Sunday, July 22, 2012

Tour of the Wasatch Plateau

In late June, I rode 225 miles along dirt roads and trails of the Wasatch Plateau.

The Wasatch Plateau is essentially the central spine of Utah. Linked below is the GPS file of the route I took:

Early Start in South Fork of Hobble Creek.

Riding single track of Fourth-Water Creek.

On my way toward the Tie Fork drainage on ATV track. Fully loaded riding but exciting news.

About a quarter through the big climb out of highway 6 canyon up into Northern Skyline---about 4000 feet at 10%+ grades. It took hours on the heavy bike.

Finally up the climb to the rolling high country on smooth gravel.

Late afternoon on highway 31, at the turn-off for Southern Skyline.

Due to forest fires on either side of the range, highway 31 was closed. I encountered this ranger on patrol. We chatted for quite a while and gave me a bunch of water. Always nice to have a trail angel....

The Wood Hollow Fire to my west gave a solitary show for me. Its the most awe-inspiring sunset I've ever seen.

Woke up early. Rode hard.

Only the first few miles of Southern Skyline are graded. Lots of rough climbing ahead.

All day long, little 300-500 footers with stiff grades, riding the spine of Utah.

Snow Lake had a snow bank.

After two days of riding my route demanded that I drop off the high country and into the town of Salina to get groceries. The low country was a hair dryer. Hot and brown.

I wasted no time getting a table and Mom's Cafe, bike parked where I could see it. The waitress kept trying to hand me the check---trying to get my stinky self out of her table---but I kept ordering more food.

Cheap motel in Salina, Ut. The heat of Salina required a 4AM roll-out. The final day and many thousand feet of climbing on rough terrain awaited. I was finally less nervous. I knew I could do it at this point.

Riding under I-70 in Salina Canyon. A couple more miles to the start of the ATV track.

The world is waking up for breakfast and I'm already in the high country, safe from the heat.

No more gravel road. Its all ATV on the third day.

Late morning, and I've reached the hanging valley of Mt. Terrell pass. I started riding at 4am at 4,500 feet, now 11am at 10,000. This is probably my favorite section of the trail.

Over the pass, looking down into Hilgard mountain (left) and Flat Top (far right). My route will go down the valley in the foreground, turn left and round Hilgard, then follow the back side of the far ridge by Flat Top to end the day.

The high country headwaters to the Freemont that runs through Torrey, Ut.

At the confluence of several creeks, I sit in the meadow to eat and pump water. A few more smaller climbs to finish the day.

Rounding Hilgard mountain and one sees the high country now borders the vast southern Utah red rock desert. Far below lies the north end of Capitol Reef National Park.

Friendly folks on the trail. He told me it was going to rain soon. Five minutes later it did.

The final five miles of my planned route turned to faint rocky trail. Lots of hike-a-bike. For future travelers inspired by this ride, stay on the official Great Western Trail ATV route, NOT the Great Western hiking trail. 

A day after my ride, in Capitol Reef, picking ripe apricots in the Fruita orchards.

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