After 860 miles and 5 days of riding the majority of the connector route between the Utah & Nevada Backcountry Discovery Route (BDR) is 80 percent complete!
The focus of the ride was to connect Saligman, Arizona to Kayenta, Utah traveling to the south rim of the Grand Canyon through the Hopi Reservation and Navajo Nation on the Africa Twin. It started out rough along Route 66 with many private ranches, which meant no trespassing and private lands. It took a lot of various attempts and rerouting to figure out the best way to get into the backcountry. It started out as a real navigation challenge the first day but then turned into a wonderful, scenic, and awesome adventure overall.
Here are some of the highlights and most memorable happenings:
Day 1 got me to the Grand Canyon Village. This day provided the most challenging navigation issues. It took all day to get from Saligman to the GC Village but it was really worth the effort. The beauty of the high Arizona desert and wildlife offset all the challenges.
Day 2 took me from the south rim of the Grand Canyon off-road through the Kaibab National Forest and through Hopi country. The ride through the Kaibab Forest had such great flow with a little of everything. Mud in spots where it rained, rock ledges and slow technical sections that were not long in length, and flowing dirt roads that seemed to never end. It was a blast! The most amazing part was finding a canyon with hundreds of Mustangs. There were so many herds of horses it took a long time to descend from the mountain to the arid desert. I never experienced such a thing in all my decades of riding.
It took a long time to get out of the canyon due to so many stops to get them off the road without unduly stressing them. It is highly likely this section will be a rerouted since it appears I found a natural sanctuary for the Mustangs. It is so cool to experience this kind of thing but out of a sense to preserve the area for the wild horses it may be prudent to reroute so this area remains that special place that they have obviously lived for a very long time. It is not an exaggeration - there were literally hundreds and hundreds of wild Mustangs.
Day 3 gave a view that I will never forget. After traveling along a high mountain plateau I caught glimpse of the Grand Canyon that looked like this huge crack in the earth, which was a section of the Little Colorado. There were so many Elk I slowed thing down out of concern that one might jump in front of my path from the thick scrub brush along the trail. Riding solo in the backcountry requires a tempered speed at times to avert a collision with such big animals.
Day 4 took in about 60 percent asphalt due to access issues on the Navajo Reservation and a lot of dirt roads identified as Indian Routes or Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) routes. There are a lot of access roads in the area; however, out of respect for the Navajo only the major routes were used.
Day 5 was spent getting all the way back to Saligman from Kayenta. It took a 5 1/2 hour ride on the Africa Twin on pavement and about another 3 hours once the bike was loaded to get back to Las Vegas.
Overall, it turned out to be a much easier route than expected, I would rate this as an intermediate skill level route with surprises I never expected. The wildlife, terrain, vistas and vast barren openness exceed all expectations.
Next comes some re-routing, verification of the ability to obtain permits on Indian land, and completing a roughly 40 mile section from Kingman to about half way to Saligman. Darn, it looks like I will have to go back in the fall to complete the last 20 percent. What a great problem to have. Once done though, the route will be given to the BDR non-profit for them to do as they wish.