Sand’s the Enemy! Part II

Posted by on May 10, 2015 at 10:44 pm :: No Comments

The next day we headed down to the Needles District of Canyonlands National Park to hike to Druid Arch. Druid’s path followed a wash for almost half of its 11 miles. That wash bed was sandy and boring. Thus, our going required extra energy input and extra monotony seemed the only output. (Dun, dun, duuunnnnn.)

The Needles is partitioned by banded stone that has been whittled into eccentric shapes.

The Needles is partitioned by banded stone that has been whittled into eccentric shapes.

However, this outing wasn’t all sand-induced tedium. A ladder, metal rod, and some boulder scrambling were required to finally reach Druid Arch’s imposing position atop a ribboned plateau. Cool. Plus, the arch itself was magnificently massive and angular and the view from its perch was extraordinary. By the way, I wouldn’t take young children on this hike. The mileage alone would probably do them in but the ledges could literally finish them off.

Cryptobiotic soil is living dirt. It's vital to the life of the desert and a curious thing to behold.

Cryptobiotic soil is living dirt. It’s vital to the life of the desert and a curious thing to behold.

Our last day in Moab we chose to check out a couple sections of the Klondike Bluffs Area Trails we’d never been on. We planned on pedaling up Jurassic, an easy 3-mile path, and then coming back on Dino-Flow, a moderately-difficult route. Jurassic turned out to be joyfully fast and curvy. It coiled through mounds of mauve and emerald clay left by a tidal area 150 million years ago. Its track occasionally even became a river of crimson dirt swimming through a land of jade pebbles. How bizarre.

Most of the wash we trudged through heading to Druid was relatively dull so this wavy stone was a nice change.

Most of the wash we trudged through heading to Druid was relatively dull so this wavy stone was a nice change.

The path to Druid had some tricky sections, this steep face for one.

The path to Druid had some tricky sections, this steep face for one.

When we neared the end of Jurassic, where we would be catching the junction to Dino-Flow, sand, like the coarsest of ninjas, launched a sneak scratch assault. The Moab desert is crisscrossed by washes you intersect constantly when biking, dips in the terrain caused by the rapid flow of water. These depressions are almost always dry, unless it has just rained, and they are consistently sandy. As I was traversing one such wash, I hit a patch of sand that was unexpectedly deep. That sand caused my front tire to halt abruptly and skid, which ultimately resulted in my bike summersaulting through the air as I flew over its handlebars.

This was one wall we didn't have to hike around.

This was one wall we didn’t have to hike around.

It felt like this over-the-handlebars maneuver happened in slow motion but there was nothing I could do to stop it. I ended up thudding into the ground hard with my bike landing on top of me, still tangled amongst my limbs. My arm was scraped and bleeding and my hip was raw and sore but worse my confidence was unraveled.

Druid Arch is bulky and jagged and spectacular.

Druid Arch is bulky and jagged and spectacular.

It was windy on the plateau adjacent to Druid Arch but the view was wonderful.

It was windy on the plateau adjacent to Druid Arch but the view was wonderful.

Unfortunately, we were almost at the furthest point in our ride when this happened so I had to get back on my bike with shaky hands and unnatural caution and pedal the distance back to our car. At first we kept to our original plan of using Dino-Flow for our return journey but about a mile into that trail we both realized that I currently just didn’t have the brashness necessary to enjoy its bumpy terrain. So we rejoined Jurassic at the next intersection and resumed on it. We biked around 7 or 8 miles that day but our total will forever remain approximate because the crash shattered my odometer.

The Jurassic Trail snakes through Brushy Basin, one of the strangest landscapes we've encountered biking.

The Jurassic Trail snakes through Brushy Basin, one of the strangest landscapes we’ve encountered biking.

The desert is full of life if you take the time to notice.

The desert is full of life if you take the time to notice.

And that is the end of my tale of persistent grit. Incidentally, I developed blobs of bruises on my left side from my hip to my ankle due to my unrehearsed handlebar acrobatics. Plus, I ruined a shirt (Thanks a lot elbow for being so bloody leaky!) and some gear. However, no bike overturn could overturn my love for Moab. Sand, nice try but we’ll happily be back for some more of your grind again soon.

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