Last year I wrote an article about Rick and Debbie Worthen — neighbors I took for a ride on the Manti trails for their 30th anniversary. This year, the neighbors next door came to me and said, “Do you remember what you did with them last year? We want to do that with you this year.” Always looking for a reason to ride, it sounded good to me.
The first of the week we saw 100 degree days so I was looking forward to the cool breezes in the mountains. Wednesday dawned cloudy and cool. “What a great day for a ride,” I thought.
We picked up Tom and Carol Anderson and headed south for Spanish Fork Canyon. I have found some great places to ride in this canyon and there are still miles of trail to explore.
Unloading in the parking area at the Tie Fork Rest Stop, we loaded up with gear we thought we would need for the ride. This time, I brought rain gear and extra gas.
This rest stop was built to commemorate the ghost town of Tucker two miles up the highway to the east. Tucker, originally Clear Creek, grew to a population of 500 because of a railroad station built there. It was the turnaround point for the helper engines that assisted trains over Soldier Summit. We admired the railroad theme of this place as we headed into Tie Fork Canyon.
Turning east, we crossed Tie Fork Creek as we followed the pole line road. This trail exists to service the power lines that are routed through this area. We were surprised to see so many thistles in bloom. The trail was lined thick with them.
Leaving the service road, we crossed over a ridge and dropped down into a pretty camping area where the trail ended at a junction. The new trail went north and south following the Left Fork of the White River.
Turning right, we followed the river south. The temperatures were so pleasant compared to the hot days we had just experienced.
Our attention was focused on the flow of the water. The activity of beavers had slowed the movement of the river with numerous dams. As a result, the willows were growing in abundance.
With our eyes peeled for wildlife, we were not disappointed. Well, I say not disappointed, the skunk that darted out of the underbrush near my front wheel did not bring joy. I saw it, didn’t hit it, and didn’t smell it. I guess I would call it a relief.
However, we did see another creature on the other side of the river. It wasn’t a beaver because the tail wasn’t right. It was brown, furry, and larger than a squirrel. My best guess is that it was a rock chuck.
Turning east onto Right Fork Road, we could see Soldier Summit to the back of us. It was no surprise then that we found ourselves following the Right Fork of the White River.
The valley was green and bursting with wildflowers in a beautiful array of color. Crossing the river, we climbed out of the valley onto Reservation Ridge.
This ridge got its name because it follows the dividing line between the Uinta National Forest and the Uinta and Ouray Indian Reservation. It took us to the top of Strawberry North Summit.
The views were amazing at 10,220 feet, but the wind was strong and cold. We could see the mountain ranges around us, but we could also see the pleasant weather turning bad.
As we came off the top, it began to rain. We were past the point of no return so we had no choice but to continue our trek along Reservation Ridge.
We donned rain gear, but the rain was cold and pierced our cheeks like icy lances. I looked in the rearview mirror at the Andersons. It was difficult to tell if they were smiling or grimacing. I am guessing the latter.
We made it safely off the mountain and into the warm truck. Pulling out of the rest area, I had no idea that the rain we were leaving would cause a deluge of debris four miles long that would strand motorist on Highway 6 for more than a day.
When you go take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down, and watch the weather, it can change more rapidly than you can imagine.