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Tue Nov 06 2012: Shafer Trail

We descended from Arches National Park and landed in the McDonald's at Moab. We were regular fixtures for a few days there, the TV ceaselessly covering the US election, with us catching up on e-mail, and me stretching that $1 bottomless soda. We saw regulars come and go, and greeted the familiar faces as if we lived there. One morning, after Neda's Skype session with her niece in Italy, we found ourselves chatting with a couple of other Canadians, Jacques from St-Jovite (outside of Montreal) who was in the area on a photo-vacation for a couple of months, and Mark from Winnipeg, who towed his KLR to ride the roads around the area with his dirtbike buddies. This was the perfect company to share a McMorning with, as we got great tips on riding roads *and* photo-spots. We really have no plan whatsoever, so it's chance encounters like these that dictate which way we go and what we do and see!

Potash Road is like riding on the surface of Mars!

Both of them suggested we ride the Shafer Trail, which starts out as Potash Road just north of Moab and ends up meeting the famous White Rim Trail in Canyonlands National Park. We were told to be prepared for great roads and amazing scenery!

Trail turns gravelly and runs through some great canyons

Stream crossing! Ok, the stream was mostly dry. You could see salt or mineral stains left from the water

Marvelous scenery unfolding before us. Shared with NOBODY!

F650GS owners have always been trying to fit a 21" wheel up front. Neda gets a 25" front wheel courtesy of our wide angle lens

The trail is very wide and well maintained. We tried to take a detour off the Shafer Trail towards the Colorado River overlook, but encountered deep sand - our nemesis! So instead of paddling 3 miles through sand with our crappy, gripless Tourances, we decided to turn back to the main trail.

Bye bye, sand. Back to the gravel. Hello, scenery!

As it turns out, we didn't really have to detour from the main trail for a look at the Colorado River, as the Shafer Trail runs alongside it for quite a while. It's at this very spot that they filmed Thelma and Louise driving their car off the cliff after being chased by cops. Hmmm... I hope I didn't ruin the movie for anyone. They also filmed Darth Vader here as well, telling Luke Skywalker that he was his father...

This entire trip I'm either on a bike or taking pictures. Sometimes both...

Gingerly stepping out onto the edge, trying to get a shot of the Colorado River

Colorado River

I think this is where Thelma and Louise drove off the cliff

Neda was having a great time!

A bit of perspective - Neda is in the top-left hand corner taking a picture with our bikes next to her

Trying not to look down

I am not scared of heights at all. But whenever I'm looking over a high cliff, or over the top-floor balcony of a high rise, I get this tingling sensation in my toes and I have this small urge to just jump. Not sure why...

Getting ready for the leap... only 2,000 feet to the canyon floor

This picture taken by Gary from Colorado. He pulled up on his R1200GS ADV and told us this was his favorite road!

A friend calls this the National Geographic shot

Trail gets quite close to the edge in some sections, giving us some great views. Hard to keep your eyes on the trail!

Here you can see the rim of the cliff

From the edge of the rim, you can see a 270 degree bend in the Colorado River, very cool!

"Do you need a hand?"
"Naw, I'm Superman, bitch!"

The Shafer Trail is great for big bikes. A little bit of sand in some areas (as above), lots of gravel, some rocky areas, a couple of steep uphill climbs on loose surfaces,and a ton of fun! Neda and I agree this and the Dalton Highway were our top two favorite rides so far on this trip! What cemented this was the 1,000 foot climb up the Shafer Switchbacks on a section of the White Rim Trail:

Here's Neda motoring up one of the switchbacks

Half-way up we peer over the lip of the basin. Awesome! Toes tingling again, BTW...

Looking back on the way we came

Shafer Basin below us, a spectacular sight!

As we reach the top, Neda hugs the cliff wall on the switchback trail. It's Shafer that way...

We've spent over a week in Utah now. Not sure if or when we're ever going to leave this state!

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