Many years ago, while on a hike during a Sierra Club camping trip I wanted to join the adults on a hike to the summit of a mountain. I don't even remember the mountain, but I know that in order to get to the summit, there was about 50 feet of trail exposed on both sides. The trail was maybe a foot wide, just a ridge of rock, with nothing but air on either side for hundreds of feet. Well, I made over to the summit just fine, but panicked on the return trip. I think it took me a hour to cross that 50 foot gap, and only with patient coaxing from nearly all the adults on the trip. Ever since, exposures have been a weakness of mine - one of the reasons I was so proud of myself for not panicking in sections on Porcupine Rim. I was able to block out the tickles of fear and focus on the trail. Well, I wasn't so lucky on the second ride at Moab this time around.
We went to the Amasa Back area with no real agenda - we'd been told that Captain Ahab was a great trail and there was plenty of riding there. I had a bad feeling when we got to the parking lot. We drove up a little further and I could see the trail carved into the cliffs across the creek. On either side of us, shear sandstone walls. There was a gnawing pit in my stomach as we started riding, but I was able to ignore it. I couldn't place why I was so unnerved being out there - but there was something.
And then came Rockstacker. The sign warned that it was technical, but I wasn't too worried. If I didn't feel comfortable on sections, I could walk. No shame in that. And it was technical - hard riding that was a little over my head for how tired I was. But that was okay - we were there to explore. And then it wasn't - one section, with the trail switchbacking above a cliff dropping all the way down to Colorado River. I could handle the switchbacks, but not the cliff. That was it - I was done. The nervous breakdown was starting. Nick was loving Rockstacker, but I couldn't keep my eyes off the cliff and ended up walking more then I wanted. And there wasn't any desire to repeat things - I was completely unnerved and out of it.
|Quick - let's play find the trail along the distant cliff!|
The climb up Hymasa was fun - it was a well build chunk of trail that was hard but not over the top. Plenty of things to challenge without scaring and I was starting to feel comfortable on the bike finally. The trail maps every time we reached an intersection were great, allowing us to just focus on riding and not worry so but getting lost. Up and up we climbed, meandering over rocks and slick rock, through small stands of pinons and criss crossing the Amasa Back jeep road. At the top, we had a choice - take Captain Ahab down or continue on the jeep road. Nick decided we would keep exploring and off we went on the aptly named Cliffhanger. I really can't see how jeeps manage that - I would be terrified. As it was, despite how wide the trail was, I was starting to have issues. Maybe it was the chunky rocks and the crash the day before. I know the 1000 foot cliff to my left wasn't helping.
We took Pothole Arch trail out to the little arch. A fun trail, finally away from the cliffs for a little. Over slickrock, meandering to the north with huge views of Canyon Lands NP. I enjoyed the mix of terrain and took my time to enjoy the views.
|Nick at the end of Pothole trail, taking in the surroundings|
Settled a little bit on the climb back up Cliffhanger and then it was time for Captain Ahab. I wish I could say I enjoyed the trail, ripping up and down the rocks along the cliff edge, but I didn't. The panic returned and it was all I could do to stay on my bike. There were several stops for me to try to regain my composure. It was a thoroughly miserable ride down back to the car. I was slow as molasses because of the panic and I was unable to focus on how fun the trail was. I rode everything down Captain Ahab, but it wasn't pretty. It was slow and pathetic as I got more and more annoyed at myself and then more panicked when I tried to ride faster. Ugh. So next time - I need redemption. I want to return to Ahab and come back with the grin that trail deserves.