Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Riding Petrified Clouds


Yesterday, photographer Christian Murdock and I rode Moab's famous Slick Rock trail. And this morning, even after a strong coffee, I realize there is no way to describe it that doesn't make me sound like the hack leaflet author whose work covers fliers on the walls of every business in town.

But, hey, really, the only obvious difference between a leaflet writer and a newspaper writer is the quality of paper, so here goes:

Slick rock is a truly unique place. And I don't mean "huh, this is different." I mean "there is nothing like this in the world."

When I was young, I used to look up at the puffy cumulous clouds on summer afternoons and dream about being able to walk along the surface, exploring all the rounded swales and towners. Slick Rock is like one of those clouds petrified. The trail rolls over domes and long sandstone fins, rarely touching dirt.

It hugs cliffs and swings riders out to unexpected views where suddenly, turning a corner, the Colorado River is right there, slinking through a canyon as slow and muddy as the Mississippi.

It's no wonder when Mountain Biking magazine first wrote about this trail (originally built by motorcyclists) in 1986, it put Moab on the map as a mountain biking Mecca.

Yesterday, true to its reputation, the trail had probably 100 riders on it. The parking lot was full. Sometimes on narrow parts of the trail, we had to wait for groups to go by. Not that we weren't happy for the rest. This long, up and down trail could easily handle twice as many riders, and does on peak weekends.

This morning, we're trying something new. The locals just finished building the first new trail in years, a scenic single track called Baby Steps. We're on our way to check it out. Look for the report here this afternoon.

1 comment:

STICKYBOI - said...

Interesting fact: i wrote off a motorbike while riding down this trail around 6 or 7 years ago now. My motorbike insurance company wouldn't pay out because apparantly i was on "private land" and not on a public road! what a load of crap. I had fully comprehensive classic bike insurance as well, not some crappy third party policy - anyway my message is clear... make sure you know your policy inside out before taking your motorbike on "off-road adventures"