Four helmet-cam videos in this post. First two are a bit geeky, second two rock.
The days at Race Camp were spent on the road of course, but it’s just too wrong to come down to St. George and not bring the mtn bike, so Thursday AM I snuck out early and hit Barrel Roll. I blogged about this trail over a year ago in my Botany of St. George Series. Here’s a ~5 minute-long helmet-cam clip. Almost all the shrubs on this stretch are Blackbrush or one of 2 species of Mormon Tea- Ephedra Viridis and E. Torreyana. The Viridis is bright green, and broom-like, with the stems all pointed up. The Torreyana is a light blue-green, usually lower to the ground, and the stems stick out at all kinds of angles. If you watch closely, you can easily pick the 2 out.
Or don’t, and just watch the clip for a singletrack fix. I don’t care, it’s just filler. But isn’t it pretty?
Video #1 Notes
The day before it rained, so the air was super-clear on this ride. The snow-dusted mountains in the distance right when the clip starts are the Beaver Dam Mountains. The lower slopes on the far side of the range are studded with Joshua trees. Soon (about 0:10) the Entrada sandstone cliffs of Snow Canyon swing into view to the North/Northwest. Entrada is the smooth, (usually) reddish sandstone layer which occurs above the Navajo formation. The fabulous arches of Arches National Park and the hoodoos of Goblin Valley are carved out of it, and if you’ve ever ridden Bartlett Wash, you’ve pedaled on it. In general it’s not quite as high-traction as Navajo sandstone, but is often smoother.
At about 1:52 you can see the snowy Pine Valley Range to the North come into view on the left side of the screen, and to the right of Snow Canyon. At around 2:30 you’ll see a band of cliffs across the gorge in the low foreground. This is Land Ridge, atop which runs the Tempi’po’op trail, which I blogged about in the petroglyph post. A better view of Land Ridge appears at around 3:20.
On Saturday, after 3 days of hard road-riding, I and one other teammate- Tyler2 from last year’s High Uintas Classic- forsook the road and broke out the mtn bikes for a fast JEM/Hurricane/Gould Rim loop before the weather turned foul.
Tangent: I’m just curious- how many readers besides me played hooky in school? I did, just twice, both in 7th grade. One time we went bowling, the other I can’t remember what we did. The first time, my confederate and I- let’s call him “David Galante”- called in to school as each other’s mothers to excuse ourselves. (Why we didn’t just call in as our own mothers, I’m not sure- maybe at the time it seemed less scary to impersonate someone else’s mom.) Since neither of our voices had changed, the calls went fine.
The second time, I decided to blow off calling in, figuring (correctly) that the bureaucracy was to clumsy to track down a kid with no other (known) behavioral issues. But David called in, and the school secretary didn’t believe him. She hung up and called David’s house, immediately reaching his mother.
Nested Tangent: How does it work these days, what with caller-ID and all? Do kids still fake-call-in-sick as their parents? Where from? Do they have to swipe Mom’s phone?
Fortunately, David’s mother had both a quick mind and perhaps of a bit of
criminal free-spirited streak as well, and covered for David, saying oh yes, that was me calling in… Cool mom. I wonder how David turned out…
We rode the loop counterclockwise, and in this first clip are riding South along Hurricane Rim, descending into China Wash.
Tangent: I love switching back and forth between road and mtn bikes. I find that after 3 or 4 days on one, the other feels fantastic- almost liberating. The road bike feels incredibly light and fast and precise after a few days on the mtb, while in the reverse case the mtb feels powerful, smooth and thrilling. I don’t get roadies who never mtb- don’t they get burned out? I’ve a bit more sympathy for mtbers who never road-ride (I was one for many years) but still love switching from one to the other.
Video #2 Notes
I blogged about this ride as the classic “Bench Level” ride in the Botany of St. George series. In that post I mentioned how one of the cool things about this ride is that it dips in and out of the botanical Mojave, as defined by the upper limit of creosote. The descent into China Wash is one of those transitions. At around 10 seconds in, you’ll see creosote- tall spindly shrubs with distinct olive-hued leaves- start to appear alongside the trail. As a reminder, this is the Mojave race of creosote, chromosomally hexaploid, with 78 chromosomes. The snow-covered mesa in the background is Gooseberry Mesa; behind and to the right is Little Creek Mountain.
OK, now for the good stuff. We descended to the Hurricane T/H, crossed highway 59 and picked our way up the jeep road to the Gould Rim trail. Up, up, up. We had to modify our route a bit to avoid some bad clay-mud, but eventually found our way up high on JEM trail, ready for the descent.
Video #3 Notes
The video starts in a small wash draining the cliff-band ringing the base-bench of Gooseberry Mesa. Soon we leave the wash, and at 1:35, as we roll off the end of an earthen “spine”, things get fast. Soils up here are clay, and still had enough moisture from storms earlier in the week to be hard-packed, tacky, and dust-free- pretty much perfect. At around 2:00, the cloud-capped range that appears in the background is the Pine Valley Range, possibly the world’s largest laccolith, as described in this post. We’re several hundred feet higher here than we were in the China Wash video, and you’ll notice there’s not a creosote bush in sight.
Wow! That was fun! We spent the next 15 minutes or so rapidly descending, then rolling, more of the same, until we arrived at the “cherry-stem” of the loop leading back to our vehicle. This stretch hugs the rim of a tributary-of-a-tributary, then the tributary, and finally the Virgin River Gorge itself.
Video #4 Notes
At about 30 seconds we start running along the first of the 3 rims (tributary-of-tributary). I’ve ridden this many times, but this was the first time I’d seen water running in the bottom. At around 2:00, as we start riding the second rim (tributary), I look back and down to the left at a small, muddy waterfall emerging from the mouth of the tributary-of-tributary we were just riding alongside.
The tributary soon joins the Virgin River Gorge proper, and at 3:25- the point of maximum exposure- you can see the rain & snowmelt-swollen Virgin River below.
Well, that was a fun vacation. Spring is around the corner. Can’t wait to get back down to the desert.