Thursday, May 18, 2017

double sessions

In the morning, we had thought to hit the Love Muffin Cafe for breakfast.  We got there a little late (7:30 a.m.), however, and the line was out the door, so we just headed on up to Dead Horse Point State Park and had bagels and peanut butter on the tailgate instead.  There were only five cars in the parking lot when we got there which meant we breakfasted uninterrupted and then got onto the trails around 8:45.  

Upright and loving it

We did the Big Chief loop (where we encountered just three other MTBers), then crossed to road to do Whiptail.  H continued around the Twisted Tree loop while I headed back.  This was only my second day back on the bike after a winter off and I was struggling with my bike handling, especially with all the uphill over rock plus immediate turn combinations.  He caught back up to me on Raven Roll and we barreled along back to the parking lot.  (At one point I stopped to let a small guided group go past.  The guide pedaled by and then slammed on her brakes, exclaiming to me, "I used to have a bike like that! That's a GREAT bike!" much to the amusement of her clients.)

In the vicinity of Marlboro Point

 When we got back to the truck (11:45ish), the parking lot was packed.  We pounded a couple beers and [H] did some preventative bike maintenance, then stopped in at the visitors' center to ask about Marlboro Point, which isn't actually in Dead Horse Point State Park but is located somewhere between it and the Island in the Sky visitors' center.  The very young state park ranger had never even heard of Marlboro Point but he googled it on his phone and let us read what he found - basically we were looking for an unsigned dirt jeep road before the national park boundary.

Some arches are just cute

Since we had our annual national parks pass, it wasn't much of an ordeal to go out to the Island in the Sky visitors' center next (and noting at least four unsigned dirt jeep roads en route) to ask about Marlboro Point.  The park ranger there was surprised at our question - I doubt she'd been asked it much, if ever - and while she didn't know, she had at least heard of it.  She disappeared into a back room for a couple minutes and then came out with "it's the first road on the right after you leave the park ... and then take the third right."

Top of the mesa, facing Dead Horse Point State Park

We found the road and headed in on foot; even though our truck is 4WD, it's a full-size pickup which makes maneuvering on narrow roads challenging.  Within just a few minutes, the road noise behind us vanished and it was just us in the desert.  We passed several camp sites (of the just drive in and take one variety), then turned down what we thought was the third right.  After a bit, we came to the cliff edge of the mesa.  The ground fell away and the Canyonlands were stretched out before us.

Coyote tracks (not shown: all the rabbit tracks that coyote was probably after)

We went back to the main jeep road and kept going, unsure of whether we actually found Marlboro Point (we didn't, actually) but enjoying the scenery nonetheless.  At one point, the road crossed a wash and we turned and just followed the wash out to the cliff.  The views were spectacular and we had the whole place to ourselves, except for range cows, jackrabbits and desert cottontails.

H, not at Marlboro Point, but whatever

We retraced our steps back to the truck and returned to town.  We got cleaned up, had cocktails in the shade, did some research for the next day's activities and then went on to dinner at Miguel's Baja Grill (the Mother Of All Burritos filled with poblano chiles, beans, onion and tomato for H; portobello mushroom tacos for A; margaritas for both).  To be honest, we crashed pretty early.

Ride stats:  19.29 miles (for H); 2 hrs 11 minutes; 8.8 m.p.h. average speed, 26.4 max. speed (again, H).

Hike stats:  5.15 miles; 1 hr. 42 min.; 3.0 m.p.h. moving average; a whopping 600 feet of elevation.

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