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Shots Journeys Trouble In John's Canyon

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Old Mar-15-2012, 04:50 PM
dave6253 is offline dave6253 OP
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Trouble In John's Canyon
I sit here today groggy from the drugs. I was in surgery this morning to repair the damage from this journey into John's Canyon 5 months ago. Maybe it's just the drugs, but I started reminiscing about this journey. I looked through the photographs and decided to finally share a few here.

I haven't posted many photographs on dgrin. As an amateur, I'm rather intimidated by the great work displayed here.

Southern Utah is a magnificent place. A few years ago I rode my motorcycle to the top of Muley Point, which is not far from the Moki Dugway, Goosenecks of the San Juan, and Valley of the Gods. The view from Muley Point includes Monument Valley in the distance. Looking down from this high point my attention was drawn to a little dirt road running around the base of the cliffs. Hmmm... That looks fun. With a little research I discovered it was named John's Canyon Road.

I rode my motorcycle into John's Canyon in 2010, but was in a hurry to make a ferry. I didn't have the time to exlore this beautiful, remote, dead-end canyon like I wanted. I promised myself a return trip to John's Canyon someday to spend the night and finish the exploration. The main goal of this tour was to fulfill this promise.

I had a little trouble the first time in John's Canyon when a bad battery nearly stranded me.
Trouble of a more serious sort followed me into the canyon this year.


I left Phoenix at 4 AM and was North of Flagstaff on the Navajo Nation in time for the sunrise.


My transportation is a 2007 KTM 990 Adventure capable of long-distance asphalt touring, and with a talented rider, some pretty gnarley off-road stuff. I camped each night, so I was carrying about 80 pounds of luggage. The bike already weighs in close to 600 pounds, so it's a handful off-road.



It was a chilly morning and the skies were threatening.


The highway towards Page, Arizona cuts through the rock here.


I stopped to hike up a nearby sand dune. In addition to warming me up, I found wildflowers and evidence a bobcat patrols here.




Alton Amphitheater


I had planned to travel mostly on backcountry dirt roads, but the majority of this trip was restricted to asphalt due to the weather making many trails impassable.

More to come...
Old Mar-16-2012, 07:54 AM
dave6253 is offline dave6253 OP
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It was a little snowy in Red Canyon near Bryce Canyon.


Utah Highway 12 twists through some impressive scenery.


Looking towards the Henry Mountains and Capitol Reef National Park from Boulder Mountain


It was raining as I passed through Capitol Reef National Park in the morning. I didn't stop for photos this trip.
I rolled into the Moab, Utah area on the afternoon of day 2. I found a campsite with sunshine and wildflowers.



I rode out to Canyonlands National Park on Potash Road and the Shafer Trail.


The trail was fun...


and a little rocky.


Approaching the Shafer Trail Switchbacks that climb up the cliff.


A Dizzying Climb

Old Mar-16-2012, 08:04 AM
ian408 is offline ian408
More wag. Less Bark.
Oh this is gonna be good...
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Old Mar-16-2012, 08:24 AM
dave6253 is offline dave6253 OP
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Canyonlands National Park


The view from the top was incredible!


Inviting Road


Grandview Road was a blast!


Lean In


I made it to Grandview Point in time for sunset.


Grandview It Is


The White Rim Trail runs around below for about 100 miles through the park.


Old Mar-16-2012, 01:04 PM
dave6253 is offline dave6253 OP
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Day 3
After a late start I took the long rough road up into the La Sal Mountains. I had fun splashing through Onion Creek many times, but the mid-day light didn't result in good photos of this scenic trail.

Until I finally got into the La Sal Mountains. I went up here hoping for fall colors and praying for no deep snow. I was lucky with both.



The alpine scenery was awesome...


The view below was not so alpiney.



Wilson Arch


The Abajo Mountains near Monticello, Utah


To be continued.
Old Mar-16-2012, 02:23 PM
Allan FG is offline Allan FG
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Great shots, I love that area of the country.
Old Mar-17-2012, 09:54 AM
dave6253 is offline dave6253 OP
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Thanks for the comments Allan and Ian!
Old Mar-17-2012, 10:11 AM
dave6253 is offline dave6253 OP
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I made it to John's Canyon Road late in the day.


If I hurry, I just may make it into John's Canyon before dark. But, it's so hard to hurry through scenery like this.


I found a spot at a fork in the trail to set up camp.


And watched the last light of the day fade away.


The moon rises over John's Canyon.


