The Maze District of the Canyonlands had been on my list of places I have wanted to go for about 15 years. It is the most remote part of the Canyonlands and presents a unique landscape and challenges created by it's remoteness. My new husband, David, and I new that we wanted to go there and that we wanted to mt. bike the Maze. In May of 2011 we planned a month long trip to the four corners region of the U.S. We would visit Escalante, Zion, Arches, Canyon de Chele, Mesa Verde, Monument Valley, Hoven Weep, Natural Bridges, Bryce Canyon, the south rim of the Grand Canyon, Red Rocks Nevada, Lake Mead, and top it off with a 5 day expedition into the Maze.
We contacted our adventure friends to see who would be up for a trip to the Maze. Our great friend, Lisa Boyd, jumped at the chance. She wasn't a mt. biker but was more than willing to drive the 4 wheel drive jeep while we mt. biked. So we rented a jeep and 3 mt. bikes in Moab Utah, bought our food, figured out our logistics, and then set out for the most remote area of the canyonlands. An idea coming true.
I can't describe the feeling of venturing out to an area that is many miles from the nearest gas station. The ranger station is at the end of a long dirt road...and then you start down into the maze. Road of no return. Epic adventure. Awe inspiring landscapes. We stopped at the local ranger station at Hans Flat. We signed in gave them the details of our trip and then headed out. From here on out we wouldn't find restrooms, picnic tables, or an easy 911 call for some time.
As wilth all adventures there are always some unknown challenges and the need to adapt our expectations and schedule. It is also a chance to have unexpected encounters with other travelers, the local wildlife, and our own internal thoughts. We had all those and in some ways I think it changed us and brought us closer to who we really are.
Chili Pepper bike shop. My kind of bike shop. The bikes were great. They were in good working condition and we didn't have any mechanical issues!
We also rented a 4 bike rack from Chilis to attach to our rented jeep. In hindsight it would have been better to try for a roof rack. Although I don't think that would work with this jeep. Probably better to rent an FJ Cruiser and roof rack for this expedition.
The rack just added to our adventure!
The turn off to an epic adventure in the Maze!
I love these types of road signs. My favorite in the U.S. are "Primitive Road No Warning Signs"! This one just tells me that mother nature makes us pay attention to changes in conditions!
The road of sand on our way to the ranger station.
It looks like a viper head. I'm not sure. I tend to error on the side of caution and not run up and give it a big hug!
Dunes along the road. The Utah Sahara?
The vast plateau into a drenched landscape where water and vehicle fuel are gold!
Peddle power from Hans Flat ranger station. Time to go use our legs.
The road starts off fairly tame. Loose sand on a plateau.
Non poisonous snakes slither along the red rock.
The overlook and the start of our decent into the Maze.
A maze. A jeep road that is more hospitable to mt. bikes than to jeeps. It winds it's way down into the maze from the top of the plateau and right away gives you a good impression of the safety you are leaving.
I love these types of signs. I have to say there are times when I am so uninspired by adversity. Mostly human adversity. I'm a paramedic for a living and I deal with the human condition everyday that I'm at work. On my days off I want easy people interactions but love the idea of rugged roads, challenging landscapes, and escape from urban living. These signs give me hope that there will continue to be rugged unrefined and tamed landscapes for us to to explore and escapte to!
Now the descent with our rented jeep.
From the windshield of our jeep is the coming landscape and it is awe inspiring. Our curiousity is peaked. We are on our way
Narrow untamed road!
Some rocks and roughness.
A little more rugged.
Narrow rock lined roadway.
A gentler, but hardy, aspect of the landscape. Wild desert flowers.
Now the sandstone...how will our jeep do on this changing terrain?
David is driving the first hard section.
Color. I love desert color. It feeds my soul. It feels like home to me. From the first time I came to Utah I knew that I would return. As an artist the color, shapes, landscapes are intoxicating!
Cavern at the Maze Overlook. We went here on our first day to get an idea of where were headed for the next 4 days.
Evening light brought this lizard out on to a hot sandstone rock.
Evening view from our camp on the first night. Tranquil.