Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Moab - still stuck in the 60's
Today the weather was bad. It was cold and rainy in the morning. As a result I postponed the mountain biking for a day. Instead we decided to drive to Canyonlands National Park. The drive is a series of switchbacks up the La Sal mountains. As we drove to with in 8 or 9 miles of the park fog set in. We couldn't see 5 feet in front of us. We realized continuing was useless. If we couldn't see 5 feet in front of the car, we couldn't see what ever was in th park. So, we turned around and headed back to Moab. Despite the mystique of Moab, it's not much of a town. Main Street is like most small town western Main Streets, except more bike and t-shirt shops. As you drive a few blocks off of main street it's actually kind of depressing: beat-up houses, an abandoned drive-in theater and trailer parks. We did find some more upscale adobe style homes up the canyon near Slickrock Trail.
Moab is best known for the Slick Rock area above town. Above is a picture of the beginning of the trail. There are a lot of warnings. It's an expert trail and quite dangerous as noted from the signs above and below. Slick is not what it sounds like. It looks like it would be slippery, but in fact the traction is excellent. This is what makes it possible to go up and down steep crevasses and sheer drop off ledges. The trails are marked by white marks on the rocky surface. If you look at the picture above or the bottom picture you can see a faint dark line. This has been made by thousands of tire tracks following the marked trails.
The trail was initially made for dirt bikes in the late '60's. In the early 80's people tried using "mountain bikes" in the rocks. They discovered the traction was great and the trail was a great challenge. Now 80,000 cyclist try the trail a year. On this day in February we didn't see one person riding on the trail. We did see people in Jeeps and Mad Max like vehicles climbing other areas of the park at impossible angles.
This picture was taken from above Moab. The canyon wall in the distance goes on for miles and miles, with Moab sitting at the canyon floor. Moab is a young persons town. A couple of spots we found that we would recommend are Arches Bookstore, which has a great coffee bar inside and McStiff's Brewery and Restaurant. Despite the unappetizing name the food was really good and reasonable. Moab hasn't gotten gentrified or developed yet. It's still a sleepy western town with a outdoor flavor. The influx of young people has given Moab a great flavor. I'm sure in another 20 years it will have timeshares and condos all over the place. Until then it is a nice way station for those people enjoying on of nature's greatest playlands.