Friday, March 30, 2012

Moab Part 2 - The Klondike Bluffs (Baby Steps)

On our second day in Moab we awoke to partly cloudy skies and cold temps, somewhere in the high 20's to low 30's. Although we were all eager to ride, it was hard to get motivated because of the frigid air. We basically hung-out bundled up in our big puffy jackets waiting for the first rays of light to shine down from the cliff walls above our camp. Being one of the impatient ones, I hiked across the road to where some sun shone down to ground level, so I could warm up like a lizard on the rocks. Once I had absorbed enough energy I returned to camp to cook breakfast and pack up my gear for our day of riding.

Cool morning temps

Sitting in the sun, waiting for the sun to land on our campsite

Tait gets in some pre-ride maintenance

The adventure for the day would be on a trail called "Baby Steps", a newly laid piece of singletrack in the Klondike Bluffs riding area. From camp it took us about 1/2 an hour to reach the trailhead at the base of the bluffs. As we geared up we all looked up at the sky hoping that the clouds in the distance wouldn't give us a wallop like it had the previous day while riding the Moab Brand Trails. Since it was sunny and relatively pleasant, I dressed fairly light but made sure to pack extra clothes just in case things got nasty. Before long we were off on the trail, which was actually a pretty sandy jeep road for the first 3/4 of a mile. When we reached the actual start of Baby Steps I realized that I had forgotten my Camelback back at the car -- I couldn't tell it wasn't on because of all the camera gear I was carrying! After admitting my flub and apologizing for holding the group up, I hightailed it back to the car to gather my much needed accessory.

Figuring out where the hell we're going

The trail map for our ride, which can be found here
(along with other Moab trail maps)

A 1/4 mile out the gate, let the derobing begin.

Randy likes sand...

The first half of the ride would have us climbing up the bluffs with an occasional short descent. The trail was super fun, with a good mix of slickrock and technical rock jumbles. The scenery was equally spectacular, with contrasting colors of gray rocks, red dirt, and blue skies littered with puffy white clouds. The group was riding strong, with me pretty much near the back of the pack; both my lungs and legs were feeling the high altitude climbing. Since I was really trying to photo document our trip, I spent most of my time jumping out ahead while the crew regrouped. After setting up for photos at a technical feature and/or good view, I would snap off photos as everyone passed by, and then load up my gear, followed by playing catch up. As terrible as this sounds, I actually enjoy it since it allows me to combine two of my hobbies.

The crew starts off on Baby Steps

Mountain peloton

Sandra splits some rocks on the way up Baby Steps

The red dirt contrasted nicely against the blue skies

The crew rides under another cool rock formation

My view approaching the same rock

A typical view of the Klondike Bluffs landscape

EGP enjoys the weather, while it lasts

Kim & Randy continue up Baby Steps

Arthur, all smiles as we approach the intersection
with the Klondike Bluffs jeep road

Soon we reached an intersection where the Klondike Bluffs Trail dove off to the right; although we wouldn't be headed that way we took a minute to eat and relax before continuing up Baby Steps. Looking at the clouds building up in the western sky indicated that it was only a matter of time before we got hit with some weather. Fortunately it didn't appear to be of the same magnitude of the prior day.

Checking out one of the many well-placed trail maps along the
route. It would actually be pretty hard to get lost around here.

The gals get in a snack before marching on

The next part of the trail continued its way up the hill with one pretty steep pitch that got the best of me when I couldn't quite get my front tire over a rock or my foot out of the pedals...resulting in a nice little spill. After brushing off the dust, I continued up to where the others were awaiting my arrival. Just on the other side of the pass was a steep descent with some tricky rock maneuvers to spice things up a bit.

Tait enjoys one of the more
sustained climbs on the ride.

The rest of the crew making the climb

Arthur leads the descent down the other side...

...with Coonabomber closely behind

At the base of the descent, the trail tee'd into a dirt road that traversed northwest for a little over a mile before starting to climb back up the bluff from the backside. During this traverse the weather decided to turn to snow flurries, but nothing a light jacket couldn't fend off. The climb ended up being pretty steep but also pretty short and soon it ran straight into a trail known as "Little Salty", which we passed up for more ups and downs along the top of the bluffs.

Sweet, another squall!

And another short climb

After another mile or so of jeep trail we reached our first big descent of the ride, down Baby Steps North. This section ended ranking pretty high on the fun-o-meter with singletrack that made its way over and around rock features as it descended down the bluff. As I balanced on the pedals using mainly my quad muscles, the burn really started kickin' in, forcing me to switch between a seated and locked knee position, certainly not optimal form for a trail like this. By the time we regrouped at the intersection with "EKG" I was pretty spent from the day's ride. The rest of the crew were discussing whether or not to extend the ride climbing up "Mega Steps" (for another ride down Baby Steps) or simply head back to the car. My vote was the latter, and I ended up being the sole vote for that option. With that I bid a good ride to the crew and headed back toward the parking lot via the "Dino-Flow" Trail.

The real fun begins, down Baby Steps

Randy and Tait, somewhere along the Baby Steps descent

Tait gives chase on Baby Steps

Sandra, forgetting all about the 10
minute snowstorm that just passed

Sandra finds more sweet terrain on Baby Steps

Kim, enjoying the ride!

Sayin' goodbye to the the crew, before
starting my solo journey back to the car

Dino-Flow ended up being the nail in the coffin, as I pretty much bonked, even with the assistance of an energy gel shot. The trail was a mix of light technical moves, short up & downs, and soft dirt/sand (which is what really took its toll). During the ~4 miles of this southeast traverse back to the car I found myself stopping about every half mile just to catch my breath, which validated my decision to cut the ride short.

Since I had planned to get in a hike at Arches National Park, I loaded my gear and headed back to camp before the others had finished their ride. While driving back I passed the entrance to Arches which was now under a huge cloud that was dumping sleet. I was actually a bit relieved as it would give me an excuse to stay in camp and rest my worn body parts. By the time the others returned from their ride I had already melted into my reclining camp chair with a beer and some reading material. Apparently almost everyone else had gotten sufficiently wrecked by the additional riding, so I wasn't alone in my suffering. That night we sat around the fire to gossip and stay warm, luckily we didn't get snowed on like we had the previous night...

Huddling up to discuss the day's ride

The end to another great day in Moab!

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