Why not call all your friends from all periods of your life to meet in the one and only Moab? Especially when they are all rippers and are some of the funn(i)iest people around? Well, that’s exactly what I did. After all, I now live in Utah. Seven of us converged from Colorado, Utah and Montana to shred for three days. That was the plan, anyway. Most of us only made it two days… two BIG days I should add.
Unbeknownst to us, there was a bike festival, which included bike races, and thus, closures. On the first day (Saturday), we had to switch our plans on doing the Whole Enchilada to the Magnificent 7 (yes, quite fitting considering we had 7 people). It’s a shuttle ride, starting at the Gemini Bridges Trail Head on the Dead Horse Point Road (Hwy 313) and ending at the Portal Trail Head on Potash Road (Hwy 279). The ride links up different legs from 7 trails: Bull Run to Great Escape to Little Canyon to Gold Bar Trail to Gold Bar Jeep Road to Golden Spike Jeep Road and finally descending down Portal Trail. We were “told” the 19 mile ride would take 4-6 hours.
The first section of the trail is fast, flowy and simply a blast! It goes up and down, meanders through Pinion pine and skirts several canyon rims. This is probably the funnest section of the trail. Little effort for lots of thrills.
The views from the trail were spectacular. The La Sal Mountains were in plain sight the whole time, complimented by the ubiquitous red rocks of southern Utah. In particular, Moab. The trail went and our backs strained. The legs took the shock and finally our stomaches gave the signal and we had our lunch somewhere along the Great Escape. There are so many perfect alcoves and areas to get away from the sun, it’s almost hard to know which one is just right.
Once on the 4-wheel drive road we crossed paths with a couple off-road groups. They were mostly jeeps, but one was an FJ Cruiser. Long live Toyota!!
Finally the single track gave way and the route became a jeep trail, Gold Bar Rim road. Don’t be mistaken, this part of the trail is rough! Probably more so than any other part of the trail. There are potholes, cracks, ledges, more ledges and dropoffs. It’s pretty crazy to think people drive the road!
At some point as the sun began to set, the sixth section, Golden Spike Jeep Road, began. This one, I was later told, is a classic. Super rough, tough and likes to break jeep parts. Apparently, it likes to break bike parts too. We broke two chains, one again, and popped a tire. There was no repairing the second break of the second chain. Shane was thus walking.
We continued on, up and down, through the rocks and into the sand. The shadows grew longer and as Shane ran to keep them at bay, the darkness was just too fast.
By the time the sun was completely down, we stumbled onto a blue dotted line along one of the many rim overviews. I had seen it earlier, but thought nothing about it. This time was different, as I was starting to worry about not getting off the rim. I then found bike tracks. I’m not sure if we had made a wrong turn, but in retrospect I do wish the guy at the bike shop would had mentioned keeping an eye out for the blue dotted line because as it turned out, it was a life saver, quite literally!
The shot above was the last shot I took of the night. From that point on, it was no longer fun and games. We needed to get off that 1,000 cliff before dark!
It didn’t happen. We all ended up walking, some with iPhone lights, some with headlamps and others (guilty) with nothing at all. We took our time, stepping ever-so-gently and navigating ever-so-carefully. We came to the Portal Trail entrance long after total darkness. We push/walked our bikes, read the sign about three people dying and with it, the command that all bikers must dismount.
The next morning we caught the Poison Spider Shuttle to the top of Porcupine Rim. We had hopes of doing the Whole Enchilada, but because of snow, we started at Kokopelli’s Trail. The top started on a packed dirt road, that out of the get-go, was FAR too fast for my liking. Well, I liked it, but without a warmup, it was a bit nerve racking, especially with 7 balls-to-walls guys all around me!
This was my third time riding the trail and I must say it’s getting a little worn. It was still fun as ever! But it was a little more loose than I remember. Anyway, if you’ve never ridden it, it’s a rock-n-roll tumble of steeps, drops, jumps, ledges, rock fields and fast flowing single track. The Whole Enchilada is epitome of Moab!! It is still my favorite trail of all time!!
We finished the trail with plenty of light left over — and because of one smart camera man, who nearly missed the shuttle because he was driving the cooler back to the bottom of the trail — we had ourselves some fine tasty brews to wrap up the two days. There were hopes and plans of riding a third day, but half our group left after the beer ran dry and the other half drank a case too many.