Gooseberry Return

Three nights in St George and it was time to head off the grid to Gooseberry. We'd spent the time at the hotel wisely and we had a cooler full of food and clean clothes for the next days of riding. We scored a good campsite this time with morning sun, afternoon shade, some big rocks that were perfect for stretching on and quiet. We were only a half a mile from the trailhead and there was a rocky section of road before and after the pull in, forcing the traffic to slow down and decreasing the dust from the cars. Perfect for home base for a few nights.

Nick on one of the rocky climbs on South Rim trail
Time to ride. We were both looking forward to exploring Gooseberry some more. I of course, started the ride off badly, falling off two big rocks right away. Nick was in "make your own fun" mode on the slickrock and I thought I could follow him. Well, I didn't fully commit to one line and toppled backwards - I would have the bruises and scrapes to show for my efforts later. Finally, I settled down to the different style of riding that Gooseberry demands and we were off. We took Windmill trail all the way out to the Yurts for a quick look around. Then back all the way to the western most point, overlooking the Frog Hollow venue. There was a crowd of riders there, so we didn't stop for any pictures. Just riding. After my earlier silliness, I was feeling much more confident and comfortable on the trail. We headed back on South Rim, taking the same route as last year. The differences in my awareness of the rocks and the moves and body language required to get up some of the rock slopes was amazing. While I didn't always realize what I was doing different than last year, I was able to get the power when I needed it, as well as maneuvering the bike appropriately. I was riding a lot more and a lot smoother than last year.

Slick Rock style make your own fun riding
Back at the van after three hours of fun riding. Nick gave the bikes a quick once over and I warmed up supper. We had a simple sunset, but as the sun slipped below the mesa, the full moon peeked over the mountains to the east. Moonrise was spectacular, with the orange glow illuminating the clouds long before the moon even appeared. We ate supper with the moon as our entertainment and settled in to watch it rise long after darkness fell. A night lap was tempting, with the light of the moon almost as bright as the sun
Manuvering under the slickrock in one of the narrow canyons

Moonrise over Zion
The next day was one of accidental exploration. Which was the point! More South Rim and a wrong turn on a road took us to the edge of the earth (or of the mesa.) We were going to turn around and take the road back to trail, when we saw the tire tracks. Fresh tire tracks leading off into the pinon pines, with paint dashes on the rocks just beyond view. Well. It was a fairly well ridden trail but definitly off the beaten bath. Following the painted lines and tire tracks was like learning to read. I didn't know the next move or turn and was constantly scanning all around for the next clue of where to go. Challenging in spots with slickrock climbs marked by paint and tight turns with exposures, then into the forest with tire tracks to follow. It was a great trail, well thought out and planned. The rock sections were rewarding and the danger factor was just high enough. A hidden gem that had smiles on both our faces, even though we were riding slowly. Nick let me lead most of the way so I would be comfortable with the lines and the unknown. And that's all I'll say about that...

Sunset behind the tree
We'd planned on moving on, but decided to stay another night. We had a few more trails we wanted to ride again. Saturday was a shorter day compared to the first two rides on Gooseberry. I was getting tired and getting slower. So we did some of the fun trails and just a little more exploring. Nick got into another "make your own fun" section on the slickrock bowls and ledges and we sessioned some of the rocks so I could feel what I was doing on the bike. Then it was time to head back. The mesa was filling up and the trails were (comparatively) getting crowded, with cars filling the parking lots and campsites.  

Setting up for the climb up to the top of the slickrock



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