Sunday, May 31, 2020

Motorcycling around Utah

Saturday I ran a 60k trail race near Bryce Canyon National Park just outside Hatch, UT and Mike rode the BMW on a scenic tour west of Hatch.

The trail race climbed over 1,000' onto the Paunsaugunt Plateau in the first 3 miles, wound around the wide, green alpine meadow, climbed and twisted on Thunder Mountain Trail, and finished with more steep climbs and even steeper descents through the Dixie National Forest.

This was truly an epic trail race with 4,000' of climbing, another 4,000' descending, forests, rocks, hoodoos, and even a few raindrops to cool us off.

While I was running, Mike rode the BMW north on Route 89 to Panguitch and then headed west on Utah Route 143 which according to Butler Motorcycle Maps is a fantastic motorcycle rode - and Mike was stoked. He rode up to almost 11,000' with snow still lingering in spots on the mountains, craggy peaks, and gorgeous overlooks.

Today (Sunday, May 31st) we rode back home from Hatch on Route 89. Our route took us through the green mountain valley of the Sevier River that twists and turns so much it looks like a long chain of the letter 'S' hooked together for miles.

We stopped in Kanab, founded by Latter Day Saint families like so many of the towns in Utah, and named for a Paiute word meaning 'place of the willows'.

Kanab sits at the base of the Vermillion Cliffs, and while it's a favorite tourist spot today the town was quiet. We ate breakfast at Jakey-Leigh's coffee shop and bakery before we continued south. Just south of Kanab Mike started to pass a white pick-up truck and got almost next to it before he saw the Sheriff sign on the door and quickly slowed down. The Sheriff kept driving the speed limit, and we were content to follow him for a few miles before he turned off.

Kanab is only about 70 miles north of Page, AZ and as we dropped down from around 6,000' to 4,000' in Page, the temperature climbed into the 90's. Route 89 enjoys views of the Grand Staircase Escalante national park the Vermillion Cliffs, and the changing colors and formations of the weathered rocks and high cliffs makes the drive outstanding.

We crossed into Arizona and caught glimpses of bright-blue Lake Powell to the east.

Lake Powell was created in 1963 when the 710' Glen Canyon Dam on the Colorado River was built to the dismay of many environmentalists. When it's full (which hasn't been since 1999 due to several years of drought), Lake Powell is 186 miles long with over 90 side canyons. It's the second-largest man-made reservoir in the United States - just behind Lake Mead, nearly 300 miles of Colorado River to the west.

We rode another 130 miles south on Route 89 from Page to Flagstaff, and along the way the odometer rolled over to 19,000 miles so we did a little happy dance on the bike.

It was a hot and windy ride and we were glad to see the snowy San Francisco peaks in Flagstaff where we enjoyed a few miles of cooler temperatures. Like so many places in the Southwest, the San Francisco peaks were named by Franciscan friars doing missionary work in the area in 1629.

We turned off Route 89 in Flagstaff and headed south on I-17. As the elevation dropped from 7,000' in Flagstaff to 3,000' in Camp Verde the temperature rose again. Unfortunately,  a combination of an accident on Route 169 and a brush fire further south on I-17 made us take a detour that added about 45 minutes to our trip.

It's been a fantastic 4 days of motorcycle riding, and all within about 8 hours of home. We're looking to miles more of exploring on the BMW.

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