Black Dragon Canyon, UT to Ferron, UT (by way of Helper, UT) – 242.0 miles
Last night in the canyon was amazing. The nearly-full moon rose above the cliffs and lit up the sky as it threw eerie shadows across their walls. One particular rock face appeared to be an ogre’s head looking down on our camp through the night, smirking at our apparent misfortune. We cooked a couple of dehydrated meals and sat by the fire unwinding from the day.
We both had a very poor night’s sleep and woke up groggy. I dressed for the ride for parts and pulled out of camp early. The 4.5 hour round trip was long, but the clutch plates were a necessity so I was happy to make the extra miles. When I got back, Naomi had camp broken down and her bike on its side ready for repairs. As she unscrewed the cover and then pulled out the old clutch plates, my blood pressure rose. I was so nervous about whether the new clutch would work I was shaking. As she carefully placed the new plates in the correct order, Naomi suddenly paused with a confused look on her face. She then counted how many plates came out and how many she had to put back in. 13 out and 12 in. Now I don’t claim to be smarter than a 5th grader, but those numbers do not match.
The only thing to do was pick an old plate to put back inside the bike and cross fingers that it worked. With all the pieces put back together we stood the bike up and nervously cranked the engine. Then she pulled the clutch lever, stomped on the shifter, and held her breath. As she released the lever, the moto inched forward and then took off down the trail with its rider. Naomi took a few laps around the area and then pulled to a stop with a huge grin on her face.
We packed up our things and said goodbye to the canyon. The road continued to fork abruptly without us knowing which would take us down a desirable or passable route. It was like a choose your own adventure story with real life consequences. We had to backtrack and make wiser choices on several occasions as we climbed over boulders on the way out of Black Dragon Canyon.
The sandy road took us through open fields with golden grasses on our left and fortresses made of red and white rock to our right. We noticed that many of the dirt roads through this part of Utah are maintained by the state for recreational use by horse riders, motorcycles, and hikers alike. The paths are well marked and are even labeled for their difficulty level. Looking at a map posted by the road we realized we had crossed through a section of high difficulty and were now smooth sailing through the easy stuff. We were both more than ready for an easy day.
After about 25 miles we saw the sign change from easy to moderate and both wondered what we were in for. The path then turned and started a steep climb with tight turns made of large rocks and patches of deep sand. Naomi’s new clutch worked like a charm and powered her bike over 2′ step ups and even larger drop offs. We were rewarded for our efforts with an incredible ride through a canyon with no other access. The walls of the canyon were completely flat where sections of rock had fractured from the surface in giant sheets.
We emerged from passages between the rocks and found ourselves on paved road for the last 20 miles into town. We took our time and continued to unwind from events of the previous days. All I could think about was how good a cold cup of water and a warm shower would feel.
Today’s lesson: Huge challenges lead to huge rewards.