Riding an ATV after the sun goes down

Lynn Blamires
ATV Adventures
(LYNN BLAMIRES courtesy photo)
Headlights light the trail heading back to Panguitch after dark.
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Riding an ATV after dark can usually be attributed to poor planning. Sometimes it happens because of an unplanned event, like a flat tire or running out of gas. Some people, like me, have actually planned to take a night ride. While I know some who won’t go, a whole new world is open to those who will.

Taking pictures of an ATV trip at night is a challenge.

“Everybody look this way and smile,” I said.

Their temporary blindness was the only thing that protected me from being relieved of my camera. The other problem is that it takes time to set up a good night shot. It is difficult to get anyone’s attention in the dark.

On a night ride from Fillmore to Meadow Hot Springs west of I-15, our ATV headlights made it easy to stay together. Two features of this ride were noteworthy. The first was that the stars were just beginning to come out. The little town of Meadow has a population of 239. If all of them came out with their brightest flashlights, it would not be enough light pollution to spoil the glory of the night sky. Not getting to see the Milky Way very often, I marveled as it came into view as we soaked in the warmth of the hot springs. I could pick out constellations I had not seen for some time.

The second is the night life. As we traveled the dirt roads, our lights picked up field mice scurrying for cover. Overhead, we saw the flapping of owls’ wings on the edge of our headlight beams. These night hunters were out for a midnight snack and they appeared to be successful.

On another ride from Fillmore, we left at 8:30 p.m. on a moonless night for Salina some 60 miles east. It was not long before darkness descended upon us. As we climbed the switchbacks on the side of the canyon, our headlights lit up the trail ahead and the night life came out. We were not surprised to see deer, but other creatures piqued my curiosity. At one point I thought I saw a pair of shining eyes peering out from the woods. All of a sudden

my curiosity lost its pique and I scooted along a little faster.

At the top of the mountain, we stopped to enjoy the view. The lights of the town of Aurora twinkled far below as we felt a change in temperature. We left hundred-degree weather in the valley, but at 10 p.m. at 9,300 feet in elevation, we were putting on jackets.

Coming down in elevation, I noted a change in wildlife. The trail was now dotted with kangaroo mice. I recognized their long tails with a black puff on the end. They didn’t run, they hopped. An owl watched me pass from its perch on a fence post and a couple of raccoons ventured onto the trail, only to fall over each other scuttling back.

We came into Aurora about midnight. We could see the half moon rising in the east. It looked like a yellow ball stuck in a dark wall.

On another ride from Panguitch, near Bryce Canyon, we had daylight to ride up Casto Canyon. This canyon is a piece of Bryce Canyon outside of the park with an outstanding ATV trail that winds through hoodoos you would only expect to see in the park. We traveled through the canyon and up to a point above 8,000 feet overlooking Peterson Wash. After being treated to a beautiful sunset, we began our return to Panguitch in the dark. It was quite a sight to see the line of ATV headlights as we worked our way down the canyon and back to town.

A night ride is a different type of experience. If you go one way in the dark and come back the next day, you won’t miss any scenery. Take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down, and turn your lights on; it will make all the difference.

You may reach Lynn Blamires at quadmanone@gmail.com.

Lynn Blamires

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