I was working away on some new skis getting them ready for our first US Ski Team training camp of the season in Mammoth Mountain, CA. It was Tuesday afternoon and I was in the ski team’s Center of Excellence in Park City. A friend from LA sends me a one word text, “Gooseberry.”
It was from a fellow outdoor loving buddy, Sinuhue and what this one word meant was translated into…. get your ass down to Gooseberry and lets ride! He was driving over from LA that evening and spending 5 days riding the St George area trails. My time was short as I had to be back to Salt Lake by Thursday afternoon to pickup a company truck, a uhaul trailer and pack gear for Mammoth before a 4am departure Friday morning.
Despite logic telling me it would be idiotic to make a 5 hour drive one way, to ride for a day, I hurried to finish my ski work that afternoon then rushed a pack job and loaded up my STI with goods that evening. I got up at 3am to hit the road down to Gooseberry Mesa. Along the way I kept remembering things I forgot to pack in my haste…. poles for the tent, no worries, if the weather is bad I will sleep in the car, if its good, the hammock……. My sleeping bag… hmmm, guess I can just bundle up in all of the clothes I brought…. I wasn’t exactly killing it.
After a stop for some morning Krispy Kremes I rolled up to the mesa well before the sun started cooking the red earth. Alyssa and I had been here a few weeks prior and already the weather was noticeably warmer. I found Sinuhue’s camp with no issue, his well built Land Rover Discovery I is a thing of beauty for a car dork like me and catches my eye like an airport beacon on one of those inky black nights.
I share my goods of baked, confectionery delights and we got the bikes ready to go. I was stoked to be back at Gooseberry. The single track here is amazing. The trails wind all around and through the middle of a large mesa above the town of Hurricane, Utah, not far from the entrance to Zion National Park. Its the type of riding that makes it impossible to wipe the grin off your face, ear to ear style. The trails are a mix of slick rock and packed dirt, that follow the cliff edge or through the natural contours of the slick rock on the mesa. Its good living. Being that it was a weekday the place was relatively empty. In fact, over the course of two rides that day we encountered no one else on the trails.
Some shots from session 1
Looking out from the North Rim of Gooseberry
Sinuhue taking a breather on Rattlesnake Rim. Hard to keep your eyes on the route with scenery this breathtaking.
Catching a break from the sun in a shady spot under a ledge
At camp, one of these vehicles is not like the other. It wasn’t really an issue getting the STI up to the mesa, it involves about 7 miles of dirt roads, rocky at times but with careful line selection it wasn’t an issue, even with the limited ground clearance.
Sinuhue’s kitchen setup looks like a piece of artwork. Very nice, makes the ‘ol Coleman two burner on top of the action packer look shabby…. go figure.
After a good lunch I found a nice place for the hammock and took a well needed siesta. The sun was high as was the heat. The shade made for some good down time.
Session two, the sun is getting low.
Me riding along the north rim. A Mazing evening, absolutely perfect.
Kicking back and thinking that it was worth the effort to come down. Sometimes rationality gets the best of us, but this was a celebration of spontaneity. Extra awesome for the pile of firewood someone left behind at the trailhead. First campfire of the season, like hanging out with an old long lost friend again. I think my last campfire was while bird hunting last fall in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with friends. We had a brisk night and a pack of wolves howling nearby. Nice contrast.
My bedroom the next morning. Nothing like sleeping out under the stars. Sinuhue had a spare sleeping bag so I was plenty comfy that night. I did the hammock thing, he slept on the rock by the fire. Any chance you don’t need to sleep in a tent or other camping structure is an opportunity not to waste.
Rolling back out of Gooseberry Thursday morning, bummed to leave but anxious to get back and get everything packed for Friday’s drive to California. From desert bliss back to snow. Another lovely contrast……