We spent the week with a poor, sick, cat, and we were sure that our weekend would be spent hanging out with her. We stayed home Saturday, gave her medicine, got yelled at a lot, and by Sunday she was feeling a little bit better so we took the opportunity to drive out to Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument in Utah.
It was only a 40 minute drive from Page to the north end of House Rock Road, a well known road due to the amazing hikes, slot canyons, California condors, and geological wonders (like The Wave) on the route, that goes from Utah to almost exactly where we camped last weekend in Arizona. Over 40 miles of dirt road with lots of challenging little diversion roads along the way.
We parked the truck at the beginning and unloaded on a great hill that made the ramp almost completely flat. Aside from having to stand in dozens of prickly tumbleweeds, it was one of those rare, perfect unloading locations.
We sped off down House Rock Road at 30 (so fast!). In the past when we’ve driven down this road it’s been a painful. bumpy, misery filled experience in the truck, where we can only go about 15 miles an hour and my neck hurts for weeks after. After a short while we came across Five Mile Mountain Road, one I’d eyeballed several times before in the truck but we never dared. We headed up and found it was a steep, loose rock, climb with sandstone steps, ruts, and large boulders to avoid. Perfect!
We powered up the mountain until we could see as far as possible, rested a bit and had a picnic.
We, for some reason (after 5 months off I suppose) expected the ride down to be difficult. Front wheel washouts, locked up back wheels, unavoidable boulders, but nope, we did fine. I think we underestimate our experience sometimes.
We went a little further down House Rock Road and eventually came to the Buckskin Gulch trailhead (about 5 miles from the start). So, we weren’t making very much progress down that road …but we were having fun on the side roads. Just after the trailhead we spotted another road, unnamed, on the right side. Again it was a loose rocky road, but offered even more diversity with some loose sand, surprise trenches (ruts going across the road, ouch), a deep gravel wash crossing, and deep ruts that forced you to balance on 10 inch wide sections of road. We rode up a couple miles, took a drink and snack break, before deciding to head back and go further down House Rock…when…disaster, or almost. I start rolling off when I notice Ross is not yet moving. He throws his arms and shrugs. I can tell his bike isn’t starting, a problem he’s had in the past. Then, it starts. We head on down the hill, going through the same awesome course, and are almost to the beginning when he honks at me. He’s still moving so I know his bike is running, so I wait and am told over the sound of his loud engine, that he’s lost his glasses and on top of that, can’t turn his bike off because he thinks the batter is dead or nearly dead.
Time to turn around, this time, intentionally looking at the ground closely while simultaneously trying not to wipe out on this minor league enduro training course. Don’t look at the ground in front of you, first rule, broken. So we’re on our way up, I’m in front and I have great luck with finding things on the ground (so I think). I can’t go too slow or I’ll lose it on the hills so I’m just scanning the ground and looking up occasionally. We get almost all the way back up to where we stopped and had some water when I see them in the middle of the road – by the time I tell my brain to stop, I’m practically on top of them (target fixation) but I manage to miss them and save the day! Well, maybe not save it… but, they weren’t cheap glasses and he’d need a whole new prescription to get new ones.
We head back down, but unfortunately this time, back to the truck. Ross can’t turn off his bike and it’s not worth getting stuck way out in the desert. It worked out however because we didn’t want to be gone tooo long from the sick kitty. We managed to get there, do a couple great and challenging roads and get back in around 4 hours. Page is a pretty good central location to lots of awesome rides!