After spending more time than I planned at the Grand Canyon and then Monument Valley, it was super dark when I got into Moab. I was also tired, as it was fairly late, so I pitched the tent and fell asleep pretty fast. All this made the morning spectacle that much more impressive.
I had planned to spend a couple days in Moab, with my main priority being to do The Whole Enchilada - a shuttle–serviced ride that descends for up to 30 miles, depending on the season. Since I didn't sleep super well, I opted to save that for the following day. Did a little research and found a "must-ride" trail called Slick Rock. It sounded cool, and at only 10 miles, should have been an easy warmup for the next day.
I am not a smart person.
Most human adults who are alive would probably know better than to ride a high-elevation, fully exposed trail in the desert at midday. But like I said above, I am not a smart person. It was hot. It was dry. It was spectacular, but it was hard. Zero shade, extremely steep climbs, and technically challenging riding made for a high rate of water consumption.
Half an hour in, my pack was feeling light, and I had only reached the 2-mile mark. It was a little stressful. I was fortunate to link up with a group of experienced riders from Colorado, and I can't help but think that if it weren't for then, I'd have been in trouble. Side note - there was this 22-year old kid riding some old Motobecane hardtail & wearing Chuck Taylors. He ate ants. Kid was a maniac.
We suffered our way through the remaining miles, conserving water and doing a LOT of hike-a-bike. Some of the climbs were just nonsense. We did end up surviving, dehydrated but triumphant. I recall getting a burrito afterward, but it disappeared so quickly it may have just been a hallucination.
So that was day 1 in Moab.
The next day was The Whole Enchilada, which I've been looking forward to for a while. Some maniacs make a day of it and actually climb to the top before descending, but myself and 30+ like-minded individuals opted to take the shuttle.
Later in the season, The Whole Enchilada would be a 30 mile descent. The top two segments were closed, unfortunately, and our mileage clocked in at around 24 (not including the return into town). Still substantial.
The terrain varied dramatically. We started in a sort of alpine environment, away from the ridge, slicing our way down a gradual descent, surrounded by low grasses and a few sparse trees.
A wonderful couple from Colorado were kind enough to let me tag along with them, and we were treated to view after stunning view along the ridge. Seriously, you would have to be a sociopath to not stop for a minute.
Once the trail got away from the ridge, things got fun and fast. There were flowy sections through soft, slippery dirt, TONS of tricky rock sections (first OTB of the trip), and some chunky descents that had me saying Hail Marys that we wouldn't get a flat. None were had, and there was much rejoicing.
After a good three and a half hours of near-constant descent, we got to the bottom. Like the day before, the SitRep was "overheated and out of water." Thankfully, the trail ends at the edge of the Colorado River. I'm happy to say it was very cold.
Two consecutive days of hard riding has taken a toll. I am very tired. My OTB left a pretty sore spot on my lower back, I have matching knee bruises, various scrapes, and some decent sunburn. Still, it's totally worth it. Ready for some trees though.