Jump to content

Washes and Rocks - a Torrey Tale

Bob Palin

Recommended Posts

Last weekend a group came down from Motorcycle R&R (independent BMW shop) in Salt Lake City for the annual shop ride to Torrey, they arrived on Saturday afternoon and occupied the Rim Rock hotel and restaurant. One of the owners of the shop asked me if I would recommend or lead a GS ride on Sunday and said that they were bored with the Burr Trail and Notom Road having done it several years in a row. My initial thought was that it would be too snowy to go up high above Cathedral Valley, but one of the riders had actually come down that way and reported that it was dry so I came up with a loop from Sweeper Madness to Cathedral Valley and back. I handed out maps at breakfast and as the loop was only about 45 miles told those who had to return to SLC that it would probably only take 2 hours to complete the loop...


Seven of us set off in temperatures just above freezing in Torrey, by the time we got to the turn off on UT72 it must have been somewhat below freezing, my face was really cold in the MX helmet, must get goggles. Fairly soon though we were over the pass between Hen Hole Peak and Geyser Peak and headed to Windy Ridge (9060ft), it wasn't all that windy and the views were magnificent in the cold still air, the La Sal mountains looked like they were only 20 miles away instead of over by Moab. From there we headed down the cliffside trail towards Round Lake, I'd been down there the week before in the truck but had to turn back when I came across a small bentonite hill that was insurmountable, by now I thought it would have dried out and it had. However there was a large puddle in the track and we had some "lightly experienced" dirt riders with us, in the end only one fell and we got nice and muddy picking him up. I then dropped the CRF turning it round on the track! Doh. Fortunately nobody saw me, so it didn't happen right? The stream crossings (with ice) went off without incident and pretty soon we were back on the main dirt road to Cathedral Valley and everybody was having a good time. It had taken us a bit longer than expected to get here but I assured people that the harder part was over, hmm. We made good tracks down to the Serengeti and then to the campground for views of Cathedral Valley from above, I didn't take any pictures to this point because I've been there so many times before.


The road down the cliff had quite a few large rocks on it from the storms a couple of weeks before that washed out UT24 and drowned Hanksville but everybody heeded my lecture about either riding or viewing but not both and we got down fine. The thing about going down into a valley is that that is exactly what the water does, and it had. After crossing a couple of small dry washes I came up on a truck coming the other way, he waved me down and told me that there was a huge washout ahead that we wouldn't be able to cross. After about a femtosecond's thought I decided not to tell the rest what he said and we went on, there was indeed quite a wash out and I thought we might turn back, however Shawn had other ideas and rode his GS right off the edge so there was no going back for him. We piled up rocks and sand to allow him to get up the other side and sent him off to scout to see what was ahead, I already knew he was going to say it was fine, he did. We spent a short while building a sort of causeway and breaking down the sand edges to allow the rest of us to pass, I was able to ride the CRF across without any problems but the bigger bikes needed a hand.


The KLR was next to try after Shawn and I crossed (finally some pictures)



No problem getting down the bank



Now go between the V rocks and make a quick 90 deg turn to line up with the causeway



and up you go, it's a bit slippery with all those loose rocks in the sand



arrgh, but you've got to keep going once you are over the lip, there's lots of loose stuff up there



The GS looks a bit less sure









No, don't stop on the steep part, in fact one jug was on a rock, in the end only the KLR fell though that was as much thanks to the catchers as anything else



The wash, it really doesn't look like much from this angle, all that fuss...



A short while later there's another easier wash that lifts the front wheel as you come out of it





A dry roost from a GS







The Seven ride out of The Valley of Cathedrals





After this we had to ride up a wash for a ways because the road was completely gone, then we had to make another temporary chasm crossing before ascending to Baker Ranch and back up Thousand Lake Mountain to UT72. We were in a bit of a hurry by then as my 2 hours had turned into 4+ and the SLC bound riders needed to get moving. It was great to ride with other people, especially leading, it allowed me to be just that little bit more adventurous on the CRF than when I ride alone.


Everybody had a great day, it was actually almost hot in the valley, especially when road building.

Link to comment

Great scenery. Breathtaking backgrounds. Just one more of those beautiful places in Southern Utah that most of us don't get a chance to see. Thanks, Bob.

Link to comment
Looked like fun...I'm a bit surprised the one gentleman wore the nice bright silver riding outfit.


Mike O


Could be they were closer to Area 51 than you think grin.gif.


Great pictures Bob. That sky almost looks airbrushed in. thumbsup.gif

Link to comment


Keep the Torrey pictures coming! Can't wait to get back to the area and your hospitality. It may be a few years though.

Link to comment



I'm pretty sure I couldn't visit enough to get bored with Burr Trail and Notom Road, but this looks like a fun alternative (sans the road building wink.gif).

Link to comment

The wash, it really doesn't look like much from this angle, all that fuss...


Hmmmmm, gotta say I agree, even from the in-wash views grin.gif


Its been a while, but from the perspective of an old desert rider it sure looked like those folks were making it a whole lot harder than it was. But then, I didn't/don't ride a fully loaded GS either...


As usual, great scenery though ... thumbsup.gif

Link to comment



This is a GREAT photograph! You should be a photographer! (He says, quoting a favorite line from 'TOP GUN').


Thanks for sharing.

Link to comment


very nice tale of the GS/CRF adventures. not quite as animated as the stories over dinner and drinks that night, but then you can't really do that on a forum either. I promised Jeff and Ron I would send them the link to the ride tale and did that this morning.


It was good seeing you again, I enjoyed your company, I need to get my dirt bike down there and do a ride like this with you. for now I just have a GREAT time in the area on my RT.


I will post a ride tale later with my pictures from the pavement ride the rest of us took.


Thanks again!



Link to comment
I promised Jeff and Ron I would send them the link to the ride tale and did that this morning.
I didn't intend this to be the ride report for them, that will be on my web site with the rest of the Torrey Tales.
Link to comment

+1 on the photograph. Actually the picture before this one it is even better in my opinion. The cathedrals are closer and the color is just fantastic.

Link to comment

he waved me down and told me that there was a huge washout ahead that we wouldn't be able to cross. After about a femtosecond's thought I decided not to tell the rest what he said

Note to self: If riding with Bob, ALWAYS follow him around if he's talking to someone on the trail! eek.gif

What a great ride! And we got to go for free! clap.gif

Link to comment
Are you surprised you're still riding this late in the season?
I'll ride all winter, probably at the lower altitudes once the snow does pile up in the high country.


Note to self: If riding with Bob, ALWAYS follow him around if he's talking to someone on the trail!

We could always have turned around and might well have had Shawn not dived right off the edge. (Shawn would have wanted to cross the wash if it had 2 feet of water in it!)

Link to comment

I hope you do get to ride all winter and continue to post your tales and pictures. I agree with others comments on the sky and valley shots. Awesome.

Ride often. smile.gif


Link to comment

I definitely missed out on this one. It was Saturday afternoon and I asked Debi if I could go for a ride. She asked where I wanted to go and was a little upset when I told her.... TORREY!!!! clap.gif


I didn't push the issue and I am ticked that I didn't. This looks like an adventure that I should have seen in person.


Glad everyone had a good time and I hope to make it to the next Motorcycle R&R offroad adventure.


Great pics Bob and I hope to see you again soon.

Link to comment

One of Killer's pictures is on my desktop....again. I can't express the depth of envy I feel every time I read one of your stories and view those beautiful pictures of the prettiest state in the nation; well at least one of the prettiest.

I'm looking forward to my visit next spring.


Keep'em coming Bob! thumbsup.gif

Link to comment
  • 12 years later...

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...