The altitude at the Bryce Canyon Pines Motel is 7,700 feet. The temperature outside our rooms when we walked outside was 33 degrees. One of our riders splashed water on his windshield to clean it and it turned to ice instantly. That was enough reason to go to the motel’s restaurant and let things warm up a little before we started our second day on the trail to Kamas.
The northern part of the trail that took us to Bryce Canyon is on the Paunsaugunt ATV Trail System. Trails on this system offer amazing views on the edge of the cliffs (outside the park) for which Bryce Canyon is famous.
Dressed for the weather, we headed west on Highway 12, passing Lightning Draw. Before entering Red Canyon, we turned north on Tom’s Best Spring Road, which is the beginning of the Fremont ATV Trail, the connector trail between Bryce Canyon and Circleville at the southern edge of the Paiute ATV Trail System.
We soon picked up the Limekiln Road and noticed a change in scenery. This trail winds through tall ponderosa pines standing in blankets of manzanita brush. I was interested to learn that Native Americans used manzanita for a variety of medicinal purposes and for food.
We became more comfortable as the temperature climbed. There wasn’t a cloud in sky, which showed an indigo blue through the pines. This deep blue was in contrast to the red bark of the ponderosa pines, the green leaves and the smooth orange, twisted branches of the manzanita all against the backdrop of the stark, ashen gray of the Limekiln Road. This section of the trail twists through a leaden landscape of eroded hills that was nothing like the reds and whites we had left in Bryce Canyon.
The Limekiln Road turned west and we picked up the Seeds Lake Road. Once past the Seeds Lakes, we turned west down Sanford Canyon and out of the Dixie National Forest.
Turning north and then east, we reentered the forest up Smith Canyon and noticed another change of scenery. The canyon floor was covered with sage brush, but rising out of the valley floor were sharp, rugged rock formations in a variety of shapes that towered high above us as we coiled our way around them. We climbed out of the canyon and stopped for a break at the top of the pass.
Realizing that we hadn’t lost anyone, we continued north. Dropping out of the mountains, we crossed the valley floor into Circleville. I learned that the town got its name from Circle Valley in which it is situated. It is surrounded by mountains except where the Sevier River enters and exits the valley.
We stopped for lunch at the Butch Cassidy Café. You may not think that a town of 547 people would have much to offer for lunch. This little place is a jewel of the trail. Not only were the sandwiches good, the pastries were great.
Leaving this little oasis, we headed for trouble. We didn’t know it at the time, but it was what it was. We kept to the valley to shorten our ride to Marysvale.
We had ridden past the Piute Reservoir when one of the machines threw a drive belt. It was an older 2007 Polaris Touring 800 and when the belt broke, it wrapped around the secondary clutch. Fortunately, we were within 10 miles of Marysvale so we towed it into town. But because the secondary clutch was engaged, it was a slow tow.
We checked into our cabins at the Rocky Ridge Resort and set about solving our mechanical problems. Where were we going to get help in this small town of 408?
The answer came from the Rose Ranch RV Park north of town. The word was that Jim Townsend (JT) knew his way around an ATV. We had to smile as we listened to him talk, “Now, I charge $25 per hour,” he said. “So if it takes two hours, you owe me $50.” We were thinking to ourselves that we need to bring our machines to him. His charges are a fraction of those in the big city.
We called Jorganson’s in Richfield and purchased a belt. They agreed to hang it on the fence because they were closing. We sent a rider to pick it up and we were back in business — whew! When you go, take plenty of water, keep the rubber side down and stay tuned for day three.