Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tushar introduction and Thunder Mountain

The Tushar Mountains have always struck me as an under-appreciated range; they soar to over 12,000 feet and are only 200 miles from Salt Lake, everyone drives right by them many times on their way to Zion or other points south, but few folks (at least, me!) ever seem to go there.  There are a couple of yurts there that we had heard access mostly-south facing terrain, the paved and gravel road Crusher in the Tushar bike race have given it notoriety in the bicycle world,  and the little ski resort there garnered notice when a couple of "ambitious" investors (they are now doing time in the Utah state prison) tried to make it into a multi-billion dollar private ski resort a few years ago (and recently-indicted former Utah attorneys generals Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow have incriminating ties to that deal).    But more importantly, our great friend Guy is overseeing a part of the freeway rebuild job in the nearby town of Beaver and is nearing the end of a 6 month gig there and has used the opportunity to crawl all over the Tushars from the ski resort condo that has been rented for him.  So before he left we wanted to take advantage of his newfound knowledge to explore a new (to us) range.

Even though I've had a knee that has been too sore to push pedals around for a month, one pain-free easy spin with Ash on the road bike early last week and a good thumpfest chasing Scott Martin around the Shoreline trail made me hopeful that more therapy of 4-6 hour rides three days in a row would be effective to appreciate some what Guy called "adventure riding" in the Tushars.'s site reported that last year 6 miles of flowy trails were cut in, and indeed they are nice, but they are really just the conduit into the higher old school singletrack that traverses and criss crosses the mountains.

Here are a few pics:
Tour guide Guy - with beard?!?   -showing us the lay of the land

Great singletrack at nearly 11,000 feet

Guy and Selkie on singletrack, tho Selkie knows it's a posed photo and that we are actually going the other direction!

A nice side hike to a Tushar sub-peak

A bit of "adventure" trail

The trails down there don't get a lot of use; there's a lot of Jedi trail finding

Ash pondering the wisdom of using slick cycling shoes on a narrow log

the leaves are starting to change....I love fall.  but who doesn't!  

This ain't no Park City buffed 6% trails; I got a bit of a sore shoulder from carrying the bike
Guy had to leave and the condo life was a lot less cheery as a result, so we decided to drive another hour south to do the famous Thunder Mountain ride, and add on the equally-excellent Cassidy trail loop as well.
Casto Canyon is an ATV double track that goes in and out of a pretty hammered wash; the riding isn't that sweet but the rock formations are super cool. 
The Casto trail also accesses a few more miles of stellar singletrack than the non-ATV Losee trail 

There's still a bit of "adventure" (ie unrideable) terrain on those trails

Colter-inspired artsy-photo
Apparently "most" (some?) people do Thunder Mountain as a shuttle, despite the fact that there's an amazing cycle track that parallels the highway through the very nice Red Canyon.  
Bryce NP is off limits to bikes, but Thunder Mountain has equally good hoodoos with legal singletrack
Taking this quality of trail and putting it anywhere would make it a classic
But having it in a beautiful setting makes it unparalleled.
Thanks again to Guy for his hospitality and showing us his temporary home.  I think we'll be back next summer to do some high-altitude ridge runs; maybe a full traverse?

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