I get the tent up and cook dinner as the stars come out.


Tomorrow morning I will explore deeper into John's Canyon. Deeper than I should.
Old Mar-17-2012, 10:56 AM
rsquared is offline rsquared
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As an avid rider and camper, I'm loving this story so far... The wait is killing me though.
Rob Rogers -- R Squared Photography (Nikon D90)
Old Mar-17-2012, 12:34 PM
dave6253 is offline dave6253 OP
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Day 4
I wake up alone in the beautiful John's Canyon.



I set off to explore further down John's Canyon RD. After crossing the creek the road become a little unmaintained jeep trail.


It's easy enough for quite awhile.


My main motivation of coming here again was to go further this time. Not far after last year's turn around point, I reach this steep downhill.
Of course, it doesn't look all that bad. I tell myself I've ridden stuff just as gnarly looking already this weekend just not as steep.
I've ridden this steep before, just not as rocky at the same time. I consider dismounting and walking the section first, but know I'll just chicken out if I do.
I really wanted to see what was around the next corner. This is a dead end road. If I go down, I'll have to ride it back up.

That's a looooong way down!


I muster the courage/stupidity and drop over the edge. I ride down easy enough, but immediately realize I'm in trouble. The section was much worse that it looked like from above.
I notice there are no fresh tracks down here. I continue on, but just around the next corner was a steep rocky uphill.
I know I'm already in trouble and don't want to add to it. I've gone further than I should have already.


I turn around to face my foe.

Old Mar-17-2012, 12:41 PM
dave6253 is offline dave6253 OP
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Thanks rsquared!

As a rider, perhaps you'd be interested in the full story as well as my others that can be found here: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showp...8&postcount=83
Old Mar-17-2012, 01:10 PM
dave6253 is offline dave6253 OP
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I realize some of these pictures aren't all that great, but help to tell the story here.

I pick out my line. I want to stay right, especially when I get about halfway up where the biggest rocks are. I know I need to carry plenty of momentum.
I take off gradually building up speed. I ended up on the right line way too early. The rear tire was slipping around fighting for traction
and redirecting me at the whim of the loose rocks. I suddenly realized that to stay on the planned line would require a right turn up a loose rocky berm
and that I was approaching the area from the wrong angle. There was no way I could make that turn. Why is the best line always near the edge of the dropoff?
I didn't want to slow or stop though. The front wheel was heading straight towards the center of the track and the biggest steps. I
picked a new line towards the left side of the track. All of this was happening very fast! I tried to compress the suspension and leap over the
first step while giving more throttle. The front tire cleared the step and then....

BAM! The skid plate bottomed out HARD! Funny it's called a skid plate, because it certainly didn't skid. Over onto the left side the bike went, fast!
(Maybe instead of Skid Plate we can call this one a Sudden and Drastic Deceleration Plate.)

Next thing I know, I'm somersaulting down the hill. I felt the helmet slam into a rock and remember thinking, "I'm sure glad I'm wearing a helmet".
Luckily the bike decided to not follow me down. I rolled halfway down the hill before being able to get my feet in front of me to stop the slide.

I take stock of myself. Nothing seems broken or injured to bad. My left knee is tweaked, but I can move around on it.
I scramble back up the hill to check out the bike. There are a few important things on this bike that could break in a fall like this,
but I was lucky. The damage seemed to only be a broken mirror and some new scratches and dents to the panniers. (I later discovered the front wheel was bent pretty bad also.)



It was a cool morning, but I'm suddenly sweating like crazy. I carry the tank bag up the hill and strip off my helmet, gloves, jacket, and two sweaters.
I take the right pannier off to lighten the weight I'm gonna need to lift. There is no one coming to help me. I must self-extricate.

Once I get the bike up, I find I was pretty lucky again. A rock behind the rear wheel is keeping the bike in place and there is a spot to put the kickstand down.

Nice parking job.


I carry the left side pannier to the top. I looked around for a better line out of this position, but with no help to move the front wheel around,
my line was already chosen. I get back on the bike. After a little spinning and rocking I managed to get the rear wheel up the rock.
This is where I wished I had a better off road tire. A square block with wider gaps in the tread would've grabbed the sharp edge of the rock much easier
and with less drama. I tried to keep the momentum going to get up the next step, but I didn't have enough room to build up speed.
The bike fell to the right this time. I had nowhere to get my foot down, so over we go again. I only rolled over twice before a sharp rock
in the back stopped me this time. Did I mention I was stupid? My helmet, gloves, and jacket had already made it up the
hill and were waiting for me at the top. I'm sure they thought it was humorous when the T-shirt failed to prevent injury.

