The following is a true story, only the names have been changed, to protect the guilty.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

It Floats!

 I strategically  left the Moonlander in the van yesterday in the hope that I would be able to leave work early and sneak in a ride before I took the kids fishing in the afternoon. I busted ass to get my work done and headed for the river bottoms at the Bloomington Ferry Bridge. I'm not sure, but I think the water was up from yesterday,but defiantly deep enough in some spots for a swim. Most of the submerged trail is only axle deep, which makes for a really fun ride. The spot where I got all the way in was at Nine Mile Creek. I was wet to my waist already, and wanted to see if my upper body could tolerate the cold water when I stepped off an underwater ledge and fell in. The bike floated so well I decided to cross the creek and continue on to 35w, where I turned around and rode back.
This is in about four feet of water, you can see how well it floats

I was surprised to see this lily pad flowering already

The water is well over my head here, you can see "the raft" and a barge in the background

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Moonlander Goes Swimming

The Minnesota River Bottoms are just starting to flood, the perfect time to get out and take my Moonlander swimming. The water is a bit cold, but not bad. For safety sake I only went in as deep as the top of the wheel. There is some current in the deeper sections.  I'm planning on going back very soon with anyone willing to submerge their bike and have a fat-bike swimming adventure.

It's a lot of work pushing through all the water

Bridges are supposed to go OVER the water

Is this bad for my bike?

I'm standing in about two feet of water, the Lander floats very well

Monday, May 28, 2012

Utah, Miscellaneous

I know I've written a lot about my trip to Utah, but Steve and I had such a great time out there I wanted to write about everything we did. I felt that if I bunched it all up into one post it would diminish how awesome each day's adventure was, maybe I'm just a wind bag too. To save you from reading more I'll just post some pics with captions.  Here is a vid of Steve and I in the White Canyon
This is Steve in Fry Canyon. We did this canyon just before heading back to Moab and then home. Fry canyon had really nice slots in a couple sections and some short swims right away. 

For a first timer, Fry Canyon would be great, it's got narrow slots , two raps, ruins,and it only takes a few hours to complete. Sorry I didn't take any pics of the ruins, I had only my crappy waterproof camera.

This guy was not so lucky

Final night in Moab, balanced rock in Arches National Park

The original plan for the super trip was to bring kayaks and paddle Lake Powell for a couple days. We did not bring them. This road however,lead me to the shore of the lake at the end of White Canyon. I did this ride on the evening of the day we did the Black Hole.

There was supposed to be a boat launch around here somewhere. With the water being at  an extremely low level,  I rode the wash out to the lake

Rode dried riverbed for about a mile.

This is Lake Powell, I pictured clear blue water. This was muddy and stinky, but the birds sure liked it. I'm sure the main body of the lake is clear and beautiful, but not at the end of a tributary like this. I'll just have to plan another trip back out there to find out. Dang it!

The ride back was awesome as the sun set. I had my headlamp for the last couple miles of the ride

Friday, May 25, 2012

Gravel Canyon

Gravel Canyon was the pinnacle of the Utah Super Trip for me. It had everything, a twelve mile fat-bike ride on the beginning and end, a scenic canyon with nice slots, wide open spaces in between, and some swimming. It also had the best ruins, and it took all day.
"Those are some big tires"

6 mph was all I could muster most of the way up

"Where the hell are we anyway"

Down climb

That looks safe. We came to trust rappel anchors like this one!

This was the most memorable scene for me on the trip


The log above Steve's head represents the water level at some point

On top of the first bench,our clothes are drying on the large rock below

Remnants of a fire still remain

No I did not take it. My hand is there as a reference of the large piece of pottery

You can just barely  make out some images in the rock

The front entry

Those are some old sticks

The only thing that would have made this entire trip better was if we saw a UFO

"Who broke all the dishes"

