Hell’s Backbone loop, Utah

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

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A the rate we ride a few days would be just about right for this 68 mile loop! I know… some ride that distance in less than one hour, we are not there yet! A reader from near San Diego, Pete, has shown up here these past days and I just cannot describe him besides the fact that he is an awesome guy and quite a character. One of those strange people you know that fabricates things with the same ease as I would prepare a 9 course meal. He has the right idea to… trailer his other bike, an on and off road oriented street legal bike. Why not? Best of both worlds he has. I have seen dual purpose bikes carried on a sidecar platform, he decided to go the "trailer" route, his main ride being a 1974 Honda Sabre, a V4… with just about as many miles as mine.

Pete 1

You have to be a "character" to be hauling in this fashion, loaded with more items that I have ever seen on a bike, I would not even know where to begin! You name it, he has it. He will be on the road for one month, this was his first stop and I am honored by it. His pride has been the coupler of the trailer, a hydraulic shaft that prevents bike #2 slamming into bike #1 if he ever had to stop suddenly. Everything is home made all the way to the tires of the trailer not matching each other… We have that notion in common, looks do not matter anymore as they did one time when much younger! As long as it works… and does the job.

Pete 3

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Pete must be here for another reason besides his little Journey of his. He saved my day. We rode together part of the day up to Hell’s Backbone Bridge and as we each took different routes to return to Escalante, my first luck of the draw today was that we ourselves made it back with a flat sidecar tire, "but" it did held up all the way! Karma was good again, and Karma has been even better as after all these years of riding, Pete showed me how to change a tire, a tire that even had a tube. I have always carried all the tools needed for that task, but, was always so much easier to find someone else to do it. I also had a spare tube… We are going to work tomorrow, this is all good. When I started many years ago learning how to Live for "Now", how ironic it was that the perfect example used for one’s mind was a flat tire. It’s flat… no sense crying, worrying or panicking about it, either fix it "now" or plan on it, in the meantime I took a nap till the time came to get to it as Pete step by step showed me the ropes.

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We had ridden part of the road earlier and never in my riding days had I experienced such washboard. The worse… Today, after Pete and I talking about it, I dropped the pressure in all 3 tires from 40 to 25, the speed attained was still the same but the comfort level and kidney pains sure were much more tolerable. As much as I do not believe in coincidences, the low pressure had nothing to do with the tube coming loose at the upper seam, it was a cheap tube! The bridge is in between the two left mountain tops in the first picture above.

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I knew that the face of the rocks looked east and I wanted to get there early, as early as the sunrise, taking photos right now during the day is becoming difficult with the sun so bright, a bit of haze and even with various camera settings just having a hard time with it. It did not happen quite the way I planned it, I think that next time we will just go and spend the night there. I cannot help lately getting into this "photography thing", it becomes almost an obsession, definitely has become a passion of mine. Trying to get close to 300 Galleries organized on SmugMug alone, not counting my own external hard drive backups has become an endless task!

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At first I thought that the road was called "Hell’s Backbone" because of its washboard! I kind of knew it really was not even though I wanted to believe it, but considering how my back felt riding it the first time I just figured it was an appropriate name. It is a very dramatic stretch of road, specially between Boulder and the bridge, as it travels along a ridge with sheer drops on both sides. The bridge itself spans a crevasse on a narrow ridge no wider than the black top.

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I loved the trees at the top, growing in unexpected places seemingly right out of the rocks. I compare them to Mother Nature’s furniture! Beautiful weathered wood colors, some with many broken limbs but standing strong on their roots as I know that they have braved the weather of this road closed in winter. We really had a great time up there even though Pete forgot his camera card and could not take pictures. I did, as you will see more of him also next time. The only unhappy camper was Spirit! Mr Spirit does not like to get up at 5 in the morning, specially when I have my phone alarm locked in. He is getting set in his own ways after these times on the road, specially as I let him be as long as we are together. What an uncumbered Life he has I was noticing today as he just laid there in the sun every time we stopped.

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There were so many other roads forking off Hell’s Backbone trail, fire rings built up from previous campers, but right now, no one is around. We only saw a couple SUV/trucks going by, bearing US GOV plates, trailering some quads, probably in search of poachers. Pete and I did really good riding most of the day together as he also enjoyed the stops, generally sitting on the edge of some rocks, edges I could not approach myself, as he said "taking it all in" being his first time out here in this area.

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Now that I have a schedule in hand, as much as that word sounds… against the grain, I am planning for us more "tenting" trips in the surrounding areas. There never will be a lack of destinations, I am hoping to know most of the roads by the time we move on… when we move on! Against the grain again and my own beliefs, I have started at times to think where is next from here as winter will show its face soon enough. This will be our third winter on the road and I honestly have no clues as to where to go. Maybe California? I have been wanting to change the subjects of my photography a bit, maybe I am seeing to many other galleries from other photographers that are in urban areas, but I know that unless we are in vast and open lands we would not be able to handle the Journey we are on. Any thoughts are welcome!

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There will be more on Hell’s Backbone Trail, the loop, it is an amazing one… including the washboards!

As always, you be well…

Spirit is asking if… you have you checked the T-shirts lately… T-shirtsMouse padsPhotography

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Ara & Spirit

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2 Responses to “Hell’s Backbone loop, Utah”

  1. AtlasRider Says:

    Phoenix has some pretty nice temps during winter time. Although Southern Cali is just as good with a lot of national parks to explore. Might be colder in some higher elevations though, but not sure how cold.

  2. Joe Says:

    I had a 1985 V65 Sabre and loved it to death. I had bought a Gold Wing for my then wife for some two up riding and sold the Sabre to buy a De Ville. A really fast bike that I loved to ride. I miss it to this day.

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