Coming highly recommended from a few sources, Gooseberry Mesa was the ride for the our last morning in Hurricane. I left Valerie early & headed east out of town on Highway 89. It’s not the easiest place to find, but is signposted now. Off the highway there is quite a few miles of driving on dirt roads of widely varying quality before you reach the trailhead.
I started off with the South Rim trail. At only 5.5 miles, it’s not a particularly long way to the lookout point at the end of the mesa. It is however quite technical & slow. I’ve seen Gooseberry Mesa compared to the famous Slickrock trail in Moab that I rode less than two weeks ago. I think that is stretching it a bit far. There is very little elevation change on Gooseberry; while this makes it easier aerobically, it does mean you get very few prolonged descents. There is also a lot more riding through trees at Gooseberry & so there is not as much slickrock riding. You do need some short bursts of extra strength & balance to clear a few very sharp rises. I was getting most of these, but things went a bit pear shaped on one long & steep rise – I didn’t quite have enough strength, stopped, jumped out of my pedals backwards, lost my footing & ended up sitting on the rock. My bike came to meet me & the handlebar sconed my upper cheek bone. This drew a bit of blood, but not enough to stop me.
Near the end of the South Rim trail, you do ride really quite close to the rim at times – it’s a long way down. The views are of course good. I headed out to the point for a good lookout over the Virgin River valley. Heading back along the North Rim trail was noticeably quicker & this was easier to ride – which was just as well, as with the forty-five minute drive back to Hurricane it was getting rather close to check-out time. Back at the car & hurriedly packing up, I managed to get back to Hurricane in half an hour – in time to clean up my wounds, Valerie to pack the car & we hit the road for Vegas.
We stopped in the rather nice small town of St George, as I had intended to do another short little ride – but when it came down to it, I couldn’t be bothered going out for a ride in the early afternoon heat. We moseyed around town & somehow managed to get on two free tours of historic houses. It turned out that one was the winter house of an important Mormon prophet in the nineteenth century & the other was an older house of another Mormon. As Valerie said, they’re everywhere around here. The houses were nice, especially the exterior & grounds of the winter house – but I liked all the history, particularly those bits about the settling of the west.
Our short stretch back on I-15 had us dropping off the Colorado Plateau alongside the Virgin River & crossing the Mojave Desert & we’re just hitting the outskirts of that crazy place – Las Vegas.