Zen On Dirt

The Final Moab Countdown

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We had two more days in Moab before we had to hitch the little Scamp up and head to Boulder to watch some doggies.

I was tres, tres, tres sad.


I really love Moab. To the point that recently, whenever we play the ‘Gun to your head, you have to choose once place to live year-round, where would it be’ game, I tend to choose Moab. And that’s saying a lot, because I love a lot of other places.

There was added sadness because I knew that the Moab good weather window was closing, and that we probably wouldn’t be back until the fall.

And I still had so much I wanted to do!

I guess these are good life problems to have.

But finally, it was time to run the energy rope out as far as possible knowing that we faced a day of driving and three weeks in Boulder, where I’m generally more apt to rest and binge on Netflix. So the fact that I woke up solidly tired on Saturday and had two different activities planned didn’t really phase me.

Mel and I had been trying to hook up for a run for the better part of three weeks, so when we finally found a time window that worked for both of us, we jumped at it. I let her do the leading, because when in a place like Moab with endless wrinkles in the skin of the earth, there are lots of neat connections to be made, and locals known best.


The funny thing is, Mel is actually a runner, versus me who is really more of a faux runner, and when we actually ran, I struggled something fierce to keep up. I kept telling myself that it was good training for life, or something.

But two things worked in my favor. Mel is pretty dismal at knowing where she’s going, which means we got to pause a lot and think about where we needed to go next, and she’s pretty into the adventure aspect of a run too, which means that running is punctuated by, umm, more technical moments.


I was pretty amused when we got to the top of a slot and she asked me, ‘How are you with chimney-ing?’

‘I’ve never done it before?’

‘Hmmm. That might have been something to ask you before I took you this way.’

But, I was brave, and I shimmied myself down this tiny little crack without crying. I may have mewed once or twice. Scary…but awesome. I need more of this in my life.


We went to go see some more petroglyphs, these pockmarked with shotgun holes.


We paid a visit to giant holes in slickrock, 20 to 30 feet deep, most of them filled with water from the last storm that rolled through. Some even had little shrimpies swimming around in them.


After one final wrong turn, we were headed back. What I had planned on to be a sub two-hour run ended up the better part of four. And every minute of it was awesome. Even the parts where I had to run.


Meanwhile, Elliot and Katie were driving up from Tucson for the weekend. I was banking on the fact that they’d forget that Utah and Arizona are in different time zones in the summer and would show up an hour later than they had planned. It was good that they did, because I definitely wasn’t running ahead of schedule to get back to camp to meet them.


I picked Scott up from his morning shuttle-ish ride on my way back up, and after shoving our faces full of food, we were ready to ride again, opting for a cruise from camp on a Navajo Rocks to Horsethief loop. Which if course, took longer than either Scott or I had expected.


But we made it back before dark (barely) and Katie made the mistake of commenting on how there was no hike-a-bike on that ride. Bad move!


Scott and I had ulterior motives for wanting to ride Barney Rubble and Hidden Canyon the next day. Sure, the riding is great and all, but more than anything, we wanted to try to scope out the route that we had missed from the Snake a few days earlier where we’d gotten cliffed out and couldn’t figure our way down. The hope was that we’d see the route better from the bottom.

It didn’t really work out for us, but it provided the motivation to get our bikes up the heinous hike-a-bike. DSC07936_resize

We were more than happy to be pedaling once we got into the actual valley. Pedaling > pushing. I’d heard rumors of big panels of petroglyphs in the area, but wasn’t entirely sure where to look. Luckily, we ran into a pair of hikers who Scott knew from somewhere, and they were on their way to check them out. We ditched our bikes and hiked up to the cliff face with them.


There were several major panels, and then lots of little big horn sheep and figures dispersed between them. It was definitely worth the detour.


I’ve run this route several times, but never taken a bike on it. Mostly because the hike-a-bike is one of the worst ever.  But I have to say, once up on the plateau, it is more fun to ride it than run it. That being said, I highly doubt that my times riding it will ever outnumber my times running it. That hike-a-bike…is a a big admission fee.


The downhill was definitely more fun on a bike. Coasting is pretty rad, even if it is with your weight far back and both brakes on hard.

I’m not sure which was the prominent emotion when we finally hit pavement – relief or sadness. It was our last ride in Moab for the spring!

But damn, it was a good one.


We finished off our time in Moab in fine fashion. Milkshakes at Milts. A giant double rainbow over the Scamp. Cocktails with friends.

Moab is a special, special place. I’ll dream about it until we get to go back. But until then…high mountains and cool temperatures.


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