Disraeli Gears Under Island In The Sky, Part 2

(The Undiscovered Country)
Hot Time On The Old Rim, All Day
Bicycling The White Rim of Canyonlands National Park:
June 3 - 7, 2000
by Rob Jones

(Text and Photos © copyright by authors, as indicated)

Harry at the Colorado River Overlook
Harry at the Colorado River Overlook
(Click the image for a full-size view (25k); Photo by Rob)
Schaefer Trail
Craig on the Schaefer Trail
(Click the image for a full-size view (23k); Photo by Rob)
Trail Map
Trail Map by the NPS
(Click the image for a full-size view, you will have to scroll to see all of it (68k); by NPS)
Near Goosenecks
Near the Goosenecks of the Colorado River
(Click the image for a full-size view (20k); Photo by Rob)
Musselman Arch
Musselman Arch
(Click the image for a full-size view (26k); Photo by Rob)
The Group
The Group
(Click the image for a full-size view (19k); Photo by Rob)
Harry and Craig - foot of Schaefer
Harry and Craig (and a ghost-rider bike) - foot of Schaefer Trail
(Click the image for a full-size view (30k); Photo by Rob)
Monument Basin
Rob at the window, Monument Basin
(Click the image for a full-size view (37k)

Jumps to these sections: (click on section name to go there, then on 'top' hand to come back here)
20 tooth gear song, by Rob
One version of the trip, by Rob
Please see Part 1 of Disraeli Gears at:
Disraeli Gears:
Bicycling The White Rim of Canyonlands N. P.
September 11-15, 1999

The Canyonlands N.P. home page is: http://www.nps.gov/cany/

As has become more typical, I will start each day's report with a word picture of some momentous episode of the day, then return to the daily report.

First, a song:
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a 20-tooth gear:
(Words by Rob as developed on the Schaefer Scrunge, Day 5; sung to the tune "Mercedes Benz" by Janis Joplin):

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a 20-tooth gear
My friends all run 19's, I must change I fear
Working hard on this old, uranium trail -
No sweat do I feel
Oh Lord, won't you buy me a 20-tooth gear

(Puff, gasp; grinding, sand-laden gears squeak in the background.)

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a 20-tooth gear
My knees don't like this 24, no matter my tears
Curt is on top, Harry in pursuit, the grade goes without heel
All of my half a century of high mileage grind do I feel
Hey Lord, won't you buy me a 20-tooth gear

(Wheeze, argh; crunching rocks, poofing dust and squeaking gears form the background 'vocals'.)

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a 20-tooth gear
The lactic acid is overflowing down there
Old sol is drilling holes in my skin, I fear
If only I can make it to that shade respite up here -
Say Lord, won't you buy me a 20-tooth gear

(Gasping, hacking; scuffing sounds of friction and gription breaking from the knobby rear tire.)

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a 20-tooth gear
Below, sounds of the chase jeep grow near
Will it catch me as I jam for that nonexistent gear
I can beat this 1500' angle of repose and the heat, though it sears
Hell, Lord, won't you buy me a 20-tooth gear

(Yips of yahoo as I reach for those big chainrings when we reach the Navajo Sandstone layer and the trail angle drops to 4%.)

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a 20-tooth gear
6 miles of click and a half gain brings nary a fear
There's a chance for big chainrings, right here
We've ridden the Scrunge, all without beer
But, Lord, won't you buy me a 20-tooth gear

Oh Lord, won't you buy me a 20-tooth gear
My friends all run 19's, I must change I fear
Working hard on this old, uranium trail
No sweat do I feel
Yet Lord, don't forget to buy me a 20-tooth gear

Prolog: The Undiscovered Country: Last year, much of the group enjoying the current trip rode Disraeli Gears (part 1) from the Horse thief Trail side of the White Rim loop. We were rocked-in at Murphy Hogback, and had to return the way we had entered rather than complete the loop, which is what we had planned. So, on the present trip, Disraeli Gears Part 2, we visited the undiscovered country from the Schaefer Trail to Murphy Hogback, then returned the way we entered. So, here is our story (hint, play the "Oh Lord, won't you buy me a 20-tooth gear" tune when things get boring).

Day 1: Schaefer Plunge: The maroon hue slips off the Wingate Sandstone fin, which we watch while lounging in folding chairs and relishing the relative coolness of what has been a brain-broasting day. A few new faces join the dinner rotation, enjoying grilled chicken and herb porcine porculant sausages topped with chunks of potatoes glistening with two cheeses and accompanied by onions and peppers. The White Rim Sandstone caps the Organ Rock Shale, forming the Walking Rocks tramping silently, stealthily in silhouette behind us.

The riders are: Bob, Carol, Craig, Curt, Felecia, Harry, Holly, Jeanette, Randy, Rob, and Zig.

The day began with the standard routine of loading equipment, driving to the Island In The Sky, more equipment reorganization, and the eventual plunge down the Schaefer Trail, a prostate-pounding plummet to the junction of the White Rim Trail and the route rising from the potash environmentally-unfriendly ponds to meet the layer called the white rim. As we slipped into the penumbra of the towering rock walls, Zig acquired the crows nest position on a slickrock ledge overlooking camp.

Day 2: A no-goosebumps to Gooseberry Day: The salt-sprinkled La Sal Mountains protrude into the cyan sky, providing a backdrop to the sheer Wingate et al., cliffs, shimmering through the lace of heat waves. We are all fresh from napping for an hour, a siesta well-deserved after riding 25 miles on the rim.

Snacking on assorted vegies, oysters, cheeses, crackers, and dips, we torpor in the shade of a precious solitary juniper at Gooseberry A, with nary a fear of goosebumps all day.

