AZBDR – Day 8 of 11
🗓: 2 May | 🌍: Flagstaff to Navajo Nation, Arizona
Map of Day 8: 62 miles paved + 100 miles dirt = 162 miles total
Monday morning brought a renewed energy! We were well rested, well supplied, and ready to make progress of our AZBDR adventure. I was also excited because this day was the one I had looked forward to since we learned of the AZBDR – Navajo Nation.
The morning was cold and still quite wet. The snow had cleared from the roads but still remained on the shaded and shoulder areas. I was grateful that I didn’t convince myself to forgo bringing my heavy adventure jacket and cold weather riding gear for this trip. That would have been a mistake.
We experienced climates that we never expected for Arizona in May.
As we continued north along the pavement the conditions became better with each mile. The road shoulder went from snowy, to wet and muddy, and then to dry. We were relieved that today would end up being much more enjoyable than our mud slug-fest we faced a few days ago. Things were looking up.
In Cameron, we stopped at the Navajo Visitors Center and purchased our Permits for $12.00 each. Believe me, this is WORTH EVERY PENNY, as you will discover from our pictures…
Navajo Permit granting 24-hour passage to hundreds of miles of wild-west roads! This is much better than a ticket to Disney Land for sure.
Look for the octagon shaped building. The gentleman who issued the permit gave us a warm greeting and was very helpful when we showed him the areas we wanted to explore from our Butler map.
A few miles north we got sucked into the Cameron Trading Post. We were looking for a Native American style rug that we could put in front our tent but didn’t want to spend too much.
There were magnets…
… and minerals…
… even coffee mugs…
Finally we found the rug we were looking for! It ended up being a placemat for the dinner table but it was perfect. We’ll have a picture of it later…
The intoxicating fever of consumption by the busloads of tourist got the best of me and I purchased a small dream catcher that I hoped would grant me some kind of favor as I traveled the Navajo Nation. Further research, after the trip, revealed that dreamcatchers originated from the Ojibwe people of Canada and Northeast United States. The Navajo probably find it to be an undesirable form of cultural appropriation.
Anyhow, there it is hanging from my GPS mount hopefully catching my dreams of not getting broke, bloodied, and busted-up from getting thrown from my mule.
Within a short while we were turning onto dirt. The roads were all wide and regularly leveled making for quick and effective travel.
There was a really cool (it actually was cooler inside) traditional home with stone walls and a wooden roof just off the main road that offered a short break.
Our German made G650GSs fit into the Navajo landscape flawlessly. At least I think they do.
Although the well-maintained dirt roads made travel quick, we seemed to take a lot of breaks because each corner revealed some really beautiful country.
Small mesas pushed upwards from the earth by tectonic activity and then weathered by differential erosion made for some breathtaking scenery.
For lunch we decided to drive the 5 miles to the overlook via Indian Route 6134. If you have the pleasure of traveling this area of the country then DO YOURSELF A HUGE FAVOR and ride out to this overlook. I find the Grand Canyon National Park to be an incredibly beautiful park but I also feel that it suffered from being way too commercialized. The Navajo Nation is one of the few areas you can still enjoy the similar majestic beauty WITHOUT the tourism.
Majestic cliff walls that give you a sense of vertigo as you approach their edges.
It’s unconceivable to me that a river shaped such an incredible canyon.
Two of the most beautiful things in my life; Chantil and Mother Earth.
A red motorcycles might be the third most beautiful 😜
The mules graze patiently waiting for us to take in the amazing views around us.
Desert flowers were in bloom and provided fresh life to contrast the harsh steepness of the cliffs on the horizon.
The quietness and beauty was invigorating.
A selfie of the two of us before we head south again to join the main route.
On our way back to the main trail I noticed about 4 miles from the overlook that I didn’t have my CamelBak. I quick search revealed that I probably left it back at the overlook spot. Dang. I hurried back to the overlook to find my…
… CamelBak right where it fell from my bike. It was just laying there… hoping that we would be magically reunited in a blissful hydrated embrace. I kid, but the CamelBak was really useful and I wouldn’t have done a trip like this without it.
Once we were back on the main trail it was smooth rolling.
Riding along the Indian Route 6134. Apparently the practice of shooting signs with a shotgun is alive and well in the Navajo Nation as well.
More beautiful mesas!
You think we would be smart enough to avoid mud after our experiences from three days ago. 😆
Apache, named after the red pony I rode as a little kid, in the Navajo Nation.
ADV Rider stickers look much better dirty.
More beauty as we continued north along the Indian Route 6133.
