M82.5 to Moab, UT
58.5 miles, 141 Total 6.1 mph avg.
Mostly Sunny, Some wind and 80’s
6:15am to 4:?? pm
11 Ground Squirrels
1 Wooly Caterpillar
Last nights sleep was much cooler than the first night. I had to keep my quilt tight around me or I got cold easy. We slept just past Cottonwood Canyon next to Blue Chief Mesa. The mesa kept the full moon out of view longer so I was able to crash out fast before it rose.
We got an earlier start today but not by much. The day started with more climbing, which it seemed was all there was on the menu for the day. Not really but over half the total 15k feet of climbing happened today. An easy descent to Rose Garden Hill was pleasant but short lived. I attempted the hill but not knowing the correct line I failed. Multiple sources pointed out that Rose Garden Hill is 75 miles from the closest hospital.
A quick descent to Fisher Valley brought another short hill, a descent past Hideout Camp then to the first of the large climbs which started by navigating around Cowhead Hill. By the top we crossed into the Manti La Sal National Forest.
After lunch on Thompson Creek Road we turned right onto Polar Mesa Rd where we topped out on the first ascent. Of course we descended and lost a bunch of elevation, which was followed by another large climb to our last water drop just before Bulldraw Camp. The only perk to these two climbs was the amazing views of Fisher Valley and Cottonwood Canyon. It was surreal to look down at where we had been just hours before. The valley floor was so far below us.
From out last water drop we had a long paved downhill to La Sal Mtn Road which was our last major effort for the trip. The climb was 6.2 miles long and had 1900′ of climbing. The only down on the climb was windy as hell and I had to pedal to keep moving. On the climb I was caught by a girl who just moved to Moab from Seattle. She saw my Second Ascent logo on the back of my shorts and questioned me for a few miles.
Justin’s knee had been hurting him all day so he was behind me for most of the day. I felt for him as the climbing was bad enough with good knees. The result was I spent the day inside my own head, which is not very different from most days. We regrouped at the top and dropped back onto dirt following the Kokopelli all the way to the Slickrock Trailhead where it ends. We talked about doing the Porcupine Rim but with time restraints with our ride back to Loma we opted for the official route which is shorter.
From about the time we got our last water until the end I had a vision problem with my left contact. I must have gotten sunscreen in my eye at some point. The result was my vision was cloudy but some times it would clear then get cloudy again when I blinked. That was combined that with sweat stained sunglasses and a choppy descent at the end. By the time I got to the house where we were meeting our ride I couldn’t see shit. I realize now I should have just taken them out. I also had the glare of the sun reflecting off the sand and the wind was making my eyes water. Overall a shit show for sure.
Bikepacking the Kokopelli was one of my major goals for 2016 so it felt good to complete it. It was also a great experience despite most of the route being on some sort of road. I enjoyed Justin’s company and I think we both learned a lot about bikepacking and have a much better idea of what we will change for the next trip.