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#705220 - 06/18/11 03:05 AM Day 8 of My Torrey Oddity [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]  
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Day 8: Saturday, May 21, 2011
Route: Torrey, UT to Fairview, UT and back
Distance: 342 miles





Our second day ride from Torrey took us up Sweeper Madness (UT72) and then through Huntington and Fairview Canyons on UT31 over to Fairview. The weather was sunny, and it even warmed up enough to remove a layer of gear after a couple of hours – a welcome change from the weather we had had so far on the trip.

Huntington Canyon was a gorgeous piece of territory. The ascent took us from desert scrub at 5700 feet up through pine forests, alpine meadows, arctic tundra, and finally snow barrens as we crossed the summit at nearly 10,000 feet. The road was one big slalom most of the way up, a series of constant-radius turns with great sight lines and zero traffic.

The descent down into Fairview required more discretion. The pavement was a bit of a mess, with slow subsidence of the road bed causing a turbulent ride in some places. In numerous spots we encountered very fresh landslides, with mud and glistening wet rocks the size of motorcycle wheels right in our lane.

In Fairview, a quick photo at the gas station before the return trip:




After climbing back up out of Fairview Canyon, we stopped a few times to check out the snow, which was extraordinarily deep. I did this ride in 2004, and I didn’t remember there being any snow on the entire route, but here it was a good 15 feet deep in places:






It was hard to get around in it; if you ventured any distance from the road, you tended to sink quite deeply. This is me, setting up the camera for the previous shot:




At one point Shawn had a camera in one hand, and was unable to break his fall. I guess the soft snow was a mixed blessing in this instance: grin




Closer to the summit, we found folks making good use of the snow. Several snowmobilers were enjoying the countryside, and other folks on skis were parasailing up and down an open slope. Dopy me, I didn’t stop to take pictures of that. Bad monkey, no banana! dopeslap

As the whole trip had progressed, Shawn had become increasingly concerned that his rear tire wasn’t going to make it all the way home to the east coast. Once we finished our run back down into Huntington, he decided he wanted to replace it that day, rather than interrupting his tightly scheduled commute from Torrey back to his home in South Carolina. There was nothing in Huntington, but a local feller pointed us toward an ATV shop 20 miles north in Price. We cruised up there, but they had nothing in his size. They referred us to a Honda shop 5 miles further north in Helper; we got there, and unfortunately the only tire they had in his size was a sport bike tire, which – even though brand new - might not have even made it all the way to South Carolina. After a few phone calls to more distant places confirming no joy, we headed back to the larger town of Price to look for lunch.

Believe it or not, lunch was hard to find in Price. The GPS pointed us to a few places that were either out of business or not open for lunch. We finally poked our heads into a bar, where even the locals had a hard time suggesting a place. Finally someone told us to go to the Elks Club a few blocks away, where they had a restaurant. Huh; I would never have thought of that, but without any other viable options, we went for it. When we walked in I felt like we were on the set of the Lawrence Welk show, but it was pretty tasty.

The ride from Price back down to Sweeper Madness was pretty much a straight, untwisty run for 70 miles – but it was a nice, serene ride through pretty territory. Sunny, mild temps, and wide-open views of distant bluffs, mesas, and mountains in pretty much every direction. The detour up to Price had added 20 miles to this return leg, but I didn’t mind at all.

On the way back down through Sweeper Madness, we stopped at “Mt. Gleno”. There was a brand-new sign here four years ago:

(pic from 2007 trip)



But now it’s gone:



Likewise, we couldn’t find the smaller “Mt. Gleno” sign that was hidden out among the rocks four years ago:

(pic from 2007 trip)



Anyone know what happened to them? confused

After finishing off Sweeper Madness and a short-but-scenic cruise back to Torrey, we resumed the search for a replacement tire for Shawn. The goal at this point was no longer to change it out, but just to have one ready for when his current tire finally did wear out on the long ride back to South Carolina. With Janet’s blessing and Calvin’s guidance, we went to Killer’s house and dug through his collection of “pre-owned” tires and eventually found a suitable spare for Shawn. I gave him some tools so he could remove his own wheel and get the tire changed at any tire shop (not just a BMW motorcycle dealer), and also some bungees to secure the tire on his bike. As you can see from this pic taken a few days later, he actually did make it home without having to use that tire:



