Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Travel Tuesday: Road Trip days 9 - 12

On Friday April 8, Dave and I awoke on top of Gooseberry Mesa among the sagebrush. It was beautiful.

The weather was ominous, promising rain, but we decided to squeak in a bike ride anyway and see more of the trails than we had the previous evening.

That "squeaked in" ride turned into a 10 mile venture of amazing views. The trails literally travel along cliff rims. I had to dab a foot in a few places not because the terrain was tricky, but because I was too caught up in looking at the view that I worried I might accidentally bike off the edge I was SO close.

Gooseberry is right near Zion Nat'l Park and the Zion 100 ultramarathon was going on that day. Our trails were shared with some of the course and we even chatted it up with the aid station up there (mile 40). I was shocked to find out that even on that wild terrain, the runners would only gain 10,000' elevation throughout the course. For comparison, the OD 100 I plan to attempt in June climbs over 17,500' from what I've looked at so far!

After we finished what has easily become one of my favorite rides ever, we packed ourselves up and headed the 30-40 minutes over to Zion Nat'l Park to hike. Dave had never been there and I hadn't been since 2002 or so. It was raining for the drive over and our arrival, but by the time we hopped in the shuttle bus into the park, the rain slackened up.

We hiked the Angel's Landing trail (which is less of a trail and more of a via ferrata sans via ferrata; Dave and I were both very surprised that the NPS doesn't limit people on that trail more or make you sign a waiver!) which climbs over 1500' in about 2.5 miles. I *thought* I'd done this trail when my family came years before, but within about 20 minutes I realized there was no way in hell my mom would have wanted to do that hike! Dave and I loved it though.

There were OODLES of people up there and we made a passive game between ourselves of passing as many as we could on both the up and the down legs of the hike. We were dressed for the hike a little better than others, and we were much more accustomed to traversing terrain like that. The height and exposure didn't bother us at all. We were mostly just impressed to the point of shock that there were SO MANY people up there with such little experience. Regardless, it was a GREAT hike with incredible views. The sun even came out for us once we reached the top! Gorgeous.

By the time we were finishing the hike (RIGHT as we finished, actually), the rain picked up anew. We donned our GoreTex, happy we'd planned ahead, and weren't too bothered.

Dave had been texting the folks we'd planned to stay with at primary destination number 2 all day, and we made the decision after our hike to drive to Moab after dinner. We'd get there around 1am, but the thought of a BED and a ROOF and a SHOWER after a week+ without those sounded BLISSFUL. Nothing like rain and cold after a week in the warm desert to push you in the direction of creature comforts!

The drive was uneventful and quick thanks to 80 mph speed limits and we reached our destination right when we expected. We both showered and crashed HARD, waking the next morning much refreshed.

The folks we stayed with are friends of a friend at home. We got to know them better over breakfast and then throughout the day as we biked. We went to some easier trails to get accustomed to what Moab had to offer over at the Bar M trail system. We did a casual 8 miles that day.

The following day was the big ride. We caught a Coyote Shuttle at the Chili Pepper bike shop to the top of the Mag 7 trail system. From there we spent the large part of the day riding 25 miles (3100' descent and only 1000' ascent) on absolutely INCREDIBLE trails. I LOVED it. It was certainly intimidating in places for me (a newb), but I really did enjoy myself and I enjoyed the experience even more when it was over and I realized I had indeed lived. (I'm so accustomed to not saying much in the moment in fear of jinxing it! I've done that all too often with horses and endurance, so I'm cautious to really let loose until things are over, haha.)

The day after the Mag 7 marathon bike, Dave and I kind of relaxed, saw sights in town, bought souvenirs for those at home, and were generally lazy. Dave did bike that night with one of our hosts while I got a head start on homemade taco night and drank many margaritas (with agave and hand squeezed limes because there is no other way).

The trail rode along the rim
We couldn't get over the view
It was so stunning
What an amazing place to ride!
The sun playing on the rock was creating some beautiful colors
Still not over the view
Riding along
Seriously cool trails
Slick rock!
So fun
Really pleased with my new bike for this trip <3
We would ride out to the point above where the slope drops into a saddle
On the point in the previous photo
Looking back along the area we'd ridden

The Virgin River flowing in Zion Canyon
Hiking up the 21 switch back section of the Angel's Landing Hike
The "trail" will ultimately climb UP this thin ridge bordered by 900'+ cliffs on either side; no ropes or protection beyond random chain "rails"
Looking south
Looking north
Pano going south to north from L to R
Back down we went. These "railings" were your only "protection"
Photos really don't do it justice. We would ultimately end up far right corner on the ridge
We were at the top of that!
All Smiles
And again

Vista along the Bar M trail system
Loved the red rock!
Tony telling Dave about the landscape
Riding along the Lazy EZ trail
Kickass little area for kids to get comfortable on mountain bikes
Our shuttle to the Mag 7 trails
Vista along Mag 7
Trail is on the right
Rode along this ridge/cliff
Desert blom
Reminded me of some kind of reptile
Slick rock; trails were marked with paint blazes
Mag 7 photo
I love the dust churning up behind me
Dave climbing up a little wash
We'd ultimately end up on the far side of this road on a bike path and some more singletrack
Pretty happy after 25 miles of riding =)


  1. I still can't wrap my head around the idea that places like this exist. Gorgeous photos! Thank you for taking the time to share <3

  2. I would never be brave enough to bike that. Hiking it would be awesome though. These pictures are amazing.

  3. Those pictures! That view! I probably would have been terrified up on that ridge, but I enjoy living vicariously through you.

  4. those views tho!!! just incredible - sounds like the trip of a lifetime!

  5. I wouldn't trust myself on a bike on those cliffs either because I totally would have ridden right off the cliff while gawking at the view haha!! That place is gorgeous!!

    I can guess how steep that photo is! I've taken pictures of hikes I've been on and pictures totally don't show how steep it is! It's kind of annoying lol. It looks like you guys had so much fun!