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ATV Adventures: Pioneers, outlaws and a lost cellphone on the Outlaw ATV Jam

By Lyle Boss - Special to the Standard-Examiner | Jun 6, 2024
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The ice had just come off of Julius Reservoir, making it a pleasant stop on the "Ride to Paradise" ride.
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The "Ride to Paradise" ride featured a side loop with the trail in the creek bed.
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The high mountain trails are beautiful this time of year.
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This aspen grove was just leafing out as we wound our way through.
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Lynn Blamires

It was the opening of the 2024 Outlaw ATV Jamboree in Vernal. I rode three of the trails offered during this year's event and one phrase sums up my thoughts on these trails -- "Man, what a ride!"

For the first time, the jamboree organizers had to cap attendance. This jamboree is popular because it is so well organized and the trails are amazing. Seven hundred fifty people were there, but it only felt big when everyone gathered for a meal. The rides were kept small in number.

A trail referred to as "The Outlaw Range" was my first ride. We staged about 10 miles east of town and started our ride.

When I ride, I look for ideas to put in my articles. This ride had me stumped in the beginning. There were some wildflowers, but just a few. I couldn't talk about fields of color when these few dotted miles of sagebrush. This part of the ride didn't even have trees, but the trails were smooth for the most part, and fast.

I did learn that this area is rich in history. Famous mountain men have been known to visit the Vernal area. Well-known outlaws also spent time here and the stories of the pioneers who settled the area are fascinating.

We stopped at the home of one of these pioneer families on this ride. The Stringham Cabin was built in 1926 and was enjoyed by the family as summer quarters for two bands of sheep. The family managed two bands of sheep on the mountain. They even set up a nine-hole golf course on their property that they enjoyed with friends.

The mountain we were riding on had a name with a story. Diamond Mountain got its name from the Great Diamond Swindle of the 1870s. A miner and a prospector salted the mountain with a considerable number of diamonds and then went to San Francisco to play on the greed of the wealthy. Their success makes for an interesting story.

The sagebrush-covered hills gave way to tree-covered mountains and we came to a vault toilet that called for a break. I had a cell signal, so I took the opportunity to call my wife.

When we were ready to go, I placed the phone in a less-than-safe place on my dashboard. As smooth as the trail had been, I didn't worry about it.

We were using the drop system on this ride, meaning it was soon my turn to be dropped at an intersection. When I stopped, I reached for my phone -- it wasn't there. It was hard to hide my panic.

My friend Bry Davis offered to ride with me to retrace the route to where we had stopped for a break and look for the phone. So, on a prayer, we started our search. We made it back to the stop with no luck in finding it. Thinking we had made the trip too fast -- we turned back on a more diligent search.

We had called the phone a couple of times with no answer. Deciding to try again, I answered! I mean the person who found my phone answered and was heading back in my direction. He told me that it was a flash of sunlight reflecting off the phone that caught his attention. He stopped to pick it up, but not before running over it. Fortunately, it was still functional even though the screen was cracked.

Our second day was the "Ride to Paradise." This trail took us to Julius Reservoir and Paradise Lake, where we stopped for lunch. The rest of the ride was a side trail featuring water, mud and big rocks.

The third day was a highlight of the trip. It was a trail called "The Musket Shot" and it was fast. Mike Lopez was our ride leader. He drives his RZR on a race circuit and his machine was set up for it.

There were six machines in our group. We were doing our best to keep up and our smiles were proportional to our speed. What a ride! Mike told us on the first day on the jamboree that he blew a belt doing 80 mph. He said it blew a hole in his transmission cover, but he replaced it in 10 minutes like it was nothing.

If you missed this jamboree, there are more to come. When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and put this jamboree on your calendar for next year.

Contact Lynn R. Blamires at quadmanone@gmail.com.

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