CaliMD Goes to Utah: Garneau in the Wild
In another CaliMD dispatch, I'm coming in hot from a terrific week in southwestern Utah exploring the areas of Saint George, Zion, Dixie National Forest, and the environs, and if I had to describe it in one word, it would be incredible.
My husband and I left Los Angeles with our car packed to the gills with mountain bikes, clothes, and our puppy Sophie last Saturday morning. The plan was to hang out, hike, ride bikes, and get used to the desert until Wednesday morning when we headed out on a mountain bike tour with Rim Tours called Bryce to Zion - four days of mountain biking in the wilderness in between Bryce and Zion, supported by guides and essentially in a serious glamping situation.
My primary observation on the first few days of the trip is that Saint George is a cute little town that is best visited likely in November through February. In September it is HOT. The high temperatures were around 100 degrees every day, with abundant sunshine. This may be something that I could have predicted by looking at the forecast, but it didn't really prevent us from doing much. The daily schedule looked basically like this: wake up, eat an awesome breakfast in town, hike / bike with Sophie, our puppy, chill out indoors for several hours, and then in the evening once the sun went behind the mountains, we would go for a second ride / hike. This was pretty pleasant!
The highlight of Saint George was definitely hanging out with our puppy and showing her some new places. She loved the clean air and went for some beautiful hikes. One area we really liked was Snow Canyon - this is a beautiful canyon very close to town, with tons of trails. But realistically, there are tons of trails all around Saint George, almost in any direction.
On Wednesday morning, we dropped Sophie off at camp and met our Rim Tours group. I immediately noticed when we walked up was that this was going to be me and 12 middle aged guys (Rod included!). Sweet. However, they were all super nice and as it turned out, though my downhill riding skills are terrible, my watts per kilo advantage made me the strongest climber of the group so I was fairly easily able to show the guys that I was cool and fast. The first day was a super chill but beautiful ride around Navajo Lake, which is in the Dixie National Forest. We also camped at Navajo Lake every night. In stark contrast to Saint George, temperatures at the lake were in the 70's during the day and in the low 40's at night. We certainly weren't hot!
The remaining days had a very similar rhythm - wake up freezing, have an awesome breakfast, ride bikes, take in gorgeous views, eat a sandwich in the woods, come back, chill out, eat an awesome dinner, hang out by the fire with a bunch of dudes telling stories, look up at more stars than I had seen in years, and crawl into the tent to sleep. It was really delightful. The trails were mostly pretty flowy singletrack that I enjoyed with a few exceptions of shuttles to high points. I thought these were dumb and emphasized the things I don't like (being scared going down steep hills), without the things I like (climbing up hills), but all the guys loved them.
We headed back to LA yesterday morning with awesome memories, a fairly strong desire to buy a souped up sprinter van so we could car camp a lot more, and some pretty substantial altitude training under our belts which should hopefully give us a good strong start to cross season.