Canyonlands/Moab Jug Handle Bikepack Loop March 18, 2017

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blueeyes

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Less Food, More Water

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I belong to a bikepack group out of Salt Lake City and noticed Bryan posted a trip the third weekend in March to ride the Jug Handle Loop through Canyonlands. It worked with my schedule. Long way to go for a one night, two-day adventure. Absolutely worth the drive from Idaho for copious amounts of sunshine and 80-degree days.

I have been patiently waiting since my last bikepack trip through Tex Creek for the weather to turn nice enough to start going again. I really have fallen in love with this activity, somewhat obsessed with what I need to buy, where to go, and when to go. The options are endless! I have spent most of the winter deciding on what new gear I wanted and the last couple of weeks ordering it. Every day after work I was opening delivered goodies and getting more excited. It is times like this that I am super happy I have no one to answer to but myself. Sarah just rolled her eyes at my excitement and mentioned something about me possibly having a problem. What, that I am an outdoor gear junky…. Yes I admit it. Now leave me alone!

New Items:
· Mini-Mo Jet Boil
· Fitkicks Shoes
· Comb
· Bike Gloves
· Puffy Vest
· Fold-able Ball Cap
· Sling Back Camp Chair
· Spare fat tire tubes
· Portable Power Bank

One thing I haven’t been able to pull the trigger on is a front roll for my handle bars. I have been using some straps and drybags I already have. This trip I borrowed the Apidura 20L roll and front pocket from a friend here in Idaho. I can’t make my mind up on what I want to do for the handle bars, too many options available. Even after this trip I am not sure. I want to try another system before I decide. I did love the Apidura roll. If I can get a hold of a harness system for my next trip, then I can make a good comparison.

I met Bryan and Ron in SLC Saturday morning at 7AM. We piled all our gear and bikes into Ron’s Toyota FJ Cruiser and headed off to Moab.

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We arrived at the trailhead by 1:00 PM. It took us 30 minutes to get the bikes loaded with our gear. We were all so excited to get on the trail that not one of us bothered to check the map before we happily took off on the dirt road. We just blissfully started climbing.

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Bikes ready to roll.

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Bryan our leader for this ride.

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Jug Handle

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Long Canyon Road

I knew both guys would be stronger riders than me so it was no surprise that I was pulling up the rear as we started this climb.

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The surprise was the sound of rocks falling from above me on the left-hand side and a Dessert Big Horn Sheep bounding across the road in front of me! He scared me to death. I quickly grabbed my camera and took a picture. If you look closely there are three. The one with the horns that ran across the road and two more up on the rock shelf above him.
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I was trying my best to keep pace with the boys and not doing too shabby. It was ridiculously warm, especially coming from Idaho. The sweat was rolling off my head into my eyes. I forgot to pull my buff out and put it on before we started riding. The boys stopped and I pulled up next to them in a huff and a puff and abruptly halted my progress. This is bad, my heart rate is naturally low and it drops fast when I just stop. I could feel the need to pass out coming on fast. I got off the bike and started walking with the bike, that helped some but not enough. I dropped the bike and sat down on a nearby rock and put my head between my legs. Stupid, stupid, stupid! I know better than to just stop. I have passed out three times from doing just this. Climbing hard up a hill, reaching the top and stopping dead in my tracks. Boom out cold. HA!!! Scared a few people with this trick. After a few minutes sitting on the rock, my world quit spinning. This heat! Ug,it is a love and hate relationship with the heat.

It wasn’t long after my little episode something in Bryan’s head must have triggered that we were riding the route counter-clockwise instead of clockwise. We had only gone 2 miles up the dirt road before he figured this out. We turned around and headed back down the road. This was just a little warm up. I suggested we stop by the car and fill our water bottles back up because I had pretty much drained my 1.5L bottle. They thought that was a great idea. At the car I drank a ton of water and worried that 6.5L was not going to be enough to get me through to tomorrow when we could buy more water at the Canyonland Visitor Center.

Headed in the right direction we had roughly 18 miles to our campsite. The ride to camp was mellow, good pace at least for me. Bryan has unlimited energy, I am sure he would have made camp in half the time. He was popping wheelies and riding circles around me, very chatty while on the go. I find that I am not so chatty when I am bikepacking or backpacking if I am moving. I turn inwards and have conversations with myself. When taking a rest, you might not get me to stop talking.

Here are some random views along the way.

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Ron and Bryan

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Bryan

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Potash Ponds

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Yours truly trying to keep the fatbike from rolling backwards off that cliff!

