Green River and San Rafael Swell area
Thursday March 20:
After Dee’s rush procedure to deal with kidney stones we head off for our annual Green River ATV/dirt bike spring break adventure. Kim gets to drive and pull the trailer while Dee waits for the medication to wear off. Jamie and Jason just enjoy the ride.
We meet up with the Barton’s (Scott, Terri, Andrew, Ryan, Peter, and Alison) in Spanish Fork canyon.
We arrived at the White Wash area at about 3:00 PM – much later than usual – but still early enough for a good afternoon of riding. Rather than drive all the way to White Wash, we parked at the head of Salt Wash and rode our bikes the rest of the way.
Dee leads the older kids on the red trail while Kim leads the others on the green trail. Kim follows the main road to White Wash while I take a portion of the Crystal Geyser single track. We meet up again above the wash.
The road down in to White Wash was in really good repair this year – the best I have seen.
We then ride up White Wash to the box canyon. Kim returns the same way and then rides the fun ATV trail west to the Green River.
Dee has wanted to explore “Brian’s Trail”, so this was his chance. Dee, Scott, Jamie, Andrew, and Ryan take the more challenging long way back. Jamie and Ryan bury their rear wheel to the axle trying to climb the sand hill out of the wash (the same place Gary got stuck several years ago). After about one mile of deep sand, we come to a steep slab of slickrock. It is easier than it looks. But from there to the summit, the trail was very challenging, and Jamie adds Brian’s Trail to her list of “nobody likes … trail”.
We had to climb several ledges that were a real challenge for everyone. It would have been much easier riding south-to-north.
Once we reached the summit and finally found the trail, we had a very fun ride down upper Red Wash. We then skirted the edge of lower Red Wash trying to find a way in. We ended up back-tracking and coming in from the West where Jamie and I entered last year.
We then had a fun ride up and down the wet wash bottom. It was getting late, so we headed back to the car and finished our ride just before dark. Kim and the others returned to the car about 15 minutes earlier, so we had pretty good timing and everyone had a good time.
Friday March 21:
On Friday morning we drove down the Ten-mile Point road just east of White Wash. For our morning adventure we decided to try out the famous Ten-mile Wash trail, which is now in a protected wilderness study area. Because everyone is now confined to one trail, the trail gets really whooped out with lots of dry, deep sand.
Knowing how much Peter (and the rest of us) loves dry sand, we bailed out at the first canyon exit about 4.5 miles down the canyon. We then took the nice Jeep trail back to the car for lunch and to meet up with the rest of the gang.
After lunch the Bradley’s (Paul, Liz, Lauren, Sarah, and Matt), Jolley’s (Kevin, Rebecca, Jarett, and Spencer) and the Brockbank’s (Barney, Virginia, Taylor, and Kaitlyn) joined us. Kevin decided to stay near the car and help Spencer adjust to his larger ttr125 with a clutch. He proved to be a quick study because he rode some advanced trail sections in the coming days.
Now move to the Rainbow Terrace trail map.
We followed the same road past Dripping Springs at the head of Ten-mile Wash and continued east to the Rainbow Terrace loop. Rebecca picked up a stray dog which enjoyed our ride. The first part of the trail had a lot of dry sand and even Paul took a spill (which I got on video!).
Once we got past the sand, the ride was pretty fun and fast, which the exception of one steep ledge we had to work the ATVs down.
While heading out towards Tombstone Butte, we had a police helicopter surprise us as he zoomed from Moab to White Wash and passed right over our heads. Jamie captured it on helmet camera footage.
We then rode out towards Dellenbaugh Tunnel, but we must have missed a turn somewhere as we ended up .26 miles from the tunnel and no one wanted to hike that far in motorcycle boots.
After a brief rest and snack we headed back. Our intent was to take another spur out to Secret Spire, but it was getting pretty late so we decided to head back. We took the western road back, which only took half as much time as the more challenging eastern route.
All in all it was a very nice family ride with some great scenery.
Saturday March 22:
Saturday was our ‘major’ ride of the trip. We drove over to the Temple Mountain area of the San Rafael Swell. We parked just past the turn to Goblin Valley in a large staging area. We then headed west on the Behind the Reef trail (see that map).
The first 6 miles or so was on a nice car-worthy dirt road. We could move along quickly, but it was very cold. This area is about 1000’ higher in elevation than Green River, and there was a cold breeze. By the time we got to the top of Chute Canyon, everyone had pretty cold hands.
We then entered the Jeep trail section of the trail, which starts off steep and rocky. This was a good test to see how well Spencer learned to use his clutch – and he did very well.
Some prankster (I am betting one of the Bradley’s or Barton’s) turned off Jamie’s gas valve, so she came to a stop right in the middle of the climb. Having been there before, she immediately knew what to check for – unlike Taylor who later walked his bike up a hill because he couldn’t get it started ;-).
As we approached the Little Wild Horse/Bell Canyon area, the trail became much easier and more relaxing. The scenery was incredible.
A few miles later the trail changes from of rough Jeep trail to an ATV trail. This section had some very steep ascents and one nasty descent that caused many of the bikes grief. But it was a fun and interesting trail nonetheless. I thought everyone did very well on these advanced sections.
