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Oct 29

Road Trippin Part Two

Utah Part two:

Zion, Giant Eagles, Coincidence, Virgin trails and Plain Pasta.

Excitement was in the air (mixing with other less interesting smells confined in our rather tightly packed camper vans…) as we awoke to first light in Utah.  Parked on the side of the road leading to Zion National Park, surrounded by huge craggy walls of multi-colored sandstone we rubbed the sleep from our eyes and prepared for the day.  First up, a little hiking tour of Zion before jumping on the bikes. Sounded tranquil enough…

The day however, besides being stunningly beautiful, was also pretty damn exciting for a little hiking jaunt.  Up Angel’s landing was our first scramble, basically a huge spine of rock rising vertically over 500 meters above the valley floor.  Ladder rungs, a fixed rope and sure footing were all part of this wee little jaunt and it was not a tranquil disappointing journey!  As we ascended towards the terminal peak of the rocky mass a giant California condor buzzed the ridgeline, its massive eight-foot wingspan seeming nearly within reach over the abyss.  Oooohs and Ahhhs all around…and a few screams…

Next we were off onto a river walk between two impossibly steep canyon walls.  The experience punctuated by a rock fall clattering down onto the busy pedestrian walkway.  As we ran back through the dust and debris to see if anyone was hurt our heart rates rose sharply on seeing a pram covered with rubble, luckily the mother of the baby had sheltered the little one from the rocks sustaining only a minor cut on the head.  By the end of this “tranquil day” we were all feeling shattered!  Thankfully the camper was well stocked with cold PBRs, pasta, olive oil and tapatio hot sauce… hmmmm…

And as day four of our journey dawned over our campsite, it was finally time to ride bikes!  Just west of Zion in a town called Virgin, we had been put onto a trail called the JEM, which nestles itself underneath some seriously impressive cliffs and rock bands, rumored to have hosted the Red Bull Rampage only a few short days before.  We rode the JEM as a 24- mile loop, first slogging off heedlessly into the desert before making a wide ascending arc to the foot of the “Rampage cliffs”.  Hot wind, hot sun, sand, long grinding ascents and a little bit of single track teasing characterized the first 18 miles of the trail.  All I could think was  “thank god it’s not summer!” Slightly dehydrated, slightly grumpy and feeling a bit beat down by the desert we arrived at the top of the 6 -mile long descent back to the JEM parking lot.  And in a matter of seconds all was forgiven…

Buffed single track heaven, weaving in big high speed arcs through the rocks and scrub brush of the high desert dropped and dropped as the sun waned and shone golden and red on the stunning colored rocks formations of the high desert.  As we got back to the campers the only thing we could do to wipe the smiles off our faces was to shove cold bottles of Pacifico into them…

As darkness fell we made our way out of western Utah (with an obligatory Wallmart and burrito stop) across the rugged interior and on towards… Moab