The Escalante Adventure

Screen Shot 2013-05-25 at 8.49.48 PMI’m staring down the barrel at this 24-hour rally coming up in June and have been concerned that I could actually do the miles and that my butt was “iron-butt” enough to complete the distance. With that in mind, and a need to decompress, I got up early, pointed the bike south, and started my adventure.

About 7:00 am I stopped in Fairview at the Home Plate, warmed up my fingers by wrapping them around a cup of hot chocolate, and had one of their delicious omelets. It wasn’t long after that before I was well on my way to points south to explore the mountain pass from Torrey, UT to Escalante over what I’ve heard called the Devils Backbone (Utah Highway 12).

The early morning was colder than I expected, but it was beautiful. The windmills were going full steam at the mouth of Spanish Fork Canyon and watching the darkness of the night succumb to the early morning was beautiful. The only other people awake were the farmers and ranchers who gave me a friendly wave as I passed.

I shared my breakfast with a couple of camo-clad travelers and two or three farmers in from their water turn. Since I’m not a hunter, I’m not sure what they’d be after, but they seemed to be having a good time. I couldn’t help but overhear the conversation as famers talked about the weather, water, and machinery. It always reminds me of the things my grandfather would talk about—at least the things that always seemed to be on his mind whenever I would visit him in the Uintah Basin.

IMG_2886_1Torrey is such a cute little town, every time I go through there I think about how much fun it would be to spend the night in one of the little inns I’ve noticed along the highway. The ride from there to Boulder and on to Escalante is some of the funnest time you’ll ever spend on a bike. The mountain pass couldn’t have been more enjoyable and the drop into the sandstone and the desert is incredible. On the way to Escalante from Boulder, you go over what’s sometimes called the Devil’s Backbone. The road, built in 1935 by the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) cost an incredible, for the time, $1 million. The sheer drops on both sides of the road are breathtaking views into the desert valleys below.

The photo is from a viewpoint looking back over the route and only gives a taste of how beautiful this little section of the ride really is. The contrast from mountain pass to the desert canyon is incredible and well worth a ride through this part of Utah. It’s definitely within my top three or four rides in Utah.

From Escalante to Panguich the hits just keep on coming. The friendly towns that dot the highway add to the beauty of the Southern Utah desert as I head back to Highway 89 and the return home. I have to admit, after gassing up in Panguich, my “iron-butt” was starting to feel a little less “iron,” but I still enjoyed the familiar ride home.

12 hours and 580 miles. Couldn’t have been a better day.

Click HERE to watch a video on the Torrey to Escalante part of the ride.

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