Gooseberry doesn't disappoint

In past years, we always tried to get up to Goosberry early in the morning so we could set up camp and ride all in the same day. That works great on the weekends when the mesa is crowded and there's lots of people camping and riding. But in the middle of the week? Not as big an issue. So we took our time, riding in St George first - on Barrel Ride and Zen - and then making the trek up. We had plenty of light left to set up the tent and get camp organized before the sun dipped down and temperatures started dropping. It was a good thing we did opt for the tent this year - once the sun set it got cold fast. Morning lows were in the mid 20s when I got up both days. I was able to crank up our Mr Buddy heater, get warm after a chilly night and then enjoy the sunrise with my coffee. The perfect start to every morning.

Sunset on the first night atop Gooseberry Mesa


Reflections at camp


Even though I knew Gooseberry is either easy pedaling or big power moves, the kind my hamstring wasn't liking, I still wanted to run. I opted for a nice easy run each morning while we waited for the temperature to warm up enough to ride. My leg was feeling really good - better each morning and the bruise had faded. With the warm sun and cool temperatures, it was perfect running conditions as well. I opted to stay as close to the van as possible on the first day, doing a couple of smaller loops to make sure I could bail easily if needed. Got to play on the trails and just enjoy the morning. No issues. Sure, it wasn't fast given the techy trail running and me behaving not, but that wasn't the point. The next morning, it was test time. Time for a bigger loop - one big circle with a point of now return - I wanted to run all the way out to the windmill on trail and back on the road. There was just a little stiffness when I got started, but overall everything felt good. I continued along my planned route, past the first bail out point. I was dancing along the slickrock, following the white dashes and cairns, enjoying the solitude of a chilly Goosberry morning. I kept waiting for my leg to  spasm as I passed the final bail out and point of no return. To my delight, when I popped out at the windmill trailhead with nothing but easy road running left, everything still felt really good. Maybe it was t an injury per se, but left over effects of the crash combined with extended sitting and then the cold run. Who knows. But those two runs on Gooseberry were the best I'd had in three long weeks. 


View from Windmill trail on my run
Once it warmed up and after we'd had time to enjoy breakfast and Christopher Bean Coffee, it was time to ride. The first day we stuck to a more classic Goosberry route - Cattle Grate, North Rim, Yellow, out to the view point and then back along South Rim. A nice sampling of stuff from slickrock bowls to piƱon tree cruising to winding along the cliff's edge. A few things I bailed on because I knew it was a little too much for my leg. A few others I just needed a second run to get a reminder of the right lines.
 
 
The second day was a little more off the beaten path riding. Some road, the fun of Hidden Canyon (that trails is awesome - I could do laps on it all day...) and then some work on our route finding skills and being ready for the unknown around the corner. Nick had me redo one section so I could take the line I thought was best - but much bigger with a small gap jump. Overall, another good day of riding and being off the beaten track meant we didn't really have to worry about other riders around some of the blind corners. It was just a Friday, but the trails were much busier then the day before. All kinds of riders, including one person who was super proud he'd done a few laps at Frog Hollow! Still had his number plate on...


Nick out at the western viewpoint
We talked about staying another night there since we were all set up, but it was starting to to crowded. New trails called on the other side of the plain - in a place we'd never been. Time to pack up and explore!

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