Sunday, August 19, 2007

Southwest Utah side trip

I traveled to my employer's global sales meeting in Las Vegas but took an early side trip while I was out there. A few coworkers and I got together to do some hiking and mountain biking in southwest Utah before our meetings began. After flying into Las Vegas then driving to Zion National Park, we got a late start on hiking into "The Narrows" trail. This is a unique experience hiking up a river surrounded by deep canyon walls. We started at the bottom of the trail and were in the river at least ankle deep and all the way up to waist deep at times. We all had hiking poles, which helped immensely with the underwater rocks and helped us make great time and distance. Because of our late start and it was getting close to dark, we had to turn around at the first cut at Orderville Canyon. But it was a great first taste of this awesome trail and hike. This trail can also be done from the top (this requires a permit) and is approx 16 miles long not including the few miles of hiking through a ranch to get to the trailhead.

We stayed in St George, Utah...which bills itself as a stopover oasis between Phoenix and Salt Lake City (not including Las Vegas). We rented mountain bikes the next morning and headed out to the world famous Gooseberry Mesa mountain bike trails near Zion National Park. The trail consisted of approx 12 miles of slickrock, single track, and jeep roads. This was my (and everyone else's in our crew) first experience with riding on slickrock. This was one of the most challenging trails I've ever ridden and provided some incredible views from atop canyon rims. In fact, some of the trail took us right alongside the canyon rim. Notice the tiny highway in the video and that gives you some perspective of the distances and views. We rode on both the South and North rim trails. Later, I went on to ride the Green Valley Loop (also known as Bearclaw Poppy trail) trail in St George. This was a great setup of singletrack and BMX style technical obstacles, including some steep descents, in a true desert setting. I wish I had fresher legs for this trail. I was spent after the Gooseberry Mesa ride and only lasted 1 hour on the Green Valley Trail, which I also highly recommend if you're in the area.

Las Vegas has been listed as one of the top outdoor recreational areas in the country by Outside and National Geographic Outdoor magazines. There was so much more we could have done in the St George and Zion National Park area(approx 2 hrs away), not to mention Bryce and Grand Canyon National Parks aren't far away either.

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