Thursday, May 5, 2011

Offroad: Mesquite - Noodling on North Flats

Probably one of the easiest ATV, SUV trailheads to get to in Mesquite is up the Mesquite Heights Road, most know it as the "road to the dump." There is quite a large staging area for the trailers of offroad vehicles just to the left before you arrive at the land-fill, a testament to its popularity and frequency of use.

Most of the use is from all forms of carry-alls of motorcycle's. The sandy wash banks and trails make for favored two-wheeled riding and we have never failed to see a group of cyclists whenever we have been there ourselves. This day was no exception, there were five in a "sleeper-van" who were spending the day offroad down from St. George. Actually, they were back at their trailer taking a "break" when we arrived.

It had been one of the ubiquitous rainy days this season and quite chilly; when, the sun coming out of the clouds triggered one of our genetic responses to "swim upstream" and get out in the air. Late in the day, there is really only one place to go offroad from Mesquite and that's North Flats.

What Gordon and I decided to do was try and see if there was a trail of some sort which would let us go a more direct way up to Abe Spring instead of needing to go up the teeth-cracking wash-boards of Toquop Wash. Anyone who has actually ridden on the trail will know exactly what I mean; those who haven't – don't!    [A free Google Earth file of this route is available at: Offroading Home.]

We quickly ran up Mesquite Heights, which by-the-way is one of the Mesquite paved roads which have been reluctantly designated for use by ATVs, and found ourselves talking to the afore-mentioned cyclists. From there, it's about a city block to the entrance of the land fill where there is a trail leading to the west circumventing the dump's fence.

If you look at the satellite maps, it seems as though there are tiny slivers of trail markings running toward the mountains from Mesquite; however, what we actually found instead of the "secret passage" was that "there ain't no other way to get there from here cept'n Toquop." You see, the North Flats could also be called the "badlands" as well, because thousands of years worth of storms have created a dendritic drainage pattern which rivals even the best of fractals. And they're deep and steep.

Free ranging animals clearly mark the way to go with their trails – and it isn't THROUGH, it's AROUND! If you pull up our GPS track you can see that almost on the other side of the dump we were faced with the choice of right or left. Right was away from where we wanted to go, left was toward good ole' Toquop.

About two and a half miles from the land-fill the trail pauses before it leaps down the embankment into the wash. It's a nice site and every bit worthy of a photograph, if the lighting is right. The colorful cliff-sides of Flat Top Mesa are to the left and it isn't long until you are recognizing the familiar washboards of Toquop.

We turned north, toward the mountains as usual, and did find a "tributary" which we thought might stand a chance of being washboard-free – it was! However, its little surprise for us was that instead of up and down it began the back-and-forth-and-loopity pattern made by water which doesn't seem to have even a clue where the lake is. On paper, the trail really looks kinda fun; and it is, for about the first 5 miles on your odometer, until you realize that you have actually only progressed 2.3 miles toward your goal.

Long after you have begun asking yourself: "how long can this go on," and just as you are trying to find a place to stop and break out the Dramamine without looking like a sissy to everyone, the wash lurches back and spews you out onto beautiful flat trail – Powerline Road.

We knew where we were and that we could easily get over to the main wash to the west, but we still hadn't given up on finding "the northwest passage"; so, to the right (east) we went, all the time looking for a trail coming up from the south which we might have missed.

No joy! The next we knew we were in the familiar Sandhollow Wash heading south to the police gun range just on the other side of the dump from whence we started this adventure. You may remember me mentioning this wash before. It's the route you can take to get up to 3-corners out of Mesquite.

In all, a great day out of the house – even if we did get a bit nauseous in the middle part – and one we just have to tell Charlie about.

Learn A Little More

With the events of this past few days it makes one nostalgic for simpler times – and simpler presidential entanglements.

The Humor of Ronald Regan


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