I lift the bike again, and found there was no place to prop the bike up with the kickstand. The seat was at chest level making it pretty difficult
to throw a leg over while balancing the bike (or to take another pic). I somehow get back on the bike and make it up without much more drama.

Self Extrication Complete!

I left my mark on John's Canyon RD...


...and the road left a few marks on me.


I had several hundred miles of highway to get home. As the adrenaline wore off the aches and pains set in.

I took a detour around the San Francisco Peaks near Flagstaff to look for autumn colors.


One of my favorites from the journey.
Aspen and Ponderosa Pine


I ended up getting arthroscopic knee surgery due to my foray into John's Canyon. Nothing major, and my recovery is going well.

I'm still drawn to return to John's Canyon.
Old Mar-17-2012, 04:06 PM
ian408 is offline ian408
More wag. Less Bark.
The last image is one I look for all the time. It's like a tunnel to the sky and I love how it looks.

Glad to hear you're OK and healing well. Gotta talk to Woody about some wheels and then thank the good folks at Black Dog
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Old Mar-17-2012, 08:36 PM
pathfinder is offline pathfinder
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Great story with really great images helping tell/show the story. I hope you are fully recovered also.

I do have one question though. You did not mention airing down your tires before heading off road, so may I ask what was the air pressure in your tires?

Softer tires really do help me keep it together, when the road gets rocky and rough.

I have not been down John Canyon road, and I need to correct that deficiency in my travels.
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Old Mar-17-2012, 09:40 PM
dave6253 is offline dave6253 OP
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Thanks Ian. I did look into Woody's Wheels, but decided to spend the money on bigger fuel tanks. I corrected the bent front wheel with a heat and beat method. It'll work for now. I also upgraded to a heavier spring rate to prevent bottoming out the forks.

pathfinder, While airing down the tires would help, especially in soft sand or gravel, I've stopped doing it on this bike to prevent pinch flats and bent wheels with all of the rocky areas I ride. The KTM 990 is just too heavy and the stock wheel too soft.

This is how the bike looks now.

I needed a new mirror.

Motorcycle Journeys

Thanks for commenting guys!
Old Mar-17-2012, 09:51 PM
dave6253 is offline dave6253 OP
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pathfinder, There is more about John's Canyon Road including maps, gps tracks and trail descriptions in the advrider report. It may help you plan your trip there.

A 4 wheeling friend of mine did some research on the 4x4 trail sites about the John's Canyon RD. After the Y in John's Canyon I was actually on Slickhorn Canyon Trail (Still in John's Canyon) when I had to turn around. Most of the sites recommended turning around at the top of that nasty hill. Apparently recent rockslides have made the rest of the trail inaccessable. Further access is supposedly extremely difficult even for hikers. Even though the old road continued for another 10 miles or so, the BLM is not maintaining the trail in order to preserve Cliff Dwellings.

One of the sites with info and photos of this trail was TrailDamage.com.
Old Mar-17-2012, 09:56 PM
ian408 is offline ian408
More wag. Less Bark.
Too bad the Safari Tanks don't come in blue. That would have been a better solution than the advtank.

I'd have to agree that with the bigger bikes, it's not such a good idea to run lower pressures. Even with a stout wheel.
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Old Mar-18-2012, 06:57 AM
Allan FG is offline Allan FG
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I have been in similar situations. I'm glad you made it out relativity unscathed and remembered to take pictures. Roads like this are why I bought a WR250R
Old Mar-18-2012, 07:53 AM
dave6253 is offline dave6253 OP
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That's funny Allan. After this ride I came extremely close to buying a WRR as well. In the end I decided it was cheaper
to correct the biggest shortcoming of the 990, fuel range. I'd rather not make a habit of riding sections like that.
Old Mar-18-2012, 11:15 AM
rsquared is offline rsquared
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Originally Posted by dave6253 View Post
Thanks rsquared!

As a rider, perhaps you'd be interested in the full story as well as my others that can be found here: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showp...8&postcount=83
I'll definitely be checking those out! I don't currently do off-road, but I hope to in the future. I've got a cruiser, and I'm just now getting into more multi-day road trips, but a dual-sport is in my long term plans...
Rob Rogers -- R Squared Photography (Nikon D90)
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