Oh well, better safe than sorry. dopeslap

Dinner? Shawn and I walked down to The Restaurant Formerly Known As Brink’s Burgers. It’s called “Slacker’s Burger Joint” now. Slacker’s was OK, and although I only ate at Brink’s once, way back in ’03, somehow I miss it. Chalk it up to nostalgia, I guess. grin

I’m no astronomer, but I appreciate a sky full of stars as much as the next fellow. Sunset was at about 8:30 that night, and the moon wasn’t supposed to rise until about midnight. That provided a pretty good opportunity for stargazing. The most amazing night sky I’ve ever seen was from the high camp on Mount Shasta at 12,000 feet about 20 years ago. The nearest town was 5 miles away and 9,000 feet lower; virtually no light pollution, together with an elevation that put us above an awful lot of atmosphere, resulted in a sky that was densely packed with points of light, and the Milky Way galaxy was bloody obvious. I’ve never seen a sky like that before or since. This night in Torrey (elevation 7,000 feet) was the next best thing; all I had to do was ride a few minutes out to escape the handful of dim lights in town.

I saddled up and rode maybe five or six miles down UT12, found a wayside, and parked the bike. When I shut the engine off, the running lights stayed on for a minute until the accessory relay finally timed out – and then it was really dark. The sky was indeed pretty impressive, although my camera didn’t think so:




grin

Unfortunately I had a difficult time enjoying the view because I was extremely paranoid. Being in pitch blackness and knowing I was probably the only person in a 5-mile radius made me feel a bit…vulnerable. It was pretty damn quiet out there, and every faint rustle I heard off in the brush made my imagination run wild, thinking of coyotes, bears, lions, sharks, and facehuggers. After a few minutes of nervous skywatching, I fired up the bike, turned on all the lights, and then put my helmet on and scooted back to the Chuckwagon to call it a night.

#705279 - 06/18/11 01:19 PM Re: Day 8 of My Torrey Oddity [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]  
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Mitch, the Gleno sign on the notice board was fairly quickly removed, probably by UDOT. The sign behind the rock was probably found by the drunk yahoos who like to hang out in that area because they aren't allowed to drink at home. FB had a new one made and we cemented it into a block of concrete in a slightly more obscured location nearby - thinking about carrying that bag of cement down the hill still makes my back ache. The sign was still there before the snow fell last winter, haven't looked this year yet. FB was here a couple of weeks ago, perhaps he looked.

Re Huntington snow: many places in northern Utah are reporting a snow pack with 10x the normal amount of water content for this time of year, for instance up Logan Canyon they have 43" of snow - in mid June! (981% of normal) There is already flooding in Cache Valley and certainly more to come.

Quote:
Being in pitch blackness and knowing I was probably the only person in a 5-mile radius made me feel a bit…vulnerable. It was pretty damn quiet out there, and every faint rustle I heard off in the brush made my imagination run wild, thinking of coyotes, bears, lions, sharks, and facehuggers.
Not sure about the facehuggers but I can show you where to find shark teeth in the area, they're a 'few' years old of course. I love that feeling out there, being watched, the occasional small rock fall, a rabbit bursting out of a bush, all invisible. There are about 10 mountain lions in the region, they cover a huge area but I followed fresh tracks up Cohab Canyon one snowy morning, it was following a rabbit. The trail crossed a bare rock area and I couldn't find the exit trail, for the rest of the hike I was looking all around me at the overhanging rocks wondering where it was going to come from.

I love this place!

#705317 - 06/18/11 05:08 PM Re: Day 8 of My Torrey Oddity [Re: Killer]  
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Sign was still there in it's new location.


I am their leader, which way did they go?
#705390 - 06/19/11 02:46 AM Re: Day 7 of My Torrey Oddity [Re: questrider]  
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Originally Posted By: Magnuson
Goodness gracious! An absolutely wonderful ride report (again), Mitch. cool The trek you traversed reminds me of how often I forget (!) what an amazing place southern Utah is. This particular chapter of your tale on Burr Ridge Trail brings back LOTS of memories. Thanks!


