Road/MTB Trip – San Clemente, CA to Zion, UT and back in one weekend.
May 15-17, 2020
Race cars are only ready for race day, so our track day was cancelled because race cars are not ready.
I needed to work on plan Z for this weekend. While riding my bike and planning what to do, I got an invitation to Zion, leaving Friday at noon, so I called immediately to save my spot.
We left OC Friday at noon, as planned, we had regular bumper to bumper traffic at 91 and 15 junction, but clear after that. We made a quick stop in Vegas for lunch (cachapas, arepas and papelón con limón), gas, and curiosity. It was a ghost town, police cars in front of each casino, making sure no one gets inside, besides barricades. It was weird.
We left California, Nevada, and Arizona behind, we lost an hour entering Utah due to time change adjustment. A road carved into red mountains by river is your welcome. We made a final stop for fuel before entering Zion National Park and loose phone connection with the world. At nighttime, you are clueless where you are at, we camped in a campground next to main road because of hot showers and restrooms facilities, exactly the ones that Silviu like so much. That night was cold, maybe low 30’s and wolfs/coyotes howling next to you brings extra emotions to your dreams, not to mention baby crying here and there in a close by campground.
Wake up early, used facilities and left campground, we got coffee in a local shop, everywhere we stopped, people follow social distancing, people wearing mask not so much, workers, all of them. Marvin choose Gooseberry Trail based on feedback from MTB project app, that allow us to know where to go, from driving directions to trail head as well as every turn while riding your bike. In OC, trail heads are close to pavement areas, in Utah you need to drive few miles for dirty roads with plenty of “dog ribs” (costilla e’ perro), erosion cracks that moves everything in your car.
Mr. T. You electric Jaguar will not make it, neither any Prius nor that type of cars. We saw Subaru, pick-up, Vans, Jeeps and 4runners 4x4 type of vehicles there.
Utah off road trails are notorious because of painting dots over rocks that you follow to complete trails and not get lost, that is from Not Dot Adventures friends got their name somehow. Trail itself is like Telonics in Laguna Beach, but flat, no speed involved. Impressive views, you need go over rocks and cracks and it is a reward for your effort. 8.6 miles in 3 hours and 3k feet elevation in a flat area, really challenging for type of rides I normally do. We missed Kevin yelling Mario’s kart noise while riding, so we start “weeeeing” our self while riding!
Done by noon, got fluids to keep us hydrated and move on to hiking mode. We hiked at Zion National Park, but not all trails were open, not all parking areas open, no shuttle service, no fee, so park was at 30% capacity, that will be my best guess. We hiked Emerald Pools trails, a moderate climb that consume our remaining energy for the day. I’m glad Angels landing was closed, because that is a serious hike. Those solid red rock mountains are impressive, but a tunnel that cross through it is insane, what an engineer talent display for our enjoyment.
We had lunch in a local place, burgers fries and mango-mossa to recover some energy, but we end up sleeping before sun goes down after taking a hot shower.
Saturday night was not as cold as night before, or I was exhausted to notice, but kid yelling and wolf or coyotes around keep us alert, even that we know they are far away from us.
Next morning, same routine, we drove to Holy Guacamole trail following local advice, again, dirt road to gain access to trailhead. MTB project rate was not as good as Goose, but we had fun, we gain more speed on this one and similar views, we got GoPro this time, but editing those clips takes forever. About 8 miles, 2k elevation feet in about 2 hours. No dots to follow, chicken wire rocks piles instead, so I did my own rock pile/tower just because is like my signature, my 0.02cts to trail marks to follow.
We left Zion about noon, and because we gain an hour due to time zone difference, we use it to make a 2 hours detour to visit China Ranch in Death Valley and have the best Date Shakes on earth, exit Baker, hwy 127 north, you wont regret much, if you like to drive.
Videos at my YouTube channel, thanks for watching!
In memory of John Alkema, a fellow traveler who lost battle against cancer, my tribute to him!