2018 Fall Colors Ride Report
October 2 to 5, 2018
1 ATV, 12 Large Machines, 26 people. Distance traveled by OHV’s 400 miles.
Riders and passengers attending.
Sam Smith - Ride leader, ATV – Yamaha Grizzly 750- Street legal, Tony Wright & Bob Aiken - Ride leader, Rzr, 60”- Street legal, Bain Swapp & Sue - Ride drag, Rzr 900, 50”- Street legal, Jan Smith & Cheryl Ponkow, Rzr 1000 S 60”- Street legal, Ken & Vickie Kuhni, Kawasaki, Teryx4, 60”, Mark & Patty Kubeja, 4-UP, Polaris, Street Legal 1000 XP, Jack Randolph, Chad Randolph and Jim Bradbury, 4-up Polaris General 60”, Mike & Winnie Reid, Rzr 60”, Street Legal, Rob & Sage Roy, RZR 1000 XP, John & Karla Steck, RZR 1000 XP, Phil Bostrom, Polaris Rzr 1000 S 60" (Dropped out in Salina, mechanical problems), Keith Walton & Bill Payne, 4- up Polaris 1000 (enclosed) Ranger, Frank Stubbs & Gae Lynn Kucher, Kymco 60" UTV.
Day One; Oct. 2, 2018. 7:30 AM Meeting at the Hog Canyon Staging area off of US89. Trailering our units to meet at the Shuttle Parking lot across from Ruby’s Inn in Bryce Canyon City. Meeting three other units there. Orientation meeting and riders’ rules. Then our group photo.
Weather was overcast with rain drizzles. We are soon ready for departure, in our rain gear for the ride. Departing Bryce Canyon City, to the John’s Valley Road, SR 22, we get off the pavement and onto the Great Western Trail, climbing to the Cameron OHV Trail to Cameron wash and Pine Lake. It begins raining steady as we ride climbing to the 10,000 plus foot Barney Top. On top there are very few vistas due to the clouds below, we were totally socked in. As we cross Barney top the temperature drops to 44 degrees. As we descend to the Escalante Canyon/Main Canyon summit we have a chance to take our lunch. Continuing we climb up to Griffin Top, 10,550 feet, a flat table top where we speed up and make up time. The weather remains blustery, with misting rain. Now crossing the Aquarius Plateau, we again fast track across this area and forgo driving by the Aquarius Guard station due to Boulder Mtn. being socked in cloud cover. Descending we find the track into the town of Bicknell, where we checked into the Aquarius Motel, gassing up our extremely muddy machines with many of the riders taking their dinners at the Sunglow Restaurant where we enjoyed some famous Pickle or Pinto Bean Pie. Bryce to Bicknell, UT, via Barney & Griffin Top, the Aquarius Plateau. 94 Miles.
Day Two; Oct. 3, 2018, Bicknell to Salina, UT.
It continued raining overnight and we mustered out to an early breakfast at 7:00 AM at the Sunglow Restaurant, thanks to Ken Kuhni pre-warning them to expect our large group. Back to the Motel we take a group photo and depart in two groups for the 4-mile run down the paved SR 24 to Lyman where we again re-assemble. Across the back roads we go, with the moist humid smell of sage and invigorating fresh air we enjoy a dry morning, finding SR 72 just above Fremont, Utah. Back on the pavement for about 5 mile climbing all the way back into the Fish Lake NF we turn to the east on FS 106 to Riley Springs Trailhead. After a break with the group, it is now time to travel onto some more interesting northbound two track and the Great Western Trail. As we travel under the eastern slopes of Geyser Peak (10,569’) the sun has come out and we have unlimited views to the east. We stop on a high ridge, and take in the views of Capital Reef NP, Canyon Lands and endless vistas. It is views such as this that we come to experience, as it is a once in a lifetime moment. Continuing on N/B we eventually reach SR72 just below the 8900’ Hogan Pass. Back on the pavement until we reach the first opportunity to head north, across the rough track to Last Chance Creek and reach the Gooseberry Trail, FS 015. Looking north we see ominous black storm clouds full of rain crossing over Mt. Hilgard. Without saying; we stop, allowing everyone to put on their rain gear knowing that is where we are heading. The road is good at the beginning, all weather, however to our delight it begins to deteriorate, especially when Gooseberry #20 drops off the high ridge to the right. Continuing to climb in the rain and mud we pass the Mt. Hilgard Trailhead and reach our Gooseberry #19 route which begins to descend the mountain in an extremely steep grade. To make it even more interesting was that, there were several inches of deep mud making the descent treacherous, the entire group handled it superbly, showing their mettle and OHV driving ability. (Even, as I was told, when Rob Roy was sideways, on purpose, to make it more fun)! Reaching the bottom of the grade, the sun had come out as we arrived at a nice area to stop to take our lunch. After our lunch break we are back on the Gooseberry #17 now to find our way to Gooseberry #9 which runs parallel to I-70. At this point we turn to the west all assembled, with very muddy units, but as happy and dry riders we cruise along the interstate enjoying the dustless ride. We pass all the trucks and tourists traveling along the interstate, content with our fate to have the opportunity to be riding free and easy. Through the under passes of the interstate, lined with Cliff Swallow mud nests we continue, horns honking in the darkened route as we go. Then there are the old railroad tunnels chiseled from the rock cliffs for us to pass through. About 13 miles from Salina, since it was still early it was decided to take Gooseberry #3 to the north to Anthony Flat and go into Salina via the Willard Creek Road. Up the grade we begin, climbing continually. Passing a makeshift grave with a headstone saying, ‘Boot Hill’ and covered with old cowboy boots. Upon reaching the higher altitudes we enter the beautiful Quaking Aspen forest. Although and despite the recent rain, our black dirt track which was very muddy. It nevertheless was made worthwhile with the vivid and intense colors of the changing Aspens, Oaks, and especially the vibrant reds of the Maples. Around every corner, as the sunlight broke through the clouds, the colors were intensified and made the fall colors almost look Fluorescent. These colors were what we came to see, all the rain and mud was worth it. Reaching the Willow Creek Road, we take a break, and all agreed that we were privileged to have experienced the wonder of natures handiwork.