We had heard about a great place to camp for the evening from another fellow ADVRider convict. I plotted the waypoint and I knew how to get to it via the 14 mile Indian Route 6110. However, we noticed on the Butler Map that there was a shorter route from the north. We searched and searched riding around on some pretty isolated single-tracks. We even had enough cell-phone signal to search for a route via Google Maps but came up empty. The route on the Butler map is a “unicorn road” because, like the unicorn, it DOESN’T EXIST!
Although we were a bit frustrated with our search for the unicorn road it did offer us a chance to ride some less traveled trails.
We came across the remains of a dead horse or mule, which seemed to bring new life to the flowers that bloomed near the bleached skull.
I tried to convince Chantil that she should figure a way to mount the skull to replace the fender on the G650GS. She wasn’t convinced. I still think it would have been a cool modification.
We knew, from pictures, that the area we wanted to camp at was well worth heading the 25 miles back to the south. Gas was going to be an issue and we expected our low fuel lights to come on sometime tomorrow. Fortunately, we had about 50 miles each of spare fuel in the 1.75 gallon RotoPax. No problem.
Chantil taking a little nap as she leaves the role of navigating to the campsite to me.
We ended up getting to the overlook camp area (36º 24.244’ N 111º 50.055’ W) just after dark. That little blue dot is us on the majestic cliffs of the mighty Colorado River. Unfortunately, pictures of the campsite and the canyon will have to wait until Day 9…
AZBDR – Day 9 of 11
🗓: 3 May | 🌍: Navajo Nation, Arizona to Utah Border
45 miles paved + 62 miles dirt = 107 miles total
I awoke early because I was excited to capture an iPhone time-lapse of the canyon during the sunrise. The iPhone was fully charged, I found the perfect ledge for the tripod, composed the canyon within the camera frame, and then started the process just before the light began to peer into the canyon. It was going to be epic!!
NOT! I captured about an hour and a half of time-lapse, which made for a 30 second video. The problem was that the exposure was not preset so the iPhone auto exposed each image. The final product was terrible. I was a bit bummed because this was a one-time-only kinda thing. Oh well, I did get some good photos…
Sunrise silhouetting our campsite.
The campsite was so incredible and isolated. Right on the cliffside!
And here is the tent rug we bought the day before. It looks great next to the tent and my stinky motorcycle boots.
Warming up some water for a hot breakfast to suppress the chilly morning of about 40º F.
During our breakfast the canyon was splashed with rays of scenic sunlight.
The trail out of the campsite was a bit rutted with an 8-10 inch step made of sharp rocks. Last night we went down it; much easier with the help of gravity. This morning we would have to climb back up it. It was a bit technical but we both got up just fine. Had we tried to do an obstacle like that a week ago it would have been more of a challenge. Our off-road abilities were improving!
On the 14-mile leg back to the main route we passed by some beautiful flowers growing in the middle of the two-track trail.
The only shiny thing on my bike and I can’t even keep that clean. Oh well. A clean GS is a dirty shame.
It wasn’t too long after hitting the trail that our low fuel lights came on. Once the light comes on I underestimate about 50 miles before we’re empty. This was the longest we had gone without fueling the entire trip and gas was less than 35 miles away. All good! Besides, we also had 1.75 gallons of extra gas in the RotoPax.
We reached the pavement and continued north along the beautifully paved and isolated State Route 89A towards Marble Canyon.
The beautiful views and wonderfully paved roads provide a break from the dirt.
We stopped at Marble Canyon for some much needed gas, and water. I even chowed down on some convenience store nachos, which were surprisingly good. I think food taste better when you’re on the road. 😄
While leaving Marble Canyon I started to reflect on the entire trip and that it was coming to an end. Part of me really was bummed. I really didn’t want it to end. I wanted to continue through Utah, then Idaho, then through Canada all the way Alaska. I didn’t want to stop. We were about to turn north onto the very last section of dirt and I just wanted it to last forever. 😞
The last dirt section was marked by this sign for the Vermilion Cliffs.
The Vermilion Cliffs were quite beautiful.
Exploring an old, rustic cattle pen.
As the road continued north the beautiful and diverse sandstone scenery became more plentiful.
The GPS waypoint marks the Utah/Arizona border and the official end of the AZBDR. No there wasn’t a huge field of green grass on the Utah side as indicated on the GPS map.
We made it!! Utah or bust without any real busts (bikes or bodies). Celebratory jump for joy!
We took a small break and then found the Stateline Campsite where we parked our mules in Utah and then set up camp 20 feet away in Arizona. This was our first, and only, developed campsite that we stayed at during the entire trip and the cost was FREE!
Some may think that this is the end of the adventure… But fear not! Remember the mud from day 7? The near-zero progress forced us to forgo about 60 miles of the AZBDR. Tomorrow we plan on going back to complete that section from north to south. More to come…
Continued on PAGE 6…