5 Miles of Hell
May 28 2000 my son Jesse and I went up to Utah, and rode 5 Miles of Hell, almost. What follows is the story:
Florin Owens, from Saint George Utah, invited us up to ride what is known as the toughest dirt bike trail in the USA near Green River, in the fall of 1999, but we couldn't make it. The weekend of May 28 2000, it worked out, that Jesse and I could do it, but Florin was unable to because of prior commitments. So Jesse decided we could do the trail without a guide.
Late that Friday afternoon, Jesse let me know that He could make the trip, so I made hotel reservations for Saturday night at the Ambassador in St. George. The Motel, Budget Inn, which Florin had recommended was booked up. We didn't leave until 4:00 PM MST, but everything was going well, and it didn't get dark until after Monument Valley. Since Jesse and I haven't spent much time together lately, we did a lot of talking, so the time was going fast.
About the time we noticed that one of the High beams was burned out, a Navajo Police Officer pulled us over. :( Officer Begay asked to see my license, registration, and proof of insurance, and while he was waiting for Jesse to pull the stuff out of the glove box, he asked where we were going? "St. George" I say. "St. George?? Well you've missed the turn off quite a ways back" Says he. "Nah can't be, isn't it right up through Moab?" I say as I reach for the map that Florin e-mailed me. I point at the map while I get out my reading glasses. When I put them on I notice that Officer Begay's flashlight beam is centered on GREEN RIVER. You guessed it. Florin Owens lives in St. George. 5MOH is up by Green River! We have motel reservations at a motel one hell of a long way from where we are going. :( DOH!
If I were in law enforcement, I would have found the story a little shady, but thanks to Florin for the map! It didn't take long to convince Officer Begay that I was disoriented. I was on the right road for my destination, I just was using the wrong name for it. He let us go on our way. Oh well no hi-beams, and $60 pissed away on a room that we won't use. Life goes on.
We pull into GREEN RIVER about 1 PM MDT, and find a REAL DIVE that has vacancies. $45 later we've got a room that Jesse's convinced has had the door kicked in 3 times and kicked out at least once. Peeling paint, and the original 1950s decor. Hey the sheets were clean, and the beds were comfy. I slept like a stone and the Shower was hot for ME in the morning, so I don't know what Jesse was complaining about.
Since Florin warned us that it may be "WAY warm", we got an early start. Even got to the cafe across the street before they were open, but they let us in and fed us well!!! Then back across the street to the Chevron for some 87 Octane. We topped off the bikes, and filled 2, 2-liter bottles taped together with fuel. The plan is to carry them in a backpack on the trail. Another stop at a convenience store for water to put in 2 other 2-liter bottles, and we were down the road. It's about 26 miles to the turn off the freeway, and sure enough I blew right past it. "Hey wasn't that our turn??" Whoa, pull over. It had to be about 110 miles to the next exit, so I backed up about a 1/4 of a mile down the on ramp. Yep, bonehead stunt, there was NO traffic, so I got away with it.
Now it's about 10 miles of gravel road to the parking area. with a mile to go, I notice that the truck is taking a lot of throttle to maintain speed, "What the...." Look in the rear view mirror, and sure enough, the left rear is flat! Rats! Hey, Ya know what the great part of having your 22-year-old son with?? HE CHANGES FLATS!! Far Out. :)
When we got to the parking area there were some Enduro types camped out, and they gave us a look at their map, which showed the last bit of the 5MOH trial. Something which the map that I had printed off the Internet had not. One of them had ridden the trail before, and so he told us where to look for the turn off where 5MOH and the Red Rock Trail split. He said that the Red Rock trail was marked in red, and the 5MOH was marked in White. For those of you who have never seen it, there is so much rock out here, that they actually paint marks on the rocks to indicate the trail. Without them you really couldn't tell where the trail goes.
Jesse and I gear up, and with our fanny packs (1 Quart of water each), 1 camel-back, and the 2, 2-liter bottles have what we think is plenty of water, and with 4 liters of fuel, plenty of fuel. Off we go, man this will be a blast. 50 yards down the road from parking and I remember that we didn't check tire pressures, back to the truck. The Enduro guys asked us how we liked the trail. (everybody likes a little bit, but nobody likes a smart-ass :) it was good-natured fun.
They told us that we would be the only folks on 5MOH, they were going on another trail quite a ways away. BUT they did tell us that if our truck was there come sunset, they would be concerned and take appropriate action. :) Huh?? Why would they say that??? Just cause there probably isn't 20 people in the surrounding 100 square miles?? It is remote here.
