Moab, UT to Green River, UT – 115.1 miles
For the first time of the trip we beat the sun to rise. The idea was actually to ride into Arches National Park to watch the 6:30 sunrise at the best spot and eat a delicious breakfast. We got up at 5 am and Naomi somehow managed to get me on the road with enough time to make the event.
As we rode into the park, the sky was already turning shades of orange and pink at the horizon so we picked up the pace to reach our destination. The turn to Delicate Arch came and we hopped off the bikes with our meal to race on foot to the arch with all our riding gear still on. We approached the guide post and quickly glanced at it to see which way to go. That’s when we saw the arch was a 1.5 mile “strenuous” hike away. With our sunrise breakfast hopes completely smashed, we were too pissed off to even turn around and shed our pads before begrudgingly making the hike in silence. We had already gone too far to not see the sun in some location of the sky in a general area of the arch.
We clumped along the narrow trail and climbed the rocks with motocross boots, full body pads, and Camelbacks. Arriving at the arch 30 minutes too late with the sun already well above the rocks, we found a spot to sit and shiver from the sweat we worked up then eat our cold food. Once we recovered from the disappointment, we realized just how magnificent our surroundings were. The arch was a marvel as was everything else. And even though we didn’t see the great sunrise, we never would have made the hike or have had the experience to laugh about without that plan.
The return 1.5 mile walk was an experience of its own. Our feet developed some serious hot spots that felt as though a small fire had been started from the friction in our makeshift hiking boots. Our armored bodies were prepared for any slip or fall while the temperatures rose like the cliffs around us. We had several strange looks thrown our way and one lady couldn’t help but stare at us with her mouth hanging open so wide Stevie Wonder could have sunk a shot…nothin but uvula.
We took the rest of the morning to check out the other sights in the park. A couple other short mile hikes in boots proved our dedication…or maybe stupidity. With our cameras full of pictures of rocks balancing, arching, and standing like sentinels over everything, we left the Arches to continue on the trail.
The TAT carried us out of the park and led us immediately to sandy paths. We climbed a steep trail rising above the earth and landed on the surface of the sun. Turns out, its surface looks and feels exactly like the desert of Utah at 3 pm. We rode through an area called Gemini Bridges that had roads made of bottomless sand trying to drag us into hell. I’m sure the bridges were nice, but the 102 degree wind created as we kept moving felt too good to stop.
We rode through grey colored sand dunes, sparse vegetation, and a complete lack of animal life other than ourselves. It was obvious who the tourists were. Rock formations escorted us along the road providing brief distractions to the ache moving into my head. Even my bike started to complain and faltered on the mild hill climbs. Rolling the throttle was no help as it provided no power past an inch of a twist and seemed like the engine wasn’t getting fuel.
We limped the last stretch through the desert at 25 mph and made it into Green River before turning to leather. A little research seems to indicate the fuel pump is failing, so an early morning ride for parts is in my very near future. Beforehand, dinner at Rays and a slice of homemade apple pie with a big scoop of ice cream set things right.
Today’s lesson: Dessert is cooler than the desert.