We loved camping on the mesa so much that we decided to leave our tents set up, and head up to Bryce Canyon area to ride a trail called Thunder Mountain. The idea was that we’d ride that trail, then drive back, grab supplies, and head up to the mesa for dinner.
With this group, it was very pleasant because we just weren’t in a huge rush in general. No particular time frame, just when everyone was up and around, we’d head out. It was about a 2 hour drive up to the trail, and we all got pretty hungry at that point. So we stopped at a cafe with a most unusual sign.
Turns out, the history of the place was a lot more tame than this suggests. The founder didn’t have room on his sign for “Home Made Pies” and thus the other spelling was created. It didn’t become odd and controversial until just recently. However, they chose to capitalize on that, rather than change the history.
As is the case all over the area, Red Canyon did not lack for views. As soon as we got there I was out of the car and snapping photos of hoodoo. In all honesty, I’ve seen pictures but never imagined I’d see them in person. So this was quite exciting for me.
The idea was that we’d do the trail in a loop. We’d ride up 5 miles on the paved trail that follows along the road, ride another 2 miles to the trailhead on gravel, and then ride down Thunder Mountain.
As you can see, all that went smoothly. In fact, I was loving it. Easy comfortable riding uphill for me, on a day that was not too warm, and I was dressed just appropriately.
What we expected to have happen was to basically ride down a mountain. Now, we should have been alerted to the fact that our expectations and reality weren’t matching up when we’d heard it would take us 3-4 hours to complete the loop. I mean, that doesn’t sound like bombing down the side of a mountain. But, our expectations were high, and our awareness not so much.
What we got into was a mess. A mess with gorgeous views. It was switchbacks down the side of a mountain just to return up another mountain, cross over and do that again, repeatedly. The trail was very loose stone, steep, with steep drop offs. Absolutely terrifying for me, a person who really hates heights. As we went along, me often walking my bike down the mountain only to ride up the other side when I felt more in control, I thought “It really can’t get any worse than this.” And quite frankly, the beauty sustained me.
And then we got to some of the highest out in the open heights. At this point, we were riding through hoodoo, which was exciting, but also terrifying.
Meanwhile, the winds picked up. We were now under a wind advisory. 30-40 mph winds. Which would really hit you if there weren’t trees or a mountain to block it out. We finally made it to White Point, and enjoyed the most beautiful view from the top of a mountain. You can really see how each peak can be totally different from the one next to it.
And then, as it was getting darker and stormy and the winds just wouldn’t quit, we had to continue on. I had thought it couldn’t get worse, but then there was the knife edge, a thin trail on the top of a ridge with drop offs on each side full of loose stone. Mr. Ink ended up coming back to take my bike so I could just concentrate on walking it. Pretty soon after, he returned around a corner, telling me he had good news and bad news. The good news was that we were headed down the mountain again, the bad news was that I wasn’t going to like it. Again with the terror, the walking my bike, the trail on the side of a mountain cliff with a drop off on the other side. Switch backs all the way down that mountain finally putting us in a river bed, much to my relief. And then we had the most fantastic mile of downhill biking, my kind exactly, back to the vehicle for a strong finish.
I got more than I bargained for that day. But, it also reminded me that if I stay in my comfort zone, I’ll miss the most beautiful views. And, that’s how I want to live my life. Maybe not as extreme as this experience on a regular basis, but I do want to push my limits where I can and enjoy the new views I’ve achieved.