I returned to Salt Lake and thankfully the weather was more of what I was expecting of spring, sunny and warm. The next outing was going to be a 2 and a half day blast down to the St George/Zion area. We would be taking the Outback on this trip.
This is Alyssa’s daily driver and in the past road trips in it, I had been impressed by its ability to cover ground comfortably. It is an Outback XT which features the 2.5 turbo. With an auto tranny this model uses VTDS (variable torque distribution system) and a limited slip rear diff to put traction down (standard outbacks run open front and rear diffs). In the order of Subaru awd systems, this one is generally considered the second best behind the system in the STI. The STI utilizes DCCD (driver controlled center differential) allows cockpit adjustable torque distribution from front to rear with full 50/50 lock as well. The STI also uses front and rear limited slip diffs. So from a traction point of view either Subie puts down amazing traction, the issue as always with a Subaru is clearance.
I know I will be scolded but I couldn’t resist. Minimalist, pshhhh right…. I mounted my RTT on the Outback. Hear me out though! Tent camping has its charms. When we are backpacking or canoe camping, a ground tent seem like downright luxurious accomodations but when we are car camping, and lets be honest, thats what we are really doing, a RTT IS more comfortable and easy to use. Yep, I am getting soft in my old age. haha The RTT also makes camping in rocky, muddy, crappy conditions much easier too and on a low center of balance car like a Subaru has no noticeable effect on handling.
So, bikes loaded, RTT on top, and our camp kit on board we rolled out of SLC headed south on I 15 late Friday afternoon.
Funny, with the Thule bars by themselves on top of the Outback, it had an annoying whistling sound on the highway. With the RTT there was NO wind noise. That’s a nice perk. We cruised 85 most of the way and were showing 19-20 as the average fuel consumption. Not bad considering the RTT, pretty strong winds, and the velocity. Turbocharged Subies aren’t the most fuel effecient cars really. Normally highway driving you are lucky to see 25. 22-24 is more common.
I hadn’t been down to this area before but thankfully Sinuhe gave me some good intel on camping spots and places to ride. We got off I 15 and headed through the town of Hurricane and out onto dirt headed up to the top of Gooseberry Mesa. The full moon was out which painted the landscape and gave us just enough of a tease of the surrounding landscape. After 6 or 7 miles of dirt road driving we got onto a two track and found a great spot perched on the edge of the mesa. We popped the tent quickly and crashed out for the night. It was windy and cold but we were comfy and warm.
View out the front door in the morning.
It was a pretty brisk and windy morning. We took our time getting up, fed, and tuning up the bikes. Gooseberry Mesa has an awesome network of singletrack mixed with big views and slick rock. Its a good time.
Alyssa, my co-conspirator
Those colors and textures are a feast for the eyes
Me riding out to the point.
After two sessions of riding Saturday, I managed to cover all of the trails at least once on Goosberry. This area is referred to as the natural skate park. Such cool rock formations to ride on the South Rim Trail and Hidden Canyon.
The sun getting low.
A beautiful evening, and some good fixins for dinner. Nothing like some good ‘ol camp tacos after a long day of riding.
Sunday morning rolled in and we packed up camp. It was looking to be a beauty of a day. After debating our plan for the day, we decided to forego a morning ride and head straight into Zion.
Go little Subie! Some shots from the drive down to Springdale from Gooseberry. Some thoughts…. Not having low range is a downer… with an auto, you can cheat a bit and drive slowly up over things. Obviously we aren’t doing any rock crawling in this car but we did have to drive over some small rock ledges and obstacles enough to have to do some creative tire placement. For the stuff we are doing a low range would have been nice, but we made it work. Travelling downhill however like on this section of Smithsonian Butte Scenic Backway, it would have been nice to have some engine braking to contrl the descent. Even with the tranny in sport mode and first gear engaged it was all brakes going down a long rugged downhill with rocks and ruts. Not ideal but again a compromise of using a car.
Our plan for the day was to enter Zion National Park and hike Angel’s Landing, a monolithic rock fin that towers 1,500 feet above the canyon floor. Its not for those with a fear of heights since the last portion is a narrow climb with sheer cliffs on both sides of the route.
It was in the high 80’s already as we began the steep hike.
Approaching the last portion of the accent. The views of the valley were getting epic. Definately alot of people on the trail today though. Picking Easter Sunday to do this probably wasn’t the best call in terms of getting some solitude.
The last portion of the climb. This gives a good feel for how sheer it is.
The climb to the top of Angel’s Landing has chains bolted into place in sections to give a little bit of assurance.
Views from the top
The route is visible in the background of this shot. Amazing views, Zion is a very special place. We hiked back down, the whole hike took us 3 hours which wasn’t too bad considering stopping to have a snack break, the heat, and having to wait for people to ascend/descend the sections of chain. The trail info stated 4-5 hours so ahead of the curve I guess. We also checked out Weaping Rock before taking the east entrance out of the park through the tunnel and b lining it for Salt Lake.
It was a great sun filled/action packed weekend no doubt. It wet my appetite for doing more exploration of the St George/Zion Area.
We had a set of Yokohama Geolander ATS’s on order for the Outback that didn’t show up in time for the Zion trip. We had them put on after getting back. Excited to try them out on the next outing as they should provide much more peace of mind in regards to punctures and offer much better traction than the Pirelli all seasons that were on there. The ride is much better and we went for a plus size to get a touch more clearance as well.
An imposing stance…. 😉
Stay tuned, coming up next is an epic loop in Utah’s west desert……