Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Gooseberry Mesa and the Grand Canyon

What an experience! Five days with Rim Tours on mountain bikes.

The plan was to ride across the Kaibab Plateau to the Grand Canyon. But the weather at the Grand Canyon was not cooperating, with 4 inches of snow reported on the Arizona Trail.

We met up Monday, Memorial Day. I was eating breakfast at the hotel when Mike, one of our Rim Tours guides comes in to the breakfast area and introduces himself. He explained that the weather wasn't looking good, and got onto his laptop to get a weather report. Then we went outside and, at the planned meeting time, 8AM, I was the LAST guest to give my stuff to the other guide, Christina. Yep, all the other participants in the tour were there, ready, and had already loaded their stuff before I showed up at 8:00. Well, maybe it was 8:05.

We rolled out about 8:20 and headed to some of the local trails near Hurricane, UT.

Christina talking

One was called the Jem trail, and I can't remember the other trail. The weather was sorta warm - maybe 65-70, but very unstable, with occasional squalls and hard rain. The trails were very cool, with some medium steep climbs, and some really great roller coaster sections. After riding for a few hours, a great lunch provided by our guides, then a few more hours of riding, we packed up and headed for Gooseberry Mesa.

I should mention this is the second trip I've done with Rim Tours. They really do it right. Their fees are not cheap; you can stay in a nice resort for the $/day Rim Tours charges. But it's so worth it. The food is great, the guides are really cool and knowledgeable. The other patrons were a lot of fun to ride and hang out with too.

Group on the edge

Gooseberry Mesa was above where we were riding earlier in the day, but it seemed like another world. The only structure I saw there was an outhouse; one of those cool cinder block ones with a vent stack that is designed not to stink much and isn't loaded with graffiti and trash.

Bushes on the edge of gooseberry mesa

We found space for our five tents - two Australian couples, and three of us who came on the tour by ourselves. Our guides didn't bother with tents for themselves; Mike slept on a cot under the stars, and Christina slept in the van.

Tuesday morning we got to sample the trails of Gooseberry Mesa. Unbelievable. Trails that wind in and out of pinyon pines, yucca and various cactuses and lead to technical slickrock sections. These trails have *flow*, and are super enjoyable riding. There are a few areas that were too technical for me, so getting off and walking messed up the flow a bit, but the trails are just super cool riding.
Ready to roll

I'm already looking forward to my next trip to Gooseberry Mesa.

After 2-1/2 days near St. George, we did take off for the Grand Canyon, and of course it was beautiful. We were in the Kaibab National Forest, so we could ride on the trails. In National Parks, riding on trails is against the rules.


Our camp near the edge of the Grand Canyon

IGrand Canyon

This view was a 3 minute walk from the camp site.

meadow with bowed trees

Riding through this meadow, I was really impressed with the trees bowed toward the trail.

Grand Canyon


So, the Grand Canyon was an awesome experience, and I do want to go back to the Kaibab Plateau. The mountain bike riding at Gooseberry Mesa was the very best I've ever seen, and I probably never would have ridden there if the weather hadn't been too cold at the beginning of the week. How lucky can a guy get?

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