Thursday, June 01, 2006

May was Bike Month: The White Rim in a Day

We did the White Rim in a day to preview it for a scout trip in June. Unfortunately, we had to drive most of it. That is somewhat unfortunate because cycling the White Rim is a lot more fun than driving it. The Park Service helpfully informed us that doing the whole thing requires at least 10 hours non-stop and that doing it in a day "doesn't leave much time for sightseeing." Well, they were right. We needed 9 hours and spent very little time looking at the scenery.

That made a 15 hour day in the truck. Lots of time to talk and I think we listened to all of General Conference on my ipod. I think the people from Colorado that we saw were a little confused to hear an LDS apostle blaring in our truck at Monument Basin.

A few observations that fill in what you might find in the many White Rim trip reports available online:

  • The Murphy Hogback itself isn't that bad. A short climb before (going clockwise) the Hogback was more intense.
  • The climb out of Hardscrabble Bottom (still going clockwise) was more technical than Murphy Hogback.
  • The road after Hardscrabble Bottom is narrow enough that we had to fold in the passenger side mirror (in a Nissan Frontier) to avoid scraping it off.
  • We did the road in a stock 2005 Nissan Frontier (as mentioned). No clearance or turning radius issues.
  • The Airport Tower camps are fully exposed to the sun.
  • The Potato Bottom camps all have shady cottonwoods. Sweet.
  • There are no picnic tables in any of the camps.
  • Monument valley is pretty darn amazing. Kind of like Bryce Canyon except fewer hoodoos, fewer people and different colors but a better backdrop.
  • The drive has no serious clearance obstacles the main challenges were climbing without slipping, making the switchbacks on Hardscrabble and the narrow road.
  • There are very few places in which one can drive faster than 10 mph. You'll be tempted to speed up, then road will quickly remind you that it is an unmaintained backcountry road. The ditches are deeper than you think and the slickrock is bumper than you think.
  • Most of the time, you can ride a bike at an average speed of 13 mph. You need to know that because the bikes can easily outride their support.
  • I had to take a break from driving to get on my bike and ride for a while. Driving is bumpy, hot and dusty while riding the bike is way fun.

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