Thursday, September 20, 2007

Moab, UT and Arches NP

We finally made it to Moab, UT on Monday… a virtual mecca for the mountain biker outdoorsy-types. While the town itself might not be too much to look at, the surrounding scenery and trail system is absolutely amazing. We found a campsite near town, and decided to use that as our home base both for mountain biking, and visiting Arches NP, just north of town.

This being one of the places those who LIVE to mountain bike come to ride, we decided to warm up our skills with an intermediate level ride on Tuesday morning. A few miles north of town we found a 12-mile out and back called Klondike Bluffs. A lot of the trails in this area are shared by bikers, ATV-ers and offroad motorcyclists, so there were definitely some interesting obstacles. The first half of the ride was largely uphill, and a good workout, traversing some rocky terrain, and a few miles of Moab’s famous “slickrock.” Contrary to what its name might draw to mind, the slickrock is actually super-grippy, allowing your tires to stick to it really well, so you can climb up and down hills you would otherwise not be able to ride in dirt or other trail types. (Check out the pics)

At the halfway point of the ride, we parked our bikes, and entered through a walk-in gate to Arches NP. We hiked a half mile or so, and were afforded some awesome views of the park down below while we ate our lunch. As we set out for the ride back, we met a couple on the trail and started talking to them; it turned out the woman was a nurse at the same hospital as Chris’s sister Jen in Traverse City, MI. Small world.

After our ride, we stopped at Arches NP on our way back to the campground, and did a quick driving tour, spending a few hours checking out some of the fantastic viewpoints, and hiking to some of the better-known sites in the park. We then headed back to the campground and got cleaned up, with the plan being that we would go back to arches, and hike to the famous “Delicate Arch” for sunset, then come back to town to grab a bite to eat for dinner.

We got to the parking area for Delicate Arch around 6:45, and sunset was slated for 7:21. In our books, plenty of time to make the 1.5 mile hike up to the arch in time for the sunset. Little did we know, however, that due to the location of the arch, the sun actually goes down into the mountains around… 6:50. So as we were hiking up, tons of people were coming down looking at us like we were crazy. We sped up our hike, all the while thinking we were idiots for messing this one up. When we got up there, however, although the sun had set, it was still casting a beautiful glow on the arch. There were about 80 people up there, frantically snapping pictures, and we sat there amazed for a good half hour or so.

The next morning we packed up camp, and set out to ride the Slick Rock trail before leaving town. Unlike yesterday’s ride where the slickrock was only a portion of the ride, it makes up the entirety of this entire 12.5 mile trail. Reading the multitude of warnings about how this trail is for experts only, don’t even bother attempting it if you don’t consider yourself one, etc., we decided we would try out the 2.2 mile practice loop (you know a trail is seriously difficult if it has a practice loop). While our first loop was a bit shaky, we made it around the practice loop a few times, and got the hang of riding on the rock, but deemed ourselves not yet ready to ride the full trail. We’ll have to come back and tackle it in a year or so once we have some more riding under our belts.

On to Colorado.

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