Moab Adventures: Bikes, Jeeps, and Dinosaurs
"Now that's a dinosaur footprint!" My own foot looked so small when compared alongside the footprint of an Allosaurus. I followed the tracks along a bedding plane of red sandstone until they disappeared under the overlying rock, my stride exaggerated as I try in vain to keep my feet next to the big tracks. While this is going on, J.R. is rolling his slider over some other theropod tracks, getting some footage for his documentary.
J.R. and I followed the M&M trail back a few miles, stopping to look at the dinosaur bones poking out of the rocks to our right. Our stomachs eventually turned us back towards town to hunt for food and coffee. You can never have enough coffee!
After a short stop in the local museum, I learned some interesting facts about the history of mountain biking in Moab. For instance, in 1982, the first mountain bike arrived in Moab, only to be used for herding cattle. Also, the famous Slickrock trail was originally meant for dirt bikes. "What changed?" you may not be asking yourself. I'll tell you anyways. It was the invention of the bicycle suspension fork. Now people are riding their bikes all over the freaking place! Enough history for now. Where were we staying?Nighttime in the Desert
Luckily for us, we had a pair of beautiful condos to stay in and rest for the weekend. It was nice to have comfy beds to crawl into after J.R. and I spent most of the first night standing out in Canyonlands freezing to death while our camera shutters clicked away (Time-lapse photography is a slow and sometimes painful process.) In addition, the rest of the gang were pretty thankful to have a place to rest after their long ordeal up and down the Magnificent Seven and Portal trails.
I knew that my rigid fatbike wouldn't stand a chance on either one of those trails (remember the suspension fork?), J.R. and I decided to ride the Moab Brands (Bar M) trails outside of town all morning. Originally, the trail names were based on cattle brands that spell out M-O-A-B, but now there are many more trails to choose from. Fatbiking the Trails We cruised around and did a few loops before going into town for a breakfast burrito at Eklecticafe.A Frigid and Starry Night in Canyonlands
Determined to enjoy more of what makes Moab a great place, J.R. and I hopped into his lifted Jeep Cherokee and clambered up Gemini Bridges Trail. We made our way slowly up the narrow and steep trail that into the canyon ahead. Surprisingly, we were passed by a small orange Suzuki car who zoomed by us without a care when we had enough room for him to pass. It's as if the sheer drop on the driver's side of the car didn't even exist to him. Interestingly, his license plate read ATHEIST.
The little orange car that could wasn't the only traveler on the trail. Inside the canyon the trail was littered with mountain bike gangs, Jeep trains, and the occasional pieced-together rock crawler. J.R. and I waited patiently for all of the dust to clear before we parked the Jeep and began exploring on foot.
I took out my trusty Nikon D800 and began crawling all over the place looking for the primo angles, while J.R. was busying himself with his GoPro and drone. The familiar angry bee sound of his drone could be heard echoing back and forth off of the sheer red canyon walls. My camera's shutter added some staccato rhythm to the technology symphony that was going on.
The climax of the trail certainly was at the top of the canyon where we could almost see the full horizon line around us. We both set up our tripods on a rocky ledge and photographed the brilliant sunset over Moab and the surrounding La Sal Mountains. It's moments like this that keep me coming back to this place. The brightness of the colors screaming at the backs of your eyes is diametrically opposed to the utter silence which massages your eardrums. It's jarring and calming all at the same time.
J.R. Flying the Drone in the Canyon Sunset from the Trail
The threat of the next winter storm looming on the distant horizon was enough to get our attention. We scurried down quickly to the highway and arrived at the condos just as the light faded over the mountains. Finding the place empty, the big question on our minds was where is everybody? It was clear that the rest of the group hadn't returned from the ride, and we were both worried. Cell service is very spotty so there wasn't much hope of reaching anyone on the trail.
We didn't have to wait too long. Finally, some people began trickling into the condos well after dark. Once we had figured out where everyone was at, half of us were sent to pick up riders while the other half picked up the parked cars. After the last group arrived at the condo, food and rest seemed to be at the top of everyone's list. It's amazing what food, water, and good company do to one's spirit! The night was jovial, albeit brief for those most exhausted. In the morning, we casually made our way to breakfast, and began gathering our things together to go home.
It's interesting to look back and think about all of the great things that happened that weekend. Everyone got to have fun and go on adventures, and no one got hurt in the process (win!). Trips like this one always go by way too fast. When you have twenty people in two condos you never get to sit down and talk with everyone, either. I think the most important thing that I learned on the trip came from those dinosaur tracks. Don't try to walk in the footprints of others, but rather walk at your own pace and be happy about it.
Keywords: Adventure, Bar M, Bikes, Biking, Bones, Camera, Coffee, Colby, D800, Dinosaur, Drone, Fatbike, Footprints, Geology, GoPro, Jeep, M&M, Moab, Mountain, Night, Nikon, Paleontology, Photography, Rocks, Timelapse, Tracks, Trail, Trip, Utah, Video, Winter, Wright, mtb
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