The third weekend of October presents a challenge to a Utah camper who dislikes bullets flying over his head, crowds, generators, and motor-sports yahoos.) And yet, we made it work by arriving early, and avoiding campsites that were right on the edge of the canyon.
The mountain bike can be used to great advantage in crowded camping situations. (I always write about biking on dirt roads and two-tracks, not single-tracks.) In fact it is the ultimate secret weapon. A mountain biker does not need or want to camp right at the "greatest" scenery; to do so would steal the thunder from the mountain bike ride.
Besides, when a scenery tourist says "greatest scenery," they simply mean the biggest and reddest verticality. Mountain bikers benefit from gentler terrain a few miles away from these overcrowded vertical spots. Long-suffering readers are sick of my criticism of scenery-obsession; but with public lands becoming more and more crowded, I am suggesting an escape route from a bad situation.
And so I rode, down a dirt road, a few miles away from the tourists. As usual I deliberately lowered my expectations prior to embarking. My greatest pleasure was to take my 14-year-old dog along on the ride. She has lost her hearing recently -- and suddenly -- but she loved the ride. If I am near a happy dog, I have to be happy, too. Perfect weather didn't hurt. And NO!, that doesn't mean perfectly sunny.
It turned out to be a new road for me, unlike what I first thought. I was expecting the canyon to be 30% as big as the canyon where all the tourists were, but it surprised me by being 70% as big, and it had some unusual shapes.
When decals are taken off a van, a little residue remains. When driving down a dusty road, you see the "latent image" develop into a barely visible image. And I swear, there was a different kind of latent image on the canyon walls on this ride: let's call them 'latent petroglyphs.' But it is easy to be a sucker for things that are not quite clear -- and probably not even real -- especially if you imbibing the joy juice of a great ride.