Friday, August 01, 2008

AZT Moqui Reprised 7/05

I realized today that my first AZT overnighter was not on my blog.
So I've brought it over from mtbr.

I started out driving the Moqui Stage Route from FS 151. It was wet and there were lots of people camping just off 180 so I kept driving.
Kelly Tank, the first water source had water but it wasn't really at a spot I'd need it yet so I kept driving. Kendrick Park was a beautiful meadow that housed the tank and was also the "home" of a famous white buffalo.
I was getting itchy to ride so I found a good place to hide my truck just after the intersection of FS523 and 416.
After packing for one day with the possibility of another I found myself bouncing down the double track towards Missouri Bill Hill as the forest gave away to pinon and eventually a huge shallow and wide valley, almost treeless - Babbit Ranch.
Along this portion I ran into a guy in his 50s riding it on a motorcycle who was checking it out for a run in Sept and presented the same map from Paul's book that had.
I gave brief thought to where I'd turn around but 12 miles out didn't seem like much reconnaissance and I wondered what was on the other side of the ranch.
So rather than stick to the stage route and its more gentle grade and parade thru Lockwood Canyon I opted to stick to the AZT. I could have gotten water at the Babbit Ranch but I didn't really need it yet so I kept going.
The climbing was mellow and drawn out (as was the case for almost the whole ride- deceptively so). As I was climbing, the monsoons went into action behind me and a storm chased me for a few miles before it headed east along the stage route. I also started to see tracks of 2-3 other bikes that had been there before me - couldn't have been more than a week.
I saw a sign that indicated foot traffic only for a trail off to the west that went towards some interesting hills - must have been an archeological site as it had a game and fish hertiage fund sign.
I found myself heading towards huge overhead power lines and could hear the buzzing and crackling and I saw another tank (most of the time I say tank I mean dirt bulldozed to catch water for cattle) but no water again. Next chance for water was a rusty metal tank (no water) on the way to Lockwood and Upper Lockwood tanks (no water).
I was spitting distance (12 miles) from the Moqui Stage Stop (if you don't know about the stage stop or the Coconino cycling club doing this in the 1890s on rigid fixie ss's check it out, cool history) so I thought I'd check it out even tho little more than part of an old cistern was left. As I stopped to take a picture of the cistern the sky spoke and the thunder clapped. But I also finally saw some single track.
Well it can't hurt to check out the single track for a bit right? And I need water too and Scott said Russell Tank had water.
The single track was nice but there were storms everywhere and I was getting a little nervous especially after I passed under my second set of cracklin power lines. I finally reached what I thought Scott was talking about - a huge tank, followed by a small tank with a float followed by a trough for the cattle (there were a lot of cattle on this trip and me on my bike with my bell kinda freaked them out).
After the cattle beat feet I was able to filter water out of the middle contraption and drank myself sloshy before mounting up again. It was only at this point that it consciously occurred to me what I was doing - I was too far to get back to the truck before night and now I might as well go the 15 miles to Grandview Lookout.
Well I found out that a few miles after "my" Russell Tanks there was a veritable lake that was also Russell Tanks.
And shortly after that things went bad.
I may have missed the rain but I didn't miss the aftermath - mud. If you rode one of the longer versions of the TWMs last year - this mud made that seem tame. It was glue - it picked up more mud, it picked up rocks, it picked up detritus, it picked up everything but motion.
It was a nightmare.
After a few miles I hit Coconino Road and rather than continuing on the AZT I opted for the road.
I thought that if things got even worse I'd have better chances of getting help on the road.
I alternated between scooping out mud from my frame and fork and drive train so I could ride a bit, walking, cleaning, ect for at least 7 miles and I think it took me close to 3 hours to go that 7 miles. I saw two vehicles - one was a Game and Fish employee (who was likely keeping tabs on folks who were scooping for Elk spots) and almost took me out fishtailing around a corner and didn't stop and the other was a guy who also didn't even slow.
I finally I made it to Grandview Lookout some 52 miles after I started. The first thing I did was grab my camera and my flask and head up the tower for celebratory shots.
After getting back down I was greeted by the fire watcher, J who was my savior - she provided the water I used to clean the mud/clay from my rims and my drive train - had it not been for this seemingly minor assistance I don't know what I would have done.
By the time I was done, J and her two visiting friends had a fire going and the tourists were gone. The ladies extended their hospitality by offering me steak, potatoes, zucchini and fat tire - talk about the kindness of strangers. I made my way to bed and was serenaded by the three women from the tower singing "goodnight Irene" as they ascended the tower to see the stars. It was a fine ending to the fine day.
I got a little wet from the drizzle that night in my bivy but it wasn't that bad and I slept like a log.
In the morning I was provided a cup of coffee and was on my wet way. I wasn't sure how I was going to get back to my truck.
The idea of the trails and the mud was not appealing so I opted for the road thinking I might appeal once again to the kindness of strangers for a ride.
I thought riding the 15-20 miles to Tusayan was apt so I did that and enjoyed the views of the canyon. The canyon I had not seen since I was a kid mystified me and I wondered why I hadn't been back in so many years.
I made it to Tusayan but couldn't bring myself to ask for a ride or stick out my thumb. So I humped it out and made my way to Valle where I had phone service for the first time and made a call to family to let them know I was alive.
After hitting the Exxon for a sandwich, chips and tea I tried my thumb at one truck and realized that every minute thumbing could be spent making my way closer to my truck. So I kept riding.
All I can say is that is one long road and the lack of a shoulder from Valle to my turn off (FR523) kept me alert for the most part. I silently celebrated when the trip odometer hit 100 and I wondered how much longer it would be.
After climbing past Cedar Ranch Rd. it started to rain - hard. I threw on my poncho and continued to ride in the veritable sauna.
It seemed like ages before I reached 523 and I think I actually yelled out a cheer knowing it was only 5 miles or so to my truck.
Those last 5 miles went by in fast forward.
All in all it was certainly memorial trip. Being on my own and in the middle of nowhere for much of it was a new experience.

Ride time: 11hr51min
Avg Speed: 11.23mph
Max Speed: 35.6 mph
Total Mileage: 129.73

The quality of the pictures is terrible but you can get the jist.
Driving along
Parking and packing
Hitting the trail
The peaks in one direction and Babbit Ranch in the other
Attached Images

Babbit Ranch
The storm that chased me
Moqui Sate Stop Cistern
Health and welfare check
Attached Images


Ooo singeltrack
Mud was an amusement at this point
The scenery was awesome and it was nice to be back in the pines
Attached Images

my camp for the night
the big pay off
the ride back
Attached Images

1 comment:

gordo said...

old school.