Convenience aside, the overriding argument against camping amid the human detritus of Ground-Zero Zion is to be able to hop astride the ole Cannondale at Ground-Zero Virgin... where BLM backroads and single-track serenity awaits just beyond camp's doorstep.
The upside is that this Mountain Bike Mecca also serves as an excellent elevated promenade for those who prefer a leisurely perambulation with panoramic views. Enough tacky alliteration; on to a little photogenic illustration...
Of all the "walkable" backroad/single-track destinations around Camp Virgin, one of the most unique has to be "Guacamole," a pocked-topped sandstone plateau that puts the "play" in playground. For bikers there is peril enough to get your mojo kick... from whoop-de-doos to ledges to outright cliffs.
Recall the BCB post a couple years back when a few members of The Gang decided to mountain bike to "Guac" from camp (ugh... a seven-mile uphill sandy slog capped off with almost a mile of 14% grade at the end). Tired legs and all, we Geezers blindly embarked on Guac, following little rock cairns into a "playground of no return," or almost, anyway.
Long story short, Jim crashed hard... landed flat on his back on a boulder (his specialty). Fortunately his backpack cushioned the blow, and probably saved a 911 call, if not his life. But either to his credit or insanity, he got back on the "horse that threw him" and we continued on. We stumbled upon Bobbie and Gayle who had long since ditched their bikes in favor of walking. Advice from Gayle along with a fractured thumb forced a "white flag." We beat a hasty retreat with tails between legs... promising to return.
Having not made the entire 12 mile loop (more of a maze, actually), we decided to hike Guac, and this year had the good sense to drive up to the mesa's top. Here's what we found before lightning sent us scampering back to cars. Shesh, it's always something...
|"If ya can't even walk the Goddamned course how do they expect you to ride it?"|
|Petrified rock everywhere|
|Looking toward Zion and the Chinle trail... a couple miles as the crow flies.|
|Some of Guac winds through a surreal burn area...|
I've thrown in some photos of other bike rides that illustrate the beauty, variety, and walkability of trails surrounding Camp Virgin...
You've heard me mention "riding the Monkey," I'm sure. This year I had an equally crazy riding buddy, Maikel, who also loves to push his limits. And push them he did... as well as mine. Nearly 20 years my junior, I was lucky to keep Maikel in sight, and had to settle to racing against "the clock," trying to knock a few seconds off my time using him as a "rabbit."
|Yep, we going to race up Flying Monkey Mesa. Note water tower on top|
|Meet Andre... We talked him into riding the Monkey. Turns out he's smarter than us and once was enough|
|Do da Monkey dance, boys!|
|On top of "Monkey" and headed for the next level... on top of that mesa to Zion overlook.|
|The reward is worth the grunt. Nice...|
|Discretion is the better part of valor! Live to ride another day by walking this section...|
|Miles and miles of lovely single track...|
|With views like this...|
|Camp Zion I... Flying Monkey Mesa boondock|
If you want a nice canyon ride, head up to Zion and catch the Parus Trail from the Visitor's center and ride it all the way to the Narrows.
|When the Trams run, car traffic is gone... making this a fun ride with neck-craning views|
mark and bobbie
Post Script: I went to the bother of delving into the HTML for the lead photos of this and the previous post. Once found I inserted 1600 for the existing 620 px. and I do believe I can tell the difference. To do this for every photo is just too time consuming (sigh). Thanks for your input!!!