Posted by: Jack | April 13, 2007

Epic Journey: Day 14 – Moab, Idaho

When I woke up this morning I was very excited to see a bright clear sky. It looked as if we had seen the last of the rain storms which dampened the rides of the past two days. The night before, our small riding crew had discussed the plans for today’s ride. The primary group of more than 150 riders planned to ride a 6 mile trail up to Pritchett Arch and then return via the same trail. Seth offered an alternative plan of riding up through Hunter’s Canyon and meeting a trail which also led to Pritchett Arch. Then we could descend along the originally planned route. We all welcomed this option as it would get us away from the chaos that is a swarm of rider’s storming up a challenging climb.

Leaving a car at the main parking lot, we drove a bit farther West to the trailhead for Hunter’s Canyon.

After gearing up and stretching-out the past days’ rides we began the steep ascent (mostly on foot) which quickly took us almost to the rim of the canyon. By now the sun was high and the scenery was astounding. Having done most of the climbing in the first half hour, the next three or four miles consisted of challenging and fun single track snaking its way along the canyon.

Making excellent time on this great trail, we found ourselves at the fork which led to Pritchett Arch in less than two hours. Another mile or so brought us right to the base of the Arch itself.

A number of the teen-aged riders somehow manage to never grow tired and unbelievably ride without water. They had taken the longer and more crowded route, yet had already reached the arch and had been relaxing in the shade below for some time now. They were all disappointed because after some extensive searching they found no way to climb up on top of the arch even if they left their unicycles below.

I was slightly distraught because this is something I had wanted to do as well. But then I thought about all the traveling, hiking, climbing and unicycling I had done to get here and realized there was no way a challenge involving hiking, climbing and my unicycle could hold me back at this point. In my preliminary search for a route which could be ascended and descended while carrying a unicycle over my shoulder, I came up with no safe options. But traveling another ¼ mile beyond the arch I did come across an acceptable slope. After surpassing the first and steepest section, the younger guys were motivated to follow. Rather than wait for them I figured I had earned the honor of being the first to ride over the arch and moments later was doing just that. I’ve yet to track down any of the numerous photographers who got some shots of me up there solo but I’m sure I will eventually.

By the time I had “summitted” the arch, many more riders had arrived at the base and I assume were marveling at my greatness.

When the other guys joined me on the arch we were instructed by those below to do a number of poses and ride back and forth across the arch a few times for photos. Soon after, with the sun in full force now, I made my descent back to the trail. The guy’s I had rode up with had long since began their descent and I assumed were a ways ahead. So I rode along from group to group enjoying the relatively easy trail. Just as things got challenging again I caught up to my crew as they were taking a break.

Continuing on, we found some of the best lines of the entire weekend with big drops and complex sequences. The past days had really enhanced my abilities and confidence and I would argue that I did the best riding of my life within the remainder of this trail.

At one especially dynamic section of the trail we encountered some ATVs and I got a huge kick out of the scene as one rider after another nailed this technical line which had defeated one of the ATVs, forcing it to be towed by another.

The end of the trail was fairly boring and even had sections of deep sand which could not be ridden. While my fellow riders took frequent breaks, I decided that the real fun was over and I might as well finish up.

Originally I had planned to spend this night at the campground again and head for home very early in the morning. But after finishing the ride I felt pretty strong and very eager to get home. So I packed up and hit the road, stopping at the campground only for a shower. While cleaning up I was talking with a couple riders who as it turns out, were heading for Portland and would therefore be taking the same route. I asked if they were going to push straight through the night and they said they would like to get home quickly but with only the two drivers it would be a bit much. They intended to stop shortly after reaching Idaho. I’m not really sure how two drivers aren’t sufficient to drive through the night but to each their own. About four hours later I pulled into a gas station to refuel myself and the car and as I was doing so someone behind me said, “Is that a unicycle in your car?!” I was confused at first since both my unicycles were hidden in my trunk, but I turned to find the same two guys had pulled up at the next pump. We both found this quite surprising since they hadn’t consciously been following me and had only really stopped in need of a bathroom. There were at least four other gas stations in the immediate vicinity and we had chosen the same one. My best explanation for the seeming coincidence is apparently-successful billboard advertising.

I pressed on throughout the evening, listening to Relativity by Albert Einstein (I don’t recommend it), Greatest Minds and Ideas of All Time by Will Durant and Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris. If anyone has thought about reading Harris’ The End of Faith, I would recommend Letter to a Christian Nation and Dawkins’ The God Delusion instead. It will save you time and repetition.

Having run out of audio books, the miles and hours really began to crawl by. As midnight neared I would guess I was somewhere between Twin Falls and Boise and really not looking forward to the remaining eight or nine hours of travel.

Continue to Day 15

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