Zen On Dirt

South To Tucson

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We had a finite number of days left before a plane would take us down to New Zealand, away from short days and cold. Well, at least from short days. Originally, we weren’t going to head south this winter, but as the days started getting shorter, I found myself starting to count down the minutes between when it got dark and when it was an acceptable time to go to sleep.

Wanting days (for multiple days in a row) to end is not really an acceptable way of living in my Book of Morals, so we bought some last minute tickets down to the south  island of NZ. Because we love it there. And now we had a timeline to get the Scamp down to Tucson for storage.

But first, Schilling and Co were riding Gooseberry in Southwest Utah. Seemed like a good first leg of the drive.

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The road to Gooseberry is as horrible as I remember it. Luckily, we’d left the Scamp down on Sheeps Bridge since we had Zioning plans for the rest of the of week. Even with just the van…yikes.

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We rode some Wire Mesa, which was new to me. Big views, fun trail.

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It was fun to see Evan from San Diego, meet some new people, and remember how much fun mountain biking can be.

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Having such a good time, Scott and I headed over to Gooseberry proper for a short lap. I was riding like a rock star, being totally stoked on all things bikes.

And then my pedal broke off of the spindle. It was one of those really sad moments when I realized that I’d pretty much have to walk my bike out of there.

And that was the end of bike riding for the week while I wanted for replacement pedals to show up. At least they broke then and not some other more inconvenient time.

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We perused some off the beaten path routes in Zion, and decided that a cloudy day was better for peaks than canyons. The pair of Northgate peaks were fun little scrambles.

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The views were like no other in Zion. Just a whole different zone with incredibly complex topography. We got good looks at both Guardian Angel Peaks, one claims to go at Class 3, the other at Class 4. They both looked intimidating.

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But the rock all around is so cool!

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Scott found the motivation to rally us to visit a different area of the park on the way home. In al honesty, I would have been a-okay with heading back and taking a nap, but I’m glad Scott fished some motivation out of somewhere.

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Because the area was awesome.

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It was like walking through a field of upside down ice cream cones that were splashed with red and hire paint. Swirl cones, I guess. It was pretty surreal.

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We went and had ice cream at the tourist trap looking place in Virgin. Turns out, they’re pretty famous for their home made ice cream. I can voucher for the prickly pear and lemon favors. Amazing.

The weather was still bordering more on the cooler side of life than the warmer, so we set our sights on Nipple Top peak. I’m pretty sure Scott just chose it because of its name..but as one of the higher points in the area, it seemed like a good route for the day.

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We nearly bailed after some route finding difficulties and rock that seemed to be turning into sand under our feet, but we eventually found the more commonly used route up.

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The views of things far away we’re pretty cool.

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The views of things up close weren’t bad either. The rock up there was fascinating to see.

Since we were up on the east side of the park, we rallied to go up a little side canyon that we’d heard about. There was a log you had to climb up, which is always fun. Getting to climb up anything makes me feel like a little kid playing on a jungle gym again.

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And the slot itself was neat, but pretty short.  A completely different type of rock from the more traditional slot canyons.

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We had one more half-day before Scott had to head to St George to go run the Baja 1000. We opted for the “known” quantity of Hidden Canyon in the Park, and then went past the recommended stopping point.

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There was some scrambling. A log to cross. Some more scrambling. Eventually, we ran out of time and flipped it. Apparently the end of the canyon gets pretty steep and isn’t really exitable without skills and ropes. I’d still love to come back and go farther up.

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There was an arch too. Arches are pretty neat.

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The, when we thought that all of the best departs of the hike were over, we heard a crashing in the bushes above up. A group of five Rams and one lady sheep were hanging out eating. One male continually hit his head against a tree. Another harassed the female. Two other ones rammed horns against each other.

And they didn’t seem to mind that we were watching.  Lucky, lucky, lucky us.

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Then it was time to head to St George for Scott to work with a steady and reliable internet. We spent the better part of four days there, riding some, running some, and finding some petroglyphs in a hidden slot canyon, which was the highlight of the stay.

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Onwards to Tucson, with a stop to hike down Cathedral wash to the Colorado River.

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Not a bad places to stop to break the drive up a bit.

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We made it to Flagstaff by dark, camped in our normal off-highway spot south of town, and froze our tails off in the 20 degree weather.

Which was funny, because by the time we got to Tucson, it was too hot to handle, and we found ourselves pretty much driving straight thru to camp up at Madera Canyon. Luckily, I was able to convince Danielle that instead of running in the Catalinas, we should run Mt Wrightson instead.

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And when I bailed on riding in Tucson because it was too hot, Katie and Shannon came up to higher elevations for the afternoon. It was bloody hot in the desert!

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Eventually bikes were packed the weighed. The Scamp was stored. And we we’re off to the airport.

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Fall in the States is officially over. It’s time for some Island life. Cheese scones and flat whites.

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