This is part 2 of a 3 part series chronicling my adventures of driving/riding the White Rim Trial in Canyonlands NP near Moab, Ut.
We left the amazing Gooseberry campsite after packing up both trucks again, a feat we would get quite good at, and headed out knowing that at some point today we would have to climb Murphy Hogback. Murphy was a hog farmer you see, trying to create a race of super hogs in the uranium mines as so this large ridge with a Tolken-esque road carved into it bears his name…rest his zombie sole.
Before that comes the mid point in the trail, a little 1.4 mile jut out into the expanse called white crack. I wish there was a lens wide enough or words elegant enough to convey the enormity of the site which lies before this point; you simply can't take it all in.
The most amazing part of this view is the endlessness of it, look in any direction with any power level zoom and all you will see is more amazing formations, spires, buttes, hoodoos and mountains. It's like standing in the epicenter of an enormous sandstone fractal with no start or end. I've said it before; I've seen a lot of high desert and this blew my mind.
It was about this point in the trail that I started to notice the amazing greenery of where I was, it seemed the whole desert had come alive to greet us with white blooms, blue bells, cactus flowers and these green/yellow cattails everywhere we went. Between that and the amazing places this trail takes you. The main trouble that I had, as a photographer was getting in close for the intimacy and getting wide enough to convey the size of this place; I carried a 15mm fisheye up to a 280mm zoom and neither were sufficient.
What's interesting is that, in good conditions like we had, you could drive this whole route in a Subaru outback, though the park ranger we met told us that his winch was used mostly pulling Colorado Subaru owners out of the mud on this trail, so bear that in mind ya Coloradan who believe deeply in the beauty of all wheel drive.
Murphy hogback in particular is one place I was glad to have low range. It's hard to show in pictures the steepness of this hill, but I can say that biking up it is enough to make you fall over backwards if you aren't careful. Because I don't like offloading liability or risk on others I made it a point to drive this section myself, saving me from riding it myself, but those who did were damn near dead at the top. We stopped at the summit to have lunch and realize what a great idea it was to rent a 50 quart ARB fridge with ice cold soda inside.
Seriously, for something that only draws 800 mA running and cost only $50 a week to rent, this was a no-brainer I would do again in a heartbeat. On a related note, eggs do freeze but are still edible afterwards. The trail down from Murphy hogback is just as exciting as the drive up, with the exception that because I was now downhill traffic and people tend to ride counterclockwise (we rode clockwise) we had to wait for uphill traffic. A fun side note was that while waiting halfway down the hill a fellow land cruiser owner on a bike used up one of his precious panting breaths to tell me he liked my truck, even near death a car lover is a car lover.
The second day was muddier in parts but never bad, a recent rain storm came through the week prior and put in a few pools here and there, which made for great fun in the cars and easily avoided on the bike. Having heard tales of difficult technical sections from various sources, I drove the last part of the days ride and…well this was about has hard as it got.
It was a bit of a letdown and a reminder that the trail, so long as its dry, wont present much of a challenge to even the wimpiest of all wheel drives. Seriously, you could take a Ford Flex on this trail if you were careful.
Our next site was Candlestick, named for the view of the Candlestick butte which if you look at is obviously named for the murder weapon used by colonel mustard in the front room.
This site, although lacking in shade trees, necessitating some ingenuity on our part, was ripe with amazing sights and we had exclusive front row seats to the sunset show.
If I was to be anywhere when the apocalypse started, I think it would be here. It was also here that we decided that we had brought too much water and decided it was time for some bike rack assisted showers on the rocks. One of the great things about vehicle based travel is eating well and tonight we had a fine meal of Hawaiian haystacks. We'd been eating well this entire trip really, pancakes and bacon or eggs and bacon with OJ in the mornings, sandwiches with chips, beef jerky and fresh cold fruit for lunch and tasty snacks throughout. My theory on camping is; why suffer. We didn't, for food that is, total Mileage for the days was just over 30.
Part 3 is here