An adventure is often initiated in a variety of forms, a thought, a whisper, a desire to feed your soul, or at least in this particular case, it was simply a short e-mail. Our friend, Steve was able to secure a coveted, “White Rim Trail” permit for early March, with 4-days on bikes covering 100 miles of canyon rim and three nights of premium camping. Just incase you have NO IDEA what the “White Rim Trail” is, this is what REI’s MTB PROJECT had to say:
“The White Rim is a popular long-distance bike route in Canyonlands National Park. The route circumnavigates the Island Mesa high above the Colorado and Green Rivers. The route is best done in 3-5 days with vehicle support. Overnighting at designated campgrounds along the way. A 4WD vehicle is required.
The ride can be done in either direction. Each side of the rim has a long and steep descent – you’ll get to climb on one of them at the end of the route.”
Many of the people who I work with have had the opportunity to do this trip with and without their children; they only had good things to say about the trail and trip. The general consensus was that this is a must do event, that would be relatively easy with car support and the comforts of car camping. Even without the consensus, I was committed.
The prep for the trip was not difficult, since it was essentially car camping. There were some e-mails and a spreadsheet a few weeks prior that broke us up into cook/cleanup groups, gave campsites and overall daily mileage. There were also gear e-mails to make sure we had enough water bottles and cooking implements. When it was finally time to leave, the logistics of four people (our group), gear, coolers and bikes, required advanced Tetris skills, especially since we practically brought the kitchen sink.
The day before the start of the trip, we were all working, prepping, driving or flying into Utah, to meet at our designated start point. Our party consisted of 11 different people (plus a 5-month-old!) from different walks off life, all connected to the two trip leaders; the majority of the group was coming off the Navajo Reservation where we worked, while the others traveled from Los Angeles, Boston, Salt Lake City and Cortez. Our group was a mix of people with a simple objective – let go of the hustle and bustle of our daily lives and live in the moment in one of the most gorgeous areas in the country.
In all honesty, I want to describe every moment, every stop, the never-ending beauty that surrounded us, the joy you felt with every descent, the painful throb in your quadriceps as you ascend another hill, the gentle tug of hunger as dinner is nearing readiness, the sadness of the end, but I feel that you would be blasted with a wordy version of what a perfect trip would be. The trip was planned during the swing between winter and spring, which meant the weather, could behave in any way it desired, but we were blessed with perfect days and cool nights. The rim gave us a taste of everything, in every sense of the word, perfect views paired with amazing company and unforgettable meals.
Each day brought an energy that only being in the backcountry could bring, the quiet of the critters around us and the slow evolution of the land that is continuously happening, silencing the minutiae of our daily living. There was an ebb and flow during this trip, which meant gentle labor and somewhat rigorous mentation regarding food, breaks, and the packing and unpacking of supplies at each camp. We were easily distracted by the landscape as we ticked each mile off, with monoliths to one side and canyon rims that changed and evolved as we progressed through the trip, until it turned into an uphill to climb back to the visitor center. There were moments of solitude, when it was only you taking in the power of the landscape, or bargaining with yourself to convince your quadriceps to keep powering you up the hill. Kayla grew tremendously during this trip, increasing her confidence in her skills and her footing in the outdoors.
This trip is for everyone. I mean EVERYONE. There are various ways that you can experience the White Rim Trail, via foot, single day bike slogs, multi-day bike packing, supported biking (us), motorcycle touring or in the comforts of your 4WD vehicle. Every one of the campsites was outstanding, but the most memorable site was Murphy site A, which was at the edge of the rim with the most stunning vista to the east. If you have the desire, start researching and head to: https://www.nps.gov/cany/planyourvisit/whiterimroad.htm, and plan your trip!