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We arrived at camp with plenty of time to set up and for me to make my dinner. Ron ate nothing and Bryan had dry meals. I had more than enough food to feed an army of small children. I say small children because the bulk of what I brought was snacky stuff. Too much! I don’t know what I was thinking when I packed food.

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It was now that I got to try all of my new toys. The new bike gloves I had been riding with all day. I hate them, they are too small for my hands. My sling back chair, loved. There was a picture of me sitting in it eating dinner but it was not flattering and was promptly deleted. The chair works great. I bought a pair of cheap tent poles and strapped them to the downtube for transport. It works better with sturdier poles like trekking poles but I had a comfy backrest and it didn’t take up much room. My camp shoes!! Love love love. These are very light weight and packable. I get home from work and put these on. Sarah shakes her head at me. She does that a lot these days. My new little wide tooth comb! Fantastic! When you have thick mid length hair that soaks up the sweat and snarls into a rat’s nest; it is so nice to be able to comb it out. Or wake up in the morning and comb it into a ponytail. Previously I had a compact brush that did an okay job but took up valuable space. This comb is flat, and amazing. The foldable baseball cap, another new favorite of mine. I just might order a second one. After taming the rat’s nest I can hide it all way under this ball cap. Perfect! Puffy vest was cheap $35 bucks at the local army surplus store, cute color and functional. Real down or so it says, and toasty. On trips where I don’t expect the temps to be cold the vest puffy will come and the puffy jacket will stay at home. That leaves the Mini Mo Jet Boil. Very happy with this purchase as well. It simmers food nicely, I love the lower squatt profile. Makes it easier to cook in and eat out of. Love the handles.

As I sat there eating my taco soup and staring at all the junk I thought to myself less food, more water!! I desperately wanted to drink one of the three liters I had reserved for the journey out, but knew that would not be the best plan. I had a long climb up to the visitor center in the heat. My taco soup makes enough to feed two people and I shared the diner with Bryan. Ron was fasting and didn’t want any. Fasting?? Hmm, I was definitely not fasting with as much food as I had packed.

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After dinner, we sat around and talked and watched the transition from day to twilight to a star filled dark sky, then crawled into our tents and and fell fast asleep.

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I woke one time in the middle of the night in a sweat! Good lord it was warm, this is a first for me. Usually I freeze the entire night. I unzipped my bag and just threw it over me like a blanket. I woke up around 6 AM, made coffee and enjoyed the quiet morning in the desert. I made my breakfast and by this time both the guys were up getting ready to go.

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Good morning camp face! I need coffee.

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Morning coffee and desert sunrise.

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Cheesy green chili bacon potato breakfast.

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Half moon in the morning sky.

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Sunrise on the red rocks.
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The guys left about 15 min before I did, I rolled out at 9:10AM, 20 minutes later I was staring at the sign that points 6.5 miles back to the visitors center up Shafer Canyon Road.

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Last time I was on Shafer Canyon Road was in May of 2013 when I biked the White Rim. We came down the switchbacks this time I was riding up the switchbacks. I took my sweet time pedaling up, stopped in the shaded corners to rest. Had great internal conversation with myself. Mostly about what I would not take again bikepacking. Food, less food… more water, at least on this trek through the desert. I wasn’t out of water yet, not even close. If I didn’t need to conserve the water I would have drank everything I had right, then and there in the shade of the switchbacks. This road was rather busy with traffic today cars coming up and down, couple of motorcycles whose riders quipped to me that I was doing it the hard way. No, I am doing it my way! I was most envious of a group of three women bikepacking the White Rim. I wanted to turn my bike around and join them. I could just tell work I got lost in the desert and was lucky to find my way home, I had plenty of food to make it another three days. The lack of water changed my mind. We hit pavement by 11:20AM.


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Ron, Bryan and Me

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Switchbacks

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Bryan


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Bryan, Ron and Me at the top. We made it.


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On our way out of Canyonlands


Bryan had extra water and topped off my water bottle. We followed the road out of Canyon Lands towards Dead Horse Point Park, but took a slight left onto Long Valley Road. This was the last stretch and it was all downhill with beautiful scenery and gorgeous weather.

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Long Canyon Road time for the 5 mile downhill


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We made it back to the car by 1:30 PM. This was a 36 mile loop but with our little warm up we rode 40 miles in 24 hours. No land records set here. I believe in turtles. I am the turtle!


We drove into Moab and ate at ZAX, then headed home. I arrived back in Idaho Falls by 11:30PM.
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Recovery meal, greens, beer cheese potato soup and beer of course!


