Ok, seriously, I've said it before and I'll say it again: MOAB IS NOT A DESERT.
Our great plan to ride the White Rim over two days quickly got, for lack of a better word, stalled.
Thanksgiving was great. Yummy food, great company, happy times. We had a beautiful six hour drive out to Moab where we confidently drove down the Mineral Bottom switchbacks at 11 pm. Being a ginormous wuss, I was a little scared driving down these switchbacks set into a nice giant canyon wall. And it was dry. Luckily, Chris is a great driver and he got our car down safely and we settled in for a nice sleep before waking up at 6 am for our 100 + mile bike adventure.
Yep, me, riding 100+ miles on my mountain bike. And I was actually super excited. We had our gear dialed in -- me carrying a 13 pound pack, Chris's weighing more like 25 pounds. Lots of water, lots of delicious camping/riding food. We had warm clothes -- knowing the weather would be in the 40's, with a 20% chance of precipitation friday morning.
20%. Yeah, just like before the '06 24 Hours of Moab when there was a 20% of rain and we had the downpour of the century. Uh huh.
I woke up to an "OH SH##!" from Chris. I groggily asked if we slept in too late (typical of a Marni trip) and he said "Uhh, no, look outside." I sat up and saw this:Not clear enough? Hmmm. Let's open the door...
Hmmm? Desert? Yeah. Sure.
Now the big decision that we would struggle with for the rest of the trip: Do we try to get out of the canyon? It was a harder decision than you'd think. Afterall, we had enough supplies and warmth and food to get us through at least a week down where we'd parked... probably more. However, as the snow continued to dump in hand sized flakes, we knew the road would only get worse and thus definitely trapping us down there until it melted and then we'd have to outlast the ensuing mud. We also knew that mom had instructions to call the park if we didn't call by Sunday evening... we didn't want her to have to think the worst.
Chris and I rationalized that we'd know shortly up the road whether we'd make it up or not. We started up and the car was doing surprisingly well and the road relatively grippy. So we kept going. And going. This is my face as I tried hard not to freak out and make the situation even worse:
Yeah, we were driving up this -- Chris driving, me screaming on the inside...We made it halfway up the switchbacks and, well, that's where our plans got stuck. After sliding out a few times -- on a road little more than a car's width wide, on one side there's a big rock wall, on the other a 200 ft cliff -- we called our upward mission off. We even slide into the wall at one point which caused this:
We're not complaining though, one slide the other way and there would've been a much more tragic outcome. As we realized that we couldn't drive forward or straight without getting sucked back into the ditch, we made the decision to come up with a new plan. We both freaked out, but luckily at different times, so between the two of us we made the rational decision to stay put. Yeah. A little cockeyed on a slippery canyon road, but a decision nonetheless. I didn't take a picture of the car on the slippery slope for fear it would later haunt me should something bad happen. I feel content with that decision, although the scariness of the situation is hard to imagine without seeing a picture.
To get us out of the situation, Chris made the decision to bundle up, hop on his bike, and head up several miles in pedal deep snow to find some help. We decided that I'd stay with the car. As I watched Chris pedal into the still falling snow, I hoped he'd be back soon and that splitting up wouldn't be a decision we'd regret.
Truthfully, I had a few seconds of wanting to freak out over the situation (to me, it sounded like a Dateline story just waiting to happen), but I ultimately pulled myself together, bundled myself into our down pants and coats and tried to sleep.
I didn't allow myself to look at a clock. I didn't want to know how long Chris had been gone and I didn't want to look down and realize it had only been a few minutes.
I listened to the click of the emergency blinkers and I found a strange comfort in the sound. The way we were perched, I was a little afraid that the car would start sliding and head down the cliff. Irrational fear -- maybe. We propped rocks behind the tires just in case though. Still, any little noise made me think it was the car sliding. So the constant click, pop, click of the lights kept my mind off of the maybes.
Pretty soon I heard a SQUEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEL and worried it was some creepy canyon animal. Luckily, it was frozen-Chris. With ice in his "beard" he explained that he'd found some guys in a truck and they had called for help. It could be a while. A few hours? A day? We weren't sure. We settled into the car, pulled out the sleeping bags, and started a game of Travel Scrabble. I'm pretty sure I was losing, so it was good when the sheriff came tapping on our window to walk us out of the canyon.
I can now say I've ridden in the back of a Sheriff's truck on two separate occasions. Neither in Colorado. Both after snowy car "incidents". This time was much better than the last. Still, sitting under some large shotguns was a little unnerving.
Anyway, to make a long story slightly less long, we checked into the good old Super 8...
Showered and ate some Denny's...
Laid our gear out to dry...
And called around for chains. Chris found us some chains, put a call into Moab local Fred W in hopes of getting a ride back up to the car with the chains, and walked to the Napa several blocks away. As luck would have it, Chris ran into some friends from college in the parking lot of the bike shop. They very nicely agreed to take him up to the car and help him get it out (Erin/Shannon etc, if you ever read this, shoot us an email, I owe you girls and Tim and Ari? some freshly baked cookies at the very least). Chris called and told me what was going on and that he was headed back to the car.
I sat nervously in the hotel and did this:Watched an I Love Lucy marathon and a Dog Whisperer marathon...
And shoved my face with Chex "Muddy Buddies". Like half the bag. I was nervous, ok?
After lots of worrying, Chris called saying they'd gotten the car out. YAY! He came home, we relaxed, and then headed off to the Brewery for dinner. Not before seeing that our car had apparently ralphed up some Moab sand in the parking lot though...
So it wasn't 100 miles of riding. But we were really exhausted by the end of the day. Later I'll write about the rest of the weekend -- my first experience on Slickrock and a run-in with apparent food poisoning.
It was quite the weekend.
In the desert.