Thanks, glad you're enjoying the ride-along. This ain't my most intense effort, but I'm happy to be able to give context for some of the pics I took.

Quote:
I've been to Torrey twice, but never when the rest of you yahoos are in attendance. One of these days I need to make it to one of these gatherings. SOON! grin


Get out there for the group thang, definitely. thumbsup

#705393 - 06/19/11 02:56 AM Day 9 of My Torrey Oddity [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]  
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Day 9: Sunday, May 22, 2011
Route: Torrey, UT to Gunnison, CO
Distance: 441 miles





Shawn got up at dark o’clock, and by 6:30 he had started his long solo ride back to South Carolina. I crawled out of bed shortly after he left, and managed to depart at around 8:00. (and for anyone who remembers the last trip, yes, my departure was much less melodramatic this time, thank you very much. grin ) I decided to make several stops on this day to catch pictures of the area. At some point it gets a bit weird, because the only subjects to include in the foreground were the bike and/or myself. grin

Anyway, here’s what I got as I rolled through Capitol Reef and down UT95. Just inside the park:




A few miles west of Hanksville:



I had wanted to visit Goblin Valley State Park just north of Hanksville, so I followed my GPS up UT24. When I got to the spot where the GPS wanted me to turn – about 13 miles north of Hanksville - I was disappointed to see a long, sandy road – and a gate closed across it. frown The GPS showed another potential turnoff 6 miles further up UT24; according to the park’s website, that’s the main entrance road, and it’s paved. I didn’t know that at the time, and I was hoping to not burn a whole lot of time here (since I expected to take lots of other pictures later in the day), so I opted not to check it out. That’s what I get for not doing more research beforehand.
dopeslap

My weak consolation prize on the backtrack toward Hanksville was this nifty roadside rock formation:

(click on image to open a larger panoramic view – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)



South of Hanksville, looking south:




South of Hanksville, looking north:




In the canyon, near Hite overlook:




The descent from the Hite overlook (I think I’m about the ninth person in the past month to post a photo of this location grin ):




The Colorado River Bridge, with UT95 wriggling away on the far side:




Near Blanding, looking east across Comb Ridge:





At Comb Ridge, staring into the cut:




I stopped for lunch at the MD Ranch Cookhouse in Monticello. It was pretty empty at first, but just a few minutes after I sat down, the church across the street let out and crowds of hungry, well-dressed people began streaming in, many of them pausing to stare at the sweaty, fluorescent monkey sitting in a booth by himself. grin

From Monticello, I headed east on US491 (formerly US666 grin ) and US 160 to Durango, Colorado. It’s mostly a straight shot through slightly hilly farm/ranch land, but whichever direction you look, there are massive mountains on the horizon:

The San Juans were where my next waypoint.

Along the way, I took a nice detour on CO184 that bypassed Cortez and put me on US160 in Mancos. This is a less-travelled road with a few more twists and turns than the main highway. A pic next to the Narraguinnep Reservoir, with the San Juans visible in the distance:




A note, to no one in particular, regarding a missed photo opportunity:
the next time you see a bloated, dead cow in the middle of a field – with no less than ten turkey vultures perched on it – try to remember that you have a very capable zoom lens on your camera, and you really don’t need to get so close. I passed by this exact scene shortly after leaving the reservoir, and then I turned back to take a picture. I stopped by the side of the road, maybe thirty feet from the cow. The vultures, alarmed by my proximity, took to the air and refused to settle back down on the cow until I left. Bummer; it was a pretty cool scene. They hadn’t begun eating yet, they were just…sitting there on the cow. Weird.

In Durango, a local hotel was somehow maintaining a sense of humor in the face of stiff competition:




150 feet away – just beyond the tree – is a Marriott Residence Inn. rofl

A little past those hotels, I turned left on US550, bound for points north. Shawn and I had skipped this road several days ago due to heavy/fresh snowfall, but by this time the weather was more mild, and the road was reported to be dry.

My camera failed to do justice to the scenery I encountered, but here are a few shots anyway:






Coal Bank Pass, the first of three between Durango and Ouray:




There’s a rest area here, but at the time the bathroom was, um, inaccessible:




Coming down from Coal Bank:

(click on image to open a larger panoramic view – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)



At the top of Molas Pass (the second of three), the snowpack was at similar levels, and snowmobilers were having the run of the place:




You can see their tracks in the meadow, and the sleds themselves are visible near the top left corner.