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The after math! Garage is for gear not cars.


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This is everything I had left over! Part of my problem is I planned for lunch Saturday and Sunday. However on Saturday during the long drive down I grabbed some cheese and crackers at a gas station and that was my lunch. Then on Sunday we ate lunch at ZAX's. In retrospect I over planned on the food, and would have felt more comfortable with 8L of water. I had 6.5L but to have taken 8L I would have needed my water pack. My one goal for this trip was no pack on my back! I succeeded.

Overall this was a fantastic start to the bikepacking season. The sit bones are not currently conditioned for long rides, and 20 miles each day was perfect. Yes they were a tidbit sore Sunday morning but numbed up quickly.
 

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TannerT

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#5
That trip is inspiring!! Pics are awesome and a great narrative to a great trip.


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#6
I like the auto-delete of unflattering pics lol. Sound like my wife.

Share the recipe (or brand) for that cheesy breakfast potato meal?
 

blueeyes

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Thread starter #7
I like the auto-delete of unflattering pics lol. Sound like my wife.

Share the recipe (or brand) for that cheesy breakfast potato meal?
Both recipes are from Andrew Sakura both very tasty.

Here is the cheesey potatoes.

http://andrewskurka.com/2015/backpacking-breakfast-recipe-cheesy-potatoes/

This one requires a small can of chilies. I take one and one of those small army can openers. I add the entire can to this meal. Then crush the can and pack it out with the rest of the garbage.



Beans and Rice with Fritos

http://andrewskurka.com/2015/backpacking-dinner-recipe-beans-rice-with-fritos-cheese/

I make this one with 14oz of water and then add an entire pack of sweet sues chicken for a soup. I need to play with the spices to give it more flavor. It is tasty I just think it needs garlic probably. Fritos have to be my favorite backpacking foods. They taste delicious in this meal. I take extra so I can munch of fritos whenever I need a salty something.

I use to just add the boiling water to a sandwich bag in a food cozie with all the ingredients and let sit for 15 min with both of these meals. This is the first trip I cooked in the pot. I like cooking better.

These are not the lightest weight meals by any means with a small can of chilies and a package of chicken. The weight is worth the flavor.

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Wyatt Carson

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#9
That has to be the freest and most thrilling way to travel, by bicycle. Then you picked the most amazing scenery on earth. Lots of eye candy and inspiration in your post. You picked some excellent campsites too. Love those views.
 

DrNed

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#10
I did the White Rim for the first time last year - this brings back great memories.
The bike really is a great way to explore.

It appears as though all three of you had
fat tires. I've never carried gear on my bike.
Is the fat tire beneficial for carrying all the
extra gear weight?

Good stuff!
 

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blueeyes

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Thread starter #11
I did the White Rim for the first time last year - this brings back great memories.
The bike really is a great way to explore.

It appears as though all three of you had
fat tires. I've never carried gear on my bike.
Is the fat tire beneficial for carrying all the
extra gear weight?

Good stuff!
You can pack gear on a full suspension. You just need to change the air pressure in fork and rear suspension to account for what you add in gear.

My full suspension is all carbon, including the ENVE wheel set, with a dropper seat. I don't want to scratch the dropper seat post with my seat pack. If I choose to pack on my full suspension it will be a trip where I am traveling super light gear wise and probably staying in a hotel or something.

I don't enjoy long days with a pack on my back. This trip the bulk of my water road in the frame bag.

Overall I love my fatty for bikepacking. I roll slow no mater what bike I am on, never out there for the speed. Unless it is downhill.

We had two fatbikes and a plus size tire bike. Someday I am buying a plus size tire bike with front suspension and that bike will be my go to for bikepacking.

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WasatchWill

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#12
Great TR! I'm curious, who did you order your Slingback from? Looks like it is out of stock everywhere online.
 

blueeyes

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Great TR! I'm curious, who did you order your Slingback from? Looks like it is out of stock everywhere online.
Thx! Will. I ordered it off of Amazon. After the trip I cut the tent poles down by about an inch and a half. Then use a rubber twist tie to hold them together. Works fantastic! Highly recommend for the weight.

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WasatchWill

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#14
Thx! Will. I ordered it off of Amazon. After the trip I cut the tent poles down by about an inch and a half. Then use a rubber twist tie to hold them together. Works fantastic! Highly recommend for the weight.
I was going to get one, but again, they've been out of stock everywhere I've looked online. Then another thread led me to an even lighter weight chair that uses much the same setup and that then inspired me to make my own. Here's a pic of me testing it out in my house. When the Slingbacks are available again, I still may get one so that when I take my older children out for one-on-one trips, they have have something to sit back on as well. What I made is about 2 ounces lighter, coming in at 3.1 ounces. It also cost me a little more to make, about $30 with the carbon fiber poles I ordered from Zpacks costing $20 alone. I have a hair bungee holding the poles together and I pair it all with my little sit pad from Dutchware.

