Sunday, May 3, 2015

Tour of Southern Utah Day 2: Three Peaks and Parowan Gap

Our first real day of the vacation (Friday) to explore our own back yard would entail new trails and new geological and archaeological sites.  First the ride.

Three Peaks

I don’t know how old these trails are or why I had not heard of them but for being so close to I-15 and perfect for a ride after a hot weekend of riding in Saint George, I certainly should have ridden them before.  They are super fun.
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There are 19 miles of trails, almost entirely singletrack, mostly easy to moderate intermediate level. Best of all, they crisscross numerous geologic contacts, so you get the experience of riding on rounded granite outcrops, blocky limestone ledges, and smooth shale swales.
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Someone loves these trails – lots of cute random monuments like windmills, typewriters, barbeque grills, mannequin heads wearing bike helmets, etc.
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A smooth section

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One of the loops is called Big Hole Loop because it goes around a couple of big holes in the Earth. Quarries for the granite?

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I always watch for rocks!
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There are at least 24 fun little bridges throughout the area.

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The granite makes for fun little obstacles.
We enjoyed exploring for a few hours before a quick lunch at the trail head and a 20 minute drive over to Parowan Gap.

Parowan Gap

Parowan Gap is a geomorphic feature created by a paleo river cutting through a ridge of Navajo Sandstone. 
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Because it makes for easy passage through the mountain, Paleo-Indians used it extensively and left their marks in hundreds of intricate petroglyphs.
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This panel is very big.  The Y-shaped glyph is about 5 feet tall. Some think it is a solar calendar marking the cross quarter points.
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You can get up very close to some of them and this was the first time I saw how deeply incised into the rock they are.  The relief on the marks is about 3/8 inch.
But it was getting late and our friends were waiting on Gooseberry Mesa.


From the gap we boogied down to our friends’ new venture, Gooseberry Yurts, to meet up with three other couples for a Weekend of Joy and Riding.

Neither Drew nor I had been on Gooseberry Mesa for nearly a decade because it isn’t our favorite kind of riding, but to have this view to look at while chilling with friends was plenty reason to make the drive.
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Time to make some grub.
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Sally’s dinner of tin foil grillers was healthy and delicious!

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With full bellies and a box of wine, the only thing left to do was chill out by the light of the full moon and campfire.

The rat race is so far behind us I don’t even remember how to run.

The above post just happened to be post #400 on this blog, which I think is kind of cool since it is the first substantial post in a series about what should be a very fun trip.

Up next: Post #401 - riding the Mesa and an incredible sunset at the yurt.

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