Saturday, October 22, 2011

king of the mountain

By biking and through a generous group of organizers of feisty Alaskan women, I got to the state of Utah. Immediately upon landing in Green River, I reconnected to the desert and realized how much I missed this landscape. It was an expansion of dry land, warm air and a scent of sage that greeted me. The Moab Airport is a quiet gem and I landed in a Beecraft 1900 after a layover from Denver; it is a small aircraft that sits not more than eighteen people. The airport has one landing strip and you are greeted with your baggage at the foot of the plane. I loved the intimacy of the building and this southwestern unpopulated domain made it an authentic and a novel establishment.

Upon being picked up by Brin, (our fabulous guide that would lead us throughout the biking territory of the Maze in the Moab), we rode for thirty five minutes to the Comfort Inn where I was meeting the rest of the bikers. While driving there and seeing familiar desert scape, I had forgotten the dinginess of place, the forlorn atmosphere, but the wide expanse of the sky extinguished these sights as quickly as the highway surged and sprinkled passing cars and trucks coming and going in it's desolateness. This is the romantic west; the heat pleasurable, where open half domed skies are immense, almost too blue to believe. The color is indescribable; a dense aqua and teal with the intensity of cobalt intermingled might be a fair description. Clouds lingered in the sky, floating Magritte fashion. Underlined the puffs were a purple, dark gray and these shapes dangled like cotton candy balls, hovering far away but still they seemed touchable.

Once at the Comfort Inn, I walked next door to the Museum of Green River and perused the information on the valley. It was a good introduction into the state; often forgetting America's greatness and the founding explorers that discovered this great terrain was a favorable surprise and a good reminder to stay humble.

The next five days would be filled with an assortment of gifts; great cycling among the paths of the Moab, climbing a bit here and there, and reaching to wonderful tops of jaw dropping spread out sights of wide canyons among canyons. Every where I turned I was aghast with the scale and magnitude of beauty; orchestras of Junipers trees and dotted sagebrush pressed against the red land, giant sculptural rock formations made me think of the Egyptian tombs and wall drawings of ancient times, conical pyramidal shapes were reflections of the remoteness of place pressed centuries of time to my face. I might have been on the Moon! Masses of brush would be contrasted to the hard blue sky as the evening would crash with a lit full moon creating assemblages of wonderful color and arrangement. The wake up morning light was clear, casting a yellow glow on the surrounding mountains and desert fields.

The biking wasn't difficult for me, while traveling the long roads could sometimes be monotonous the paths were redeemed by the heat. That glorious constant sun kept me reeling in the miles which seemed effortless as this keen energy source beat on my legs and the side of my face; I felt fantastic and would end fantastic at the end of the day's ride. You could describe some of the trails as jeep trails, dusty and soft red dirt and other times if you weren't careful you could speed down an incline to some deep ruts that could throw you out of control.
Above, is one of my favorite pictures. I took about four hundred pictures of the desert and choose thirty to post on Facebook. We ended our rides sitting and chatting around the fire; good camaraderie and assortment of characters sparked our adventure. The food was wonderful with a healthy balance of fresh fruits, salads and fish or meat. We were given choices and a varied menu each morning, lunch and dinner. Our guides, Brin and Ben, were there to help and suggest alternatives if there were any questions to where to ride. Most of it seemed impromptu but I admired this because the trip was tailored to every one's needs and fitted every one's comfort level. Hats off to the Alaska Dirt Divas!