Born to Moab
Moab, a little town in the middle of a huge arid wonderland and one of our favorite places to visit, is the subject of today’s wordy offering. The last day of February, a bit earlier than normal, Jason and I made our spring pilgrimage to that splendid treat of a landscape. The deserts surrounding Moab were even more deserted than we’ve seen them in November and the weather was, for the most part, very pleasant. The cusp of spring seems a pretty ideal time for a southeast retreat.
Usually, we sandwich a day of hiking in between two days of mountain biking when we’re in Moab but we had to do a little juggling this time. Due to the possibility of rain our first day, we hiked instead of biked that afternoon. The Amphitheater Loop, just off Highway 128, was our chosen trail. We had never done this 3-mile path, which winds through a pleasant little valley known as Richardson Amphitheater. The route was a bit difficult to follow at times and we lost it on occasion. However, Jason saw that disorientation as an adventure advantage; it was his favorite thing about this loop. Although this trail wasn’t as stunning as others we’ve done in the area, like nearby Fisher Towers, it was relatively undemanding yet still on the exploratory side. On a side note, it would be an easy option for those with kids.
Our second day, the skies were clear and our bikes were ready to roll. We decided to ride to an overlook above Day Canyon. This was supposed to be a 15-mile journey but, after reaching our planned endpoint on the extreme precipices atop Day Canyon, we decided to take an extra 7-mile excursion down Dry Fork Canyon just because we were in the neighborhood. We knew this add-on would make getting back before it got dark a little tricky but we were confident that we could pedal faster as needed. Dry Fork Canyon, a Wingate-sandstone-lined gully into an old mining area, was beautiful but the trail was too untraveled and sandy to make quick riding possible. Those 7 miles sucked up much more time than we’d estimated and we found the sun sinking far too quickly as our laboring legs tried to keep up. After nearly 23 miles of biking through rough desert terrain, we made it back to our car just as darkness was transforming our path into nothingness. We were beat from our panicky return and our rumps were incredibly sore.
Our last day, we decided to go easy on our butts and only do a short ride from the Copper Ridge Dinosaur Trackway to an abandoned copper mine. The trail was merely 3.5 miles long but our sorry cabooses objected anyway and we eagerly used any excuse to get off our bikes. Those excuses were easy to find on this unmaintained path, which water and rockslides had altered significantly. The mineshaft and discarded mining equipment scattered at our destination were pretty interesting. An ore crusher, drills, tanks and other bits of machinery were strewn around the hillsides of that vacated operation. So, although we had to do some significant hike-a-bike and tolerate severe rear-discomfort, we both enjoyed this ride.
Moab never fails us. We go there for the warmth when winter’s frigid tantrums can still be felt at home. We go there for the peace that only nature’s unaltered magnificence can provide. We go there for the exhaustion that a fun ride makes appealing. We go there for all of the above and always come home gratified.