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blueeyes

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Thread starter #15
I was going to get one, but again, they've been out of stock everywhere I've looked online. Then another thread led me to an even lighter weight chair that uses much the same setup and that then inspired me to make my own. Here's a pic of me testing it out in my house. When the Slingbacks are available again, I still may get one so that when I take my older children out for one-on-one trips, they have have something to sit back on as well. What I made is about 2 ounces lighter, coming in at 3.1 ounces. It also cost me a little more to make, about $30 with the carbon fiber poles I ordered from Zpacks costing $20 alone. I have a hair bungee holding the poles together and I pair it all with my little sit pad from Dutchware.

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Nice!! I flunked sewing. Only class I ever received an F in. My mom told me I was not a domestic bird but an exoctic one. I have since tried a few sewing projects. They end up in my mothers hands to get finished.

I am always impressed when someone can just make something!

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WasatchWill

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#16
Nice!! I flunked sewing. Only class I ever received an F in. My mom told me I was not a domestic bird but an exoctic one. I have since tried a few sewing projects. They end up in my mothers hands to get finished.

I am always impressed when someone can just make something!

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The details aren't pretty on my projects when you look at them up close, but they are at least functional which is all I can hope for. So far my biggest DIY gear projects that have involved sewing have been a camp hammock and now this chair. Before that, I had not sewn anything since a mandatory Home Economics class in junior high. I had to have my wife show me how to set up and operate her sewing machine, then practiced a few runs on some scrap fabric, and after that, I was off to the races. It's kind of fun looking at pictures of other gear and trying to figure out how to assemble your own version of it.
 

dug

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#17
You can pack gear on a full suspension. You just need to change the air pressure in fork and rear suspension to account for what you add in gear.

My full suspension is all carbon, including the ENVE wheel set, with a dropper seat. I don't want to scratch the dropper seat post with my seat pack. If I choose to pack on my full suspension it will be a trip where I am traveling super light gear wise and probably staying in a hotel or something.

I don't enjoy long days with a pack on my back. This trip the bulk of my water road in the frame bag.

Overall I love my fatty for bikepacking. I roll slow no mater what bike I am on, never out there for the speed. Unless it is downhill.

We had two fatbikes and a plus size tire bike. Someday I am buying a plus size tire bike with front suspension and that bike will be my go to for bikepacking.

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I can't be sure from the pics but you can probably fit 27+ and/or 29+ on your fatty and have both. I'm running 29+ on my 2017 Salsa Mukluk and also have 2 more wheelsets for various fat tire setups. But I'm a bike nerd and love building wheels. It seems most fatbikes with 190 or 197 rear dropouts have room for 29+
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blueeyes

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I can't be sure from the pics but you can probably fit 27+ and/or 29+ on your fatty and have both. I'm running 29+ on my 2017 Salsa Mukluk and also have 2 more wheelsets for various fat tire setups. But I'm a bike nerd and love building wheels. It seems most fatbikes with 190 or 197 rear dropouts have room for 29+ View attachment 73991
I have consider doing this. But honestly don't mind rolling on the 3.8 tires. I am not fast and never will be and often in the desert I find my fattires are better suited to the terrain than the skinnier tires. Like sand patches or long stretches of baby heads I encountered when riding Kane Creek or the chunder as Micheal called in Arizona. Those tires just roll over that stuff. Plus I feel ridiculously stable on my bike loaded with gear.

However being a bike fan myself I probably just end up with the Salsa Cutthroat.

I do like your set up. You should post up some bikepack reports.

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Titans

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#19
COOL! I'm very impressed with your bike trips.
It's surprising, that no car stopped and asked if you would like more water, or just asked if you would like some fresh cool water stored in their air conditioned cars. We always do that and we have filled many bottles, it's just common sense.
 

blueeyes

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Thread starter #20
COOL! I'm very impressed with your bike trips.
It's surprising, that no car stopped and asked if you would like more water, or just asked if you would like some fresh cool water stored in their air conditioned cars. We always do that and we have filled many bottles, it's just common sense.
On this trip I don't think we ever saw a car until we were almost done and then it didn't matter so much.

I carry water in my car. I would give it up to anyone that needed it. However it wouldn't be cold.

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