Zig rode out of camp prior to the arrival of the solar load, with the rest of us trailing out in clumps. It quickly grew hot, then a bit hotter as we rode to Musselman Arch and beneath the Washer Woman, a sky tower of dark chocolate Wingate. An oggle of fast biker women dust by, followed by a peleton of faster biker men, all headed toward what, for them, would be the Schaefer scrunge. Holly saw her second bighorn sheep of the day, but the rest of us did not.

It's later in the day, and many of us have enjoyed a hot shower, and we have motored through most of the hors d'oeuvres. The Zig Man is cooking dutch oven chicken, rice, and beans; and, the top dutch bakes a pineapple upside down cake. The deluxe shade of our precious juniper has graciously extended over our entire kitchen and dinning areas.

Day 3: Murphys Law; or, Kale storm above canyonlands; or, Murphys comeback: A biker babe graciously grants us a peek of the large lavender bruise on her butt as the blast furnace wind attempts to peel off the second tarp (it was already successful at tearing off the first tarp). Pieces of kale fly by, making me wonder: "A kale gale? Kale storm above canyonlands?" No, it's Randy and Jeanette preparing a delectable dinner of taco salad with all types of fresh things, including kale.

With long-ranger views of the Six-Shooter Peaks, numerous Needles, The Doll House, The Land of Standing Rocks, all sort-of to the South, to the stately La Sals to the East, we prepare for another luscious dinner. This time, we are at White Crack camp.

I was elected to drive the first stretch, from Gooseberry to White Crack. Then, we left 2 vehicles and I biked toward Murphy Hogback, where our intended circumnavigation of the ISKY (Island in the Sky) was so rudely and completely interrupted last year by a large mantle of sandstone, which plopped onto the road during a thunderstorm. It's saturated hot as I fly down the long plain beyond the turn-off to White Crack. The 7 miles roll by easily and I catch up with the abandoned jeep and bikes not long after Curt and Zig jostle by, headed back to White Crack. They will ride about 25 miles today, and I will get in about 15.

I leave my bike with the others and begin the dugway climb to the top of Murphy Hogback, passing the blockade rock, now lounging off the shoulder of the road. After locating Craig and Harry on the hogback, we lounge under an overhang, enjoying the stellar views and satisfied with the completion, for most of us, of the entire White Rim Trail, albeit taking two trips to do so.

The return from Murphys was even hotter. We were delighted to see that the camp crew for the day had awnings, etc. established. In the shade, Bob's thermometer reads 97 degrees. Yow. The wind tears through camp, knocking lose an awning pole, which beans Craig, giving him a new perspective on life and a large goose egg. Most of us scour the rim, searching out junipers large enough for sleeping shade.

After a long nap, some of us climb up on the muffin knob at the end of this sky peninsula to see the country and scope out the trail headed down towards the river from camp. We find a solution hole where tadpole shrimp and other pothole denizens are plying the last bits of water from a distant rain.

Day 4: 20 to the Lathrop Lounge: Zig, Craig, Harry, and I are lounging on an Organ Rock Shale shelf, in the thankful shade of the overhanging White Rim Sandstone. While Bob, Randy, and Curt graciously drove the vehicles, we riders floated past Monument Basin, Washer Woman and Monster spires, and around the heads of numerous instant canyons.

Along the way, we encountered two hoards of industrial propagation (the state motto). The first was near Gooseberry, where a pestilence of scouts were attempting another scout disaster. Each of us was required to proceed through the army like bowling balls, as the scouts waited for word from above, clogging the road. This, apparently, was a breakfast stop for this ill-conceived mob, bound for the very distant Potato Bottom. Lounging in our White Rim shade, Zig wonders out loud if these scouts are now stacked like cord wood in the backs of the fleet of MAVs (mormon assault vehicles), following faithfully in their ever slower and more wobbly wake. We encountered the second throng cluttering the narrow defile at the head of a canyon, bikes and MAV asunder, clotting the way on a downhill. In contrast, were the Liverpool Brits we passed earlier in the day. Enjoying a 'mighty hot' and 'bloody good time.'

Zig and Craig laze out into the afternoon sun, on a mission to search out pre-dinner delectables in camp.

Today, it was Curt who was hit by flying awning poles, giving new meaning to 'shin splints.' Greatfully, local sunset arrived about 7:15 p.m. And, the ground creaked as it cooled.

Day 5: Schaefer Scrunge: See the Schaefer Song at the start of this entry. We were up before sunrise, breakfasting on a quick meal prepared by Bob and Felecia, and we riders were floating the 13 miles to the base of Schaefer Trail, arriving there before 8 a.m. Then, the long grind and scrunge to the top.

Two tragedies haunted the group. Holly's vehicle had blown a transmission seal on the way to ISKY, and it still languished in a shop in Moab. She would have to return later to retrieve it. And, Jeanette lost her wallet, never to be found.

As in Disraeli Gears, Part 1: Rusty red, valve-grinding compound type sand would linger in our chains and other bike parts for many a month...., reminding us of our glorious days of Disraeli Gears.

Monument Basin
Rob at the window, Monument Basin
(Click the image for a full-size view (37k)

SUWA has something to say about the area surrounding the park, and the active neglect it is receiving from the Bureau of Leasing and Mining (BLM). See SUWA at: http://www.suwa.org

An excellent guide to the White Rim is: Williams, David B., & Fagan, Damian (1998). A Naturalist's Guide to the White Rim Trail: Canyonlands National Park, third edition. Wingate Ink, Moab, Utah.

Click here or on the happy cyclists to go to all WV reports about Bicycle Touring

All Wilderness Vagabond trip reports about Bicycle Touring
Looking for All Wilderness Vagabond trip reports about Bicycle Touring?
Click the image to go to All WV reports about Bicycle Touring

Wild Vagabond Main   Trip Report Index   Caveat