9/15/15

Determination Towers and Tusher Tunnel

We had the best time yesterday. We rode 15 miles on the Determination Towers Trail. If you're interested, we are using a book written by Charles A Wells, entitled ATV Trails Guilde Moab, UT.


It's been an excellent book with good descriptions, maps, difficulty ratings, and directions. It would have been easy to get ourselves lost yesterday, but the book kept us on track. Also, yesterday's trail was challenging in spots, but we didn't encounter anything unexpected. The author, Charles Wells, has made a living writing these books, and they exist for other areas of the country and for other kinds of off road vehicles. We met some folks on the trail yesterday who were riding in RZR-type vehicles, and they were using the same book, but the version written for their RZRs.

When we arrived at the staging area, the clouds were beginning to look a little threatening. They continued to gather as the day wore on, but we did not get into any rain.


Mike is using a GPS program on his phone. It's good to have a Resident Engineer along. He's actually interested in searching out all these useful tools...which I definitely am not.


The green pin in the image above is where the staging area was. We drove the loop in a clockwise direction. The first rock formation we came to was Courthouse Rock. If you look almost dead center in the image, you can see a small arch.



We've been riding without helmets. I know. I know. I know. Excuses to follow: The first day it was so brutally hot that we worried about ending the day with hard-boiled brains. We discussed the helmet issue quite a lot, and decided that if the terrain became too rough or rocky, or if we encountered many other riders, or if we felt our speed was too fast, then helmets were required. We also agreed that if either of us ever had a thought cross our mind that we should don our helmets, that we would stop and put them on.

All of that to say that we started the day without helmets, but quickly decided to put them on when we reached this point. 


And this was a minor hill. We encountered much more treacherous and rocky patches as we continued. There is a difference between reasonable risk-taking and utter stupidity, and we determined that it was not our day to peg the stupid meter.


We were on our way to Merrimac and Monitor Buttes. You can see Merrimac off in the distance behind the sign.


Also, Determination Towers. As I've said before, these formations are so immense, that only a panorama can begin to capture their scale. I wish I could post them in a larger format, but I can't. You, however, can make the picture larger on your screen by clicking on the image.


You can see Determination Towers in the image above. As we rode up to them, they dominated the skyline.


This was the one place on the trail where we encountered other riders. As we rode on and looked back, this is what we saw.


I only took the next picture to impress our sons. We didn't actually go this way...it was bicycles only.


In case you can't read the sign, it says "Wipe Out Hill".

The real highlight of this trail was Tusher Tunnel. We had imagined it in our mind's eye, but the actual tunnel was simply amazing and surprising. If you look at the trail map above, this area was the short bit of a ride we took at around 10:00 on the loop.


It was a short hike out and a little bit of a climb, but even my bum knee could handle the stress.


When we reached the tunnel entrance, we were standing between two boulders, each the size of a large building.


Inside was nothing short of magical.


And don't you know our shadow selves were all over it.


When we looked overhead, we could see where a crack between the two boulders let in the tiniest bit of light.


It was about 400 feet from one end to the other. And there it is, in case you've never seen it: It's the light at the end of the tunnel!


Mike is standing there for some scale.


When we came out the other side, this is the panorama we saw.



There was no access to the other side except to go back the way we came. When we reached the opening, we stood there briefly considering the climb back down when a crow flew overhead close enough that we could hear his wing beats. Then he sat on the ledge above us cawing, and scolding us, clearly perturbed that we were there. Given where we were standing, it was a little like something out of a Stephen King novel.


We wondered if there was a nest nearby, and as we were leaving, we turned around to see him in the tree at the opening, probably with a mate or an offspring. I've heard crows make two different sounds...the well-known "caw" and they also make a clicking sound when they communicate with one another. Yesterday, we heard these two making a sort of "boop boop" sound that could easily have been translated to "There, there. I scared those bad humans away."


From there, it was a short ride back to the staging area. As we came across the top of a bluff, we saw our rig there almost dead center in the image below.


Only...when we got down to it, it wasn't our rig. Ooops.

So we continued on a ways further, and there it was off in the distance. 


When we got back to the staging area, the wind had come up and the clouds were looking very threatening. To the north, it was raining.


We still didn't encounter any rain until late last night. It started raining hard around midnight, with thunder and lightening, and it rained most of the night. I haven't checked today's forecast, but we're hoping it's all finished with that now.

Today's plan is to drive up to the White Wash Sand Dunes Trail, which is about an hour north of Moab. We're quite used to riding on dunes since that's where we ride in Oregon. The trail is rated as moderate, as was yesterday's trail, and we think we should have no problems negotiating the sand. We shall see. It's always an adventure, no matter what happens.

11 comments from clever and witty friends:

Vroomans' Quilts said...

There was some really heavy rains with flash floods in Northern Utah areas yesterday - keep aware.

Barb H said...

Barbara, it sounds like you and Mike are having a terrific trip. Thanks for sharing it with us, especially all the photos. I think it was wise to leave Smitty and Gracie at home--I just can't see them riding in the back of the RV like the dog did yesterday!

WoolenSails said...

What an amazing place to visit, and I would love to see petroglyphs.

Debbie

quiltzyx said...

What gorgeous pictures! I love the red rocks & golden tones. One of the Tusher Tunnel pics would definitely be a cool quilt. I won't say which one I like the best, but if I get an urge, can I use it for quilt inspiration?
We got rain all night & have heard (since I'm in the basement at work now) that it's still raining outside. Hope yours finished - I want to see more!! You two are so nice to take me along!!!

Christine M said...

I'm enjoying your trip Barbara. Great photos. The scenery looks amazing.

Kate said...

Wow, your photos are amazing. I have a feeling if I show them to My Guy, I know where next year's vacation will be.

crazy quilter said...

What stunning scenery and an awesome adventure ya'll are having! Enjoy!

Cath said...

Such an amazing landscape out there! I thought of you earlier tonight when some awful images of flash floods out of Utah appeared on our tv screens here. Take care you two.

Dana Gaffney said...

I'm so enjoying this, that place is amazing and so gorgeous. I'm so glad the rain held off and I hope you have another great weather day, clouds can be good when it's hot and you don't want to wear your helmet.

Auntiepatch said...

I was thinking about you yesterday when the news was showing the flash flood in Moab and 12 people lost their lives. Stay safe.

Barbara said...

Auntiepatch, you are a no-reply blogger, and so I can't respond to you personally. There is no flooding in Moab. The flooding has all been in the southern part of Utah (we are in the middle near the Colorado border). The 12 deaths you refer to happened in Hildale, Utah, and the remainder of the flooding that I am aware of happened in Zion National Park, along the Arizona border. There is no flooding in Moab.