Just as we reached the wash that lead us 1.3 miles out to the Hidden Splendor Mine road, Jarett’s rear wheel hub cracked in half. We weren’t going to fix that with bailing wire and duct tape – so his yz85 was out for the count.
Jarett carefully rode his bike out to the dirt road and Barney set a new speed record as he zoomed back for his truck to haul the bike out. Barney got to drive the 30 mile dirt road three times within a few hours.
While Jarett sat and sulked over his loss, the rest of us rode down to the Hidden Splendor Mine and a look at the Muddy River.
We then started the long ride back to the car. It was about 28 miles out to Hidden Splendor via the Behind the Reef trail, and 30 miles back via the main road. But the main road was much faster since we could go 30-45 miles per hour through most sections.
The dads took turns stopping at junctions to make sure everyone went the correct way. As I stopped at the Tan Seep junction, I noticed a park ranger sitting at the junction. He just sat and watched as a non-stop string of bikes and ATVs zoomed by. I wondered, will he be watching for vehicle registration stickers? Or is he clocking us? He didn’t say anything, so I drove away and worked my way back to the front of the dust storm.
Tan Seep is at about 7000’ elevation, so it was pretty chilly riding through that section. We were all glad to return to the car after covering so much beautiful country.
And who should pull in behind us? The ranger.
He started with the Jolley’s. As I was loading the trailer, I saw the ranger hand Kevin a piece of paper. I thought; “Oh no – Kevin got a ticket. I warned everyone to have their bikes properly registered.” He then moved on to the Bradley’s and Barton’s, and then me. He quickly scanned to see my registration stickers and handed me a business card and started talking about the rules for out state visitors. It turns out he gave Kevin (and everyone else) the same card.
He then moved to the Brockbank’s, but Barney was still retrieving Jarett’s bike. His ATVs didn’t have stickers, so the ranger began a detailed search of the machine and a never ending conversation. We all wondered over and listened in, then left, then came back, etc. Barney finally showed up and explained the situation. No tickets were issued, but while the ranger continued to talk Barney’s ear off, the rest of us slipped away to go get some dinner. I don’t know what time they were finally able to head back to Green River.
Sunday March 23:
During Saturday night dinner, my kidney stone pain started to increase. By bedtime it was pretty severe, so I started taking the Lortab again. By morning I thought I was going to die. Everyone else headed off to church while I tried to keep sipping water to stay hydrated.
After church Scott and Paul gave me a priesthood blessing, and I immediately started feeling better. So we headed off to Canyonlands for a leisurely day of sight seeing and short hikes. Kim again got to drive, but we left the trailer at the motel.
By the time we got to Canyonlands the pain was essentially gone, but I was still pretty groggy from the medication. But after a few short hikes, I was feeling much better.
We hiked to the top of Whale Rock and out to the Upheaval Dome overlook. We also stopped at most of the scenic overlooks. The kids enjoyed having pinecone wars at each stop.
We then enjoyed a nice, although extremely slow, dinner at the Moab Brewery. And I slept great that night!
Monday March 24:
At 6:00 AM I gave birth to a nice 2+ mm kidney stone that looked just like a bear claw. No wonder those things hurt so much! About an hour later, I passed two more – making it triplet stones! But I felt great!
Thanks to a tip from Lenny (who lives in Green River) we decided to ride the Coal Canyon/Tusher Canyon loop just east of Green River. See the Tusher map. This turned out to be the favorite ride for the wives and younger kids. Us older kids also enjoyed it. It wasn’t too difficult, but there were enough tight turns to keep you on your toes.
We left right from the motel and headed in a northeasterly direction towards Coal Canyon. The road criss-crossed a dry wash bottom until we came to a small herd of cows at a watering hole. Some of the cows were spooked and ran up the trail in front of us – and up the steep climb out of the wash. Jason was excited since he has such fond memories of cows on our bike rides.
Once you leave the wash, the trail follows the bench. It heads south and then east for many miles, but we headed north, toward Tusher Canyon. We continued past Tusher where the road is a less traveled Jeep trail. We continued for about 8 miles to a nice overlook high on the cliff above Swasey’s Rapid and beach. That made a great snack and rest stop – although the mother’s weren’t too keen on having their kids so close to the edge. I rode out another 2 or 3 miles to see the view directly above Swasey’s. This part of the trail is more technical and has some exposed sections that are pretty close to the cliff edge – so it wasn’t a good idea to bring the families out this far. But the scenery was awesome.
We then returned to Tusher Canyon and headed down in to the wash. Shortly after entering the narrow wash bottom, we came upon a large patch of snow. I guess Barney wanted to spray snow in the air, so he gunned it. It turns out the left (shady) side of the snow patch was actually solid ice – probably 6-12” thick. Barney went down hard. I understand he cracked a few ribs and hurt his rotator cuff. Luckily it was the last day and we were headed home anyway.
After exiting the wash, we simply rode the Hastings road back to our motel where we loaded up the trailer, got cleaned up, and headed for home.
In spite of a few injuries, illnesses, broken bikes, etc. – it was a great trip! All of the families got along well and new friendships were developed. Now that this trip report is complete, it is time to start planning our next adventure…