So. We’re back in Tucson. Our first night back in Tucson, our bikes got stolen out of the back of our van while parked at a friend’s house. Which is a bummer. But I don’t want to dwell on that, instead, I want to get caught up with this blog so that I can actually write about things that are relevant in my life right now, like how I’m planning on entertaining myself until I can get a new bike.
Back in October, it started snowing in Winter Park. It was time to head towards warmer climates. I’d intercepted a Facebook exchange indicating that my friends Becky and Bec from Steamboat were planning on bikepacking the Kokopelli Trail, Fruita to Moab.
I offered up Scott as a shuttle driver if I could come along.
So in the snow of a Friday morning, we set off for the west.
While I’ve raced the Koko twice, both with miserable results, I’ve never actually seen the Moab to Fisher Valley segment in the daylight. I’ve never actually enjoyed the route. It’s always been a beatdown of the highest level. I’d never actually been able to stop and smell the flowers, or take pictures, or wonder in amazement at the terrain and views. I was pretty excited to take two nights and most of three days to get the route done.
We shoved off at the bright and early hour of 1:30pm.
The first section of Mary’s is always lovely and cruisy.
It felt so good to be going out bikepacking again. In the end, there really is very little I love more than riding, sleeping in the dirt, and then waking up and riding some more.
Then of course, there’s the descent into Salt Creek.
The way back up isn’t any better. Potentially worse. Yes, definitely worse.
We rolled into Rabbit Valley late afternoon and ran into Scott setting up our water cache for us. Having such a wonderful shuttle driver was pretty awesome.
Because we weren’t racing, or set on riding the ‘official’ route, we took the fun way. Trail 2 and Western Rim. We lost the sun on Western Rim and found an absolutely stunning campsite overlooking the canyons.
We picked it especially for the abundance of morning light. The sunrise was nothing short of spectacular.
That’s not to say we actually got going early, but at least we had each other to whine about damp sports bras with.
I’ve never gone on an all-girls bikepacking trip, it was great to have similar issues to commiserate about.
We gained the plateau of misery and started the long descent down to Westwater, the La Sal mountains looming in the distance.
After filling up on water at the Ranger Station, we hit the ‘middle part’ of the Koko in my head. Westwater to Dewey Bridge. It seems like a time and space warp for some reason.
After several days of rain, we found some mud. Peanut butter, misery mud. So we carried our bikes. Two fatbikes seemed to be pretty close ahead of us, and we saw the carnage that they’d had to deal with.
On the plus side, they left their mud-scraping sticks in the middle of the road at the end of each mud section for us to use.
It definitely slowed progress. We reached Sand Canyon (Yellowjacket canyon to everyone but me) later than we’d expected. Are we going to make it to Moab tomorrow?
But it’s okay! We have lights! Or some semblance of lights. We figured that a hour of night riding and a slightly more motivated morning start would net us more miles.
On the climb out from Dewey Bridge and the Colorado River, we passed our two fatbiker friends who’s scored a beautiful little campspot. ‘Thanks for the mud sticks!’ we told them.
We lost the sun. Darkness just in time for the technical descent. We rode until we got tired of riding and spent a cold night somewhere before Rose Garden Hill.
Morning was spectacular, as most mornings are. In the daylight, we made short work of the chunk fest, making our way to the Rose Garden and then on to Fisher Valley. All that stood between us and Moab were two giant climbs.
It’s awesome being able to ride with two strong women. We made it over the two climbs with some amount of grace, accidentally celebrating the end of the final climb two switchbacks too early.
From there, it was a bit of single track and a long, easy coast on Sand Flats Road down to Moab.
Straight to Milts. Milkshakes. Burgers. Tots. Things I’d been talking about since rolling out from the Loma Trailhead two days earlier. This was definitely the correct way to experience the Kokopelli.