On Friday, 14 August and immediately after ending the work day, my youngest son (Nick, age 17) and I departed for Big Rock Candy Mountain in central Utah.
I had that very morning reserved a room at the BRCM Motel; a place I will likely not stay again. We had an outstanding supper at Hoovers
(me: 18 oz Prime Rib
, Nick: Burger w/Hoover fries).
While sitting outside the motel enjoying a cigar, I approach a large group a few rooms over and we began discussing trails and riding options. It would seem at least one member of their group recognized me as he had my Facebook profile photo up on his phone.
The following morning, we departed at 0730 to enjoy a quiet breakfast at Butch Cassidys in Circleville. We got there at exactly 0800 when the establishment opened. The waitress, a very nice lady with a thick New York accent went above and beyond, giving me two maps for the Markagunt and Panguitch Loop areas. Score! The drive into Circleville was spectacular, with the sun just coming up over the mountains. With nobody on HWY89, I pulled to the side to take a few photos:
After concluding breakfast, we went straight up the mountain via the Paiute 01, destination: Panguitch!
Trails covered were as follows:
Paiute 01 --> Paiute 88 South --> Paiute 67 --> Paiute 68 West --> Markagunt trail system South --> cross HWY20 --> Markagunt 02 Trail East --> Unknown trails South and into Panguitch --> Casto Canyon --> Fremont 01 --> Fremont 02 --> Horse Valley/Canyon trail --> Circleville and back to the truck.
Total mileage for the loop was just under 150 miles!
Within just seconds of coming off the Markagunt trail system and hitting asphalt into Panguitch, the sky opened up with rain, lightning & thunder. Our original plan was to fuel up and head into Casto Canyon to make camp (tent) there. Instead, we rolled across the street to "Church's Blue Pine Motel". On the outside, it looked sketchy, but to our delight, the rooms (we had 3 bed, 2 room + bathroom) was totally awesome and clean. It was now near 5pm and time for supper. Usually we'd go to the Cowboy smoke/steak house, but this time we walked next door to Foy's Country Corner restaurant. Nick was brave (or stupid) and ordered Teriyaki stir fry, while I just got a turkey sandwich.
Across the street, we saw the movie theater / ice cream store. Watch a movie while eating Ice Cream. Unfortunately, they only had two movies and neither was appealing, so we opted for ice cream alone.
After a fine cigar sitting outside the Motel room, we watched the sky light up with thunder, lightning and rain. We watched the tourists run about taking photos of virtually everything on Main street.
The following morning (Sunday), we decided to depart by around 0800. Not a cloud in the sky, the day was going to be perfect!
We ran main street / HWY89 to the Casto Canyon trailhead/turn-off and hit the dirt.
Not too far into Casto Canyon, we decided to stop and make breakfast. I broke out my backpacking stove, old canteen cup and our favorite breakfast stuff + some awesome instant Filipino coffee.
The rising sun and the reflection against the red/orange Hoodo's was breaktaking!
Slightly more than halfway through, I let Nick take point. I'm thinking he thought it was a race, he tore up the canyon so fast. At one point, he almost got his machine sideways:
At the 2:56 mark, you can see Nick almost get sideways!
Sadly, Casto Canyon is only ~5 miles long. It is interesting to note that to enter, you must go through a super small 50" gate, but to exit at the North end, you have a ~60 inch or so wide gate. I'm wondering how many have entered from the North, only to find they can't exit the south side.
Onto the Fremont trail we continued. With the sky clear and cloudless, the scenery was just amazing.
Somewhere along the trail, we encountered a slightly steep, loose gravel section that required me to tow Nick up. I tossed the winch cable underneath the machine, hooked up, put in 4WD/Low gear and up we went..
What a fantastic weekend to share with my youngest son, Nick. It's looking favorable I'll do this trip again in late September when its a bit cooler out.
Garmin tracks for this trip found here: