Spring Break is finally here! Finishing off my tough week of 4 exams, Karyn and I quickly headed out of town for a little rest and self abuse in the outdoors. The destination - Fruita Colorado. The mechanism of torture - our tandem mountain bike, single mountain bikes, and probably some hiking here and there. Our friends Doug and Lanette will be joining us mid-week.
After the drive to Fruita, we found a nice campsite in the Colorado National Monument. We had a nice evening relaxing from the drive.
The morning was beautiful. Crystal clear skis about 50 degree F, quickly warming up to 70. We hiked out of the campground to overlook Monument Valley. The White-throated Swifts were flying acrobatically around the edges of the canyon, their calls echoing off the canyon walls. Pinyon Jays called from behind. Common Ravens flew overhead, joined by a few Rock Pigeons. It was an amazing morning. Ok, the pigeons weren't that exciting.
We finished the hike then went into town to get the run down on the mountain bike trails. The great people at Over the Edge Cycles were more than willing to provide us all of the details along with selling us a book, a map, and a few bike tubes.
We headed out to the Kokopelli trailhead to get set up. As we lowered the tandem off the van, a couple pulled in from their ride - Chris & Heather. They also had a Ventana Mountain Tandem. We talked for some time with them about the trails in the area. We will try to link up with them later in the week.
By the time we headed out the temperature was in the lower 70's, but the wind was blowing about 20 mph. It was fairly dusty, but the sun and the trails were definitely worth it. We warmed up on an easy trail called Rustler's loop. This is definitely a different type of riding than we have in Boise. We have experience with riding in Moab Utah, which is similar terrain, but it has been many years since we have been there. Our skills slowly improved as we completed the loop. From their we headed up Mary's Loop to Horsethief Bench. This loop starts with a nasty hike-a-bike down to a lower plateau. This loop is definitely a few steps up in difficulty from the beginner loop. There are three sections that only the craziest of the crazy would try to ride. We had to stop in another three or four places as we were not quite ready to risk a rocky crash on day one. At one location we were hiking our bike down a ledge as a guy behind us drops over the ledge and flies right over the handlebars, landing in a sandy area with large rocks mixed in. Luckily he was ok. We finished the ride as the wind continued to increase. The weather station says the wind is steady at 24 with gusts to 40. Hopefully it will calm down a bit.
Back in camp the wind did NOT calm down. It was howling. We feared the wind would rip the top off of our van. It was relentless through the evening and most of the night. Needless to say, we did not sleep well. The weather report would later tell us that the wind gusted to 66 mph! It finally calmed down near morning as the snow began to fall. Looks to be a hiking day instead of a riding day. We first drove the monument road. This was a useless endeavor as the visibility was so poor that we couldn't actually see the features. On a short hike to stretch our legs we heard the unmistakable notes of the song of the Canyon Wren. What a great life bird to find. This guy even posed for a few great pictures, after I ran to the van to retrieve the camera.
The weather started clearing so we decided on a longer hike from the base of Monument Valley up as far as we wanted to go. The sun came out for most of the trip as we hiked about 8 miles round trip. Another wren made its appearance as a pair of Rock Wrens took their turn in front of the camera. The lighting was just a little better for this one.