The descent from Molas Pass into Silverton:

(click on image to open a larger panoramic view – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)



Red Mountain Pass (the third of three) lies just north of Silverton. After crossing the pass, I stopped on the descent to catch these signs:






Mining companies are often villainized for the destruction they wreak upon the countryside in pursuit of the almighty dollar. It remains to be seen whether the remediation work they are doing here will provide meaningful improvements in water quality, but I thought it was interesting to see them point out that the mining industry – however problematic it may be for the environment – has played a major role in the prosperity and economy of the country.

The particular stretch of road that is famously referred to as the “Million Dollar Highway” – no guardrails, steep hillsides (or overhangs) above, and steep cliffs below – lies further to the north, in fact just south of Ouray. As much as I wanted to stop and take pictures in that stretch, there were several large signs declaring in no uncertain terms, “AVALANCHE ZONE – DO NOT STOP FOR NEXT X MILES.” Given that there were waysides here and there, I briefly considered stopping for pics anyway – except the snowpack high up on the hillsides really was pretty thick. And there really were fresh rocks here and there on the roadway. And it really was a long way down if you got knocked off the edge of the road. So, sorry for the lack of pics from this stretch. If you ever get an opportunity to ride it, make sure you do so.


After finishing the descent into Ouray, I carried on north to Montrose and then headed east on US50 to Gunnison. Somehow I managed to dodge this big thunderstorm near Blue Mesa Reservoir, just west of Gunnison:

(click on image to open a larger panoramic view – in a new window – that can be scrolled left and right)



At a couple of points during my eastward run I came across freshly dampened roads – but I never got rained on and managed to arrive in Gunnison unscathed.

I stayed at the same Holiday Inn Express that hosted the ’06 Unrally. grin

Dinner: if you’re looking for Mexican food in Gunnison, check out Las Palmas, right in the center of town on US50. I had a great meal there, and the staff was friendly. The waiter who served my table owned a Honda Shadow and was very curious about my BMW and all the gear I was wearing, so we chatted for a while about bikes and rides. He much preferred riding in the US to riding in Mexico. grin

#705426 - 06/19/11 01:05 PM Re: Day 9 of My Torrey Oddity [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]  
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great Mitch;

my favorite roads. huntington canyon is still on the bucket list for fall.


06 R12RT (for sale) 11 R12GS (for sale) 11 KTM990 ADV

The focus is sharp in the city.
#705438 - 06/19/11 01:39 PM Re: Day 9 of My Torrey Oddity [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]  
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Very cool Mitch but I really need to see the dead cow shot! smile


Billy Hearnsberger
2005 R1200RT
Life is good. Then you die.
#705443 - 06/19/11 02:51 PM Re: Day 9 of My Torrey Oddity [Re: Lawman]  
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Originally Posted By: Lawman
Very cool Mitch but I really need to see the dead cow shot! smile


Well, that makes two of us; I'm still kicking myself for screwing up that shot!

dopeslap

#705464 - 06/19/11 04:43 PM Re: My Torrey Oddity [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]  
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Quote:
The weather was incredible. I mean that in the constructivist sense of the word, i.e. the weather was not credible, not to be believed.


It hasn't changed much, expecting 3Putt today



#705542 - 06/19/11 10:24 PM Re: Day 7 of My Torrey Oddity [Re: Joe Frickin' Friday]  
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Originally Posted By: Magnuson
I've been to Torrey twice, but never when the rest of you yahoos are in attendance. One of these days I need to make it to one of these gatherings. SOON! grin

Originally Posted By: Joe Frickin' Friday
Get out there for the group thang, definitely. thumbsup

Maybe next time you and Shawn head west I'll tag along and watch your backs (and your dust). I could easily meet either of you on 80 somewhere seeing as though I live under 30 miles north of it!

Your panoramas are magnificent especially seeing as though you don't use a tripod or a panoramic tripod head. I use one at work and really should carry it when I travel. Tomorrow I think I'm going to try and import a few of yours into the software that turns them into a QuickTime movie that you can then pan and tilt with while viewing.

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