It got really hot, really quickly today.
I headed out to White Rim Road via the Mineral Bottom entrance. The trip out is a fun, fast dirt road with fantastic scenery and views of the surrounding canyon country. Just before the rim trail begins, a series of sharp switchbacks drops you down into a canyon. The road gets rougher with lots a variation between rock, hard dirt, and soft sand with steep vertical cliffs off to the side. After following the path of the Green River for a while, the track cuts away from the water and over Hardscrabble Hill. It's a good workout with a sandy ascent from the north and a steep, rocky descent on the south side. Things flattened out again and continued along the river.
About 20 miles in, I stopped to talk to a ranger who mentioned that he rides dual sports and that the Parks Service gives them a KTM 350 to patrol the trail. Not a bad gig! As he drove off, and I went to get back on the bike, I noticed the extra water I brought with me was missing along with my spare tubes. Without the rest of my luggage on, I'd been lazy about securing everything properly, and it had gotten seriously jostled over the course of the day. I felt I should go back for these things, figuring they most likely bounced off around Hardscrabble. Eight or so miles back I found them sitting in a rut. At this point it was hot as hell, and I felt a bit fatigued from not eating a decent breakfast. So with some regret, I headed back the way I came, though it was even more fun as I was familiar with the terrain. I'll be back in Moab to complete the trail another day.
As I came back over Hardscrabble, I dropped the bike in a sand hole coming back down the sandy north side. I knew it would happen as soon as I saw the hole and probably willed myself into falling. The ground was very soft, so no worries. I got back on the bike and returned to Moab for lunch at Milt's Stop & Eat. Great burgers and shakes.
The heat kept increasing, so I stopped to have an iced coffee and figure out where I was headed tomorrow. A guy working in the cafe's kitchen came over, asked where I was riding, and mentioned that taking the Utah BDR would bring me up in higher elevations and cooler temperatures. I could rejoin the TAT south of the Idaho border. I'd read of other riders doing this, and he vouched that the riding was good. The ranger I spoke with earlier had said the same, so I'm weighing my options. It doesn't look like it's going to get cooler soon on the path the TAT takes. When I reach Green River tomorrow I'll decide whether to continue west or head north.
I spent the remainder of the afternoon cruising UT-128 along the Colorado, stopping to enjoy the sun on the canyon walls as it set, and then rode back to camp.