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The best laid plans.....


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Trying to get this trip done this fall....

 But.... the Monsoon this year has been a record setter with rain daily,  making for green trees, grass and helping with the drought, but making a mess of back country roads around the North Rim.  Determined to get a motocamping trip in this fall, I changed up the route planning for southern Utah that at the time ( late July) hadn't received the copious amounts of rain that the North Rim had.

The plan was Alstrom Point for the first campsite, gravel roads North to Escalante,  ride Hells Backbone Rd., stay somewhere in that area, then explore the Kodachrome Basin and camp somewhere in that area for night #3.


By the time Mark ( riding buddy on a Super Ténéré) and my schedules jived, it was mid August and the rains had also started hitting the Grand Staircase area. Checking with the BLM office a couple of times a week for weeks, same old thing, the roads we wanted to ride were impassable due to washout and mud holes. 

Finally last Thursday the BLM info was the roads we wanted to ride were either open or being actively graded, so things were looking promising.  The kicker was that we needed to be able to cross the Waweaph wash or Alstrom pt and roads north were a no go. BLM office said the wash was able to be crossed ( they knew we were on bikes, but must've thought we had Chris Birch skills) so off we went. I met Mark at the office in 95° heat and promptly got moving toward Alstrom pt. 1/4 mile after leaving pavement,  we found this.




Mark is standing where the road " used" to be and if you look closely in the background,  you'll see a RV that was stranded on the other side of the wash. We tried walking out in the wash to test the firmness and immediately started sinking into the mud. The RV owner hollered across the wash to us that he'd been stranded there for days and was waiting for the Sheriff to try and get them out.

So much for passable.....

We regrouped and decided to run our intended loop backwards and head North on Cottonwood Canyon Road.  We got about a dozen miles in and started encountering mud holes, some which we really didn't care to have to try again if we had to double back through them. The soil in this area turns to a slick globby mess when wet and sticks to everything,  making my tires into instant slicks. Here's what my front tire looked like after a couple of mudhole fordings.




Just after we said a few more like the last and we'd have to turn around,  Mark stuck his front tire in this one and promptly sank. 




Deciding discretion is the better part of Valor, I helped yank that 600+ lb S10 backwards out of that mudhole. It was about an hour from sundown and sweating like a couple of overloaded pack mules, we found a spot and set up camp. Dinner, a taste of Jameson and off to bed to be serenaded by the crickets and whatever wild life that was scampering around our tents during the night. 



Day 2 

Up before sunrise, coffee,  oatmeal and then waited for the sun to dry off the dew that soaked our rain Flys, packed up and off we went from whence we came the afternoon before. Seeing as the dirt roads we wanted to take North to the Escalante area were all impassable,  we hit Hwy 89A westbound to Kanab, then 12 to Escalante.  We rode the Hells Backbone loop clockwise,  saw the bridge and got caught in a storm moving our way,  but managed to outrun it before it turned the dirt road into a down hill mud fest.


Built to join Boulder, the last frontier town in Utah that still relied on mules to deliver the mail, with Escalante, famous for Hole-In-The-Rock

We then headed to Escalante to spend the night and find a cold draft. 

Day 3

Off to enjoy again the excellent twisties of Hwy 12 in the infamous Hogsback section, which we ended up doing 3x during this trip and always a hoot.   

This is 122.863 miles (to be exact) of pure driving bliss. Welcome to Utah’s Scenic Byway 12, a designated All-American Road.

We took a right on the Burr Trail and actually obeyed the 20 mph speed limit. So much to take in and we stopped multiple times to shoot pics and soak up the coolness of the morning shade. 



A quick blast east put us on the Burr Trail Switchbacks that took us from warm to hot in just a few minutes.



We decided more mudhole navigation in the heat didn't sound appealing in the least so we back tracked all the way to Kanab for the night.  We headed our separate ways this morning and are both home safe.

Although it wasn't the trip we'd envisioned,  it still worked out, with some work arounds and points deleted. Alstrom pt. is still on the list, but seeing the sights on the Burr Trail was a great consolidation prize.  


Vital statistics:



Edited by AZJW
Fixed broken links
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"Men do not quit playing because they grow old, they grow old because they quit playing" Oliver Wendell Holmes - Mods - HDB handguards, Camel-ADV Gut guard, 1 finger clutch, The Fix pedal & Rally pipe, RR side/tail rack, RR 90nm spring & Headlight guard, Rally seat, OEM heated grips- stablemate Beta 520RS

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Great post @AZJW.  Thanks for the pictures and story.  Well done.  I know you had a good ride when your GPS reads 53 mph average moving time.  Most excellent.  

The worst mud I experienced was the type that stuck to your tires and would build up more and more until your bike was plugged up and could go no further.  Out with the sticks and clean it out then repeat.   Very tiring.


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  • 3 weeks later...

@AZJW Good on you for adapting the ride to the situation. A couple of years ago I spent a few days camping out on my Super Ténéré in the Grand Staircase- Escalante area and Kodachrome Basin. Kind of wish I had a lighter bike at the time. Same thing though - planned roads unpassable. Have driven the Burr Trail but would like to ride it. 

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