Yesterday was the warmest day of the weekend, getting only a few degrees above freezing in Price. I bundled up in many layers of clothing and went for a 66-mile 4-wheeler ride. I began near the county fairgrounds and rode west past Pinnacle Peak to the national forest boundary, then north to Consumers Road, east to the Wildcat coal loadout, then south past the Gordon Creek railroad trestle back to where the truck was parked. I also took several side trips to explore roads I’d never been on. It was 21 degrees when I began the ride, and for the first several miles my eyes were watering and my cheeks were stinging from the cold. The roads were mostly dry closer to town, but the farther west and higher in elevation I got, the more snow there was. I stopped several times early in the ride to warm up, but as the day wore on it got a bit warmer and I got a little more used to the cold.
I placed a geocache near the top of a dryfall in a small side canyon off of Haley Canyon. Somewhere after Wiregrass Bench the roads were completely snow-packed, but I was trying to use 4WD sparingly. It seems that my fuel mileage is cut in half whenever 4WD is engaged, and I can get better mileage even with the rear wheels spinning out rather than getting traction with all four wheels. I only shifted into 4WD when ascending the steeper hills or pushing through deep snow. At the national forest boundary I turned south and checked out First Water Canyon and Corner Canyon. As I descended the road into First Water Canyon, I spotted a large, dark shape moving quickly through the scrub oak. It broke out into the open and I saw that it was a moose! It was only the second moose I’d ever seen, and it was moving quickly up the canyon to the west. The main road dropped into the canyon then climbed back out the other side, but there was a narrow dirt road leading up the bottom of the canyon. After I snapped a few quick photos from a few hundred yards away, the moose disappeared up the dirt road, so I followed. I never did see the moose again–its footprints in the snow eventually left the road and dropped down into a deep wash that was thick with brush and trees. I pushed through some very deep snow until the road ended in a small clearing, then turned around and continued toward Corner Canyon. On the way back to the main road I saw the remains of an old cabin, but it looked difficult to reach on foot, so I’ll have to return when the snow is gone to check it out.
There wasn’t much to see where the road ended at Corner Canyon, so I turned around and headed north toward Second Water Canyon. The road in Second Water Canyon ended at a barricade, beyond which only foot, horse, and bicycle traffic is allowed. I continued north on the main road and stopped in Bob Wright Canyon where I started a small fire to warm up, and ate some lunch. While I was there, a guy in a truck stopped to chat for a minute, and he said that the thermometer in his vehicle was reading 24 degrees outside, but it didn’t feel that cold.
After eating lunch and extinguishing the fire with some snow, I rode generally in an east-northeast direction toward Consumers Road, and I took a couple of side roads and placed two geocaches. The first was near a fenced-in part of the wildlife management area that’s planted and irrigated to provide forage for deer and other wildlife during the winter. The road only went a short distance before ending at a locked gate, and I parked the ATV there and walked just outside the fence toward the cabin that I spotted earlier from the main road. On the way to the cabin I saw a lot of old farming equipment, most of which I couldn’t even begin to guess their purpose. The second geocache I placed was at an overlook on Telephone Bench with a nice view down lower Bob Wright Canyon.
It was getting pretty late in the day when I finished up at the last cache, so I rode straight toward Consumers Road without making any more side trips or stops. At Consumers Road, I zipped my coat up all the way and pulled it as high over my face as it would go, pulled my hat down as low as it would go, and braved the cold wind at 35 MPH as I cruised down the asphalt. It was only a little more than six miles on the pavement, but it was the coldest I’d been all day due to the increased speed. I turned off onto a gravel road just past the Wildcat coal loadout and made my way to the Gordon Creek railroad trestle. I was slightly nervous about having to cross the creek because more than 10 years ago a friend had gotten his truck stuck there after it broke through the ice and wedged huge chunks of ice between the bottom of his truck and the bottom of the creek, essentially getting high-centered. Luckily the ice was fairly thin and the creek was shallow this time, and I made it across pretty easily. I continued south under the railroad trestle and followed the road that paralleled the tracks until I eventually met up with the road I’d ridden in on earlier in the day. I had to switch over to my fuel reserve just before hitting 60 miles on the trip odometer. I made it back to the truck shortly after sunset, with the fuel gauge nearly on “Empty,” and I was very glad to be back. It was a fun day, but the novelty of riding in the snow and cold was wearing thin after eight hours of riding.
Photo Gallery: Pinnacle Peak to Consumers Loop
GPS Track and Photo Waypoints:
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