded with loose rocks. I suspect #54 would have been a better choice.
After getting safely off #53 we buzzed along #3 to Hardware Ranch, and then took the Ant Flat Road back to our car.
We arrived back at the car at about 7:00 PM with just enough daylight left to load the trailer and start for home.
According to my GPS, we rode a total of 133 miles (the GPS is usually a little low), had an average riding speed of 14.8 mph, and a maximum speed of 61 mph. It was a fun trip, but the loose conditions made it more stressful than anticipated, so we were very tired and ready to head home long before we arrived back at the car. Next time we will plan better…