     We got a late start for this one, we had to do some driving that we skipped the night before. It wasn't until 11am that I threw a leg over the trusty Pug and started heading up hill for twelve miles ,which took nearly two hours to complete. It was already hot, and the 20 + pounds of gear in my backpack were not making things any easier. In the bag was a jacket and farmer john wet-suit and hydroskin top, a harness, misc.climbing devices, a helmet, a small rope, food, a headlamp, 100 oz of water, a knife and my "possibles" bag. This was our standard set-up for a wet canyon. A ride up and back would have been enough for most people, or even myself on a weeknight, but we were just getting started, I knew this was going to be a good adventure. After ditching the bikes, we headed for the canyon rim and the wash where we would be able to drop in and reach the canyon floor. We went off route again and wandered around looking for a safe place to descend, which we found after twenty minutes of backtracking.  The first slots were dry which was good since it's a pain to change in and out of a wet-suit, or it's very hot if you just leave it on. Towards the end of our route we did have to put them on for a couple swims in some narrow slots. This is where we got a glimpse of the ruins, it was awesome seeing a small dwelling through the slot, way up on a cliff. I had to get up there! We swam through the slots we could fit into and stemmed others with our bodies horizontal and perpendicular to the very narrowest ones. Some of these were very deep (20-25 feet) and I didn't want to think what would happen if my foot or hand slipped. Once past all the swimming and climbing we were at the exit route, now we had to figure out how to get to the ruins. Once again I was not leaving until I saw them first hand. We figured out a way to ascend the first bench and see some crumbling ruins, rock art and more pottery. I was not satisfied yet and continued up canyon. About fifteen minutes later I rounded a corner and there they were! From the bottom of the canyon we could only see one dwelling, but now the scene revealed a long line of well preserved dwellings and granaries. Now all I needed was a ladder as there was no safe way up the cliff ! With a little scouting I found a line of weakness that I was sure I could climb. On a climbing scale I would rate it a 5.6b, I used the small, pinchy hand holds and smeared my feet twenty feet to the top. I was glad not to fall here, it was a little sketchy but I made it and that's all that mattered to me at the moment. Steve went to look for a different spot to climb up while I had the place all to myself. When I approached the ruins it was like stepping back in time, there was a clear entryway that pulled me in. It was a surreal experience, everything was in such great condition. The mud mortar in the walls still showing  hand formed ridges from ancient fingers, the unspoiled structural pieces of wood tied with some sort of stringy plant, the knots themselves, the soot on the ceilings, and the ash and charred bits of wood where they had their fires, the plant material and corncobs still in the granaries, was amazing! At this point I wanted to take off my shoes and walk around bare foot, the foot prints left by shoes didn't even seem right here. If I could, I would have slept here.
         The rest is pretty straight forward, it was easier getting down (in a different spot) from the ruins than up, we walked back to the wet clothes we set out to dry, had an awesome hike out of the canyon, criss-crossing benches and smearing up huge slabs of rock. We had several miles of desert hiking with a mesa on our right hand side to guide us back to the road and our bikes. We arrived at our bikes just before dark and quickly got rolling. It took 45 minutes to ride back, half of which was dark enough I could not see the surface of the road. Steve forgot his headlamp so I didn't bother getting mine out to keep things even. My Pug came through again, with the huge confidence building tires, I put it in the biggest ring I had and hauled ass down the road, I busted my butt to climb this thing, and was not giving up a fast down hill on account of darkness. We finished at 9:00 pm, ten hours, my favorite kind of day.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ancient Ruins

Day four of the Utah Super Trip we decided on something a little more relaxed. From a pile of info I gathered, we set out in search of ancient ruins. We had to obtain a permit from the local BLM field office. When they asked us where we were going, they were surprised a couple clowns from Minnesota knew about specific sites. I learned that they will not give up any info on the whereabouts of any ruin unless you give a specific name for that site. Even then the directions would be difficult to follow.  I did my homework well and had my own maps and names,we didn't need any direction.
     First up was the $#%&@, sorry I'm not giving the name either. After visiting these places I realize how hard it is for the ranger/volunteers to reveal their location. I was concerned it would not be as cool as I was hoping for when woman at the permit office said this place had lost it's energy.What the heck was she talking about? When I got there for myself, I had to agree. When approaching the site which is located on a promontory rising high above the canyon floor, the ruins can not be seen until the last second when you turn the corner and it hits you. The initial site of the ruin was dulled by the people sitting right in front of it, scarfing down their snacks, flapping their jaws and wearing obscenely bright and mismatched clothes! It seemed like an insult to such a magnificent place. I moved around the back side where I could not hear them and tried to take in what I was experiencing, at the same time imagining what it was like to live there no less than 800 years ago. After the people left I was able to look over the ruins without distraction and snap some photos. As awesome as this place was the energy was gone.
     From the same trail head we were able to access another set of ruins. They were located at the bottom of the canyon perched on a bench under an overhang. There were several kivas in various states, from mostly intact, to completely crumbled. This spot was very cool, remnants of broken pottery, chips from the construction of arrowheads or darts, and corn cobs, littered the ground, or were set on "shelves" on the rock face under the overhang. If we had more time I'm sure we would have noticed more details, so I took as many photos as I could and we were off to another spot.
     A few hours from sunset and many miles from our last hike we set out to find another ruin. This one was supposed to be in excellent condition. We wandered down a canyon for a couple miles before we started looking for it's location. As with all the ruins in the area, it would be set above the canyon floor, under an overhang, and well hidden. It took a little while to find it, after ascending to the canyon rim twice. The sun was starting to set and I was on a mission, I was not leaving until I found it, from what I knew about this spot it was going to be awesome. I was first to see it, and awesome it was. I waited for a few seconds to look over the scene and try to absorb this amazing place before I called to Steve, who was checking another lead nearby. Before Steve got there I stood in amazement, the Kiva was completely intact with a ladder sticking out the rectangular hole. It was like some one had just left a few weeks ago, not 800 years. It was hard to leave so soon but the sun was setting and would be dark in less than an hour. We ended up hiking the last 30 minutes in the dark, tired form a long day, and our headlamps leading the way back to camp.
    By all means get out there and see this stuff before it's gone, trampled, over managed, or your too old. Bring your close friends, family, kids or wife, and do it with respect, you will not be disappointed. There are already enough sites listing these ruins I just don't want to add to the amount of outside traffic. If you are interested and I know you, just ask and I will set you up with what I know, I'll even go back with you.

Fat-bikes were the preferred mode of travel on the  high-clearance roads
It looks like this everywhere

The ruins are on the opposite side of the point

Back on the canyon floor searching for kivas

This is the inside of a kiva, they are recessed into the ground  and accessed by ladder. The walls inside look like old plaster, the ceiling is black with soot

Pottery,corncobs etc.

On our way out we thought for sure there would be some ruins in this cave-like opening,  there weren't

Not good for mini-van, Very good for fat-bike

On our way to the third ruin, near sunset 

Amazing! the little white things are pieces of paper that say "DO NOT WALK ON ROOF" . Some dip shit's foot prints went right across the roof!

I'm home

This is the same thing "they" saw when exiting the kiva