|The road lead us to a GPS point on Mt. Evens, which
as you can see is quite beautiful.
However, these GPS coordinates probably
should have come with a warning:
Only Attempt in July or August!
The summit is at an elevation of 14,134 feet, reached
through a series of steep, rapid switchbacks.
And when I say steep, I mean it - 10 to 15% grades,
according to the park's website. It is touted as
"The Highest Paved Road In The World"
As if that wasn't exciting enough, large
portions of the road have no edge whatsoever -
just a nice, smooth launching pad off the road,
over the cliff and into oblivion.
Oh, and also the ice.
Ranging in consistency from "I dropped my Slurpee"
to "Bust out the Zamboni", these floes were
so treacherous at points that we actually had to
exit the road and ride through the snow to get any
traction. The ice seemed to enjoy accumulating
in steep corners without shoulders, though,
so sometimes all you could do was
hang on and hope for the best.
|And the goats, obviously, but did I mention
the marmots? Yes, the marmots.
They live in holes in the ground,
often right in the middle of the asphalt.
It was like a real life game of whack-a-mole,
with the goal being to try not to hit the marmots
and also to not die
trying to not hit the marmots.
A series of fun challenges, no doubt, to which
was added one more little complication:
My bike has been a frustrating bucket of crap
ever since I had warranty work performed
by a Yamaha shop back home (who couldn't
possibly care less) so my bike was actually
surging, bogging, and cutting out completely
while attempting to negotiate this already
On a side note, I ended up having to fix
the faulty warranty repair on my own.
The time and expense required to track down
and repair all of the damage they had caused
significantly exceeded what it would have cost me
to fix the original problem on my own in the first place.
So much for the 5-year factory warranty, right?
But then, they did end up going out of business.
So there is that.
|Why does it seems like there are always a
bunch of kids hanging out in front of the
bathroom door any time I have to go?
|That guy in the background came over and
said, "Wow, I didn't expect to see any
motorcycles up here today.
You guys are pretty brave."
Actually, "Completely Unhinged"
would be the term I would have chosen,
but we take it where we can get it.
With a low at the summit in the mid-20's,
we were pleased when we made it back down to
the relative warmth at the base of the mountain.
|A quick stop at
Arches National Park
netted us three more
...And we wrapped the day up with a
GPS point in Canyonlands National Park.
Despite Zumo's insistence and our ultimate
enjoyment of our last off-road adventure,
we did NOT take the trail marked
"High Clearance 4X4s Only -
Extreme Grades - Road is Not Maintained."
We also resisted it's attempts to make us ride
the motorcycles 110 miles along a narrow,
highly technical hiking trail, and opted
instead to backtrack the following morning
along the actual paved road to another
actual paved road and progress from there.
I think my Zumo may be trying to kill us.
|This was a day of great extremes.
We had planned to visit this
GPS point the night before,
but we'd spent the latter part
of the day being snowed on
and were concerned about
the fact that the road on
the map looked like a broken,
slightly stretched spring.
Probably best not to undertake
that in icy conditions, we thought.
It turned out to be a
VERY wise choice!
|The entire round-trip back to our starting point, 54 miles total, took us almost 3 1/2 hours.
Still trying to warm up, we headed west towards Utah and a few more GPS locations.
By the end of the day, we were sweltering away in construction zones with temps well
above 100 and grateful for the micro-bursts of cooling rain we were finding every so often.
But then, variety is what makes a trip great, and we enjoyed every minute of it.
(Well, maybe not the minutes I thought I was going to die because my bike surged across the icy road
towards a bottomless frozen abyss, but aside from that minor detail I enjoyed nearly every minute of it.)