Coral Pink Sand Dunes.
Johnna tests the sand. We took a spin on the dunes Sunday afternoon and she didn't put on her boots. At the top of the distant sand dune are several people waiting for the eclipse that would happen later, about 7pm.
This was taken Monday morning before we packed up and left. We wanted to do a bit of riding around in the southern end of the dunes, which is a sparse pine forest with smaller dunes.
The southern end of the dunes. Some pines and shrubs with low dunes. A pleasant rid none the less.
This turned out to be a very good trip. Our reason for going wasn't to zoom around over the dunes, but to participate in a rally sponsored by Utah/Arizona ATV Clubs and other Kane County merchants.
We've enjoyed this years rallies so far, and Saturday's ride was fun, and unique. Usually, rallies are broken up into groups of 25 to 30 riders with 3 or 4 guides per group. This makes sense because rallies are held in areas having ATV and jeep trails crisscrossing National Forest and other access roads. Without a guide, or very accurate maps, it's easy to get lost. This was a different approach. Rather than send out guided groups, sponsors had laid out a marked route, starting at the trail head and looping back over scenic BLM trails, to the starting point. Junctions were marked with arrow signs pointing in the right direction. Side roads were blocked with flags or in some cases; spray painted red lines on the sand. We couldn't possible get lost. When we lived in California, I always ranted and raved about CAL TRANS and the lame freeway directional signs. On Saturday, I had no problem with the route as laid out by the ATV club.
Riders went out in bunches of ten and were on their own. We could stop as often as we wanted and weren't required to stay in any kind of order. It took us about three hours to run the course. The ride will be different next year so we'll probably be there.
Sunday, was another ride; this time with guides. The original plan was to organize two rides, one easy and another more difficult, or, in rally terminology, intermediate. We thought we would try the easier ride. We've been with ATV riders who like to do the "technical trails." And we're just not into rock climbing and cliff crawling. We didn't know anything about the proposed, "more difficult ride," so we played it safe and signed up for the easy ride. Sunday morning, about fifteen riders arrived at the jumping-off point, Clay Flats. Of those, only three of us wanted the easy ride. So the guide for the more difficult venture, described the trail, which didn't sound all that tough, so everybody made up one group and off, we went.
Steep sand hills were the big challenge on this ride, not slick rock or boulders. Our guide laid out a course that took us down the south fork of the Virgin River, through a very scenic canyon called the Barracks. Rock formations and color give this canyon the appearance of Zions; just not as spectacular.
The trail followed the river as it meanders down the canyon. We had to cross it at least 12 times, but the low water level, made it relatively easy. At each crossing, we bumped down one bank, made a small splash before grinding up the opposite side. Leaving the canyon floor was the hard part. The canyon isn't that deep but, getting to the rim is a bit of a challenge. It requires climbing up sand tracks, of at least twenty degrees that can be difficult for anyone not familiar with soft sand. One rider bogged down early in the ride going up a very steep incline. However, she was a fast learner and turned into a credible sand hog by the time we left the canyon.
I'm continually amazed at how ATVs and our RZR; dig all four wheels in and make it seem easy. Just don't chicken out and stop half way up.
For the rest of the day we were in and out of moderate to deep sand. But, we finally made it up Harris mountain, and, at over 6,000 feet, the view was worth it. We were on the trail for a bit over three hours and the Garmin GPS device logged 36.8 miles. That included a couple of miles backtracking, when the guide missed a turn.
Sunday afternoon, I took a spin over the dunes and around 6 pm took Johnna for a ride. The dunes stretch for about 2 miles and have something for everyone. I've been on sand dunes before but not this extensive or challenging. I managed to get stopped a couple of times before reaching the crest of a dune and had to back down. The first time I dug all four wheels up to the hubs, and I had to remove sand from behind the wheels before I could back out. One or two of the higher dunes, although climbable, are not safe. If you go over the top just at the wrong angel, you can roll. With roll bars an seat belts, you would probable survive, but it wouldn't make your day. Anyway, it's a lot of fun.
Our camp site was next to the bath rooms and showers, which allowed me to play the voyeur. I couldn't help but notice the male female couples going into the showers together--well, I suppose I could have, but the traffic was interesting. They were trying to conserve water I suppose. I was surprised at the openness of these guys and gals. Not very many years ago they would never have been so casual. I'm thinking, society is moving in the right direction.
I started a conversation with one young man named Angelo Mchorse, from a couple of camping sites over. Angelo was an interesting guy.
When I first started talking to him I thought he was Navajo, but he was of the Taos tribe. He says he got his name, McHourse from his grandfather. Anyway he's attending college in Darango Co. and after graduating next year will return to Taos and work for the tribe. His primary interest is improving the nutrition of the Taos tribe. He'll live in the Pueblo and work for a community agricultural project sponsored and owned by the Taos Pueblo.
He was camped with his girlfriend and another couple. They were headed for the Los Angeles area. Angelo was all revved up and looking forward to visiting Venice Beach. Apparently, his interest was in a famous music shop or something. We had a good conversation; he was young and enthusiastic a welcome change in attitude from some of the younger generation we meet.
We left for home Monday morning before noon. There are miles of trails to run over in the general area, so we'll be back.