Monday, October 22, 2012

White Rim 2012

We all met in Green River at the River Terrace motel; great rooms and continental breakfast. There was a lovely pergola out on the lawn where we sipped wine and got to know each other a little bit.  Since we had all been in cars for most of the day, Patti suggested we go for a hike in the state park on the other side of the river.  It must have been close to 90 degrees as we walked down the street in search of a wilderness trail.  On the way, Ken, Patti’s hubby, talked about how Patti likes to go for hikes that last for hours and miles and miles and hours.  We finally found the state park, but it was no more than a campground full of RVs.  So we trooped back to the motel.  Then it was off to Ray’s for burgers, fries, and beer.  Luckily we were seated in the outdoor area which was much quieter.  The night was warm and the weather looked promising for the week ahead.

September 29.  The next morning we assembled at Holiday with all our stuff.  The rental bikes were distributed, fitted, and loaded.  Unfortunately, our favorite guides, Ben and Brin were not available for this trip.  By 11am or so, we were in the van and on our way.  We stopped at the tee-pee gas station to pee and fuel the vans and soon we were at the top of Mineral Bottom.  Already the temps were climbing and we were applying sun block.  We all made it down the steep switchbacks without incident and the bike portion of the trip had officially begun. 

We stopped at the Upheaval Canyon trailhead for lunch; a place devoid of shade.  Melons from Green River were served every day at lunch; we couldn’t get enough.  We continued on to Fort Bottom trail.  A three mile (round trip) hike across some narrow sections with steep cliffs on both sides brought us to a very high point where the river looped and surrounded us on three sides.  There we found a structure made entirely of flat rocks stacked and balanced by the ancient Anasazi.  It consisted of two circular structures right next to each other connected by a small square door about a foot off the ground.  Was it a fort, a lookout, a home?  We were left to contemplate the mystery on the way back to our bikes.  We could also see a historic log cabin down by the river. Our guides insisted it had been used as a hideout by Butch Cassidy.

Our first challenge was Hardscrabble Hill, a series of ascents that are nothing to sneeze at but certainly not tougher than the Hillside STA trails or Spencer Loop, except for the heat and unrelenting sun.  Many of us walked; the heat sucking out our life’s energy with every step.  At last we reached Potato Bottom A, our assigned campground.  There we were welcomed by a large tree providing some much needed shade.  After pitching our tents, most of us made our way to the Green River for a much needed dip despite the muddy banks and murky water.  Dinner of grilled mahi-mahi, wild rice and salad with brownies for dessert restored our spirits.

September 30.  Breakfast the next morning was eggs, hash browns, and blueberry muffins made in a dutch oven.  By 9:30 am we were on the trail headed for Murphy’s Hogback. On the way we stopped at a slot canyon and hiked down into it.  The temperature in the canyon was mercifully cooler and it was hard to crawl out and resume biking in the heat.  The rest of the day’s ride was one hill after another.  We also stopped at Black Crack; so named because you cannot see the bottom of this crevasse.  Dinner was awesome lasagna (also made in a dutch oven) and garlic bread.  Due to the heat, most of us gave up on the tent flies in order to get more ventilation.  Erika gave up on tents entirely and slept under the stars atop a large flat rock.

At this camp site, and the next one (Gooseberry), there were little kangaroo rats that would come out at night.  They were very cute. We would sit in a circle after dinner and watch the sun set and the moon come up and then the kangaroo rats would start running around snatching crumbs.  Some of the girls would scream and act silly which provided entertainment for the rest of us.  One kangaroo rate was running from someone’s flashlight and ran up Bruce’s pant leg.  We all laughed at him trying to shake the rat out of his pants.

October 1.  Once again we started the morning’s ride at 9:30am.  We found the terrain was more rolling and not so grueling.  We stopped at White Crack for lunch and a long nap in the shade of a Juniper tree.  Those who weren’t napping, Patti and crew, hiked down the old uranium miner’s mule train trail.  Then it was back on the bikes for another hour’s ride to the Gooseberry campground.  Evidently, this was not enough riding for Patty who appeared to have missed the sign and continued on.  After about an hour we all got a little worried so Dave, the guide, took off after her on his bike.  Ten miles later he found her and herded her back to the fold.  It was Mexican Night for dinner and the guides made sopapillas for desert.

October 2.  We hit the trail around 9am after filling up on blueberry pancakes.  The ride was considerably more agreeable without steep up-hill challenges; however it seemed to be our hottest day yet.  Karen broke a shift cable. Dave the guide installed a new one and we were underway about an hour later.  We stopped at Musselman Arch where we found Ken had issues with heights.  He actually crawled out onto the arch.  A few more miles down the road we found the Colorado River lookout and a bit of shade and rest.  As we rolled down into the canyon to Shafer campground we got our first glimpse of the uphill switchbacks that was to be our route the next day.  Once we got settled the guides gave us the option to go up the nasty looking switchbacks, or take the longer route with fewer hills.  In true Diva fashion; i.e., lots of yelling, people all talking at once, and drawing a line in the sand (literally), we voted to take the longer route. 

October 3, Last Day.  It turned out that we had voted correctly and had a wonderful ride with gradual up hills and fun down hills through some spectacular scenery.  We rolled out Potash Road, past the solar evaporation ponds.  The bike trip ended at a state park with a boat ramp at the Colorado River.  We all jumped into the river in our bike clothes. 
account by Karen, Membership Diva