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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Weeeeee! A Day of Playing on the Slickrock...and, Accidental Civil Disobedience

Above, Bobbie cruises down one of hundreds of slickrock "loaves of bread." That's what they look like so that's what we call them. And Geeze Louise, we are falling in love with the recreational offerings around Camp Boonster II...a quieter, more private site, though not as in your face red as Camp I.

In our exuberance to pedal the "loaves" we failed to notice small print on the Arches National Park Boundary marker. It read "No Motor Vehicles Beyond This Point" at the top, but down at the bottom in smaller print it read, "No Biking." Oops; didn't see that till we were on our way out. I realize and agree that there needs to be more stringent regulation in order to preserve and protect a National Park's original equipment wilderness, but a mountain biker can't scar slickrock beyond the few blood stains he might leave behind. A person can walk the "loaves" to their hearts content, but must check their bikes at the door. That's ok, "It won't happen again Mr. Ranger sir. Right Boo Boo?" 

About two miles from camp this lonely road leads to a Slickrock Playground. The leading edge is outside the park and open for mountain biking.

The Boonster, reading the large print. The dotted white dashes mark legitimate trails; stay on those and you're ok.

Bobbie trades a little red dirt road for a slickrock trail.

The loaves are often segmented with crevices like in the above photo. We were generally able to parallel them for a short distance and find ridable crossing points. But out here, pushing and carrying one's bike is part of the deal. 

It's fun to stumble across tinajas, depressions or "bowls" filled with water. They're often found in a series one after another and provide water for critters long after infrequent rains have passed. Modern day explorer/hydrologist/anthropology buff, Craig Childs, was able to travel the most remote and dry areas of Southern Arizona solo, and live for weeks off water stored in tinajas. There were some close calls as they are hit and miss. A couple of times he was force to backtrack to a previously found pothole in order to rehydrate. Childs claims that there are a few tinajas that never go completely dry, and that early explorers and natives knew their locations because survival depended upon water, particularly during long dry spells.  His book of that experience is called "The Secret Knowledge of Water," and is a good read...as are all his books. Childs describes how sometimes he was forced to drink from hot, brackish watered tinajas teeming with swimming critters, dead bugs, bird shit, and other foul tasting pollutants. Other times he would find deep tanks, shaded, and filled with the sweetest cold water one could imagine. His GPS notations of tinaja coodinates saved his life, allowed him to stay out for weeks on end and carry less water.

Flat tires are part of the "deal" when mountain biking Utah's back county. It's notorious for goatheads, cacti, and ledges of sharp rock...so do go prepared with tools and tubes.


  1. Another great blog post! So jealous of the biking and can't wait to get out there ourselves! Live it up for us in the meantime. ;-)

    1. We will do our best to leave you some slick rock :))

  2. "but a mountain biker can't scar slickrock beyond the few blood stains he might leave behind."

    Actually, they can. It's just a matter of volume. The desert is fragile. As is the High Lonesome. The "problem" isn't the damage, that's part of life... the Problem is damage at a rate that the land can't heal itself.

    Some of it, is MADE to be "damaged"... like the grasses. If not grazed and walked on by heavy, cloven footed animals... like sixty million buffalo... (cattle are a pretty good alternative) the grass withdraws from lack of the stimulation of pruning, the ground seals off in a hard rain and oxygen shedding crust... and the land dies.

    Again though, it is the rate and the way.

    The problem isn't mountain bikers, hikers or atv'ers... it's PEOPLE. and imposing more regulation, written by TOTALLY ignorant, self serving and power lusting bureaucrats and political thugs bent only on their own twisted agendas is not going to change anything for the good...

    ... the problem is People... too many damn people. Far more than the planet can sustain... like a 1000 animal unit cattle ranch. It can sustain 1000 head. NOT 2000 or 30000. The earth is no more than a very large cattle ranch... that is badly, badly overstocked. The land doesn't ever get enough rest between "grazings" to heal and prosper... and there's no "Understocked" farm down the road to go buy more feed from... THIS is all we got... and it's over stocked.

    We can argue about recycling beer cans and the fraudulent savings of hybrid cars and saving the rocks from stupid boy scouts and malicious atv'ers... and it's all for nothing as long as human population keeps growing like a malevolent bacteria.

  3. Finally some good pictures from BCB- between the rants and various points of view- darn good stuff- makes me wonder- give up comfort of home- downsize and move on?? only time will tell-take care you two! walden creek rv

    1. Ha! Yeah, those pictures of Lovely Ouray were getting pretty boring (snooze).
      You know Steve, if you took a winter off, the ocean will still be there in Florida when you get back

  4. @ brian--what nonsense

    1. brian can't seem to have a conversation, always preaching, like i'm right and everybody else is wrong. he needs a lesson in humility, and he's just plain divisive.

    2. Opinions are divisive by definition. There will always be someone with an opposing view. How-some-ever (as the CowBoy likes to say), it never hurts to ease up on inflammatory rhetoric when treading controversial ground.

  5. Things get a little heated here on the BCB, and I'm not talking about the desert sun, right, Mark? I always find it interesting the polarized views on the NPS. Being from the Midwest where there is less government land I see it differently than those of you out west. I'm curious if my views will change when we retire and start spending more time out there. Then again, when viewing all the "idiots" at play in the park those regulations start looking awfully good. Six dogs on the Laurel Falls Trail the other day where it is specifically marked NO DOGS. Want your doggie to go everywhere with you? Visit another park that allows them! The ones that break the rules are also the ones that tend to not stick around to clean up the messes, doggie or otherwise. On a lighter note, I agree that anything by Craig Childs is worth a read!


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