The road is now all weather and it is fast as we go to descend towards Salina. Jack Randolph had some issues with his tire bead bolts, he had to change to a spare to continue. In Salina we navigated through town to the Super 8 motel on US 50 and I-70. After check-in we gassed up for the next day, some went and washed the mud off our units.
Bicknell to Salina via Gooseberry Trails, 104 Miles.
Day Three; Oct 4, 2018, Salina to Panguitch, UT.
Up early, to a steady rain we begin to rig up our units in dry bags and tying them down. Despite the rain we muster for a group photo getting ready for our 8:00 AM departure. (Phil Bostrom reported that his front shocks had failed and that he had made arrangements to be picked up and go get his Truck and trailer). So, we are down to 12 units and 25 people.
Through town we pick up the Paiute Trail #1 as it is drizzling rain. Under I-70 we go following the Paiute trail bug (Paiute Trail signage) down Soldier Canyon. We are taking the eastern most Paiute #1 and continue to Rex Reservoir and Coonah Bench where we find the mud resulting from the nights rains. Deep and thick gumbo mud welcomes us as we follow the trail. However, looking at the bright side, at least it is not dusty.
Leaving the Fish Lake NF we get onto the Plateau Valley, overcast skies, and a brisk cold south wind. Long straight runs through mud puddles, staying on the Paiute Trail, crossing SR 72 to Burrville, then re-crossing SR72 staying on the Trail a cold bunch of riders reach Koosharem. The first stop is a small Café where we stop for Hot Chocolate and to warm up. Mission accomplished, we get back on the trail, climbing towards Monroe Mtn. we bypass the Paiute #1 50-inch trail to Milo’s Kitchen Trailhead. Back on Paiute #1 we continue in the high country, groves of Aspens dotting the rolling slopes. Now southbound towards the upper Box Creek Reservoir, (now completely dry) the broken weather displayed low hanging clouds passing over the ridges. We were again rewarded with colorful patches of Aspen. Now S/B along the Eastern Plateau with views of Otter Creek Reservoir far below. Pass the Pole Canyon road we reach a protected camp in the trees to eat our lunch.
Getting underway now towards Forshea Mountain and Twin Peaks we pass through large groves of Aspen which have carpeted the road service a bright yellow. Now descending the Mountain, we reach Kingston Canyon and Otter Creek, bypassing the 50” bridge to begin climbing the rocky 60” two track Paiute Trail to get to Circleville. Again, impressed with the abilities of our drivers to traverse this difficult route. Arriving in Circleville we go to the Mercantile Store for gas and goodies. Most topped off their tanks for the next leg. At this point we have nearly one hundred miles.
Tony takes the lead to show us the house where Butch Cassidy grew-up, then to the old wood house where he was reportedly born. We go onto the Fremont Trail #2 climbing to Jack Randolph Pass, now dropping off into Smith Canyon. Deep into the canyon we are greeted to more vibrant Quaking Aspens and yellow paved trails. Passing the lower Smith Canyon Hoodoo’s and having a break at an old homesite. Now late afternoon we reach the north bench and the fast track to Panguitch. One last stop to confirm our meeting location for the next day then to town to where folks checked into the respective motels for the night. All is well.
Salina to Panguitch via East Paiute #1, Koosharem, Monroe Mtn, Forshea Mountain, Paiute #1 to Circleville, Jack Randolph Pass to Smith Canyon, and fast track to town. 158 Miles traveled.
Day Four; Oct. 5, 2018. Panguitch to Bryce Canyon City.
Early up before daybreak to a rainy Panguitch morning. Packing up and tying down in dry bags and covers we make ready. Some eat breakfast at the Flying M, meeting there for an 8:30 AM photo and departure despite the rain. We have become just like a flock of ducks; the rain does not bother us, at least no one is complaining, besides it means no dust. We are off again all assembled and ready to go. Back to the Fremont Trail we go climbing to enter Lime Kiln Canyon, its colorful clay deposits, the muddy track and the many Bristlecone Pines to admire. Up and up we go, to reach the benches below Mt. Dutton, the cloud covered granite spires. (Jack Randolph is still having issues with tire bead bolts breaking, thanks to Rob Roy the issue is resolved with a spare tire loan). Thanks are appropriate for Rob Roy and those who helped to get Jack going again, thanks Rob). We had previously decided to forgo the Hunt Creek Loop with a Raincheck to do this ride next year. Climbing off the western slope into Tent Hollow we have finally left the dustless mud behind. One last vista viewpoint over looking Casto Canyon, the Casto Bowl and view of Cedar Mountain, we are on our way down Mud Springs draw, crossing Tom Best road and now across Antelope Flats out to the Sevier east fork valley, passing the Bryce Canyon airport to SR12. Assembling as a refined group of OHV enthusiasts we parade down the Bryce Canyon Parkway showing the “Flatlander tourist” what touring is all about. All arriving back our vehicles. Muddy, tired, but happy we get it done. Saw sights never to be forgotten, made new friends, enjoyed our conversations and adventures.
There were no complaints, loads of camaraderie. We worked out a few mechanical issues resolved, or offered support, as only friends would do. Saying our goodbyes until the next time. Panguitch to Bryce Canyon City via Lime Kiln, Mud Spring, Antelope flat. 44 Miles.
Thank you all for being the best. It was a pleasure to have shared this adventure with all of you. Hope you can make it next year.