Yes, we planned a trip to the desert in June, but the timing was more about when everyone could get together rather than nailing the ideal weather. Well it turns out that the forecast for Moab today was 97 degrees. We knew we wanted to ride Slickrock early in the week, but after yesterday's sweatfest on Golden Spike, the group was open to ideas.
When you drive into Moab on 191 from I70 you are treated to a spectacular view of red rock desert in the foreground and massive snow-capped peaks in the background. Those peaks are the La Sal Mountains and they are well over 12,000 feet high! We did some research and found that there is a portion of the La Sal National Forest that is open to multiple uses including off-highway vehicles. The project has been set up as a study to conserve the land while keeping it open to responsible use. It also raises money for education in Utah.
It's bound to be cooler up there than down here. Heck, from the pictures, it looks like there are even trees with actual shade. And the trailhead is only 27 miles from our house.
The day was already hot as we were leaving. We headed south on Spanish Valley Road and hung a left on La Sal Loop Road. The road began to climb and within minutes the red landscape turned to green, the vegetation thickened, and it felt like we were riding straight into Colorado.
The pavement ended when we turned onto Geyser Pass Road. It was wide and steep and there were cattle grazing on the shoulders. Soon it was narrow and steep and lined with massive pine trees. The temperature had dropped enough that I was glad that I had decided to wear my enduro jacket. Then I saw it, my first glimpse of snow in the gutter! Then more. By the time we reached the 10,500 ft Geyser Pass, there were piles of it nearly a foot deep.
Riding over the pass was an experience, especially after leaving the desert 30 minutes ago on a dirt bike. The road opened up a bit as we navigated the switchbacks on the other side and the views were big - a green valley below that faded to forever and 12,726 ft Mount Peale well above the treeline.
We find the trailhead and get to it. The single track trails are unbelievable - meandering like cow trails through high meadows, dropping into rocky canyons, weaving through stands of aspen, and cutting across cliff edges steep enough to make you want to click your heels three times. The elevation changes are extreme and the scenery is powerful. Difficulty ranges, but everything is navigable from the saddle save for a few downed tree detours.
Turns out that June is a great time to come to Moab. It was 64 degrees in the La Sals and had we been here three weeks ago we wouldn't have been able to ride these trails due to snowpack.
As we descend back into the valley I realize that I am continually impressed by this land (both West and East) and am thankful that I can get out and see it. Kudos to the state of Utah for giving this a shot.
Tomorrow we plan to visit a better known multi-use trail. Stay tuned.