Friday, June 3, 2011

NEW: Bryce Canyon Trail System

You know, with age, I find it increasingly difficult to do two things at once. I learned a term in my youth, back when things called computers were invented – it's called "time sharing." Afterwards, the womens movement claimed the prior discovery rights to the activity; they said it had been inherent in the gender to "multi-task" since the time of Eve.

I used to be able to do it like a whiz, you know: drive and read a map, listen on the phone and continue reading mail, dictate a letter and drive to work, walk and chew gum… I used to be able to juggle navigating an ATV over a single-track, watching a GPS trac, scanning for photo ops, listening to a CD and pointing out items of interest to companions all at one time. Well, I still can do the "gum" thing but it's difficult to both work on building trail maps and write blogs at the same time.

However, have I got a deal for you today! A rider from southern California named Randy began communicating with me several months ago about some rides he had taken up in Utah, around the Bryce Canyon area. Over the last three or four months, we've been communicating about the area and he has been able to send in three great GPS tracks for those of you who want to ride the area with your offroad machines.

Randy C. has been a computer programmer for 30 years and normally takes his rigs out 25 miles north of Mojave, to the areas of Dove Springs and Jawbone. However, he has ridden most of the Paiute trail system and once took an extended trip into the Moab area for a couple of weeks. He uses a Garmin 76csx loaded with the USA topo.

He recently took an extended trip up to Bryce and submitted his trails when he returned. As I looked at them from the vantage point of Google Earth it seems that there are several interconnecting trails in the area which he rode. So much so, that I suspect there are either maps which I could obtain and digitize or other riders who might be able to submit GPS tracks for them.

For now, I have updated the Utah Master Map with a Bryce Canyon Trail System folder; but, as it grows it could turn into a system map all by itself like the Paiute and Arapeen. Any of you readers who would like to see a free offroad map developed for that area – get out your GPS units! Go to the Offroading Home Map site with the next link, select the Utah tab then download the Utah-trails.kmz file. When it opens, the Bryce Canyon System folder will be in the "southwest region."   [The free Google Earth master map file of the Bryce Canyon Trail System is available at: Google Earth Trail FileOffroading Home: Utah.]

Randy's group made the Bryce Canyon Campground their staging area and he submitted three trails with varying difficulty; but all with high-scale scenic value: Hunt Loop, Tropic Reservoir West and Tropic Resevoir Southwest. But, hey, I'll let him describe them to you in his own words (mostly).

This last September 9, 10 and 11 (2010) our trip was to Bryce Canyon. We were camping out of Bryce Canyon Pines, an RV site on highway 12, about 4 miles west of the Bryce Canyon tourist entrance. West of Bryce Canyon, and south from our camp, is Tropic Reservoir. There is some riding east, between Tropic Reservoir and the ‘tourist city’ (i.e. Ruby’s, etc.); but, the really good stuff is in several ‘loops’ rising west from Tropic Reservoir (about 6,000 feet) to the cliffs (9,500 feet) which has views looking all the way down, and across highway 89.

I would recommend, to anyone going here to ride, to do just what we did: group these ‘loops’ into 2 fairly good 4-6 hour rides. One I would call ‘west tropic’ and the other I would call ‘southwest tropic’ mainly for the two areas which they cover. The south one has a section of black diamond, not for the feint of heart. It was incredible. Loved it. A third loop, which runs north of our campground, is called Hunt Loop.

Bryce Canyon - Hunt Loop Trail

Description: Difficulty: 3/10, 4WD required; Scenic: 3/10; 44 mi. 3/4 day. Closed in winter.
Location: Start: Bryce Canyon Pines, an RV site on highway 12 about 4 miles west of the Bryce Canyon tourist entrance; End: Same.
Things to see: Great view of a huge mountain which gets impressively large as you get closer, forest trails, beautiful color, narrow mountain pass (Hunt Loop), access to Bryce stores/general visitor area for food/supplies before returning back.
Source/Maps: Submitted Trail; USGS: Casto Canyon, Flake Mountain West and Bryce Canyon quads.

