This morning was C-O-L-D!!!! Neither of us slept at all and that pretty much set the stage for the event that would follow today. After a quick cup of coffee, packing up and firing up the bikes, Rod asked if we should head into town for gas and breakfast. I said “it’s up to you” as I yawned. He fired his bike and said we should just get on the trail, Moab wasn’t that far and we’d just fueled up 37 miles ago. So we headed out of camp and picked up the trail a few miles west. We would realize later, this was a BIG mistake.
The ride was beautiful winding up the steep mountain we had just camped on, through the tree line and over. The view changed pretty quick as we got deeper into Utah. More red rock mesas and canyons we were now weaving around above on the rim line. I noticed on the gps we kept going south. I said to Rod several times it seemed odd that we’d go so far south yet Moab was definitely north of Monticello. As we got deeper into the remote area, Rod started getting dehydrated and cramping. He’d filled his hydration pack at camp and the water didn’t smell right, so he dumped it. He was starting to feel the effects of the altitude, not enough water and no breakfast. I still had about half (1.5 liters) and had some camp meals, so we stopped under some pines and cooked up a quick lunch. A group of Dept of the Interior agents, all dressed like special forces guys, rolled up on us in a 4 man Razor. We chatted a bit and asked about how far to Moab. They kind of had a perplexed look on their faces as they told us it’s still 80 plus miles away. We confidently said, “we’re on the TranAmerica trail and have it on GPS, so no worries”. We asked what they doing up here and the driver quickly said, “we’re on a special mission” and didn’t want to elaborate on his answer. We said goodbye and they raced off.
Renewed with food and water, we kept pushing on, following our little line on the Garmins.
Not soon after, the route quickly changed to high desert. Sand and slippery gravel was now the footing and the trees were disappearing, replaced by scrub brush and small evergreens. We ran into a fireman driving up the way we were going down and again asked how far to Moab. He looked at us like we were idiots and said “boys, you’re hours from Moab.” I yelled at Rod “we’re on the trail on the gps, we HAVE to be right”. We kept pushing on and the conditions got worse. Then my zip tie repair to the navigator/fairing tower broke and we had to stop to fix that again. Hot, tired, fatigued, thirsty and confused, we looked at the gps again. YES, we were on the TAT route, but NOT the right one!!!! You see, the route runs from Monticello NORTH to Moab, then leaves there to go back south (on a different trail) to head for the Grand Canyon. The 2 routes pass within 8 miles of each other in Monticello UT. We camped 4 miles west of Monticello and saw the “route” on the gps this morning and just simply thought “oh, there it is. Let’s get on it”. We had NO idea it was the trail to the Grand Canyon. So we had just ridden 100 miles through some pretty touch country THE WRONG WAY!!!
We regrouped and decided back tracking was not an option and since we’d planned on doing this “side trip” to the Grand Canyon anyway, we’d just keep going and do it now. Looks like we may not go to Moab after all because we’ll likely head north from the canyon and meet the east-west TAT up in Utah, west of Moab. So we set our sights for the marina on Lake Powell that was our closest fuel stop, because we’re both pushing our reserve and almost out of water. The ride was stunning as we rode through the red rock canyons and around big outcroppings of rock. You’d be just riding along and suddenly a HUGE canyon would appear. I can’t tell you have beautiful it was. I really love this part of the country.
We rolled into the gas station about 2 minutes before 5pm, fueled up and went inside and bought some water and Gatorade. Rod chatted with the lady at the counter and came back with bad news. NO cell service, no lodging and camping is out in the dirt. Then we showed here where the TAT trail was leading us and she said the Bullfrog Ferry was closed for repair. Since that is the ONLY way over the river, we’d have to stay north of the river and detour to meet the trail further west. The closest town was 50 miles through Glen Canyon NP. Since this seemed like our only option, we mounted up and headed to Hanksville UT. The ride through Glen Canyon was spectacular. The rock formations are amazing. I wish I could have stopped about 10 times to shoot photos, but luckily got lots of GoPro footage, so I can snag stills from that later.
We ended up at a pretty dumpy little motel that severely over charges for their rooms, but can get away with it since there are no other options. We’ve decided to hang here half a day tomorrow to make repairs and get some rest. Across the street was a little dinner called “Dukes” and were treated to an amazing meal (or maybe we were just starving??). I guess John Wayne filmed several movies around here and the owner’s name is Duke, so the place was FILLED with John Wayne memorabilia. I barely got a shower before I literally passed out in the bed. Long day and riding the desert can really take its toll on you. Tomorrow we head for Bouder UT and pass through Capital Reef National Park to meet the trail on the other side. Till then…