Good for the Goose(berry)

That's where we're going! Way up there...

And we were way down there...
It's one of those places you hear about. "Have you ridden Gooseberry?" Was a common question posed by the locals. We even had one guy point it out after the race - the imposing Mesa looming above the venue. Well, Gooseberry was on the agenda and we headed up there Monday morning. After finding a decent, semi secluded campsite, we headed out for our first taste of goose. A shorter, easier ride to shake out the legs from the race. Our campsite had great trail access and we were on South Rim trail in minutes, following the white dashes as they meandered up and around slick rock bulges. In and out of pinion trees, between otherworldly shaped rocks, up and down narrow drainages. Fun riding - but hard. The trail was well marked, but it seemed like half the terrain was make your own fun on the rocks. Nick was launching the slick rock drops and encouraging me to do the same. It was enough for me to follow the white dots! The old map I had from 2008 called that section of trail "Gods Skateboard Park." And it wasn't lying. As far as the eye could see, white bowls and bumps filled the Mesa. Up and down, banking around the corners, letting the tires cling to the rocks through nothing but momentum. We turned off South Rim onto Hidden Canyon and were treated to more slick rock bowls winding among rolling single track, in and out of the pinoins.  Nick was like a kid in a candy shop - picking his own lines where he could, playing on the rocks. None of the trails had any significant climbing and they seemed to flow well in either direction. I'm not sure where we went next, but we traversed the Mesa to the north side. Right up along the cliffs edge, over looking the race course. Yikes - don't take a jump off that without a parachute! Somehow, we meandered back to the van where we decided we needed to stay the night and explore some more the next day. Unfortunately, we still needed to reload most of the gear back into the van. It actually started snowing for a little bit! But the clouds lifted as the sun set, revealing a sky full of stars. 
Nick entering one of the slickrock bowls in Gooseberry

My turn on the slickrock bowls

Following the white dashes!

View from North Rim Trail - huge drop behind me!

The next morning dawned bitterly cold. One of the water jugs we'd left out had slush in it! Took us a little longer to get going as we waited for it to warm up, but once we did it was time for more Goose and new trails. Up to the North Rim this time and out to the view point where North and South joined. We started with an easier trail to warm up a bit before hitting hard stuff along North Rim. It was hard to keep my eyes on the trail at times - the views over the cliff edge were calling. But the exposures were enough to keep the sightseeing to a minimum. There wasn't as much slick rock type riding on the north rim, but it was still fun. It was like Palmer Park, but leveled out a bit and plunked next to a 1000 foot cliff. Same kind of rocks and techniques needed to clear the rocks. We followed the well defined trail delineated by white dashes all the way to the west. I had to walk a few things - even after watching Nick power his way up a short but vertical rock face, I still scrambled up. I think walking was harder then riding though - the tired have better traction then my shoes. The view at the end of the trail was worth it. The ground fell way from the rocks, revealing near 360 degree views of the valley below. The town of Hurricane, the entire race course for Frog Hollow to the Northwest. Zion and the Kolob plateau to the Northeast. The Apple valley to the south. Huge, expansive views - but not for the faint of heart. Then back on the trail. South Rim this time, all the way out to the eastern terminus. There were more big moves next to steep drops as the trail paralleled the mesa's edge. Nick was having a blast and launching off all the little rocks. I was more sedate - I was actually getting pretty tired and the riding played to my weakest area. Hard acceleration and quick, punchy riding has always been rough for me. Gooseberry provided plenty of opportunities to practice and I could tell its something I still need to work on especially tired. Nick wanted to ride a little more, but I was fading quickly. Time to call it a day. There are still plenty of trails up there to explore and that gives us another good reason to spend a few extra days next year! 

Tired but working the rocks

Nick taking in the view from North Rim

Yep - the view at the western edge was worth the ride!


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