Hunt Loop begins south but turns north through Old Bryce Town and past Ruby's Inn to cross UT-12 and circle through the mountains to the north before returning to the staging area.

Tropic Reservoir West Trail

Description: Difficulty: 6/10; Scenic: 6/10; 62 mi. Full day. Closed in winter.
Location: Start: Bryce Canyon Pines, an RV site on highway 12 about 4 miles west of the Bryce Canyon tourist entrance; End: Same.
Things to see: Scenic forest trails, beautiful color, wildlife.
Source/Maps: Submitted Trail; Bryce Canyon, Bryce Point, Wilson Peak and Tropic Reservoir quads.

The Tropic Reservoir West loop trail first runs up to 9,000 foot Wilson Peak via a ridgeline trail. Then it makes a loop down southward toward Buck Knoll before turning north again to return to the staging area via Tropic Resevoir. [It shares some trail segments with the Hatch-Paunsaugunt and Panguitch Loop trails.]

Tropic Resevoir Southwest

Description: Difficulty: 8/10 (most 6-7 but extreme sections require experienced rider and no mistakes! Radically tight climbing loose switchbacks; Scenic: 8/10; 69 mi. Very full day.
Location: Start: Bryce Canyon Pines, an RV site on highway 12 about 4 miles west of the Bryce Canyon tourist entrance; End: Same.
Things to see: Scenic forest trails in the Paunsaugunt Plateau, beautiful color, views of pink cliffs looking south and east, another viewpoint to the south, and views all the way west to Hatch from the "radical section," forest wildlife.
Source/Maps: Submitted Trail; USGS: Bryce Canyon, Bryce Point, Tropic Reservoir, Podunk Creek and Alton quads.

The trail runs much more south and makes an extensive, serpentigenous loop around the Paunsaugunt Plateau before returning back along the same trail. This ride was one of my favorites because one section about halfway thru involved a hair-raising series of steep switchbacks that probably went up over 1,000 feet in elevation in less than a mile.

I say "probably" because I was too busy climbing that mountain for dear life to look down at my gps. I don’t easily recognize this section in my track file, probably because the switchbacks were so tight that they occurred between track ‘snapshots’ (I have since found a setting and turned up the "record-a-waypoint" frequency to ‘most’)

The ride begins with a flat-out 20 mile flight straight down the ‘main’ trail running directly south from Highway 12 towards tropic. It goes by it closely on the east side of the reservoir (at about the 7 mile point) and then continues south. The loop begins at a point near a sign indicating Podunk ranger station – I never knew there was an actual Podunk - then proceeds counter-clockwise thru the track file eventually winding up back on the ‘main’ trail.

Putting together the beginnings of the Bryce Canyon Trail System Map was very interesting, especially getting to look at all the photos Randy sent. It is plain to see why they call this "Color Country."

Learn A Little More

The spaceship Endeavour has landed for the last time. For months the science-illiterate and ever vexom press has tried to turn every press opportunity into a "touchy feely" referendum on the end of the US space program and Endeavour in particular.

However, every time, NASA managers and astronauts answered the only appropriate way they could by saying, basically: "Let us complete the mission safely and then we'll commisurate with you."

None-the-less, after all mission objectives had been accomplished with honor (save a safe landing) and even before its final landing, STS-134 Commander Mark Kelly paid tribute to space shuttle Endeavour and the spacecraft's contribution to human spaceflight in a recorded message. In fact, all of the crew, Andrew Feustel, Mike Fincke, Roberto Vittori, Greg Chamitoff and Pilot Greg Johnson also shared their thoughts and impressions of Endeavour.

Take the time to watch what the ships last crew had to say.

[[ Sorry apparently the vmixcore server which contained these NASA videos has shut down too - Thought NASA would be above that kinda stuff - Although, we didn't count on Obama either ]]


kiwi-craig said...

we rode here extensively in 2007 see our pictures in:


Craig & Nicola Ridgley

rubysinn said...

Awesome video, I really love watching on it. Thanks for sharing!

Bryce Canyon Map

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