Having done two walks in Utah’s forty degree plus heat (Celsius) over the previous two days (Taylor Creek Trail & Northgate Peaks Trail) we felt ready for some serious punishment and after speaking to some local bike shops in Springdale we drove off into the wilderness in search of some top mountain biking.
I rode two trail systems that day, first up the Virgin Dam trails. We arrived at noon and it was scorching hot, forty-three degrees of arid dry heat. Renee had the good sense to just do a short ride along the canyon edge before calling it a day. I rode sections of both the Hurricane Rim Trail and the Jem Trail before returning to the van. I’d drank two litres of water while riding for less than an hour but still returned exhausted, dehydrated and with a head ache. So incredibly hot!
Tip: If you end up exploring Utah during the summer try and time physical activities to dawn and dusk.
We drove to get air flowing through the van. We headed to Gooseberry Mesa, home to some world class mountain biking trails. Initially I didn’t know what a mesa was but soon figured it out when our directions took us to a plateau like land formation. According to the dictionary they’re less extensive than a plateau but share the same characteristics of steep walls and a relatively flat top, common in arid landscapes like Utah.
By the time we reached the Gooseberry Mesa trail system car park I was feeling better and it had cooled down slightly. While the Virgin Dam trails were mostly fast single track dirt trails, Gooseberry Mesa was a lot more technical. Mostly on slick rock, constantly up and down boulders and in/out of rock formations. Fun riding combined with some stunning scenery.
I’ll talk more on America’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands at a later point, essentially they’re ‘public use’ areas and so long as you don’t disturb the environment you are mostly free to camp. Gooseberry Mesa falls into BLM domain so after mountain biking till sunset we simply drove out of the mountain biking car park and into one of many inconspicuous pull offs right on top of the mesa. We parked underneath a tree (morning shade) barely five metres from the abrupt mesa edge and settled down for the night – food/beer…
I can’t emphasise enough how amazing this location is; on top of a mesa with nobody else around. No light pollution meant the perfectly clear sky showed stars right down to our horizons and the only sounds were our own. If it weren’t for the fact we’d drank 90% of our water that day I’d have loved nothing more than to camp up there for a week.