Hal in Titus Canyon
When I went out to my bike the next morning, not only did I notice that all the other dirt bikes were already gone, I noticed that one of the fork arms on my bike had some oil on it, a fork seal had “blown.” My heart sank. This is one of my “most looked forward to” trips of the year, and there I was, staring at something that could potentially ruin everything. However, nothing appeared to be leaking badly, so Hal and I decided to chance it and ride Titus Canyon anyway. After all, we didn’t have too far to go to get onto the Titus Canyon road, and if we at least made it through the canyon, we’d be riding on pavement back to Beatty anyway. I could evaluate the fork problem then.
So, after a late breakfast we set out, rode southwest out of town, past the ghost town of Rhyolite, and then onto the road. Alex, my dirt bike, didn’t feel any different than she usually does. She’s pretty tough, so I hoped for the best as I rode the corrugated surface of the dirt road toward Titus Canyon. I was trying to find the “smoothest” line, but quickly figured out there wasn’t one.
A couple of miles in, we started climbing from the long flat gravel road into the mountains. From this point on, the ride is exciting, and I had to pay attention to what I was doing. The views are spectacular on this part, and in some places, the serpentine, narrow road is at the edge of deep drop-offs. It isn’t a rough road, nor is it difficult, but there isn’t much room for error. I was enjoying my day, though, and I stopped worrying about the fork seal.
We passed a truck with a broken axle, and wondered how that had happened. As I said, the road isn’t real rough, and there isn’t a part that I thought would break an axle. “That’s going to be an expensive tow,” I thought at first, but then I thought the owner would probably come back with parts and fix it on the spot. At least I hoped he would.
We went along, flowing along the curving road. At one point, it looks like it drops off into the air, and then turns sharply to the right. Across the abyss is a rock wall that was shining in the spotlight that was the sun. I made the turn and continued down a steep grade, winding down to where far below I saw a couple of SUVs that had parked. Soon, we were down, and past them.
We passed Leadfield, once a mining settlement, now a collection of abandoned buildings, saw the mine over on the far mountainside. Although there is a small pullout to park, we did not stop. We’d seen it before, and there were too many people parked there already. From that point, we continued to descend steeply, and then the road leveled out as we went into the high walled canyon that would take us all the way out to the west end.
We passed between high canyon walls that gleamed golden and multi-colored in the spring sunshine. The sky overhead was incredibly blue as I looked up past the high tips of the rock formations above. A hawk wheeled in the wind currents, looking deceptively small from where I stood.
The closer we got to the end, the more people we encountered, people who had hiked in from the exit point. There was more traffic coming up behind us as we slowed down, careful of the people hiking literally right next to the deep sandy path. In the darkness of the shadows, it would be easy to miss seeing a hiker until it was almost too late.
We stopped at the petroglyphs to take photos, and I finally was able to shed a layer of clothing. In the close, sun-filled canyon, I was getting too warm. I noticed the sign that said to not deface the rocks, that they are irreplaceable. Yet I saw plenty of graffiti that had been scratched into the rocks, so much that it was hard to tell where the original petroglyphs had been. You know how I hate it when people ruin things for others.
Finally, we came to the west end of the canyon where it opens out and I got my first glimpse (this trip) of Tucki Mountain and the huge, beautiful alluvial fan that spreads down into the deepest, lowest part of the valley. It is a breathtaking sight no matter how many times I see it. We rode a little farther west, past the actual hiker’s trailhead, and parked our bikes. It was time for a break, an energy bar and some water. I also got a couple of photos of the wildflowers that were more abundant this year than before.
Alex’s fork was okay, there was no additional oil seeping or running down, so I was fairly confident that the problem had happened on the trailer and would get no worse. Hal and I got back on our bikes, and we headed down the deep gravel track toward the paved road that would take us back to Beatty, a leisurely dinner and a relaxing evening.