Usual great breakfast at Moab’s Eclecticafé—well it’s Joel’s second breakfast—we’re sunburnt murmuring the contentedness of the last three and a quarter days gallop, squinting at Jeep traffic and people and ceramic wear clatter around us. J and I only have a couple left before we leave, so I’ve proposed something dead easy, maybe relaxing, a little scenic: we’ll resupply, pedal out to Kane Creek Canyon, spend the night, then curl around Behind the Rocks to return to town via Pritchett Canyon. The boys gamely agree. We buy one night’s dinner and have the space luxury to load up beyond the bare necessities. I put a ten pack of flour tortillas in my shopping basket and Joel asks whether we should plan to split that. “Um, no.” Logan and Skyler use some of their frame pack volume for campfire beer. Fill up water at GearHeads, head out.
A rolling road ride then onto a sandy track, fat tires make comfy work of it. Hot, dry, clear skies. We linger for lunch in a wash, relaxed and open with one another, kind company, guys I’d ride anywhere with and those aren’t that easy to find.
Somehow I’d thought that the canyon on the Monday after Easter wouldn’t be that crowded, but some of the Jeep Week folks have stayed an extra day. The noise, exhaust, and tread tracks maybe get in the way of perfect solitude, but, after all, Moab has reinvented itself just this way from a tumbleweed mining town past to somewhere everyone goes. I wrestle my thoughts into a kind of equipollence, they’re trail users, too, they’re friendly and supportive. Glad when the canyon goes quiet at evening, but there’s no good in swishing bile around in my mouth. We reach a group bunched up and set to cross the creek, take another break and let them disappear ahead. Almost at the top of the canyon, we relax next to a fire tall telling myths about future rides.
Next morning leisurely rollout, temps already gathering around us. By the time HWY 191 and the HOLE N” THE ROCK [sic] lunch, we’re confident in the timing. Skyler redirects us toward sand dunes off the road, it’s a painful slog into fierce wind to get there. Once we arrive the playfulness has been sapped out of us, but S grabs one of the Borealises and gives it a gamely go.
The roll to Pritchett is through classic Utah landscapes, red dust the way Mars was pictured in 50’s scifi, Joel blows through a turn and heads off into the distance, we three just sit and chat and stretch out laying on the rock for the 40 amusing minutes it takes him to realize we’re not with him and to backtrack. Mid afternoon rhythm, empty jeep track, buttes, swirling serenity and this place rises above the fact of the people and the overlove of the backcountry and just is itself, is its own austere desert stasis. I realize we’ve been by ourselves for three or four hours and my body is just like the grains of sand tailing off of the ridges. Pritchett itself is sublime, sloping shadows encroaching walls. Impossible angles and the bulbous rock formations, I quip to Logan that this is “…some wondrous Call of Cthulhu shit,” and he laughs and gravity and our own effort fly us back to town.