An ATV Trip to the magnificent north rim of the Grand Canyon

Thursday , January 25, 2018 - 5:00 AM

LYNN R. BLAMIRES, special to the Standard-Examiner

We had reached the Grand Gulch Mine in the Arizona Strip, enjoyed a lunch break, and toured the mine site. Still having the rest of the day ahead of us, we headed for the north rim of the Grand Canyon.

Our ride was led by Willis Little of Fruit Heights. He rides a Polaris Sportsman 1000 XP, which is a pretty beefy machine. He installed a 2-inch lift kit to increase the ground clearance then added 29-inch tires. He is proud of that machine and he loves to ride. When Willis is in the saddle, it’s “now you see him, now you don’t.” We spent the day just trying to keep up with him.

Leaving the mine site, we crossed the top of Pigeon Wash and headed south toward Snap Canyon. I enjoyed the variety the trail had to offer. We rode high on blankets of pine needles through thick stands of ponderosa pine and then dipped down into cholla cactus and yucca country. Soon we were back in the pines. The bluffs of Mustang Point to the east were colorful in the January sun.

Coming through Snap Canyon, we turned south into the Parashant Wash. Passing signs marking the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park – we could see Mount Dellenbaugh to the east.

Continuing south, we were on a wide peninsula that dead ended at Twin Point. We began to get glimpses of the Grand Canyon to the west as the finger of land we were riding began to narrow.

The Grand Canyon was stunning. From our first vantage point, we stared in awe at its huge expanse. We could see layers that dropped in increments away from our view beyond our sight and the drop from where we stood was breathtaking.

There was a flat rock that jutted out over the void at this stop. I tried unsuccessfully, to get someone to walk out and stand on it for a Kodak moment. I was not willing to do it, either.

We moved on the narrowing neck of land to Twin Point, where we could see the canyon fall away on both sides of where we stood. I was struck by the size of this huge hole in the ground that seemed to go on forever. I had been to the south rim of the Grand Canyon, but this was my first glimpse of the north rim and it was magnificent.

The sun was getting low in the west as we headed back to our staging area. Light burst through the trees in big flashes as we rode. I almost expected a boom with each explosion of light that broke upon us.

Where we had turned south toward Twin Point in the Parashant Wash, we rode north back through the main part of the wash on the east side of Mustang Point. We were making a loop back to the trucks instead of backtracking.

I was riding without my GPS, having forgotten to put it in the truck as we left our motel. I missed it and relied on my riding buddy, Dean, to record the track. If I had been riding with it, I would have noticed the sharp turn ahead and would have adjusted my speed accordingly. Without my GPS, the turn caught me by surprise. I grabbed the brake hard and screamed “Whoa!” as the copse of trees and bushes rushed toward me. The shriek seemed to help because I made it through the turn, but just barely. The people behind me saw my action and couldn’t believe I didn’t crash.

As my adrenalin settled down, I wondered how Willis did through that turn because he was not riding with a GPS, either. When we got back to the trucks, I noticed a big hole in his grill and learned that the turn surprised him too. He ended up with a big stick through his radiator. The stick was gone, but he was still smiling.

We completed a 109-mile loop through some amazing country. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down, and don’t step out on that flat rock.

You can email Lynn Blamires at quadmanone@gmail.com.

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