Thursday, January 14, 2010

Ride 15: West Flats - Canyonlands and Pinnacle

Next to North Valley the ride dad and I took last week is probably the most colorful one in the whole Virgin River Valley.   [For a free Google Earth file of this route see: Canyonland-River Loop]

We only had a short day so decided to trailer down to ride the West Bunkerville Flats area. More specifically… the Canyonland area. We had two goals: First to try and get up to The Pinnacle, which we weren't quite able to last year; and second, to have lunch by the river – an elusive goal in which we are thwarted more often than not.

This year there are "designated route" signs all over the area. Charley tells me that the Las Vegas riding club came up to help out the BLM with signage – perhaps it was them.

Crossing the road and following the trail to the left we met with the biggest surprise of the whole trip, right off the bat. Some wannabe artisans were building a "mini-petra" half-way up the canyon.

They've built a rock retaining wall, a stage, an altar and firewood cubby all in front of the sculpting they are doing on the red sandstone wall. It looks as though they are attempting to make columns, alcoves and cartouches reminiscent of ancient "petra."

I'm sure some people would call it "art." I just call it a MESS. Ass-tracks… a bit more sophisticated form of ass-tracks; but, ass-tracks none-the-less!

We went up the canyon as far as it went, then came back onto the flats and circled around to the southwest exploring each other canyon in turn. One ended at a rock fall but continued on a foot trail up a great tall-wall canyon.

The Code of the West was a gentleman's agreement to certain rules of conduct. It was never written into the statutes, but it WAS respected everywhere on the range.”
Ramon F. Adams

Another ran up to Autograph Wall which we had seen last year. It looks as though some of the "Egyptian-like" cartouches are falling into dis-repair – probably because their makers have opted for the other canyon. The abandoned sofa has been removed – bless 'em. But, some people still feel that the soft, red sandstone is the right place to carve their names.

The road over the bluff looked enticing; but, just like last year was washed out. We crossed the road over toward the river and took several "designated" trails down to the water. One main trail followed the river to the southwest, past several overlooks, before it connected back to the paved road.

We followed the shoulder down to just past the bend and took yet another "designated trail" along a bluff at the edge of a wash. It looped around and down into the wash by an antique cattle corral. There was also a trail down to the water – where we had lunch.

Returning, there was a "no-go" sign at the bottom of the wash so we went back on the previous trail. At the top there was NO such signage limiting travel so I've decided to call it "One-Way Wash."

We followed the "frontage wash" along Gold Butte Road until we could get up to the road and head back. On the way we paused to take the "designated trail" up to The Pinnacle. This trail actually goes right up to its base.

We were back at the trailhead by 3 for an easy day's ride.

Learn A Little More

Did you know that as of 2005 only 15% of the world was mapped? Now it is a bit better thanks to some massive volunteer efforts and "Map Maker" from Google. Watch this very short video explaining why Maps Matter!


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