A couple of miles down a jeep trail, we came to the trailhead. and a little further down was a wooden sign alongside the trail that showed the split. Sure enough there it was "5 Miles of Hell". Florin had warned us that the paint used to mark the trail was faded, but somebody had come out, and laid down fresh paint. Nice bright White, and so clearly marked. I wish half the loops I've ridden at trials were so well marked! Off we go.
5MOH is like a difficult morning section, or an easy afternoon section. Only it's a bit longer than your average section. It was a BLAST. Unbelievable traction on the rocks, Sand, Loose Rollies, Ups, Downs, Steps, WOW. the trail was laid out so that Enduro bikes could make it through, so on a Trials bike it was a blast.
After our 2nd rest stop, we decided to top off the tanks, and get some of the weight off our backs, and into the fuel tanks. The TY's drank all but about 16 oz. of the fuel we had brought with. We didn't know how far we had gone, but it couldn't have been that far. The Enduro guys told us the altitude was about 6700 ft.. Wow, would that cause the fuel economy to dramatically drop?? I mean everybody knows that TY-350s are thirsty, but HOLY COW! Do we have enough fuel to make it out and back??
This kind of puts a damper on the fun. We check the map, and we have gone past one cut out that the Enduro guys showed us, so we know that we are better than 1/3 of a way, and maybe past 1/2 way. When we get to the end, we will take a go-around trail back. We will be able to make better time, in higher gears, with better economy, on the go-around trail, so if it's not too far to the end, we will be okay.
BUT I remember that the Enduro guys showed us that the end of 5MOH, the trail continues as the Red Rock trail, and if we miss the end of 5MOH, we may just continue on the Red Rock Trail, something that we DO NOT have the fuel to do! It is WILD country and way too far to walk back with the water we have remaining.
So we discuss alternatives. One being that when one of the bikes hit reserve, we'll drain the rest of the fuel out of that bike, and with the 16 oz left in the 2-Liter bottles the other bike should be able to make it back to the truck, and begin recovery efforts. All of the water would be left with the one with the dead bike, to await rescue. Hey a plan is a plan. :)
So we keep going since the first OUT was clearly marked, and the trail is clearly marked, then the chances of missing the end appear to be slim. We pass another OUT, and Jesse says that it's the 3rd one that he has seen. The map I have only shows 2. About a mile down the trail, the fresh white marks END! WHOA have we missed the exit?? There are faded red marks, but are they the marks for the Red Rock trail???
Desecration being the better part of valor, we back track to the last OUT we saw, and follow it. After a mile or so, it connects with a jeep road, and not long after we're back at the Truck! Phew!!
It turns out, after consultation with Florin, we have ridden about 4 1/2 miles of 5MOH. Had we known what to look for we probably could have seen the trail end from where we turned around. :( :) Ah what the heck, we had fun, and didn't make headlines.
Back to GREEN RIVER, and see if we can get a replacement for the flat. Finally we find a used tire and someone who will mount it!! We leave there about 2 in the afternoon. On the way to Moab from Green River it dawns on me that we have enough daylight to ride the "SLICKROCK" trail in Moab. After fueling up, and rewatering in Moab, we head to the Slickrock trail. It's almost a freeway compared to 5MOH, but it still was a blast, though hardly any challenge if you stay on the trail, GREAT VIEWS, and the slick rock was anything BUT slick! There were quite a few mountain bikes on the trail, and we had the opportunity to share our water with some of them! Yea and show em a little bit of hoppin and boppin (Jesse, not me) all in all good PR for trials.
After loading the bikes, the rest of the trip was a non-event, we listened to a book on CD "All Quiet On The Western Front". Jesse is thinking about joining the army to fly helicopters. :) He thought the book was grim. Oh yea the AC in the truck died in Kayenta around about 8 PM. By Midnight we were home SAFE!
All in all except for the BONEHEAD parts, which I take full responsibility for, it was worth it. (Florin did tell me 5moh was near Green River, and sent a map that also said Green River).
Suggestions, make sure you put your glasses one prior to looking at the map, and making reservations. Take both maps so that you have maps of the COMPLETE trail. Bring a GUIDE, or at least a GPS if you are going to ride a trail that takes you out into the middle of nowhere in a desert with temperatures in excess of 90 degrees f.. In addition, remember if the spousal unit thinks you are in St. George, search and rescue will have to be really lucky to find you outside of Green River. :)
Now we have to go back because we still haven't ridden
5 MILES OF HELL!
If you give me money, I'll try to spend it.