Saturday, October 25, 2008
return to thunder mountain
According to notes in our guidebook, we first pedaled Thunder Mountain back in 2002. We’d been told it was a great ride on IMBA-designed singletrack. We couldn’t pass it up during our first biking trip to southern Utah. I remember the challenge of the ride and the cool temperatures as we biked it that morning. Now we were back, getting the bikes ready at the trailhead, hoping to win the race with darkness.
The day had started early in Page, AZ, with the drive into Utah to see some rock formations known as the Toadstools. Ten miles on a dirt road in a minivan takes awhile, but we were rewarded with up-close views of dozens of these sandstone pillars, many topped with conglomerate rock. After the drive out and lunch, we headed for Thunder Mountain.
Funny how little I remembered of that ride six years ago. I remembered that it was singletrack with lots of climbing; I remembered the hoodoo rock formations, similar to what one would see in Bryce Canyon. What I didn’t remember was how the trail sweeps into the drainages in banked turns, then sweeps out again in a series of descents and climbs. I forgot the tight switchbacks we had to negotiate to return to the canyon floor, and I forgot the buffed out last mile or so that eased us out of the canyon as daylight was fading. No wonder the guys we met at the trailhead were grinning so much when they came off the trail.
Just a few more days left in our Southwest biking vacation. We have a few more days of riding in the sun before heading north and getting ready for the Alaskan winter. I’m almost ready.