Traveling Utah’s backcountry is an adventure. It is a mixture of the elements, the friends you are with, and the scenery. There is a risk factor in the unexpected, but preparation can minimize that. I experienced the unexpected with a group on the Paiute ATV Trail awhile back.
We carried sleeping gear to camp along the trail that year. Arriving in the evening, I found a place to camp on the south end of Salina. The fact that the camping area was located right next to the highway caused us no concern at the time.
We bedded down at about 10 p.m., excited about starting the trip. That is when we noticed the coal hauling trucks. These double-trailer rigs were routed through town on Highway 89 to the I-70 junction about a quarter mile from our camp. In approaching the on-ramp, trucks would apply engine brakes to slow their advance. The point of application occurred right next to our camp and lasted the distance to the ramp. The noise was difficult to talk over, let alone sleep through. We figured the interval between trucks to be just enough time to drift off to sleep only to be jolted awake all night long.
My situation was made worse when my air mattress let me down - literally. My cushy setup suddenly turned into a case of “roughing it.” My re-inflation effort only bought an hour of comfort so I gave up. That was one hard piece of ground.
In the morning we all looked like frazzled cats. What made it worse is that I had picked the camping spot so all the bleary eyes were on me. Running totally on adrenaline, we hit the trail. We rode under a bright blue sky dotted with a few puffy clouds. After stopping in Koosharem for lunch, we rolled into Circleville about 3 p.m.
Menacing storm clouds were gathering ahead of us on the trail. I suggested that we check into a motel, get a hot meal and a good night’s sleep. Being caught in a mountain storm is not fun and the thought of sleeping in a real bed sounded great.
My friends were having none of it. It was too early in the afternoon to stop. My best reasons for not chancing the storm fell on deaf ears. We mounted up and rode for Wade’s Canyon.
The main Paiute Trail goes west out of Circleville and is famous for 11 switch-backs near the top of the mountain. The trail is narrow and the turns are tight, requiring some skill to negotiate. Bad weather increases the challenge.
I was in front of about a dozen riders and well into the climb when the storm hit. I didn’t want to don rain gear if it was only going to be a sprinkle. When I noticed that I was splashing through water about four inches deep in each track of the trail, I decided it was really raining.
I had a new two-piece rain suit that I had not tried on. The top fit fine but the pants were a little tight. The dance I did to get them on was more of a dance in the rain than a rain dance. Finally, to the relief of those waiting for me, I was ready to go. However, when I threw my leg over the seat, my rain pants split wide open. Some people said I was laughing. I am here to tell you it was a grimace.
By the time we had reached the top, the storm had passed. We stopped to let everyone catch up. When they did, we learned that the back of the pack was in the worst part of the storm. Experiencing lightning strikes too close for comfort; they took refuge in low spots until the storm passed. This may sound like a terrible trip but I smile when I think of the experience. It was a great ride!
When you go, watch the weather. Avoid storms if you can, be prepared if you can’t. Take plenty of water and keep the rubber side down.
You may contact Lynn Blamires at firstname.lastname@example.org.